️Episode 078 – Bad At Business Development? The 4-Part Remedy

A critical component of being a business owner is business development. So if you’re thinking, “I’m bad at business development”, you’ve got to work through it because you’re running a business and you need to be able to sell. Otherwise, you don’t have a business.

I am here to help you with this work by sharing everything you need to know about overcoming that thought process of “I’m bad at business development” because when you think “I’m bad at business development”, either broadly or situationally, and that’s the story that you’re running your business from, I can assure you, it’s going to slow you down and make the process of owning a business so much more painful. 

And so, in this episode, I’m going to walk you through the process of how to tackle business development and how to do so without compromising any of your values. 

Listen in as I discuss 

  • why business development matters for your success as an independent consultant, 
  • what to do if you actually are bad at business development, 
  • what it looks like if you’re (unintentionally) lying to yourself and you’re actually good at business development, and
  • The 4-part remedy to feeling bad at business development as an independent consulting business owner. 

Let’s dig in.

  • [03:18] Check out the Independent Consultant’s Guide to Income-Producing Activities: https://www.melisaliberman.com/ipa 
  • [04:13] The impact of being bad at business development
  • [10:13] What if it’s actually true that you are bad at business development?
  • [17:55] What if it’s a lie that you’re telling yourself that you’re bad at business development?
  • [17:26] The remedy to feeling bad at Business Development for you as an independent consulting business owner



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**note: This is an automated transcript, so please ignore spelling errors and grammar mistakes*


Welcome to the podcast today, I have something really important for you. And it’s something that I hear from so many independent consultants. And you might be thinking this about yourself too. And we’ve got to work through it, my friend, because you’re running a business, you’re running a business, and you need to be able to sell. So if you’re thinking, I’m bad at business development, whether you think that broadly about yourself, or whether you think it in certain situations, this is a critical component of being a business owner that you want to tackle. And I’m going to walk you through a process today of how to tackle it. So that’s what we’re talking about being bad at business development, I was talking with one of my clients the other day, and he reminded me that I’ve shared this story on the podcast before, but I think it’s really relevant here. That, you know, I started out when I was in corporates, so not I was never a sales rep or account executive, I was responsible for our professional services organization. But I would go out with the sales team all the time to help their land deals, and the CEO, a frequent call freak, would land a lot of deals. But the CEO would also call me sales repellents. And, you know, because that was never my focus. And so I share that with you just to commiserate a little bit, that I used to think of myself as someone who was bad at sales as well or bad at business development. But I want to share with you also that it’s possible to get into another zone where you are really good at it without compromising any of your values. All right. So that’s what I want to walk you through today when you think I’m bad at business development, either broadly, or situationally. And that’s the story that you’re running your business from, I can assure you, it’s going to slow you down and make the process of owning a business so much more painful. So that’s what I want to share with you today is everything about overcoming that thought process of I’m being I’m bad at business development. So our agenda for today is we’re going to talk first about the impact of, quote, unquote, being bad at business development, why this topic even matters? And then we’re going to look at it in two different ways. What if it’s actually true that you are bad at business development? I don’t know if you’re repellent like I was, but it could be true that you’re bad at it. So let’s go down that path and figure out, what to do about it. And then secondly, we’re gonna go down the other path, which is, what if it’s a lie that you’re bad that you’re telling yourself that you’re bad at business development, and what does that look like? And then we’ll pull it all together with what I call the remedy for you. So that’s what we’re going to focus on here today. Before we get started, I wanted to just remind you, or let you know about a really important checklist that I have for you on my website. It’s called the 52 income-producing activities for independent consultants. And this is going to be such a good complement to what we’re going to be talking about today. Because it gives you just a really quick head start on what you can be doing in your business to be creating income. This isn’t about a bunch of different service models, this is about different ways for you to fill your pipeline and create income, create you know, an overflowing pipeline. So go check that out. It’s a Melisalieberman.com, forward slash IPA for income-producing activities. And that will give you some really good ideas that will hopefully break open this concept of getting better at business development. Okay, so with that, let’s dive into first and foremost, the impact of being bad. So again, I hear this all the time from independent consultants. And quite frankly, even those that consult on selling so they’re working with their clients on setting you to know, on refining and product. They give the right word procedure realizing their sales, the sales process, right? So these are consultants who are experts in sales. So what I’m trying to say, they even say to me, I’m not that great at selling myself. So Again, you’re in really good company here; almost every independent consultant in some way, shape, or form that I talk to, and work with, tells me to look at most, I’m just really bad at business development.


