Angela Meyer on Building The Relationship To Win The Business

By Mo Bunnell

Show Notes

Angela Meyer shares her thoughts and wisdom on business development based on years in the field as a consultant and executive for various companies. Learn why being deliberate about honing your communication skills is one of the most important things you can do to improve your business relationships, why being willing to fail is the key to long-term success, and why the Give to Get is your most valuable business development tool in your toolbelt.

Mo asks Angela Meyer: When was the time that you realized that business development was worth focusing on?

  • Angela’s background is in mechanical engineering and it was during her graduate education while working with her professor where she learned the communication skills to be a great consultant. After beginning her career, Angela got a lot of hands-on experience in the business side of things while working with the CEO of a forensic engineering company. That’s where she learned that in order to be a great consultant, she couldn’t just be running calculations, she had to become good at developing relationships.
  • Angela always thought that she was a good speaker and communicator, but after giving a presentation on a case study that she had worked on and not being able to answer the questions from the audience, she knew she had some room to improve.
  • After seeing a recording of herself during a presentation, Angela knew that if she was going to be good at business development, she was going to have to improve her communication skills.
  • Soft skills turn into hard results.
  • Angela improves incrementally by watching people do great work and trying to learn from them. The other aspect is putting it into practice. You have to try and fail.
  • If you don’t try, you don’t learn. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
  • From Angela’s perspective, she has multiple failures, but she uses those failures to learn and get better.
  • You can’t rely on your company to train you to become a better, more well-rounded consultant. The presentation training class that Angela attended was the best $150 she spent.
  • If you’re not willing to put yourself out there and try to build a relationship, you might as well stay in the back office.
  • Start with your network that you know or see everyday. Create a list of all the people you’ve worked with over the past six months and see when the last time you connected with them without talking about the project. It’s about getting the next small win and developing the relationship and building your network.

Mo asks Angela Meyer: What is your personal definition of business development?

  • Angela doesn’t use the term business development. In her previous position she was the Vice President of Client Services. She wanted to avoid the term business development because she’s in the relationship business and not selling to people.
  • Unless you’re selling a commodity, no matter how smart you are, without building a relationship and providing value for a client and gaining their trust, you’ll never get the business.
  • Angela got her first job at the age of 13 working at an amusement park. She believes that everyone should work in service when they are younger because it teaches you essential relationship skills. You need a complete skill set and not just technical chops.
  • If you want to improve you have to continue to expand past your current role.
  • Angela loves the business development process because it’s an opportunity to grow herself, the brand reputation of the firm she’s working with, and her knowledge of how she can help clients.
  • It’s okay to not like it or to be afraid because it comes with the territory. If you grow your relationships one client at a time, those people will help you grow your career. Your raving fans will open doors for you to walk through.
  • The way that Angela likes to learn about new areas she needs to be able to sell is setting up a Google alert for it. When Angela has a client that would be interested in a topic she’s reading about, she’ll forward the article to them.
  • As she’s gotten older, Angela makes use of a CRM to remind her of information and things she needs to do. Combining those two methods together works very well.
  • When you’re a highly skilled technician, it can be challenging to see things outside your focus. Don’t feel like you have to do everything alone. You can pair up with other people in your organization and share skills and ideas.

Mo asks Angela Meyer: What is your favorite science, step, or story that you learned from GrowBIG Training or The Snowball System?

  • Angela’s favorite strategy is the Give to Get. Giving somebody value or knowledge they didn’t have before is a great way to start off a relationship.
  • If you continue to show interest in someone personally, and not just professionally, and provide them value that can help them grow their career, they are going to care about you.
  • You have to break someone out of the rut of working with someone else if it’s not you. Building trust and deepening the relationship in the beginning is crucial to starting things out.
  • Angela has seen a number of her former colleagues help clients and prospects by summarizing the science on particular issues like climate change, sustainability, and environmental compliance.
  • There is a big difference between forwarding an article to a client and talking the person through the content.
  • The hardest thing is asking for the business, which is why you should simply ask for the next step. No is just another answer.
  • You have to be able to explain more and give more so that eventually the answer is going to be yes. You can’t assume your client is going to read and consume the content you send them. You have to ask them for the opportunity to explain how it’s helpful and why you sent it to them.

Mo asks Angela Meyer: What is a business development moment that you’re particularly proud of?

  • You have to build the relationship and understand that the work may not come in the first meeting.
  • Angela tells the story of a client that was in-house counsel for a major company that Angela’s firm had done a lot of work for. He set a dinner meeting with this attorney and during the conversation discovered that he felt completely unappreciated by Angela’s firm.
  • You have to be willing to ask questions and get feedback from your clients on how they like working with your firm.
  • Angela turned that relationship around by helping the attorney with a few of his presentations he was giving. By providing value and showing that she cared, he became a valuable client for years.
  • It takes a lot of good experiences to outweigh the effect of one bad experience. Sometimes the negative experience can be something as simple as not picking up the check.
  • In the initial consultation, it’s important to establish the lines and modes of communication. It’s also important to set the expectation around the first bill. Most professional service firms fail around client management.
  • At the end of the engagement always ask for feedback. That time is the perfect opportunity to land more work or a referral to someone else.

Mo asks Angela Meyer: If you could send a message to your prior self, what would you say?

  • No matter what business you’re in, it’s important to not be afraid to try and not be afraid to fail. You need to fail before you can succeed.
  • You’re always selling yourself or your product, so you have to be willing to extend yourself and grow.
  • Hone your communication skills and learn how to bring the energy to a conversation that creates connection with someone.
  • The third thing would be to build your network. Stay in touch with people and keep networking because you never know where your next job is going to come from.
  • Be excited about what you’re doing and what you’re working on. It’s not just a job, it’s an adventure. For Angela, the energy she brings to her relationships is what makes her memorable.
  • Everybody has some level of impostor syndrome. You don’t need to be cocky to believe in yourself. Humility to admit you don’t know everything is a good place to approach things. The big lesson is to be confident in your ability to try your best, to keep learning, and to get better over time.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Angela Meyer, PhD, PE on LinkedIn