Professional Relationship Management ("PRM")

One of our most popular workshops is Professional Relationship Management which teaches professionals how to win business, manage accounts and manage change through improved networking and dialogue. PRM also helps firms monitor the process to ensure their professionals are networking in a coordinated fashion and generating opportunities that feed into a coordinated follow-up plan. PRM ensures professionals persist at managing relationships even when they are busy with their existing work. Only professionals that can do both things simultaneously (deliver and develop business) will succeed to grow the firm and develop its professionals.

Professional Relationship Management ("PRM") Explained

The history of PRM
Professional Relationship Management grew from Potential's Professional Relationship Sales Process. In the past, professionals considered selling a dirty word. They forever distanced themselves from the need to sell in order to focus instead on providing a professional service to their clients. While this was fine in the past, globalization, industry consolidation, heightened competition and reduced margins have forced most professional services firms to focus upon the sales competitiveness of their firms.

For many years Potential's Star Negotiator clients asked for sales help but it was only in 2003 that Potential finally accepted to codify its own practices and share these with its clients. Our review of sales solutions available from the market at that point quickly caused us realise why clients were turning to Potential asking for help. The majority of sales training courses were not developed by or for professionals selling high end services. Rather most sales training and sales processes were developed by or for sales teams selling manufactured products and equipment. Intangible products, especially high-end professional services needed something quite different.

In response to this gap in the market, Potential developed PRM-Sales for professionals who earn fees providing sophisticated services in competitive markets. Firms that sell more typically pay higher salaries, remain competitive through adoption of new technologies and training, and provide a more enjoyable environment for professionals to fulfil their careers. Firms that sell less tend to fall behind their competition, get acquired by their competition or eventually close.

Potential's continue strive for excellency and improvements has led to the realization that the fundamentals of PRS can be applied to Change Management and Account Management. Proper high level networking skills can help companies to identified key issues leading to higher quality client accounts and change process. Potential responded to market demand and PRM is developed to address the three aspects, assisting clients to solve growing problems in the two areas.

PRM - Sales: the results thus far
I am pleased to say that PRM has met considerable demand. In its first two years on the market, PRM - sales has been delivered in Cayman Island, Bahamas, London, Taipei, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai and Seoul. PRM-S was initially being installed into situations where it enhanced a sales process already in place. Now firms without a sales process of their own are adopting it outright. In every situation the organisations have had someone full-time supporting their sales and marketing efforts. In every case the CRM systems have been faulty at best. In some situations we were converting order takers into a sales force. In other situations we were taking experienced 'rainmakers' and making them better. In all situations thus far the Bulldog (diary based opportunity tracking system) has been tailored to their in-house situation. Now we are recommending our clients adopt our system as it has been proven to be the most complete without overdoing the complexity.

In most situations the lack of regular sales meetings has allowed the professionals that dislike selling to stop trying to develop business. The experienced sales people point to successes resulting from using some of the techniques we introduce. The developing sales organisations tend to believe more in the 80/20 rule that reinforces the role of the Rainmaker as the rare individual that is capable to bring in new business. So far PRS has been installed in Big Four accounting firms and Private Banks.

The Professional Relationship Management Process
PRM introduces a systematic networking approach to sales, account management and change management. PRM aims to instill confidence in professionals that do not like to network with others by helping them learn to create, manage and maintain productive relationships. These relationships lead to friendships, opportunities, knowledge, referrals, even new business. Most business opportunities will come through referrals. PRM introduces The Bulldog to grab the opportunities when they arise and not let go until these convert into opportunities. The Bulldog is a simple diary based system allowing professionals to keep track of opportunities as they arise without missing a beat in their professional work.

Creating Relationships - Networking Plan
Most notable professional firms are led by partners enjoying a pedigree earned through hard work, technical excellence and valued relationships. These same senior executives risk overlooking the challenges relatively less experienced professionals face developing new business for their firms. PRM workshops provide a safe environment for senior executives to share their experience and discuss leveraging valuable relationships. These workshops also provide participants a chance to practice creating relationships through networking, changing their dialect to connect with people different than themselves; and ask questions to uncover people's real interests without sounding intrusive or patterned. Role-plays feature in the PRM workshops. One exercise helps uncover people's passions - the thread that binds ongoing relationships. Another exercise divides the group in half (professionals and Prospective clients) and introduces a competitive environment where the prospective clients select the professionals (who all work for hypothetically different firms) from whom they will request a proposal or retainer. Other exercises reveal the importance of networking for good account management and change management. In other words the solution is in the dialogue and professionals have to leave their desk (physically or with the help of technology) to network.

Managing Relationships - contact management systems
Professional Relationship Management takes into account a firm's current contact management systems such as the billing system, the time sheet system, the work in progress system etc. We aim to ensure the contact management system used by professionals helps them retain and recall their vast number of contacts developed over years. Contact management systems tend to range from piles of business cards in the top drawer to advanced CRM systems. Potential's solutions and recommendations in this area build on the fact that low-tech is what works and gets used by most professionals.

Maintaining Relationships - Follow the thread
Professionals that develop a lot of business are constantly networking and uncovering opportunities. The rest tend to sit in their office waiting for clients to call with the next opportunity. If the telephone doesn't ring that's simply too bad. PRM aims to tip the scales from reactive to proactive relationship building. It teaches professionals how to get up from their desks and network by using relationship threads to stay in touch with their existing network of contacts.

Relationship threads are categorised as sports, hobbies, learning, socialising, family, day to day life, travel, events etc. When professionals stay in touch with their network through these relationship threads they should also ensure their contacts clearly understand what they do and the value they create for their clients. Our workshops help professionals practice describing their work without sounding boastful.

PRM requires every professional to have a networking plan, to follow it and then to capture the contacts and opportunities arising. The managing director or managing partner must coordinate this effort by ensuring that collectively professionals network in the right places, contacts are shared, opportunities surfaced are address in the best possible way, those generating results are suitably rewarded and successes are made known. </p>

PRM - Account Management
PRM - Account Management focuses the networking and dialogue onto existing customer-supplier relationships and ensures that the right people are talking about the right issues in the right way and at the right time and place to optimize the decisions taken. By super-imposing networking and dialogue onto existing account relationships we are enhancing the communication channels thereby ensuring better quality delivery, responsiveness, awareness etc. Failure to dialogue with key stakeholders causes accounts to wither and fall into the hands of your competitors. Potential Dialogue aims to ensure this never happens by focusing upon the necessity of regular open and honest dialogue between the key players on your accounts. Our work in this area is both generic (for account managers) and specific to accounts (to help improve specific accounts).

PRM - Change Management
Senior executives needing to bring about change in their organisations will ultimately succeed or fail based upon their ability to network and dialogue with those for and against their plans. Our networking plan and Bulldog ensures senior executives target the people they need to dialogue with and then follow-up appropriately to ensure success. Our work in this area is both generic (giving solutions to those who need them) and specific (creating change management plans for specific changes).