And so you may be thinking, you’re really bad across the board with all types of sales. Or you might be thinking it’s really situational like those, those people who those consultants who consult on selling is more situational like you’re bad at selling yourself. But either way, as I was mentioning before, this is something that’s really important to tackle in your business, because obviously, then you don’t have a business if you’re not selling anything. Now, why are you doing this? Why are you thinking you’re bad? Oftentimes, it comes down to just, if we just strip away the layers, I do this with clients, so often, which AAA when someone tells me, you know, a client tells me I’m really bad at sell at selling and, and so then we take it down a few layers, a few layers, a few layers, and really figure out that they aren’t that bad. They’ve sold things before, including consulting, sometimes hundreds of 1000s of dollars in consulting, but they still feel bad at it. And it’s a way our human brain works up to protect ourselves. So strange how we do this, like, I’m going to tell myself, I’m bad at this so that I feel better when I don’t close a deal. And then we end up what ends up happening because we think we’re bad at it. We don’t show up as powerfully as we could in a sales process and a business development process. And across the board, and we end up not landing a deal potentially, and kind of creating a situation where it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, right? So what are some other ultimate impacts of you thinking you’re bad, not necessarily that you are bad, but just thinking that you’re bad at selling? The next one that I’ll share with you is procrastination, right, you’re going to end up procrastinating in some form of either lead generation or writing proposals, or, you know, scheduling meetings with a client or potential client to gather requirements and CO-developed solutions. You can go back to Episode 74, we talked about lead generation procrastination, but this really I see time and time again, shows up across the board. In little micro procrastinations. When you think you’re bad at something, of course, you’re not going to want to put yourself out there; of course, you’re not going to want to take the next step. Of course, you’re going to delay sending that, you know that meeting invite or that proposal or that follow-up email, whatever it is that you know you want to and need to be doing. Of course, you’re going to avoid doing one to avoid doing it, procrastinate then eventually rushed through it, right? You delay your delay, and then you end up rushing through it. Because now you’ve run out of time and ultimately sabotaged yourself. And in and when you think you’re bad at something, and that’s where your brain has kind of landed, um, it’s just a fact most I’m bad at business development, or I’m bad at selling. Of course, you’re going to have these behaviors of procrastination, avoiding deferring, rushing through something, when you’ve run out of time, and ultimately not doing the type of work that you know you’re capable of doing. You’re still going to close work. You’re still going to land new clients. But two things. Number one, it doesn’t have to be this painful. And number two, your close rates can go up dramatically. And if you have a close rate that’s really high, you could it’s a really good sign that you could be charging a lot more for what you do. So those are all the ramifications. You know all of this I’m reminding you, you thinking you’re being bad that you are bad at Business Development creates this whole cycle in Soho vortex in your sis in your business that is not fun. You’re doing you’re running a business so that you can have autonomy so that you can have unlimited income potential, so you have full control over things. There’s no reason to torture yourself, my friend. Okay, So that’s the impact of thinking that you’re bad at business development, or potentially being bad at business development. As I said, I think usually what I find is if both things are true, you might be bad at business development, that could be true.


