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22 Feb, 2012

Guru Guidance Tips: How to Transition from Marketing to Business Development

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Read time: 1 minute, 41 seconds


The Scenario

The mentee has been working in the industry for several years as a marketing coordinator. As they grows in their career, they would like to take on more business development responsibilities. Currently, the firm’s principals handle most of the direct business development. Because yhe mentee does not have a technical A/E background, they are looking for suggestions on how best to make this transition. How should they propose this new role to firm leaders and in what ways can the mentee work with them to gradually take on a growing set of responsibilities? How can the mentee relate to potential clients and bring benefit to the firm without feeling like a salesperson?

How to Propose Increased Responsibilities to Firm Leadership

  • Communication is key
  • Suggest that you focus on new prospects at first, rather than maintaining relationships with existing clients
  • Taking on a larger BD role can free up firm leaders to work more billable hours
  • If you are doing a great job already, principals will likely be open to working with you to identify small, gradual steps you can take to increase your value to the organization

Learning to Make the Transition

  • Shadow someone in a Business Development role – could be a principal of your firm or someone else you have met professionally or through SMPS
  • Put a lot of effort into developing impressive presentations and attend, if possible
  • Become the thoughtful expert on initial client meetings
    • Do as much research as possible on the client beforehand – this will impress both the client and your principals
    • Demonstrate an understanding of the client and its drivers, and find ways to integrate this into your qualifications package and the meeting
  • Join non-marketing associations specific to the industry in which you are pursuing clients
    • Build your comfort level
    • Volunteer to help out and make contacts outside of a sales-type environment
  • Offer to help with contact management to familiarize self with the firm’s network of clients and prospects
    • Be careful not to get too bogged down in the data entry portion
  • Interview technical staff at your firm to become better versed in what they do and what issues may be important to clients

Potential issues

  • Be realistic about your time and what new responsibilities you are able to take on without hurting your existing work
  • Strategically choose to take on the responsibilities that will bring most benefit to your firm and to your career – don’t volunteer to take on everything
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