The Believer, Generous John, Mr Brightside, the Professor, the Gut Truster.

All ‘handles’ given to characters in a recent series of TV adverts for a well-known chain of online bookmakers. Each was labelled according to their betting style and behaviour.

During a recent training session on negotiation skills, I was reminded of these handles by the names that are sometimes given to personality types in the negotiation process. I thought these negotiator names could rather neatly be applied to the behaviour of partners in the business development process of many professional services firms.

For anyone who has worked in BD and marketing in a professional services environment, they will know the (occasional?) difficulties of engaging and influencing the behaviour of partners.

See if you recognise any of the following ‘handles’.

The Avoider

Constantly snowed under with time pressured work, this partner is aware of the need for new clients and growth, but avoids the issue by saying that they must always put the client first.

The Accommodator

Unsure of the best strategy for pursuing new leads, this partner repeatedly promises to be involved in the marketing/BD process but rarely or never contributes.

The Traditionalist

This partner believes that work should come from recommendation, word of mouth or from existing clients. Everything else is too ‘salesy’.

The Competitor

‘I’m not going to get involved in that BD process’, says this partner. ‘I might end up having to share my hard earned clients with others who don’t deserve it.’

The Analyst

This partner willingly looks at all business development and marketing strategies in minute detail, but finds it difficult to decide the best way forward, preferring to leave it to others.

To be fair, there are many partners who could equally fit into the category of ‘The Great all-rounder’. Engaging difficult partners is a delicate process and needs to be handled with care. However, the payoff is a more efficient, profit centred organisation maximising its entrepreneurial potential.

To see how we can help you to make the most of your Avoiders and Traditionalists and your other business development needs, contact David Bittiner at

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