Commit Then Blow Like Dizzy Gillespie

My son is learning the trumpet and last night I attended his jr. high ensemble concert. Unlike the typical band concerts where it’s impossible to identify any individual instrument, the ensemble concert is only five band members and nowhere to hide. On the way home he said, “The hardest part of the ensemble concert was producing a good sound because to do that you have to blow good and strong. But, just when you need to be confident you’re nervous about messing up and hesitate resulting is a weak sound.”

That got me thinking about business development (which many things do) and how the same can happen with strategic pursuits. Pursuits with the potential to change or accelerate the trajectory of a firm can raise anxiety levels because they require stepping beyond our comfort zone. When working in this zone doubt can creep in if we are unprepared. The lack of preparedness results in a hesitant response at the time we need to be fully committed. We play it safe, or worse, withdraw altogether.

So, what can we do to prevent these mid-pursuit jitters? If we are going have consistent success strategic pursuits need to be managed with the same attention we put into executing a project; strategize early, plan with flexibility, and execute fully. Early in a strategic pursuit is the time to ask the tough questions, establish a strategy, and determine if we are fully committed to the win; not the pursuit, the win. Knowing what we are committing to is a subtle, but psychologically important distinction. Committing to the pursuit will get you into it; committing to the win gets you through to the end. If you don’t have a strategy, don’t commit or you risk your pursuit ensemble making a weak, dissonant noise. If you do commit, do it fully and blow like Dizzy Gillespie to produce the sweet sound of success.

Upcoming Pursuit Coach Events

Society of Marketing Professional Services Northeast Regional Conference 
Boston, MA; April 23-24
The Business Development Spaghetti Sauce Principle
Pacific Northwest Section of American Water Works Association  
Bellevue, WA; May 29 – May 1
Credible or Approachable, What’s Your Message

If Not You, Then Who?

I received this comment from a Marketing Manager during the recent SMPS South Regional Conference, “The Pursuit Coach program was very interesting, but marketing staff rarely make it out to see clients. How can we benefit from it?” Since no question occurs in isolation I thought this would be a good place to address it for others asking the same thing.

The Pursuit Coach program is of direct and indirect benefit to marketing professionals. The Pursuit Coach program presents the skills and techniques you can use directly to organize and track pursuits, develop pursuit pipelines, and assist technical teams to more effectively communicate their ideas to the client.

In some way your success is linked to winning pursuits. Yet, winning pursuits is only indirectly under your control, at some point it is in the hands of the technical team and a portion of your success depends on their skills and success. Bringing The Pursuit Coach program to the attention of management and providing a means of making the technical staff more successful generates more personal success for you. A little effort on your part to get the technical staff on The Pursuit Coach program yields greater rewards for you and the firm many times over. Stop asking, “What can I do to win this project?”, this only provides kudos next week. Start asking, “What can I do to create more wins?” This moves your career forward. Which do you want?

Finally, have you experienced a lack of enthusiasm from technical staff when bringing new ideas forward because it is seen as “more marketing nonsense.” Here’s a secret I will let you in on as one of those “technical staff”, we want ideas for winning pursuits. We just want to think the information comes from someone we perceive as understanding our challenges. So, don’t despair, sometimes it isn’t the message, its just the perceived source of the information. So, bring The Pursuit Coach to the attention of your technical staff and if you sense resistance you can say, “Look, these ideas come from a technical professional, just like YOU!”

The Pursuit Coach program emphasizes that business development is a team activity and it is the responsibility of each member to bring forward ideas that will help the team succeed. The benefits of the The Pursuit Program are multiplied with each and every member of your team that puts the skills to work. Take the lead in getting yourself, and technical professionals you work with, on The Pursuit Coach team today and realize more success in your career through the shared success of others.

Upcoming Pursuit Coach Events

The Pursuit Coach has been invited to present at the upcoming conferences:

Society of Marketing Professional Services South Regional Conference 
New Orleans, LA; January 21-23
Debrief, or Not to Debrief, That is the Question
Pacific Northwest Section of American Water Works Association  
Bellevue, WA; May 29 – May 1
Credible or Approachable, What’s Your Message

Ingredients for Accomplishment

I am back to posting after a very busy couple of months associated with the very successful 2015 Launch.

I heard this in an interview on NPR last week and thought I would share it.

