How to Change Your Mindset about Business Development

by Mike O'Reilly

Mike specializes in helping highly-driven, type A business owners and professionals (who usually describe themselves as ADHD). Together, they clarify the growth strategy and outline what's necessary to achieve their objectives in the quickest way possible. As a successful business owner in his own right, he continues to help other business owners and professionals make sense of the challenges in their world. He understands that competing priorities, short deadlines, customer demands, and the need to meet a payroll will all come together at once. Most of his privately-held clients are interested in one of three things; implementing sales and business development strategies that will double their business, strengthening their internal systems and controls so that accountability is increased and more things can happen without them needing to be involved, or being recognized as a professionally run firm so that they get easier access to capital and can grow the top line. Most of his publicly-held and multinational clients are interested in growing the skills of the middle management team and leadership competency of the supervisory level staff or are focused on getting increases in sales and revenues.

If you are a practicing Attorney, CPA, Architect or professional service provider, chances are you did not pursue your advanced degree so that you could become a sales person. Likely you pursued law or accounting so you would not have to sell. Yet your greatest value for yourself and your firm is your ability to attract and retain clients.

Why is dental surgery often preferred over having to go out and sell? Why do we cringe and make excuses at the thought of making time to attract clients?

  1. We equate sales with pressure. Sales people always want something from us. They need us to act now.
  2. Sales people are a distraction they always interrupt us.

You can certainly add to this list. The point is this is how we view ourselves when we put on our business development hat on and start to pick up the phone. These thoughts make it easy to make excuses. This can't possibly be a good time to call them. Fear is paralyzing. We don't do what we are fully capable of doing. As a result, we don't reach anywhere near our full potential.

It really is a mind set, decide it will be fun. When our boys were little. it was really fun to be a parent. Always looking for adventure and making time for fun. Skiing, Hockey. Basketball. We met some of our best friends through our children's relationships. Yet we met other parents who predicted raising children would be a very challenging time for them. Guess What? It was. We had no advantages over these other families Thank God we all had healthy wonderful children and we all had a roof over our heads. The difference is simply deciding that Saturday morning was going to be enjoyable. We were certainly not better parents.

We need to change our mindset. As parents, there is pressure to make the best use of quality time. My advice is to just decide to have fun. Take your family skiing at Butternut with friends, walking our lovely beaches, or a hike at Devil's Den. Celebrate after your child's soccer game, even if they did not win. That's quality time.

When we think about sales we feel pressure to believe we have to get a decision from a client quickly. We can call this quality time. Let's step back and take off the pressure. Your role going forward for every meeting is to make a good friend and get invited back. It's amazing what happens when you adapt this as your mind set and you state this as your agenda for the meeting. Quickly you will notice your potential client start to relax.

Being a CEO or company president can be a lonely role with a lot of pressure. When you become a trusted advisor who can help them do their best thinking everyone wins. You will uncover numerous solutions to the challenges they face. There are tremendous rewards that come from helping people solve problems. Make all your sales calls quality time. Decide to make friends, help solve pressing problems and get invited back. Life is good!