EP 60 – Alycia Sutor – Selling as an Act of Service to Become Authentic in Your Business Development
Alycia Sutor is the Managing Director at GrowthPlay and leads the Professional Services Team. She has more than 20 years of experience helping lawyers and executives accelerate their sales performance and revenue growth. Alycia began in this industry when she discovered the opportunity to help lawyers rethink how they bring themselves into being so that the world can rethink the value that lawyers bring to the world. Please reach out to Alycia at www.growthplay.com
Understanding Sales as a Service and the Meaning Behind It
One thing that Alycia became enamored by very early on was the idea of what would happen if the idea or notion of selling was turned on its head and instead was thought about as an act of service, especially for people who don’t choose to go into sales as their primary career or profession. Lawyers are doer sellers which means that they do the work and then someday figure out that to continue elevating their career they need to eventually sell that work as well. Very few lawyers are inclined to think about selling as something that feels comfortable to them. So, what would it look like to create a disciplined approach to selling as an act of service? Extending the timeframe of how and who the services are being provided for. It tends to feel much more authentic and helpful.
It begins by helping people to embrace the mindset because if you are going to sell or develop a business as an act of service, there are two fundamental skills. One is how we build authentic relationships with someone and that happens long before someone identifies as a potential prospect. How do you create a relationship that feels genuine to the other person based not on what is authentic or natural for you, but also what makes sense for the person that you are trying to connect with? It is a frame of mind of how you think about how you are bringing yourself into being with other people from the beginning, but also fundamental about how you are able and willing to solve problems that other people find value in being solved. The other person has to define what the most important problems or highest issues are that someone can help them with at the moment. All of these things start way before someone picks up the phone and it impacts every interaction that you have with people – whether it be a phone call, waiting in line with somebody, showing up at a networking event, how you answer an email, how you write the proposal, etc. These things ultimately leave a mark that starts to create the kind of context and evidence that you are somebody who others want to work with, not because they have to but because they want to.
How to Keep Your Relationships with Clients and Prospects Open
One thing Alycia is constantly advocating for lawyers to improve upon is their ability to prepare for important conversations, not just the technical ones or the ones that happen in the context of client meetings, but to prepare for important relationship-building conversations. She uses the Core Four as preparation as a framework to help people get into the right mindset. One –Always understand what your objective is. What is it that you are trying to do or accomplish in the course of the conversation that will make the other person leave thinking that was a good use of their time? Have a clear sense of what is going to be useful as an outcome to the person you are meeting with. Two – If you are prepared, you can identify the kinds of questions that you might need to ask somebody else to figure out what they need the most. So, how are you going to learn more about their business, their issues, their problems, their challenges, the kinds of things they are most interested in? Your job is to be helpful in any matter, shape, or form. Three – Something critical to be helping lawyers be more thoughtful is for them to think about what kind of key messages or impressions they are trying to leave behind. What do you want people to walk away saying or believing about you? Four – What are the definitive next steps or outcomes of a conversation that will continue to propel further relationship building or interactions? You might have an introduction to extend that gives you a reason to follow up or you might have an offer to share some insight, an article, a checklist, a template, some presentation materials. When you leave a conversation with this exit, it helps you identify what the next step is and what that other person feels is also useful or valuable. Your job is in part to stay connected and stay in the relationship in a way that is useful or valuable to the other person. If you give up too early, you are often cutting yourselves from opportunities.
If you have done your homework upfront by asking the great questions about what outcome your client or your prospect is seeking to get and how will they measure or know that has value, that begins to put your client in the headspace of what is going to be most important, but it also gives you information about what drives value for the client. Think about the 3 “A’s” to overcome an objection and the “A’s” mean that you would want to acknowledge the fact that you just heard your client or prospect indicate something important to them, ask further questions to help you understand what seems to be out of alignment for them, and advance particular possible alternative solutions.
The Levels of Working with Professionals to Develop Business Plans
There are three levels or ways in which Alycia and her team work with clients to develop business plans. One is working with individual lawyers to help them build business development skills or muscle and this is often done in coaching programs. In the coaching programs, they help lawyers build a business development roadmap for the next 6 to 12 months depending on how far ahead it may be. There is also a transition process in that coaching experience where they equip lawyers with tools, templates, and a plan and then help them transition support over to internal team members than can help keep that lawyer supported moving forward. The second level works with teams of lawyers helping them to get aligned and collaborate in a way that helps create experiences where people want to work with them. There is a clear documentation process and they use what is called a “playbook” which helps people on the team be clear on who is doing what and how each person plays specific roles and has contributions. They use this as an aligning tool to help team members understand what needs to happen and keep the momentum moving forward. The third and final level is at the leadership level which helps leaders of firms create growth maps that are living, breathing documents that allow leaders to figure out where they see the best growth opportunities and then how to align the people, process, and system to support the opportunity to create more opportunities.
The idea of selling or selling themselves feels inauthentic to lawyers, so how do you out-behave the competition by adhering to the Platinum Rule (do unto others as they want to be done unto)? It is not about what people think about you when they are with you, it is about how you make them feel about themselves when you are with them. If we can be thoughtful, other-centered, and generous people and do that with some discipline and intentionality, then business development has a way of being very authentic and that is how it becomes an act of service.