For many surveyors, the idea of sales meetings, networking events and large-scale presentations is daunting. But, as Business Development Consultant and Executive Coach Gary Williams explains, it can benefit both the business and themselves to work on skills that sit outside of their day job.
How are technical surveyors roles changing?
Previously, technical surveyors weren't involved in marketing or business development. Now, the changing nature of the industry means that this is being turned on its head. Most surveying companies now adopt the ‘doer/seller’ model where everyone is expected to contribute to business growth.
Organisations in the built and natural environment tend to employ very bright individuals who are technically extremely competent. They are often introverted personalities – deep thinkers, independent workers. But this is no barrier to selling. In fact, evidence suggests that introverts fair better at the art of ‘consultative selling’ than their extrovert colleagues. Good business development is more about listening, understanding and applying technical knowledge than having the gift of the gab.
So, if you are an introvert, here's how to approach those moments that at first may appear daunting, nurture your skills and develop confidence.
Become a confident presenter or public speaker
Like many other skills, getting better at presenting or speaking in front of people is mostly a case of practising and practising. Stand up and lead a section of a meeting, rehearse in front of mentors or buddies. Then ask for feedback.
There are also a few guidelines that you can consider when you’re creating a larger, more formal presentation:
- Make sure you know your audience and your subject matter. This will help you to feel more confident
- Keep your slides uncluttered, only putting three bullet points max on each. This will mean you don’t lose your thread or get distracted
- Make sure you know the point you want to make and keep it clear in your mind. Being succinct is key to being a good presenter
Also, before you get up to present, take a few deep breaths to calm your voice. Then you just need to go for it. Remember – it doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, most audiences warm to ‘real’ people who demonstrate they are human by showing a few nerves.
Start developing your networking
Going into a room and having to start conversations with strangers is a scary task for most people. The likelihood is that many of the others are feeling exactly the same but are genuinely interested in the technical surveying knowledge you have to offer.
These tips should help you to make networking events more enjoyable and productive:
- Get the attendee list before you go. Take a look through it and see if you can get in touch with anyone in advance of the event. That way you’re not starting every conversation from scratch
- Arrive early, find the host and ask to be introduced to a group of people. That way the pressure’s off you to start conversations
- Approach groups of three or five and introduce yourself. The dynamics of odd numbers means that the group is more open to accepting others. Even numbers mean people can pair off in conversation
- Learn how to exit a conversation politely so you can make the event as productive as possible. Don’t end up speaking to one group for too long. Sometimes just saying, “It’s been lovely to meet you but I must try to meet some other people,” will be all it needs.
Start with events where you know the majority of the people there or find groups of people with similar roles, such as RICS Professional Groups or RICS Matrics for young professionals.
Take the lead in sales meetings
Sales meetings take many forms such as a formal meeting or a quick catch up over a coffee. Make sure you’re a key part of conversations about clients, their projects and objectives. It's the perfect opportunity add value.
To help structure your thoughts and get them across clearly, use the three ‘I’s:
- Inform – use facts to lead your arguments or point of view
- Investigate – if you have questions that will make the picture clearer to you, ask them
- Inspire – try to paint this picture for everyone else, so they’re inspired to follow your point of view
In these types of meetings or conversations, it’s likely that you’ll be doing a lot of investigation. Don’t be afraid to ask all of your questions, as it shows that you’re genuinely engaged with the client and their needs. As long as you follow up with actions or suggestions, your colleagues will be more than happy to answer them.
Work on your cross-selling and business skills
Discussing issues with clients outside of your area of technical expertise may seem simple, but it is possible to do it effectively. Do you know enough about what your company does outside of your key areas? What other projects are your clients currently involved in? Then pairing those together to find commonalities, you can start to talk confidently about areas outside of your technical expertise and be relevant and useful to clients.
To help you feel more confident when cross-selling or working outside of your technical expertise, you can also access business skills training. These training courses will give you the help and advice you need to develop your own skillset and add value to your business, whether you’re presenting, networking, leading in meetings, or cross-selling.