Kaplan Coaching and Consulting

Case Studies - Trusted Advisor

Individual Case Study

A Crash Course in BD Skills

Jeffrey, a 15-year partner in a global professional services firm, was highly respected for his world-class technical skills. He enjoyed many C-suite relationships and periodically freely shared his knowledge with his cadre of contacts. Trouble is, he had never been formally required to develop new business. Despite his many relationships, he rarely, if ever, brought in any work on his own.

Things changed dramatically for Jeffrey when his firm introduced new management practices requiring him to develop $3.5m of business within 12 months - or face the unthinkable. Due to his lack of experience, Jeffrey was frustrated about where to begin. When Steve met him, he had already spent six months trying to score the "big one" with no success.

The relationship began by clarifying the nature of what it really means in practice to be a trusted advisor and why working this way made sense - both in the short and long-term. Ironically, to most of his clients Jeffrey was already highly respected technically; it was the relationship-building and business development skills he needed to master.

Focusing on Jeffrey's existing relationships, Steve worked with him to develop a realistic strategy to position Jeffrey over time as a trusted advisor. They also focused on a number of key actions he could take immediately to begin to build trust and confidence in new relationships. Together, they developed a structured approach and a detailed action plan that Jeffrey made his own. He pursued and won smaller projects at first. As his experience and confidence grew, he gradually won larger assignments. Despite a slow start, he almost met his first-year target and has surpassed it each year since.

Steve continues to advise Jeffrey and his team both virtually and in person.

Group Case Study

In a Big Four accounting firm Steve worked with a global sector leader who led a group of roughly 30 lead partners (in Europe and the USA) responsible for representing the full range of the firm's offerings to some of the world's largest companies. Lead partners were responsible for developing key relationships across their account beginning with the CFO, and extending to other C-suite executives and spanning the client's global operations. Along with the significant responsibility came a sizable BD quota.

When the client assumed the role of global sector leader Steve first helped him win "the battle for hearts and minds". He helped introduce the trusted advisor approach and backed it up with concrete examples of how partners could begin to work differently with clients. Steve assessed the partners, identified areas in which they could improve, and helped the client understand how he could coach them himself as opportunities arose. By continuing to develop his own trusted advisor skills, the client gained the respect and buy-in of his team and was continually able to lead from the front.

As Steve added more value his involvement grew. He helped design and facilitate the programs for their global conferences. He also created an "action learning" program in which the partners shared their experiences with one another on a monthly basis.

As a result of his involvement there is wide-spread support for the trusted advisor approach to developing relationships and the financial results continue to improve.

As the relationships deepen and broaden and their track record of delivering results continues to increase, the performance expectations in this sector continue to grow.

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