Sunday, September 5, 2010

The #1 New Business Lie: Great Work Sells Itself.

One of the greatest myths to Business Development is "Great Work Sells Itself."

It's amazing how many times I hear this. A quick look at that person's sales/origination figures, though, is proof enough that they are fooling themselves.

If you believe that great work sells itself, my friend, there are only two possibilities:

1) You are wrong.
2) You are not delivering great work.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear: Your clients expect great work. This is their jumping off point. And, once they get your 'great' work, they can move on the reasons they bought it from you: doing whatever they were doing before you arrived.

Your clients are not in the business of selling your services/products, nor of consuming more without being provided a business case for doing so. In fact, many clients do not realize how good they have it, since they have no perspective on what bad or mediocre work might look like.

And yet, despite all the proof to the contrary (read: consistently low rainmaking numbers), you persist in your belief that great work sells itself.

A related digression: They say if you build a better mousetrap people will beat a path to your door. This is a Field of Dreams.

1) How does anyone know you have a better mousetrap?
2) Why would anyone take the time to actively promote your better mousetrap?

The answer to these questions is the answer to the problem above.

If you do great work, let them know why you believe this is the case. ("See this mousetrap? Here is why it's better than the alternatives." Dyson understands.)

Better yet, show them by pointing out other places/ways where you can help them.

Or, at least, ask them if you are meeting/exceeding their expectations. If you receive criticism, fix it. If you receive a compliment, don't just say "Thanks" or, worse, "No problem." Use this as an opportunity to ask for more work or a referral. With luck, they will provide a compliment without such prompting. This is your opening to ask them to take the next step.
|> The bigger picture is letting them know you and they have a business relationship, not solely a customer/supplier one. <|
How? Promote their services. Refer them business or make strategic introductions to help them fill gaps. Ask them how you can help their business beyond the scope of what you are doing now. Even beyond the scope of what you can provide yourself. (Here is the magic question: "Forget that I am a ______ for a second. What other business issues do you need help solving?") And then help them find someone who can fix it … unless you can yourself, of course. Since they have no idea what else you do, they might tee up some additional work. If nothing else, once they see you care about their business, they will probably return the favor.

The 'mousetrap' quotation has made me mad for some time now. Like the mousetrap the 'better' one replaces, it also needs fixing.

Here goes: "If you build a better mousetrap – and let people know about it – people will beat a path to your door."

But back to the people who believe great work sells itself. It'd be better for them to continue believing in the Tooth Fairy. At least with the Tooth Fairy real money changes hands.

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