A perennial question asked by marketers is what to do with professionals (lawyers, accountants, consultants) who are "library lawyers," a/k/a "grinders" or "drones" who don't do any business development. Should marketers try to teach them business development skills? Now I have the scientific answer:
Instead, work with the professionals who want to market.
I just had breakfast with Neil T. Witmer of Oak Brook, IL, who has a Ph.D. in organizational psychology. According to Witmer, the grinders and drones lack the essential personality elements to develop new business. You cannot change their personalities, and they may be unable to change themselves.
The five elements required for effective business development are:
- Drive. A person must be self-motivated and persist in the face of rejection. If a professional lacks this, they will never be a rainmaker.
- Persuasion. This is a hunting skill that involves the ability to ask questions about a potential client's business needs, and to successfully find a way to help them. You must convince the other person that you are the right one to solve their problem.
- Confidence. Another hunting skill -- you've either got it or you don't.
- Organization. The is the desire for structure and focus, which Witmer describes as a "farming" skill.
- Relationship skills. Another "farming" skill, this is the ability to get to know other people, start and continue a conversation with them, and take a personal interest in them.
So if a professional lacks drive and confidence, forget them. Leave them in the library or their offices, where they belong. No amount of coaching, training or individual business planning will ever work for them. They will always be people waiting for an assignment from someone else who can generate new business.
Interestingly, there are three elements to drive:
- Achievement. The person must have a desire to reach a goal.
- Competitiveness. The person must enjoy winning or beating others.
- Optimism. This is the "can do" attitude that enables people to overcome objections and rejection.
If one of the three elements is missing, the professional does not have Drive, and they'll never be a rainmaker. Witmer is in the business of testing executives and sales people to see if they are a good fit for their jobs. Stay tuned, because I've assigned him and his partners to write an article about this topic for the LawMarketing Portal. To make sure you are alerted when the article comes out, subscribe to the free Professional Marketing Newsletter.