As a child, I loved exploring. It was so much fun. Our backyard merged with the bush and I spent hours, with friends or by myself, looking for treasures – everything from pyrite to ripe blueberries. And in the depths of winter, I would head down to our basement. If I moved around very quietly, I could explore the contents of boxes and trunks stored by my parents.
It’s these memories that fueled my reaction to something I read this past week – a quote by M. Arthur Gensler.
Who is M. Arthur Gensler? And why did his words inspire me?
In 1965, at the age of 30, M. Arthur Gensler started his own architectural firm, M. Arthur Gensler Jr. & Associates Inc. He had no business plan and no money … but he clearly had passion. Today his firm, simply known as Gensler, employs over 6,000 people and is the largest architectural firm in the world. Projects include Shanghai Tower, Adidas NYC, Facebook Headquarters, Apple stores … the list goes on. The firm’s revenues exceed $2 billion. At the age of 85, Arthur Gensler remains an active advisor.
This is what he says about sales and business development:
“Business rarely falls into your lap. You must go out, explore and find clients.”
His use of the word “explore” is masterful. Coming to us from the 1580s Middle French and Latin, the common use of the word relates to searching out, investigating. But in the early 1600s, a second definition of the word appeared: “to make to flow”. Amazing!
This is what building a business is all about: exploring for clients to make the work – and the revenue – flow. So many of us get caught up attaching negative stereotypes to business development and sales, limiting our ability to share our expertise with those we can best serve.
What if you looked at this activity as an exploration? What if you regarded it as fun?
While each of us believes we know who our ideal clients are, we actually don’t know this for sure until we speak with them. Exploration is essential to uncovering who we can best serve … and to building our best life. Working with ideal clients turns work into joy … and that’s one of life’s greatest blessings.
So in this time of self-isolation, when the majority of people can be found answering their phone, returning calls or responding to requests for video conversations, I urge you to explore. Don’t wait for clients to contact you, and certainly don’t expect them to show up when we enter our “new normal”. They’ll be far too busy catching up, sorting out and selecting their priorities with care and precision.
Now is the time to inspire conversation, learn more about your marketplace, discuss possible projects, meetings, appointments for the summer and beyond. Explore. Discover. Make things happen.
Have you had great conversations with clients and/or prospects lately? Share your experience in the comment section below.