BY Russell Wardrop

DATE: 10 FEB 2014


Business to business (B2B!) content marketing is all the rage these days and is a boon for professional introverts- professionals who are introverts- the world over. All you need do is get your smashing content out there on twitter, instagram, flickr, big-E-font and facebook and wait for the enquiries to roll in. (One of those is made up.)

Or not. If that is your strategy you will wait a while. I am a big fan of content marketing- I'm doing it now- but it is a mistake to think it does all your early stage business development. Virtual visibility is all very well, but actual visibility is better.

A Glasgow based global logistics head of business development I am workng with was surprised that half of our work is in traditional professional services. He assumed such intellectually bright people would be terrific at selling, which is like assuming a synchronised swimmer would make a good fist of snowboarding. It is stating the obvious that, while some of the grace and fitness essential in the former can be applied to the latter, the activities themselves are poles apart (apologies). He had made the assumption that polish and intellect made for good business development. They don't. No more than a colourful cap and nose clip at the top of steep slope will get you through a Wildcat Rusty Trombone 720 McTwist.

Few would admit it, unless they are a novice standing at the top of a mountain of sheet ice with lauch pads at regular intervals, but fear can stop us taking our business development activities seriously. You have to embrace the fear or you might spend too long remaining aloof from the necessity of getting down and dirty with it. Selling- let's call it selling- requires resiliance, self regard and optimism. The good news is that you can work on these key emotional intelligence traits and when you do you will become more confident in your ability to persuade your prospects. So get to it.

And confidence. Now that comes from collecting the right skills and reflecting on those skills. There are some very specific skills you can learn that lead to activities you undertake, that increase your chance of getting to yes. Read that sentence again: it's simple. Learn the skill, take action, get a result. There is no magic bullet, ask any athlete on the slopes or in the pool, but there is lots of hard graft, skills development and repetition. Practise really does make perfect.

And finally, taking action. Sit at the edge of the pool or on the nursery slopes for as long as you want; wait for the right moment and fret, towel covering your bits; tell yourself you need this or that or the next thing before you take the plunge. But know this: someone else is already diving in. To be sure it is important to know your stuff and I would be the last to say that training and coaching cannot be transformative, but you need to go out there and get busy.

The chap I mentioned earlier is in London for a day this week, going round his clients, present and future: It's as old fashioned and traditional as it gets and it works. It is a million miles away from fancy content-rich articles and meta data, important as they are. Some time ago I asked a group of associates in a City law firm if they knew a partner who was an expert rainmaker in their business; someone who thinks nothing of making a call and arranging a chat morning, noon or night. They all pointed to him at that moment, as he was out on the balcony. On his mobile.


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about the author

Russell Wardrop is our Chief Executive. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop him an email and we will be in touch.

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