Great things in business are never done by one person;
they’re done by a team of people.
This quote came to mind recently when considering the roles of marketing and business development in professional services. Why? In any team, the roles of the individuals in achieving the team’s common goal need to be clearly defined and understood for that team to be effective. Everyone knows that. However, maybe what isn’t always appreciated is the fact that marketing and business development should be one team, part of the same process with the same objective. They need to be truly integrated, to genuinely work together, to be effective. This isn’t as widespread as you might expect.
The differences between marketing and business development have been extensively discussed and written about. They are increasingly understood in professional services. In terms of resource, expertise, audience and activity the two functions have clear differences. However, their shared purpose – to identify, nurture and convert prospects to grow the firm – means they need to collaborate and understand each other’s roles to succeed. To use a rather simplistic rugby analogy, its virtually impossible for either your fly-half or scrum-half to be man of the match, if the other is having a shocker (with apologies to those that don’t follow the oval ball game!). Their symbiotic relationship requires them to work together, communicate continuously, share knowledge and truly understand the value of each other’s roles for each of them, and the wider team, to perform.
A brief consideration of each of the stages of the typical buying process in professional services illustrates how each of these two functions need to collaborate to successfully convert prospects to clients;
Typically assumed to be the primary function of marketing, particularly on-line, but do not underestimate the effectiveness of key business development individuals in achieving this for their firms, for example through LinkedIn or attending key industry events.
Again, this should be a joint effort, a mix of on and off-line activities with marketing generating a mix of content – blogs, articles, bulletins etc – while business development teams should inform this content generation process, contribute through speaking engagements and seminars, as well as publishing their own content as individuals on platforms like LinkedIn.
As the relationship with the prospective client moves on to this stage, the conversation becomes more one-to-one in nature. It will likely be led by a business development individual(s) but supported by marketing to produce bespoke presentations, case studies or other material specifically for that prospect.
The culmination of efforts and where both teams need to work together the closest to succeed. This combines business development’s understanding of that client’s motives for purchasing and how their service can meet their needs, with marketing’s ability to produce the required pitch material to articulate that in a compelling way.
Throughout the whole process, both teams are nurturing and educating prospective clients, developing their trust until they are ready and confident to instruct that firm. Doing so in an integrated, joined-up way with a consistent message, is more likely to lead to great things…