I’m going to walk you through what that looks like here in a second; it could also be true that you’re lying to yourself, and you aren’t as bad as you think you are. Both of those things I find are typically really true. And that’s great. That’s great news. Because there’s always room for growth. And you already are running a business; you’re already landing clients, you’re already making money. So both of these things can be true, and you can improve and grow the scale of your business as a result of improving, but if you bury your head in the sand about this and just think that it’s a fact that you’re bad, and you’re just gonna have to work around it. That’s where we don’t want to end up. Okay, so let’s talk about what if it is true, then what? here’s the, here’s the example, the analogy I want to give you. I’ve been, my youngest son; he’s just started in first grade. So he’s like, back from the summer, you know, they learned how to read in kindergarten. And he’s back from, and we did reading over the summer, but he’s back and now it’s like serious business in first grade, you go from like these fun the classroom with all these cool tables and sleeping you know, napping mats into like, desks and pencil boxes, and it seems very serious anyway, you know, like, he’s got a, he’s got to up his game. From a reading perspective, this is no more do I know, my alphabet? This is, you know, the reading, you know, what was the word we went? We read the other day laugh laughing or something like that, you know, like, how do you know that the G H sounds like an F. Anyway, my my, so this, this first grader we’re working on reading, and it just really stands out to me in stark contrast, because my middle son, you know, he’s now in third grade. And so it’s recent enough that I’ve gone through this experience with both of them to compare their experiences of learning to read, and I want to give this to you as an example because I think it’s so relevant to the growth that you have as a business owner, and learning to sell your services. So this first grader, He’s so relaxed, he’s so he doesn’t think he’s good at it, he doesn’t think he’s bad at reading, he just is relaxed. He’s like, this is great, I’m learning something new. And so as we go through the process of learning, you know, these readers levels one, two, all the other way, you know, the way they organize things, we, you know, he’s, he’s not putting any pressure on himself. We, we lay in bed, reading these books, he sounds things out, he’s making educated guesses. He’s honestly laughing at his mistakes. He doesn’t think he’s should have been born with the ability to read. He doesn’t think that he should be good at reading just because he’s good at other things. For example, he doesn’t think just because he’s good at soccer, that he should be really good at reading. Now, you probably know where I’m going with this. Just because you’re amazing at something doesn’t mean like, like the work you do with your clients. And, and we’ll get to that in a minute. Because there are so many parallels. But just because you’re good at one thing doesn’t mean that you’re automatically going to be good at something else. Just because you’re of the age you are doesn’t mean that all of us, you know, you either the ship has sailed and, and you’re never going to be good at business development, because it’s just not something that you were born with as the skill or you’ve cultivated early in your career. So somehow, the chance is over. Right? When you approach business development, if it’s true that you’re bad at business development, which again, I don’t believe it is, but let’s just say for a minute that it is in some way, when you approach it like my first grader. laughing at your mistakes, not putting so much pressure on yourself, not thinking that you should have been born somehow with this ability to be good at business development and selling. Of course, you’re going to get to acquire and create and build these skills faster. Now, let’s contrast that with my middle son. You’ve met him on the podcast. He introduced one of them when I had laryngitis. He’s in third grade. He’s amazing. But he has he probably has some of my genes. He gets very frustrated very quickly when he’s not good at something automatically. When he started reading in, you know, kindergarten, first grade,


he automatically decided he was bad at it; he would get super frustrated; I would get notes from the teacher, like, he Yeah, he like crumpled up his paper again and threw it in the trash because it wasn’t going well. And he’s getting better at this. But if you’re doing that, of course, it’s going to be so when I finish the story, and then I’ll make it a parallel to you. So anyway, he, he, you know, he’s got so frustrated with himself. And it makes it so difficult every night. He’s like, dreading the process back when he was in first grade compared to my, you know, the third son, right? So frustrated, didn’t want to do it. Didn’t want to read more than one page didn’t. It was like pure torture; he knew he had to do it. He definitely wanted to do a quote-unquote, all of his homework, and so he would do it. But it was so painful, so painful. And I want to share with you this particular contrast with you for two reasons. First of all, notice for yourself how much where the parallel is for you if you think you’re bad at business development, just like he thought he was bad at reading. You’re gonna get through it, but it’s so much more painful. The second parallel I want to give you is that I was there helping him, right? I didn’t agree with him. I didn’t say yeah, I agree, or bad at business development. I helped him figure out what he could do, where you know, and navigate and build up his confidence, right? I emphasized what he was mastering and helped him study the areas and use techniques for the areas of learning to read that was harder for him. So for you, I share this with you again for two reasons. Number one, when you think you’re bad at something, remember, if you’ve had kids, how, how much harder it is to learn when you think you’re bad at it, how much harder it is to get better when you think you’re bad at it. And at the same time, think it here’s the technique for you to separate yourself, either get a coach to give you a call, or think about it for yourself. You’re both the CEO and the sales rep in your business. Just like I was the reading teacher at night for my son, and he was the reader, right? You’re the CEO, and you’re the sales rep. What would you be saying to yourself? When you think you’re bad at business development, you wouldn’t be saying, I agree, you are bad. I mean, my CEO told me I was bad. Because he knew that would motivate me when he called me sales repellent. But yeah, if that motivates you great, then call yourself sales repellent. But I think that it doesn’t, that’s why you’re here. So really think about separating yourself out into these kinds of two personas and coaching yourself through the process to improve and increase your skill level here. So hopefully, those examples of teaching my two kids two of the three to read. Or at least I’m not gonna say I taught them for sure I didn’t, but supporting the teachers and teaching them to read. Hopefully, that really resonates with you; when you think you’re bad at something, take my first grader, the youngest son’s approach, take the pressure off yourself, laugh at your mistakes, really get curious about how you can improve, and how you can you know, continue to get better and augment what you’ve already learned. With each and every interaction that you have with potential clients. All right. So that’s the first, the first method, right? Let’s really if you truly, if it is true that you are bad at business development, those are some of the techniques that you can implement in order to start improving upon that skill set from a mental perspective. Then the second thing I want to share with you is, what if you’re lying? What if you’re lying to yourself that you’re bad? Again, I think it’s usually both. You might not be that great at some things because you weren’t born with this particular skill set. And you probably are lying to yourself in some way. And honestly, I’m calling you out on this in a loving way. You’re lying to yourself because we do that as humans we lie to ourselves; we give ourselves the least amount of credit to protect ourselves from feeling bad. I mean, that’s the heart, the root of it. And so let’s just talk a little bit about how it could be a lie that you’re bad.


