Business Development in a Time of Uncertainty

Professionals in firms are facing an unusual time. It’s a time of uncertainty in the manner in which many of us are working. Many are working remotely for the first time. Juggling the new reality of today can create stress and confusion. Deadlines are shifting, the needs of clients are changing, and professionals are wondering how to work in the best way. 

We have known for a while that accountants and consultants are uniquely positioned with clients to be regarded as their most trusted business advisors. While attorneys and bankers and other professionals can be positioned as advisors, accountants have an opportunity to truly assist business owners and professionals in a way that can dramatically impact the health and success of their businesses in the short and long term. 

Adaptation is not optional but is essential for survival in today’s business climate. This goes for accountants as well as the businesses they assist. When we look at how we can best respond to the current situation, business development has its place and here are a few points to consider.


Connect to Build the Big “R” or Big Relationship

Clients, prospective clients, and referral or business contacts are facing many uncertainties in their own businesses. Find ways to reach out to them and check in with them to see how they are doing. You can do this without expecting anything in return because it is the right thing to do. All of the stress of juggling work and family simultaneously that many of us are facing, well they are as well. Giving them the opportunity to connect on how they are doing is a great way to build the relationship. Trust starts with having a big relationship and continuing to invest in it. Relationships are like helium balloons in that if you leave them alone, they will deflate naturally over time. It is a best practice to continue to build the relationship on an ongoing basis and now is certainly a time to connect with all of your clients and prospects. Many professionals have mentioned they have spoken with their clients more in the past two months than in the previous five years. Many of these conversations uncover needs that you can assist with even though this is not the original intent for reaching out. When you talk with your clients and they need help, they are often looking at you for ideas on how to help them.


Choose Virtual Face-to-Face Over Phone Calls When Possible

We are finding more and more that all meetings do not have to be in person and virtual meetings with cameras on will find a place in the new normal. It is so much easier to read the person you are speaking with if you have your cameras on. There are less awkward silences and less talking over one another when you utilize videos for your meetings. Be sure to mention you would like to use a platform like Zoom when scheduling the meeting as to set the expectations for the other party. You might say, “I would really like to have a call using video if you are comfortable with this.” Many will be, and there’s no denying that these tend to go more smoothly when you can see one another and read expressions and body language.


Network Online Consistently

While networking opportunities in person may be on hold, there has never been a better time to connect with your contacts, referral sources, and centers of influence than now. You can do this through engaging in social media like LinkedIn where you can send direct messages to your contacts and check in with them. You can follow their personal or business activity and reply on their thought leadership posts. People appreciate when others show support for their posts and these touchpoints add up. Don’t underestimate the importance of staying engaged virtually with your clients, prospects, and others. This also allows you to stay on top of what is happening in their world and what is important to them. Now is also a good time to carve out time to research and connect with people on LinkedIn whom you haven’t previously connected with. Send a personalized note requesting the connection. As an example, you might say something like, “We have several contacts in common, and I also work in the real estate industry with many clients; I would like to connect with you. I hope you are doing well.”


Share Thought Leadership

While most people will not have the opportunity to present on a thought leadership topic in front of an audience for the time being, you can still contribute to thought leadership in your particular niche or offering by writing articles and sharing them online, writing a blog that can be shared with clients and contacts, and even making an effort to share articles and resources through email with your contacts. People are looking for helpful and timely information that will enable them to best navigate the current climate. If you are able to contribute to this during this time, chances are your prospects and clients may see you in a new light. I have had CPAs tell me that due to their assistance with the PPP process, clients are seeing them as advisors for the first time. They are finally seeing how valuable their accountants and advisors are and understand the importance of the work they do for them. This is a great thing!


Connect With Others in Your Firm

Business development can and should happen consistently as selling is helping. Some firms are still growing as they are having more clients and prospective client interactions than ever before. Make an effort to understand all of the things that your firm is offering to assist clients during this time. Be prepared to introduce the right professionals into relationships where a need exists for additional services. Speak with your colleagues about the ways they are assisting clients so you are armed with succinct success stories you can share. Remember that selling is helping. Just because things are different right now doesn’t mean your business development efforts must stop. The best firms are still growing, they are serving clients in unique ways and are finding the silver lining in this uncertain time.


Next Steps

To learn more about business development, take a look at our upcoming Rainmaker Prodigy and Rainmaker Academy courses or Contact Us to schedule a complimentary phone consultation. The Rainmaker Companies can help you Grow Your FirmGrow Your Practice, or Grow Your Self.


Angie Grissom