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Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors.

Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales and – quite probably – more content in yourself.

Now, more than ever, EQ is an essential ‘tool’ to have in the bag, espeically if you see yourself as an introverted, analytical and detailed person, like many surveyors and engineers.

Business development planning

Invest time in your BD approach for new and existing clients.

Business Development Planning - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Business Development for Technical Experts

Download this guide to improve your sales strategy.

Get it now

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors. Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales...

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First impressions Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don'ts if you will, of creating the...

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at...

Quash imposter syndrome and optimise the business opportunity

Attending a ‘World Leading’ Event can be very daunting. Don’t let being a little fish in a big pond overwhelm you –  Gary Williams shares how he addressed his concerns and went prepared to optimise the opportunity. I recently attended #MIPIM2018. It was my first time...

Make your business development planning more successful

Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation...

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’ A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking...

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk. Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management. Collaboration is a word used more in...

How To Be Brilliant At Winning Bids & Tenders

Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business, but it’s often seen as a chore. Sarah Amery shares an effective model that will boost your ability to create successful bids. Sometimes its difficult to know where to start or how to organise content,...

Transforming your sales programme

  This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Pi magazine, published by Howden Insurance Brokers Is it time your team changed its approach to sales? Read on to discover some practical advice about transforming your sales programme and making...

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

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Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at all.

So how can you ensure your all-important meeting goes swimmingly (or some other kind of wow statement? How do you maximise the effectiveness you have when face to face with a client? Like many things it is 70% in the preparation and 30% in the execution/delivery on the day. Follow our proven steps to success, and you’ll find yourself having more impact when it comes to the crunch.

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DO YOUR RESEARCH

Knowledge is power, and never more so than when you’re walking into a room full of strangers. That means research is vital.

  • What do you know about the client organisation and the person or people you are going to meet? Do some background research using their website, LinkedIn, and search engines. What can you learn about the individuals you’re trying to connect with?
  • Ensure you are up to speed with news in their world. Find out what the hot topics and key issues are in their industry at the moment. This applies to all industries including engineering, law and all professional services. What are the lastest technological innovations in the engineering industries? Are you up to date on the latest legal developments? What’s current in the commercial property sector? Keeping your knowledge current will be key in portraying yourself as an industry expert they’ll want to do business with.

PREPARE A POSITIONING STATEMENT

It’s now time to plan a short and snappy positioning statement for your meeting . This should be an extended introduction to you and your organisation – not a ‘pitch’, but more to ensure the client really understands what your business does. Ensure your Positioning Statement has the 3 following elements:

An overview of your business – where you operate, numbers of people, industry sectors
Your Department – Specific details about your area of the business, for example, the types of clients and projects your department has worked on

Your Areas of Interest – what have YOU been involved in? How have YOU helped clients?

MAKE CONTACT PRE MEETING

It’s always a good idea to send a short note in advance of the meeting to cover off things like:

  • Where and when the meeting is taking place
  • Ask who will be there from their side ( ideally find out their job roles/remit and why) – this is useful to ensure you match up the attendees from your side..
  • Outline the areas for discussion
  • Ask them if there are any specific areas they would like to cover – and make sure you include those in your meeting plan
  • Send relevant content in advance (ie slide deck, research paper) and explain why you think it might be useful. This demonstrates to the client that you are tuned in to their business and the potential challenges they may be facing.

Think about attendees

It’s important to give some thought to who will be going to the meeting so you are prepared in how to engage with them and create that all important great first impression. Here are some tips:

  • Broadly match numbers. For example, if you are meeting two people, send two or three people, not five.
  • Meetings are much easier with a colleague. It is difficult to conduct a business development meeting on your own, given that you will need to ask questions, actively listen and also take notes.
  • Consider the type of people you are meeting, and try to reflect the dynamic when it comes to age, seniority and gender.
Questas – Business development training

Running effective meetings is just one strategy to help develop a business. Questas provide business development training for industries such as engineering, law and property to help professionals from a technical mindset create significant results and sales performance.