This is what I find time and time again as I start unpacking this with my clients, figuring out what their skill level is; from a business development perspective, we always uncover everything they know about sales; they tell me, you know, I had a client the other day he was describing to me, we were talking about what he was advising his clients to do from a sales perspective, to generate more revenue. He’s not even a sales consultant who helps his clients with sales, per se. But it’s something that he does, and it’s most likely something that you do, as you’re working with your clients, helping them to figure out how to increase their revenue, helping them to figure out how to increase what they’re selling, those types of things, right. As he described everything to me, I said, you know exactly what you’re doing. from a sales perspective, the only issue is that you’re not doing it for yourself. And I would be really confident to say for you that I know you’re as you are a consultant, you’re here because you’re a consultant. Consultants’ jobs, in large part, are persuading someone or some group of someone to do something that’s selling. It doesn’t even have to be around the topic of selling. Right? It’s, it can be about anything, you’re persuading people to make changes and their behaviors, you’re persuading people to take action, you’re getting your clients to buy into a plan or a process that you’ve recommended to them. You’re getting them to give you information about what’s happening in, you know, in their ecosystem and making recommendations about how to improve it. This is what you do all day long. You’re also uncovering why they’re not taking action or why they’re having challenges in their organization and helping them move forward. What that’s called in a sales cycle is overcoming objections. Everything you do as a consultant is the same things you do as someone running a business development process. You understand what their challenges are; you understand why they haven’t done anything about those challenges. You understand why they want to do something about the challenges they’re having or the goal that they’re trying to accomplish, and you’re crafting a plan for them; it just happens to be that you’re asking for money at the end of that process, versus when you’re a consultant, they’ve already paid you or agreed to pay you. That’s the only difference. It’s kind of like this imaginary wall between the two processes, right? Imagine an imaginary wall. And on the left-hand side of the wall is all the things you do to acquire a new customer. And on the right-hand side of the wall are all the things that you do after you’ve after they’ve, you’ve acquired the customer, and you’re delivering for them. Somehow you have amnesia on the left-hand side; you don’t apply all of the skills that you already have when you’re delivering to the business development process. So that’s why I’m saying that it very well is a lie that you’re bad a lie, you’re telling yourself that nefariously but subconsciously, to protect yourself from that, you know, that time or those times that you get rejected or feel like you didn’t do a good job. That’s all. So that’s what I really want to share with you today. And then we’re going to wrap up here with the remedy to feeling bad about business development. But what’s really important to say, You know what, I’m probably not that great at business development right now. Or I might be good, and I just want to continue to improve so I can make more money and work less than my business. And I’m not giving myself credit for what I already do know and how I already am good at business development. And what I can comp, you know, build upon that as well. Look at both sides of this. So here is the remedy. As we wrap up today, the remedy to feeling bad at Business Development for you as an independent consulting business owner. The first step is to get into my first grader’s mentality. Be willing to make mistakes without making it such a big deal. Also, get into my third grader’s process, right? He was in first grade at the time, but you see what I’m saying? My middle son’s process here. Think about though he and I used to separate ourselves. Think about yourself as the CEO and as the


