Here’s how Tonkin + Taylor won a client service award

An interview with Doug Johnson, Managing Director New Zealand, Tonkin + Taylor , by Ben Paul

Doug Johnson, MD, Tonkin + Taylor.

Each year, professional services firms across Australia and New Zealand battle it out for the Beaton Client Choice Awards. These awards, as nominated by their clients, name the best of the best when it comes to client service. And each year, after the awards are announced, and while the winners are still sipping champagne, the rest of us are left wondering ……how did they do it?

I decided to find out more about that client service secret sauce by interviewing Doug Johnson, Man [...]

Will a robot replace you?

By Ben Paul

Man v Machine.

There’s no doubt technology does some pretty cool things. In fact, it is a great enabler. Indeed, it has managed to speed up a lot of business processes and lead to efficiencies which have driven growth and economic prosperity. The effects on blue collar workers have been felt as lean manufacturing, and increasingly machines and robots, have replaced manual workers on production lines over the last 30 or so years. For many years most white collar professionals have felt secure that their skills and expertise will always be needed, and cannot be replaced. However, the landscape is changing rapidly and the rise of the machines is not bad news simply for the lower skilled workers.  Indeed, a recent McKinsey report (read report here) found that 20 percent of a CEO’s working time could be automated using current techn [...]

Worried your pitch is boring? Do this one thing to set yourself apart.

By Keith Dugdale

I think we all pretty much know that the briefs clients issue with Requests for Proposals (RFPs) usually only tell about 50% of the story – if you’re lucky.

Often they don’t really state the full problem or outline the full scope. Often there are glaring holes, or unexplainable things. Often the brief does not reflect the needs and concerns of all interested parties internally. Often they’re just written really poorly.

One significant thing usually missing from many RFP documents is why the entity is planning the project they have gone to market for. This disconnect is significant. Unless you as the potential provider understand why they are doing the project there are two major risks:

1. You may miss out on the other 50% of the story.
2. You will not be in a position to challenge them if they have gone to market for the wrong project to achieve the ultimate aim – the why.

We all know, at least in theory, that w [...]

The Big Sales Pitch

Post by Ben Paul, Director – New Zealand

I need to talk about my stuff!

I’ve noticed a growing trend across many salespeople and professionals, the desire to talk about what it is we do and what we offer. Deep down, we all know that this is probably something of a conversation killer. Things may have been going along very well and then suddenly, the client or target, is subjected to the big sales pitch moment. Then the person you’re meeting is most likely polite, may even say thank you, that sounds interesting and perhaps even “why don’t you send me a proposal on that?”

If that sounds like your typical meeting or even a successful meeting outcome to you, be warned it isn’t. It is most likely that the client has asked for the proposal to store on file, or as a polite way to end the meeting (see this post on the dangers of jumping to your solut [...]

Is your firm ready for these new competitors?

by Keith Dugdale

Everyone knows that in a B2B and B2C world, competition has never been so extreme. The internet coupled with a series of downturns in economies have significantly increased the competitive landscape. In B2C, we’re seeing apps being designed to scan bar codes in-store and tell the consumer where they can get their desired products the cheapest. Every B2B client that I work with tells me about how increasingly competitive their market is, how other firms are discounting to win work, how there are new niche entrants as well as large global corporates frequently arriving on the scene, ready to steal clients away.

While all of this is undoubtedly true, in my mind much of this discussion and concern has been far too narrow. Generally, they are looking at their historical competition and in some cases these new players. But what few seem to be able to do is look over the horizon at where the future competition will come from.

What might be? [...]

Repairing broken trust – what VW can learn from Marion Jones

Image by the Sydney Morning Herald

Ben Paul, Director, the Business of Trust, New Zealand.A guest blog by Ben Paul

Someone asked me the other day whether I think VW can ever rebuild the trust they have so badly broken with consumers the world over in wake of the recent emissions scandal.

It’s an interesting question. They’re pretty far down a hole at the moment, and I for one am very glad I’m not working in the PR department of VW, or on the floor as a sales rep. For all intents and purposes, it appears that they are just attempting to go about business-as-usual. This morning on my way to work I passed a billboard advertising one of their 4WDs, t [...]

5 great things to say at the start of meetings with prospective clients

You’ve only ever got one chance to make a first impression (weird, huh). It doesn’t matter whether you’re going on a date, meeting the future in-laws, going for a job interview or meeting with a potential client for the first time – what you do and say in those first couple of minutes is absolutely critical.

Science tells us that it’s the non-verbals that have the most impact on first impressions (so smile, stand up straight and lean in when you talk), but what comes out of your mouth is next in the first impressions firing line so you’d better make it good. When meeting with a potential client, it’s the first fork in the road where your options are to either become a trusted advisor or a commoditised salesperson.

This is not to say you can’t recover from a bad beginning – you can, but you’ll have to work even harder as you’ve already undermined some trust. When I first met Kathryn (my Marketing Director, but she used to be my client) I was inadve [...]

Do you have a habit of doing this in your conversations? If so, you need to stop.

Image by NBC News via Google Images

A lot of people have a bad habit of doing something in conversations that they’re not even conscious of doing, but usually results in the other person walking away feeling frustrated or annoyed. And I’m not just talking about sales conversations with clients or potential buyers, but business conversations with work mates and colleagues, and personal conversations with friends and family.

I’m sure none of you will be surprised by it, and yet chances are many of you still do it. In fact, many of you will do it in the very next conversation you have.

It’s a habit that I call [...]

How to turn a losing bid into a win

So you lost a bid.

Unfortunately, most organisations lose more bids than they win. Many actually aim to lose bids, with target 60% win rates and the like. That’s like your favourite sporting team starting the season saying ‘We’re aiming to win 60% of our games!’. Fans would be horrified, and management and players would probably all be sacked. The intention, in bidding or sport, should of course always be to win everything we go for.

When firms do lose bids, their reaction then tends to be “let’s go and do a debrief and find out why we lost.” While there is certainly a lot to be learned from this, and potentially some benefit to the client if it’s done right, the people that benefit most from that dialogue are from the organisation who lost the bid. The client organisation doesn’t really gain anything (apart from po [...]

Do your staff trust each other?

Recently I was in a client’s office when we got to talking about cross-selling – that old chestnut that every firm strives to conquer and yet few manage to do well. They were telling me that they saw an opportunity to grow a key client account, but they were nervous about introducing the lead from the other department to their beloved client. He simply hadn’t ‘earned their trust’.

Now, all of you know that I think building trust with your clients is the ‘secret sauce’ for building and sustaining business. But what some of you may not know is that I think the trust you build internally – with individual colleagues and between different departments – is just as critical. Because if you don’t trust the people you work with, you’ll never refer them or get them to help you with a client. Protective and divisive behavior rules the day, and we all know that does not a successful business make.

And yet, internal protective and divisive behavior by people [...]