I had the privilege of addressing a group of construction managers from one of my clients last Saturday morning about sales.
Yes, you read that right. The (mostly) men in my audience manage construction projects for their clients, and their employer wanted them to be aware of selling opportunities that they might come across in their daily dealings with clients. They are the “boots on the ground” who are on the client site every single day; they see and hear everything that goes on. All of them on occasion stumble across sales opportunities for their firm, but too many of them pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and continue on as if nothing has happened.
David Maister uses three terms that I find particularly apt in this situation: grinders, minders and finders. Grinders are the folks who go about their daily work, and do it well. They know their first and most important obligation is to do what they’re paid for and deliver the expected value. Finders are the people in the organization whose main work is to go out and find new business; they’re the designated hunters. Minders are grinders too, but they also go further—they take time to network, develop contacts, and build long term relationships.
Minders can be a huge asset for any organization, because they have continuous access to clients; they have established credibility, and they have deep knowledge and insight into their needs. They can become aware of opportunities very early in the client’s buying cycle, which can be a tremendous advantage if they pass on the right information to the finder. They are the scouts who can make heroes of the finders.
Many minders come by it naturally—they like dealing with people and build relationships through just being themselves. But a lot of grinders are technicians, engineers, or professionals, who tend to be a bit more introverted and less likely to even pay attention. They may need a little boost.
Turning grinders into minders is first about attitude. They need to have the attitude that:
- Business development is in their own interest. It allows them to do the grinder work they love, and it avoids the disruption of moving to a different client or even city when current work dries up.
- Selling is not a “bad” thing. As long as they are sincerely helping clients solve problems or take advantage of opportunities, they do their clients a favor when they bring them new ideas.
- If they don’t take personal responsibility for it, it may never get done.
Second, it’s about education. You don’t need to give them sales training or try to turn them into finders, but you need to help them know how to spot and deal with opportunities. How much do they know about your firm’s total offerings? Once they know that, can you give them some specific keywords, scenarios or symptoms that they might notice which would indicate an additional need? If they do, do they know whom to notify to follow up on the opportunity?