Instead of focusing on the bottom line, reset your mindset
As marketing consultants, part of our job is to make sure our clients are happy, come back for more, and introduce us to more clients who come back for more. This role can sometimes lead us to feel the pressure to be continually in “sales” mode. To me, that mode can be exhausting and not entirely fun. So, I have a different approach to business development: do good work and be a good human. If you think about your most cherished work or important relationships, they are special because they are genuine and organic. Why should we expect to develop a great working relationship with a client in any other way?
In my experience as a nonprofit executive director, my most important job was to keep the doors of the organization open. That meant constantly fundraising and recruiting board members to share their time, and expertise. As a Minnesotan, the idea of asking for anything, let alone money, is downright against my nature.
However, the more I settled into the role, I learned that I was most successful in securing resources for the organization when I wasn’t “fundraising” or “recruiting.” Instead, I talked with people about my work and why I cared about the cause. Since these were just conversations about something I was passionate about, the pressure on the relationship to secure/give up resources almost entirely dissipated. We had genuine and exciting conversations about something we both cared about.
Those conversations naturally developed into relationships that inspired action—like donating time, money, or expertise. I was astonished at how “easy” it was to fundraise when I took all the pressure of “selling” the organization out of the equation. What truly made us successful though, was when the people who got involved this way wanted to share their experience with their own friends and colleagues. These strong relationships helped grow our network of support more quickly. Within three years of adopting this mindset, my team grew our startup nonprofit budget by 2050%, built an incredible and engaged Board of Directors, and quadrupled the number of low-income music we could serve.
When I decided to change career tracks and joined the world of marketing agencies, this lesson stuck with me. I approach my work with a similar mindset—be genuinely interested in the work and its potential for impact, then share this experience with clients. When we as consultants are interested in driving impact, not sales, the pressure to secure the next PO is diminished and all parties involved can just focus on doing great work with great people. So far, this mindset has helped me successfully grow my own book of business by over 650% in just six months.
It seems so simple, but I urge you to try this mindset for a quarter and see what it does for you and your clients. Everyone needs to grow their book of business, but instead of focusing on the bottom line, focus on doing great work and being a great human. I promise, everyone will be much happier for it!