Are you sure that’s what you want?

This article is about business development versus technical development. Most sectors have continuous professional development programmes, especially the professions, to ensure that they keep up to date with trends in their sector and also reduce the errors that cause problems for their clients, and indeed the general public and wider world. Read on to find out how the selection of such training can have a huge impact on a brand and how it affects business in general.

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Professional or Business Development?

What’s the difference between professional development and business development? In my experience professional, or technical, development helps reduce the costs of an organisation. One clear way to demonstrate that is the fewer mistakes a business makes the less it pays in compensation or insurance premiums.

Business development increases the income of a business. You could also provide examples where each discipline helps visa versa yet they are usually scenarios that take longer to play out.

How do I decide?

I read an interesting article recently by someone who had made some mistakes in business and they were quite clear about where they thought they had erred. They were also enlightened enough to realise that noticing you have made a mistake doesn’t mean you are not going to do the same thing again. Even more revealing was their realisation that the questions asked when things aren’t going to plan usually reveal tried and tested answers, no matter who is asking the asking the questions and who is delivering the answers.

The writer went on to explain how the questioning of the answers would be far more revealing and better for businesses long term than just listening to the same old stuff every time things didn’t go to plan. Around the same time I read the quote “whenever you fall over, pick something up”. Yes, learning from mistakes ensures you progress. This reminded me of an interesting interaction I had with a lovely man called Frank.

I need your help but we don’t

After piquing the interest of Frank, he started asking for more information to take back to his business partners. There’s only so much information you can provide until you have got under the skin of a business and understand what solution might be appropriate for them. Yet we did our best, and each step of the way we were in agreement it was the right thing to do. This is not unusual. Some people make decisions quickly, because they already know what they want. Others take their time, because they need to think about what their situation is, their people and whether their team will thank them for bringing us in.

The management team declined to meet us, and told Frank that they felt his technical qualifications were the barrier to him winning new clients, or his lack of a full set, like some of the people in their sector. Frank said he was inclined to agree with them, after he had endured four two-hour meetings discussing the subject. I sensed they had worn him down.

Out of the blue, a month or so later, I received an email from Frank. It explains it hadn’t gone unnoticed that I am connected to one of their hot prospects on LinkedIn and his company would love to be connected to them, so they could sell them something. It’s not unusual for me to receive these requests and some are very easy to make connections for.  This message was impossible to forward.

Considering that our discussions had been about how they were having trouble engaging their target market it was a little odd receiving this message asking us to spend time and effort making connections for them…….. because they previously said they knew how to do it themselves.

If they continue down that route they make never get the chance to showcase their professional and technical expertise. It’s all well and good being technically proficient but if you can’t find new clients or approach them when you know who they are, you could spend a lot of time and waste a lot of money preparing to be the most qualified person in your sector with the least profit.

Wrap Up: Frank is a real gentleman and seemed to be quite aware. So I expect pressure from the partners in business pressured him into sending a message asking me to do, for free, what his partners said they already knew how to do.

Top Tip: Before you invest time, and money, in any more learning or development assess what your business actually needs. If you are not having new conversations with clients or prospects there is little need to upscale your technical expertise. 

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