The Ingredients for Accomplishment

1. A Plan

2. Slightly less time than needed to comfortably finish

Know the Lyrics

The sweetest music to a person’s ears is the sound of their own name.

Learn a new clients name and remember it the next time you meet and you have made a giant leap towards rapport.


The Pursuit Coach 2015 Launch Is Coming!!

Managers, here is an opportunity to get technical staff with new BD responsibilities trained and get experienced technical staff some new tools.

Marketing staff, here is an opportunity to present to management to get technical staff the tools to help you and them win more pursuits.

Technical professionals, here is an opportunity to get BD skills developed specifically for you by someone who has been in your position.

Mark your calendars for September and keep a look out for details in The Pursuit Coach Newsletter.  Learn more about the program, view free training, and reserve your discount now and pay in full and begin the program in 2015.  Save 10-25% on everyone you sign-up.

Make 2015 the year you stop being satisfied with the results you get has start getting the results you want!

If We Know Better, Why Continue Down The Old Path?

Would you go to dinner, pay in advance, and be satisfied to only get 10% of your meal?  Psychologists state 90% of ideas will only be effectively retained after they have been presented for the sixth time.  So, why invest in training that only presents the material once and leaves your staff with only 10% retention of the information?  It’s time to do things differently!  Train  your staff in a manner that builds in repetition but doesn’t cost you billable time.

Strength in the Face of Naysayers

In a recent Q&A Tuesday blog post (April 3) I asked, “What’s your BHAG?”

Since that posting, I have come across a couple of other things that motivated me to revisit the topic. The first is a quote that I have come across several times but this time struck a particular note with me, “If your goals don’t scare you, they aren’t big enough.”

As I said in my blog post, a BHAG isn’t what drives day to day business. A BHAG is what alters the course, growth, and capabilities of your firm or the growth of one’s career. BHAGs challenge the status quo and challenging people to move beyond their comfort zone creates resistance. BHAGs bring out the Naysayers of Change. BHAGs require you and/or your firm to do things differently, to take calculated risks outside of the proverbial box, or at least push hard against it. When you communicate a BHAG you will run head long into naysayers that will challenge its achievability. The Pursuit Coach program provides tools from a variety of sources with which to develop your approach to business development and go beyond what is currently achievable.

The second thing that brought the topic back to mind was over Memorial Day weekend, as I was making brunch. I flipped on the television and came upon the movie Miracle, the story of the 1980 US hockey team.

The central character in the movie is Coach Herb Brooks and the movie addresses his assemblage and training of the gold medal winning team. Coach Brooks wasn’t successful simply replicating what others had done and hoping for different outcome, nor did he just get lucky, or execute his plan in a haphazard manner. He knew he couldn’t beat the Soviets with the status quo approach. He studied what was needed to win, and then, beginning with team selection months ahead of the Olympics, laid the foundation for victory. In my opinion, one of the keys to Coach Brooks success was that he didn’t take the easy approach and simply select the most talented players and then hoped they would “gel” into a team. This was the status quo and failed approach. He identified the team chemistry he believed was needed to win then selected the best players available that could provide that chemistry. Coach Brooks selected players he thought would best “gel” and then trained them to be a team. Coach Brooks had such confidence in what needed to be done that he was able to stand against the naysayers that challenged his philosophy from every direction for nearly a year from the day he announced the team roster until the final seconds ticked off against the Soviets.

The US Olympic Committee wanted a respectable showing. Herb Brooks had a BHAG that scared him, winning a gold medal. He believed in his calculated and original approach to achieving that goal. When you set your own BHAG you to will need to take calculated, yet uncommon, actions to achieve that goal. If you remember the game bring up the movie on Netflix and relive it and apply it you your business development BHAG. If you are under 35 years old, check it out for the first time. It really was as as big an event as the movie made it out to be. Watch how success isn’t only about effort, but commitment to an goal.

“You can’t be common, the common man goes nowhere; you have to be uncommon.”
– Coach Herb Brooks, 1980 US Olympic Gold Medal Hockey Team

Great players without chemistry will be an good team. Good players with chemistry, and a BHAG, can be a great team.

Who Knew?

Actress, singer, writer, poet, educator but who knew Maya Angelou understood business development?

“People won’t remember what you said. People won’t remember what you did.  People will remember how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

That is the heart of successful business development.