Read more about our business development training.

We are a business development consultancy which is passionate about helping our clients develop processes, skills and behaviours that will result in increased sales and improved margins.

Optimise your selling opportunity

Creating a positive impact at that first client meeting.

Effective Business Development Meetings - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Effective Business Development Meetings

Download this guide to maximise your time and effort to win more sales.

Get it now

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors. Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales...

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First impressions Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don'ts if you will, of creating the...

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at...

Quash imposter syndrome and optimise the business opportunity

Attending a ‘World Leading’ Event can be very daunting. Don’t let being a little fish in a big pond overwhelm you –  Gary Williams shares how he addressed his concerns and went prepared to optimise the opportunity. I recently attended #MIPIM2018. It was my first time...

Make your business development planning more successful

Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation...

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’ A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking...

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk. Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management. Collaboration is a word used more in...

How To Be Brilliant At Winning Bids & Tenders

Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business, but it’s often seen as a chore. Sarah Amery shares an effective model that will boost your ability to create successful bids. Sometimes its difficult to know where to start or how to organise content,...

Transforming your sales programme

  This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Pi magazine, published by Howden Insurance Brokers Is it time your team changed its approach to sales? Read on to discover some practical advice about transforming your sales programme and making...

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Do you dread the thought of attending an event with the purpose of networking? Annabel Miller shares her top ten networking nuggets. It is fairly daunting: attempting to ingratiate yourself with strangers, make meaningful conversation and hopefully leave with useful...
Make your business development planning more successful

Make your business development planning more successful

Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation programme, whilst others have simply sought to make a positive shift in their sales efforts.

Whether you are considering a major change or a few tweaks to your approach, I’ve come up with the following key points that you should consider as part of your plans.

1. First, answer the question “Why are we doing this?” There must be a compelling reason for change, with a clearly articulated “what will happen if we do not make these changes” and why the current status is unacceptable.

2. Design your programme. Have a clear vision about what the newly transformed organisation will look like. For example, “In 3 years time we will be working in these sectors, we will have these key clients, we will be known for….”

The vision needs to be supported by 12 month objectives, Here’s an example of key objectives.  Our objectives over the next 12 months are: 

  • To have made our first sale in the Oil & Gas sector
  • To have doubled the number of business development meetings we are having as a business,
  • To have developed a Key Client programme for our top 10 accounts.

It’s then important to clear the KPI’s for those involved, so they can focus on these new objectives.

Business Development Planning

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3. Put together the right team to drive the programme. Your team make up will be somewhat dependent on the size of the programme, but to make it work you will need senior sponsorship. One of the firms I worked with had the CEO, CFO, Head of BD/Marketing, Head of HR and the four business unit leaders on the team.

4. Develop skills, process and behaviours. You will need to include training into your programme. Don’t make the mistake that many make and think that a one-off training course will develop sustained behavioural change. It doesn’t! Training works if: a) people know why they are doing it, b) how it will help them do their job better, c) they are given support following the event, and d) there are follow ups and refreshers.

5. Give your best and potential performers access to coaching. This demonstrates a real commitment to improving people through strong, challenging and empathetic coaching. It complements training and allows the recipients to really embed new habits. Coaching should be given to both individuals and teams. High-performing teams, whether they are leadership, key client, market/sector teams, can take the business to new places and turbo-boost business development.

6. Make sure you measure and monitor progress: Track the KPI’s, celebrate successes and make sure to involve, not dictate.

7. Lastly, be very clear about the behaviour you now expect and do not tolerate poor behaviour, regardless of seniority or past performance!

If you would like to know more about how I could help with your sales training and coaching, please get in touch.  This article borrows from research (McKinsey, Hinge Marketing) as well as my own experiences.

Business development planning

Invest time in your BD approach for new and existing clients.

Business Development Planning - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Business Development for Technical Experts

Download this guide to improve your sales strategy.

Get it now

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors. Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales...

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First impressions Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don'ts if you will, of creating the...

