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Self Interest Can Be Very Profitable

I was talking to a friend of mine who happens to be an outstanding business developer. We got into a discussion about business development as the best way of increasing firm revenue. He laughed when I said “firm revenue” and said, “If you want to be successful with marketing, you better talk about what matters. You better tell everybody how business development will put more money in their individual pockets – not just onto the firm’s top line.”

That hit me like a two-by-four. Of course, it’s important to discuss teamwork, firm goals, missions and such. But if we want to create a true business development culture, we have to demonstrate that bringing in clients will make individual firm members more money We have to show that not bringing them in will limit personal income.

Successful professional services firms set out clear career paths for their members. They let them know that the top-paid partners are those who bring in the business, and that associates who learn how to do that will become partner more quickly than those who don’t. Successful business development cultures consistently recognize and reward not only the results, but also the effort to bring in clients.

It may not be politic to say so, but we must appeal to individual self interest (both positive and negative) when we implement a business development plan. We must understand that in doing so we’re also enhancing the firm’s success.

© Melinda Guillemette 2009