as the sales rep. And coach herself through it just like I coached him to be so much less frustrated; he’s not wrinkling up his paper. Do you know what I’m saying? scrounging up his papers and throwing them in the trash anymore. Luckily. So get into that mentality, the first graders no pressure, I’m willing to make mistakes mentality, the middle son’s mentality of or that process that we use, we’re kind of separating out into two personas, and get yourself into the place where you are able to grow your skills from a business development perspective. So that’s the first step to getting into a really productive mentality; then the next step of the remedy is for you to evaluate and iterate. Again, this isn’t a hard, and fast I’m bad run good. This is you continue continuously learning and purposefully reviewing what’s going on so that you can get better; I find that so many independent consultants completely miss this step. And it is so important to do after-action reviews for your sales process. Throughout your sales process, at the end of the sales process, you can continue to refine it, don’t bury your head in the sand because it feels bad to go back and look at what didn’t go well. And to not give yourself credit for what did go well. Make sure that you’ve baked in this evaluate and iterate process throughout your business, quite frankly, but especially throughout your business development process. So that’s the second part of the remedy to feeling bad about business development. The first is getting into a productive mentality. The second is really baking in processes throughout your business development. Steps to evaluate and iterate and continuously improve, and to also give yourself credit for what is going well, as part of that after action review. This is something that I teach my clients to do. Doing these after-action reviews are so powerful. And then the last part of this remedy is for you to purposefully build up your business development identity. When you just constantly reinforce this idea that you aren’t bad at business development. It’s going to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Now I’ve got to bring my this is kind of impromptu, but I got to bring my oldest son into the mix. Here I was at his he just started middle school. And I was at his middle school, parent night last night. And the math teacher, it was so amazing. I was so excited to meet this math teacher; he said, Look, I have one request for you as parents. This is the request to how you can best support your students. Stop telling and like promoting this idea that people are bad at math. He’s like, Stop, don’t say I’m bad at math to your child. When they hear you say I’m bad at math, then they’re going to think there’s a thing that people are bad at math, and there isn’t a thing that people are bad at math there. That just shuts them down from being able to learn. And I thought that was so important. It’s just exactly what we’re talking about here today. Build up your business development and identity. Get to the place where you if you don’t say I’m if you can’t get to the place where it feels truthful, that you’re good at business development, then at least give yourself credit that I’m getting better at business development as an identity versus I’m bad at business development. And this is something that as part of this remedy building up your business development identity is something that is really important for your success as a business owner to actively work on every single day. Until it’s second nature. This is something else that I really work on with my clients is helping them create an identity that aligns with what they want to accomplish as business owners. It’s so important to run your business from a business owner’s identity than from a former employee’s identity or from a consultant’s identity.


You are a business owner. Running your business from a business owner’s identity is something that’s incredibly important in this context. Looking at and thinking about it every day. Your identity as a business owner includes being good at business development. So get yourself there where it feels like second nature. All right. So that’s the remedy. I’ll just run down this one more, kind of pull it all together, get into that productive mentality, evaluate and iterate by doing after-action reviews so that you can continuously grow in your business development outcomes; as I said, at the end of the day, right? And then, lastly, purposefully build up and cultivate that business development identity as part of your being a business owner. All right, that’s what I have for you today. Be sure to go download that checklist of 50 I think it’s 50, maybe 50, to income-producing activities at Melisaliberman.com. Forward slash IPA. And if you are looking, if you are really looking to grow and scale your consulting business, and feel like you’re kind of stuck on a plateau, and you want to be able to move further, faster, reach out to me, I would love to talk with you about private coaching and we can figure out if it’s a good fit. All right. Thanks for tuning in. And I’ll see you again next week. Take care.

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