To a Power Professional: Sell is a Four Letter Word!!
You’re a power engineer and manager & now you have to develop business? After all your effort getting a technical education, the last thing you want to be is a salesperson!
So, you’re a manager now and have risen through he ranks with hard work and dedication to that lofty level in your firm. Recently, you discovered that small line in your new position description they never mentioned during your interview. Top management expects … maybe demands … you go out and sell your group’s expertise to prospects. What kind of long anticipated aspect of career development is that? It certainly isn’t what you expected in a management position.
Your focus has always been on doing the best job you know how solving problems for clients. You’ve been able to be the leader on many recent projects and have worked your team to a high level of proficiency. That’s what you do best and your firm has been very pleased with your work. Now, the reward is to go out and do something else … to do something you have no idea how to do … to sell?! That’s not what you thought being a manager was all about.
Before you start updating your resume, take a good look at what the role of Business Development … not sales … is all about. From our own technical background and from working with hundreds of highly proficient technical professionals in the Power Industry for the past 25 years, we know you are the ideal individual to represent your firm in developing business. Upper management sees potential in you that your peers do not intrinsically have: a high degree of technical expertise along with your “people skills … ingredients to make the full 360 degree turn to Technical Business Development Professional.
The first and most critical item to consider is your thinking about the role in Business Development. It’s really not selling. Business Development is really doing what you already know and do … keeping the client’s needs first in solving their problems. The only thing different is that you now are responsible to leverage your technical expertise and that of your team in the process of getting the projects, not just doing them. Your purpose, putting the client first in solving their technical problems, it the thinking that is the key to Business Development. Of course, you have to consider your firm’s and your own goals, too. But, if you take care of purpose first, your goals will be taken care of also.
How do you do this? It’s really not “smoke and mirrors” or motivational tricks, soft skill tactics. Business Development is a role that requires executing a system, not unlike those you already know well in your technical field. Developing business is a systematic process of leveraging your considerable expertise into revenue and involves thinking like a business person, not a salesperson. Whatever business getting method your company chooses to use it needs to incorporate this business oriented way of thinking and behaving … and you need to use it … every day and all the time in your Business Development role.
So, rather than throwing yourself into doing the next power project, consider acquiring professional development training for your management role. Certainly, some university management courses can help. But, be sure to get assistance in that aspect of your manager role that will propel you up the ranks faster than anything else you can do. Get some training in Professional Business Development.
Bill Scheessele is CEO/Founder of MBDi, a Business Development consultancy based in Charlotte, North Carolina. For the past 27 years, MBDi has assisted client firms in leveraging their high level expertise into bottom line business. Information on the company and the MBDi Business Development Process™ access: www.mbdi.com.