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Craig Budner, Bill Ruprecht, and Andrew Robinson Discuss Why It’s Time to Get Great at Business Development

Mo asks Craig Budner: When did you realize that business development is good?

  • Craig’s brother was a litigator and from an early age had his own firm. This taught Craig the necessity of creating a brand and cultivating referral sources in order to grow the firm.
  • Craig took a slightly different path from his brother in that he joined one of the firms in Texas. It was there that he created the relationships and connections that made him realize the value of being an advisor to someone and not just on legal issues.
  • After creating a relationship with one of the firm’s important executive clients, a partner encouraged Craig to run with what he was doing. During his associate days, Craig learned the value of doing a great job for clients and nurturing relationships.
  • When he understood that clients were actual multiple sources of revenue, and that if he could cultivate relationships with people directly in his path of work delivery, he started to get the first call. He was being trusted by the people in charge of important projects, and that gave him the opportunity to do more fun kinds of work.
  • How do you advise others to think about business development?
  • Demystifying business development is the first step. The characteristics of good parents, friends, and listeners are the characteristics that make a good business developer. It’s not about the money at the end of the line, it’s about growth and learning, and getting better at putting yourself in the shoes of someone else.
  • What do you think about mutually beneficial relationships?
  • You have to be a better listener than a talker to develop deep relationships. If you’re always thinking about what you’re going to say, you’re not going to get enough information out of that relationship to make it mutually beneficial.
  • Think about how you can be helpful to that person. You can leave a positive impression on that person by reflecting back that you have heard them and you’re going to try to advance their issue.

 

Mo asks Bill Ruprecht: When did you first start thinking about business development as something important that you wanted to do?

  • Bill spent many years in business when there were two kinds of business development. The first was a form of gunslinging more focused on extracting value and the second was centered around building more long term relationships. Inevitably, you come to realize that building relationships and adding relevance to potential customers is the way to go.
  • There are three ways to differentiate a business: be an innovator and make things that no one has seen before, be cheap and provide the lowest cost service, or you can be customer centric and know more about your customers than anyone else in the world.
  • Nobody should own a client. The team should always work together to get the job done well.
  • If you have a lot of history with a client or they demand that a particular person is involved, that should be accepted.
  • The end result of a deal is always a combination of relationship and price. In Bill’s line of work, certain clients tend to push on price but that always makes things tougher. Chasing the margins on a deal down to the point where the service provider doesn’t care about the outcome is always a poor choice.
  • For another client, Bill tells the story of a semi-regular delivery of BLT sandwiches and how they were a barometer of the relationship. They may not have gotten the business because of the sandwiches, but they definitely didn’t hurt.

 

Mo asks Andrew Robertson: When did you first realize that business development or relationship development was a good thing?

  • The first time Andrew realized business development was fundamentally about discipline was while working as a barman in Maidenhead where he learned how to connect with people and build rapport very quickly. It was there he met an insurance broker that offered him a job.
  • As a student working in the evenings, Andrew learned that if he made 100 phone calls on Monday night he could line up 10 meetings for the rest of the week, which would usually result in 3 sales.
  • He started experimenting with the approach he was taught and learned two important lessons very quickly. The method he was taught was tried and tested, and if he didn’t do the work of making the calls, he didn’t get the results he needed. No one else was going to make those calls if he didn’t do it.
  • He wasn’t in the relationship-building business yet, that came later. Andrew learned the importance of discipline and trusting the process.
  • The idea that people are born with the habits that make them successful is incorrect. Discipline can be learned like any area of expertise.
  • The most important thing is to get a meeting, not to have everything prepared. Don’t get ahead of yourself. If you focus on the delivery first, you’ll never set the meeting in the first place.
  • You need to pick up the phone and offer them something valuable and interesting as quickly as you can. That’s how you earn the time to develop a relationship afterward.
  • Pulling insights from other proposals and using them to intrigue other prospects enough to get a meeting is a good example of an offer that gets people interested.
  • You don’t always have to go straight to the ultimate decision maker. Getting a meeting with a mid-level manager can be a great opportunity too. Every meeting is useful in learning more about the company or the industry.
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