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at...

Quash imposter syndrome and optimise the business opportunity

Attending a ‘World Leading’ Event can be very daunting. Don’t let being a little fish in a big pond overwhelm you –  Gary Williams shares how he addressed his concerns and went prepared to optimise the opportunity. I recently attended #MIPIM2018. It was my first time...

Make your business development planning more successful

Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation...

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’ A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking...

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk. Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management. Collaboration is a word used more in...

How To Be Brilliant At Winning Bids & Tenders

Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business, but it’s often seen as a chore. Sarah Amery shares an effective model that will boost your ability to create successful bids. Sometimes its difficult to know where to start or how to organise content,...

Transforming your sales programme

  This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Pi magazine, published by Howden Insurance Brokers Is it time your team changed its approach to sales? Read on to discover some practical advice about transforming your sales programme and making...

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Do you dread the thought of attending an event with the purpose of networking? Annabel Miller shares her top ten networking nuggets. It is fairly daunting: attempting to ingratiate yourself with strangers, make meaningful conversation and hopefully leave with useful...
Sales secrets of high growth companies

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability

Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’

A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking about professional services, there are some interesting ideas about how to drive organic growth through the development of people. Having worked with thousands of professionals over many years, we have recognized that you can’t turn an engineer/lawyer/surveyor into a sales-person (or extremely rarely), but you can equip them with the tools, techniques and confidence to make an impact in their markets.

McKinsey surveyed more than a 1000 wide-­ranging companies and found that a rigorous focus on sales training is a clear differentiator between the fast and slow-growing companies. “Just under half the fast growers spend significant time and money on sales training, compared to 29 percent of slow growers.” What was really interesting though is that among the high-growers there was a feeling that they still needed to do more in areas such as ‘Understanding customers specific needs’, ‘Pipeline Management’ and ‘Account Planning’.

One of the surveyed organisations tried a new approach to improving sales performance after years of fruitless initiatives: “Instead of focusing solely on what sellers had to do, the program also devoted significant attention to building the talents and capabilities to enable them to do it, making a substantial investment in teaching skills and enforcing their use with specific goals.” The result? A 25% improvement in productivity across all regions within 18 months. More impressive still, the gains stuck, and two years later performance was still improving.

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So what can professional services firms take from this insight?

A significant weapon in a firm’s arsenal when fighting competition is the ability of its people. Not just their technical ability (which is important), but their selling ability as well. It used to be that one or two very well connected, very able ‘Rainmakers’ would create work for their juniors simply by working their network and being in the right place at the right time. Today’s world is different; yes, you still need to be well connected, but no longer can a firm really drive growth by relying on a few people to bring in the work. The successful modern professional is an all-rounder with the following attributes:

  • Good technical ability, keeping up with advances and changes.
  • Has a business and personal development plan encompassing objectives for both business targets and personal brand.
  • Has a strong and growing reputation (either for quality, niche player etc.) both online and offline.
  • Is a relentless networker who eats and drinks where her clients gather, writes articles for publications her target market reads, speaks at events where her chosen audience attends.
  • Understands the sales process and invests (or demands their firm invest) in learning skills and techniques for continuous improvement.

Questas Quote Marks Circle“Ultimately, those firms that invest continuously in developing sales and client management skills are those that will win more of the ‘pie’ than their competitors!”

Optimise your selling opportunity

Creating a positive impact at that first client meeting.

Effective Business Development Meetings - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Effective Business Development Meetings

Download this guide to maximise your time and effort to win more sales.

Get it now

Six ways to use EQ – or Emotional Intelligence – to win more work

In this RICS article, Gary Williams of Questas, discusses EQ, or Emotional Intelligence, and how it can help you get the edge over your competitors. Embrace the human side of business relationships and you will be more confident with clients, more effective with sales...

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First impressions Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don'ts if you will, of creating the...

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at...

