It’s understood that when Mother Teresa was asked about how she developed her lifetime of service, her response was essentially one, one, one. Her actual words were, “I can only feed one person at a time. Just one, one, one. So you begin…I begin maybe if I didn’t pick up that one person I wouldn’t have picked up 42,000.” So, can business development relationship building be that simple? We believe so.

Apply the “just one, one, one” concept to business by thinking of building relationships as a “lifetime network”

The first step is to shift the focus from lengthy lists of strangers (a.k.a. targets, buyers). Next step, you contact one new person or make a commitment to strengthen one existing relationship. Invest the time, build it then add one more.

Lose the long target lists
Having spent most of my career in the Big 4 as a global business development leader, it was expected to begin each fiscal year with lists of targets, huge lists categorised by sectors, geography, size of the organisation and so on. Now, I am not proposing that this is not a good business practice. It is a good exercise. However, success is usually found by focussing on a few key targets, relationships. By biggest sales years were often the result of 10 or less relationships.

If you review your referrals and top clients over the last few years, I suspect that you will see a simple pattern – a handful of key accounts or people made your year, delivered revenue.

One of the most significant development areas of business development coaching is helping clients to pace themselves and remember that the process of building relationships is a marathon not a sprint. A viable network is not based on dozens of contacts and business cards collected at events.  Whilst it may look impressive to have dozens of names posted in your firm’s CRM system, it is only the relationships that you are nourishing on a regular basis that deliver results. As one of the most successful former Deloitte business development leader says, “If your call starts by having to state your name followed by remember when we last met, you do not have a relationship with this person.”

Focus on 3-5
We have found that best way to coach our clients and help them use their business development time in an efficient manner is as follows:

Associates & Sr. Managers: Power of 3 = 2 existing relationships + 1 new one

Directors & Partners: Power of 5 = 3 existing relationships + 2 new ones

Think highest and best use of your non-billable time.

The results
Our clients find that by giving just 2-3 existing relationships more attention they can easily be shifted to deliver more referrals and opportunities. These relationships often become the foundation of strong personal networks. The focus on one or two new relationships will prove in a relatively short period of time to be either fruitful or easily disqualified based on the knowledge that it’s not a mutually beneficially fit. If it’s not a fit, you qualified the target and can move to the next one with confidence.

Just one, one, one will bring balance and results to your business development efforts plus you will have built a lifetime network.

Come away with us to Lemon Bay Consulting…