EP 64 – Doug Ott – Getting to Know Your Contacts on a Personal Level to Improve Business Development

Doug Ott is the Founder of Doug Ott Consulting, LLC. Doug has been coaching and mentoring lawyers and accountants for the past 15 years and has been in business development for his entire career, over 30 years. He opened his own consulting practice about 4 years ago. Doug realized that there was a huge need for telling lawyers how not to sell, but how to connect with their prospective and existing clients to help them grow their business. His company, Doug Ott Consulting, works with lawyers all over the US including  small, medium, and large firms. 

If you would like to get in contact with Doug, you can check out his website at www.dougottconsulting.com or connect with him on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/dougott123/). You can also call him on his direct line at 415-350-9423. Doug is happy to offer a free 30min consultation for any quick question you may have.

Organizing Your Contacts List and Tracking Development of Relationships

Our current times are new territory for all of us and we have the opportunity to take advantage of the extra time that we have. It is a time to get better organized and become more focused. Even tactical business development efforts have been changed because of the situation. Doug is telling his lawyers to reach out to their contacts and just check in with them on a personal level and not worry about the business. Take this opportunity to reach out to contacts (prospective clients, existing clients, internal colleagues, referral sources) – you just need to be out there reaching out to people. 

Doug just released a 4-week challenge. The rules to his challenge are to reach out to 1 contact every day, 5 days a week, for 4 weeks. The stipulation is that the contact has to be someone that you have not talked to in at least the last 4 weeks. The idea behind this challenge is to see who you have not talked to in a while and what relationships are important out there that you could rekindle. Don’t call your contacts and talk business, but  just reach out and ask how they are doing. You can ask how they are coping with COVID and the lockdown situation. This might lead into a conversation for you to learn more about that person on a more personal level. Take this time to really change the way that you are reaching out to people. Leave it on a personal level to begin with and if that conversation then migrates into a business conversation, great, and if it doesn’t, then that is okay too. 

When we get out of lockdown, the more challenging thing will be just reaching out to people and seeing how people are doing because the conversation starter may be a little more difficult. If you start to learn more about that person on a personal level and make those mental notes, then you can check in on that person in a month or 3 months and ask them about those things. Whatever you learn about your contacts on a personal level now can help you so much down the road. It is going to pay off when you are trying to figure out ways to stay in touch with those people and just check in with them.

Staying Top of Mind in Business Development

What are you doing to stay top of mind? Doug will usually task his clients to not only know that their contacts have a spouse and 2 kids, but to know the names of their kids and how old they are as well as the name of their spouse. Making your conversations more personal can make a huge difference in how you differentiate yourself from your competition. People want to work with those that they like and appreciate. Doug recommends using a relationship tracker and he created his own that is an Excel spreadsheet. It segregates clients into different buckets such as corporate clients, internal colleagues, referral sources, alumni network, and others. There is also a timestamp so you can timestamp everytime that you reach out to this person so that you can track the cadence of how often you reach out and also record the notes. Keep it simple and make sure that it is something you can actually use easily. You also need to be patient in what you learn about someone today might not pay off until a year or two down the road. Gifting can be great and if you can do it at a time that is not typical, like Christmas or Thanksgiving, it will stand out even more. Just do something different. 

If you would like to receive a copy of the relationship tracker Doug mentions above, send him an email at doug@dougottconsulting.com

Collaborating with Internal and External Colleagues

Collaboration is critical. If you work with a professional services firm, whether it is accounting or legal, the internal relationships are paramount to be successful in that firm. Usually the common thread is that the really successful partners have an incredible network internally within their own firm. Obviously the larger the firm, the more important it is because there are easier allies. Pick up the phone and call someone. Make a list of all the important internal colleagues that you need to maintain a relationship with and put that list in your relationship tracker. It is still a very important process to be staying in front of your colleagues during this time as well. It is proactive thinking and thinking about who else could you be really strategically targeting within your own firm who could help you grow one of your larger clients. You will also just develop great friendships. This is another opportunity to do that because this is a personal environment. Right now is really the time to open up and reach out to others to learn more about their practice and see how you can help eachother out. This is a time to connect with a mix of people in your network. Keep plugging away and keep planting those seeds and making the effort because the conversations you have today may really pay off in the next year or two.

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