Quash imposter syndrome and optimise the business opportunity

Attending a ‘World Leading’ Event can be very daunting. Don’t let being a little fish in a big pond overwhelm you –  Gary Williams shares how he addressed his concerns and went prepared to optimise the opportunity. I recently attended #MIPIM2018. It was my first time...

Make your business development planning more successful

Having worked with different professional services clients over the years, I’ve seen many try to transform their approach to sales (or business development, if you prefer), says Annabel Miller. Some of these organisations have put together a formal transformation...

Sales secrets of high growth companies

Gary Williams looks at the impact of investing in sales ability Winning more than your fair share of the ‘pie’ A recent McKinsey article focused on the ‘Sales secrets of high-growth companies’. It wasn’t focused on any particular sector, but when thinking...

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk. Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management. Collaboration is a word used more in...

How To Be Brilliant At Winning Bids & Tenders

Competitive bidding is an essential part of everyday business, but it’s often seen as a chore. Sarah Amery shares an effective model that will boost your ability to create successful bids. Sometimes its difficult to know where to start or how to organise content,...

Transforming your sales programme

  This article originally appeared in the October 2017 edition of Pi magazine, published by Howden Insurance Brokers Is it time your team changed its approach to sales? Read on to discover some practical advice about transforming your sales programme and making...

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Do you dread the thought of attending an event with the purpose of networking? Annabel Miller shares her top ten networking nuggets. It is fairly daunting: attempting to ingratiate yourself with strangers, make meaningful conversation and hopefully leave with useful...
Working together for better KAM

Working together for better KAM

This article originally appeared in PM magazine. For further details go to http://www.pmforum.co.uk.

Chris Founds and Gary Williams look at harnessing the power of collaboration to achieve successful Key Account Management.

Collaboration is a word used more in business now than at any other time in our careers. Management teams use it when they want their organisations to break down so called ‘silos’ and employees use it when they need the help of others to achieve their objectives. Clients use it when they want us to work with fellow suppliers.

There is plenty of scope here for the cynic to suggest that the client’s motivators behind this call for collaboration are less than totally altruistic, in fact one might argue that the very nature of business is about being better than our competitors and all the focus is on differentiation and how to become No. 1.

There is of course more than an element of truth in this view, but it is possible to become hugely successful by developing a collaborative ethos at the heart of the organisation. One of the ways professional and engineering services firms collaborate internally by cutting across discipline‘ silos’ that hamper them is through a client management programme.

First of all let’s define what we are talking about.

  • Collaboration: A working practice whereby individuals and/or organisations work together to a common purpose to achieve personal and business benefits. 
  • Key Account Management: Delivering services that meet or exceed client expectations whilst nurturing existing and building new relationships. Developing an understanding of the client that allows the supplier to help them achieve their objectives

In the table below is a list of ‘Habits of Highly Collaborative Organisations’ from a recent Forbes Magazine article. Below this we have added the principles of Key Account Management.

 

Highly collaborative organisations

Lead by example:

Employees follow their leaders, not so much what they say but how they behave. Most successful companies have a culture which is lived and breathed at the top.

Individual benefit vs Corporate benefit:

If it’s all about how the organisation will benefit as opposed to how this approach will help the individual, uptake will be slow and patchy at best.

Strategy before technology:

It is essential to have the mindset and the will in place before any technology platform.

Learn to get out of the way:

Guidelines and objectives are necessary but then we need to empower the individual. After all, collaborating with your fellow man is a purely human behaviour.

Create a supportive environment:

This encompasses remuneration and incentive schemes as well as training, mentoring and coaching. Too many firms reward individual behaviour over team behaviour.

Measure what matters:

Purely financial measures against an individual will drive certain (often divisive) behaviours. Measuring things like how many introductions are made internally and externally, for example, will drive different behaviours.

Persistence:

Don’t allow ‘Collaboration’ to become this year’s initiative and then move on to the next thing next year. To create a highly collaborative organisation it is essential to plan to change for good.

The principles of sound Key Account Management:

Executive sponsorship:

The programme has to have the backing and support of the executive. Without it any momentum will quickly diminish.

Capturing hearts and minds:

Individuals have to know what’s in it for them to invest time, effort and energy. In most cases there are no financial incentives and the success of the programme relies on the motivation of teams.

Systems and processes:

Whilst it is important not to make a KAM programme a ‘tick box’ exercise, it is important that everyone involved understands how KAM works and who is responsible for what, etc. Key Client Management training then becomes crucial. CRM systems can make the process work very efficiently and allow data to be shared easily, but the mind-set comes first.

Invest in creating a KAM culture:

When KAM works well, account teams believe they are there to protect and grow the clients in question and helping the client to achieve their goals overrules any internal ego and politics.

Measurement:

How will the account team (and the Exec) know if the programme is successful? Many firms make the mistake of only measuring output (increase in fees), without also measuring the inputs (e.g. number of new relationships, new services introduced, proactive ideas delivered, client feedback scores, etc.)

Meetings and momentum:

The team needs to meet regularly in order to maintain momentum, but these meetings can become monotonous and dull if all we are doing is looking back on what has happened since we last met. This information should be reported prior to the meeting to allow the focus to be on objectives and actions going forward.

 

Read more about the top five factors when establishing a new key account management programme: The Key To Growth: Key Account Management.

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Key Principles of Collaboration

The Institute of Collaborative Working (ICW) has defined key principles of collaboration set against a simple framework. There are three overriding principles that draw many parallels with Key Account Management:

  1. Common vision and leadership
  2. Right behaviours and culture
  3. Collaborative processes and tools

Let’s work together

So, successful collaborative working is as much about the behaviours and motivations of individuals as it is about bringing groups together to achieve a common purpose. This is absolutely true of any KAM programme where collaboration is vital in areas such as relationship mapping, common goals, team performance and adding value. It is key to the successful outcome of any project, framework or strategic partnership.

Working together and staying together are important aspects of collaborative working and very much core to the eight main objectives championed by the ICW which has led to the British Standard 11000 (now ISO 44001):

Phase 1 – Strategic objectives:

  • Awareness
  • Knowledge
  • Internal Assessment

Phase 2 – Engagement objectives:

  • Partner Selection
  • Working together
  • Value creation

Phase 3 – Management objectives:

  • Staying together
  • Exit Strategy

Accreditation for Collaboration

BS 11000 [now ISO 44001] reinforces what can be achieved through an accredited approach and says: “Effective collaboration will, over time, create an environment that engenders trust between organisations. This in turn will increase their ability to deliver joint efficiency improvements, challenge traditional working practices and explore new ways of working, enhance transparency and openness, strengthen their ability to challenge and innovate, understand and overlay each party’s governance and assurance processes.”

Collaboration as a factor in successful tendering

Recent procurement by a number of major national infrastructure organisations identified and sought to include collaboration as a new mandate. This required suppliers, consultants and delivery organisations to demonstrate their behaviours, cultures, values and how they have worked together collaboratively. This involved tenderers having to attend assessment centres where their approach to and competencies in teamwork and collaboration with other organisations were examined.

Executive sponsorship

Like any commitment of this type, to be successful requires a huge commitment from the Executive level down to those involved in delivery at a project level. The appointment of a Senior Executive responsible is a key step to securing senior level sponsorship, and coupled with clear objectives that have been mutually developed, this provides an excellent platform for collaboration.

Trust is the key-stone to collaboration

The essence of all relationships is that organisations (and individuals) learn from each other, build trust and become stronger, more rounded and progressive as a result.

So, collaborating, like key account management is all about working together to achieve a better outcome than we would achieve if we worked in isolation. Breaking down barriers, working out where synergies exist, admitting weaker areas and combining strengths can deliver incredible results.

The link between good Key Account Management and Collaborative working has never been stronger and those organisations who create a collaborative culture are more likely to be successful. This includes collaborating with clients in the pursuit of highly effective account management. Without their input we are in danger of simply ‘doing’ KAM to our clients in the hope it will lead to more opportunities. Where we embrace the ethos of collaboration from the outset with all stakeholders – internal and external, we can develop long-term profitable and rewarding relationships for all involved.

 

Chris Founds is the Business Development Director for Capita Infrastructure.

Gary Williams is the Managing Director at Questas Consulting Ltd, which provides Key Client Management and Client Account Planning training to professional and engineering firms.

Essential Key Account Management Training

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Account management planning

Strategic and tactical approaches to client account management.

Client Account Planning - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Make your Key Account Planning successful

Download your guide to grow your key account management skills.

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Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Our top ten tips for non-confident networkers

Do you dread the thought of attending an event with the purpose of networking? Annabel Miller shares her top ten networking nuggets.

It is fairly daunting: attempting to ingratiate yourself with strangers, make meaningful conversation and hopefully leave with useful leads – all while balancing a warm glass of wine, a chicken satay kebab and a stack of business cards!

Follow these tips to help you navigate the room, spend time with the right people, and make a graceful exit having agreed a number of follow-up conversations.

1. Do your homework

Find out who will be there, what they do and who they do business with. Make a short list of people that you would ideally like to meet, and bone up on what is going on in their industry or organisation so that you can impress by talking knowledgably about their world.

2. Travel light

Check your big bags and coats in. Don’t load up a plate with nibbles on the way in. If you need a bag make sure it’s got a shoulder strap. You will need a (preferably ketchup-free) hand to give dry, firm handshakes. Keep your business cards handy – but don’t throw them out unless you’ve built up enough rapport for it to be appropriate.

3. Position yourself near the drinks area

If you don’t fancy striding into the middle of the room and breaking into groups, then standing near the bar or coffee area is a great place to start up a more low-key conversation even if it starts with: “Can I pour you a glass of water?” or “Have you tried the crabcakes?”

4. Remember your host

If you have been invited to the event make sure you find them to say hello and thank them for asking you. If you are keen to meet someone that they can introduce you to then don’t be afraid to ask – this is a networking event after all! Follow up with a thanks to them afterwards as well. Always good to be remembered positively.

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5. Introduce yourself with impact

On the way to the event think about how you will introduce yourself and what you do in a short snappy soundbite. Don’t use jargon and acronyms – chances are people won’t have a clue what you do. Make sure you remember other people’s names by using them quickly, which will seal them in your brain.

6. Be interested, don’t try to be interesting

Most people enjoy talking about themselves and respond well to anyone who finds them fascinating. Ask them questions they are unlikely to be asked: Why did they choose their job? What is the best thing that happened to them at work today? Who do they credit with having helped them most in their career? This gives you the opportunity to move your conversation from being merely transactional to being relational. It also allows busy people to tell a story they like telling to someone who is really interested. They will remember you and feel a connection.

7. Listen well

There is nothing worse than talking to someone in a noisy crowded room while they alternate between looking over your shoulder at the door and scanning around the room at other groups. Your time talking to one person may only be short, so make it matter and make them feel important.

8. Breaking in and moving on

Ideally, you should aim to start talking to people on their own or people in groups of three or more. Couples in conversation are hard to interrupt, and they may be old friends or colleagues and not want to cut short their discussion. Make sure you don’t spend all your evening talking to the same group. It’s not rude to say: “It’s been great to meet you, have a lovely night and hope to see you again.” A smooth way of moving on is to offer to introduce the person you’ve finished talking with to someone else. That way they aren’t left on their own and you come off as socially adept and well-connected.

9. Mind your manners

Put your phone away. Don’t drink too much. Don’t be the last to leave. Thank your host and any staff that have helped you.

10. Follow up

When you are at the event and have made a connection with someone, be specific about how you will follow up. Ask, “Can I give you a call next week and we’ll make a date for coffee?” so that when you do ring, they are expecting it. Just connecting with someone on LinkedIn following an event will not guarantee any development of your business relationship.

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Creating a positive impact at that first client meeting.

Effective Business Development Meetings - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Effective Business Development Meetings

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