Performance, Attitude & Development Drive Sales by Alan Dobzinski, Founder, Accountability Experts, Inc

Business development is activities driven. Seems simple. The more emails, calls, and meetings you set equal a higher probability of closing a sale. Although as business leaders today know, there’s more to it than that. To truly measure a successful business development person, we use a rating scale called P.A.D. P is for Performance, A is for Attitude, and D is Development.

P is for Performance. Performance is about the employee. The first question to ask yourself about each of the BD people that you manage is, on a scale from 1 to 10, how well are they performing? The average we hear is a 6. Let's break that down into dollars and cents. If you answer 6 out of 10 then you’re getting $0.60 on every dollar that you spend. If you’re paying them $100,000 a year, $40,000 is being washed down the drain. Maybe you say that seems high, well cut it in half. That’s still $20,000.

A is for Attitude. Attitude is about the employee. Have you ever had a top performer that was less than pleasurable to work with? How would you rate their attitude on a scale from 1 to 10? They complain all the time, create problems, and drag other employees into their drama. Attitude is just as important to your bottom line as performance is. The key is to have a hungry salesperson who needs development over a top performer with a bad attitude.

D is for Development. Development is about you, the leader, asking your employees what you can do for them to help them be successful. Right now, how well are you developing your employees on a scale from 1 to 10? The best way to develop your employees is through regularly-scheduled accountability meetings. More often than not, business leaders fall short on developing their employees and then wonder why their performance is lacking. They tell them what they’re not doing right but don’t ask how they can help. Employees, especially sales people, are thrown out there and expected to succeed. When leaders spend time developing their employees the number on the scale is guaranteed to go up and that’s when you see the results fall straight to your bottom line.

You can’t change someone's attitude but you can ensure success by helping them develop areas that need improvement by asking open-ended questions about how you can help them. An example that comes to mind is an employee who had a great attitude, they came to work energized and ready to go. Although they just couldn’t quite close the number of sales they needed to hit quota. After asking some open-ended questions in a regularly-scheduled accountability meeting, this business leader discovered that they really didn’t understand one of the product lines being offered. Therefore, they didn’t feel comfortable selling it. The solution was simple, and they received some additional training and shadowed another salesperson in a few meetings.

If that business leader hadn’t asked the employee how they can help, they probably would have ended up firing them and hiring another, which inevitably would cycle through the same process and fail. That employee is now a top performer, has a great attitude and is a role model for the rest of the sales team! When you hold your employees accountable for their activities, hire for attitude, and invest time developing them, success is inevitable.

Accountability: Critical To Any BD Strategic Plan

I learned the power of coaching from an early stage in my career and you can't coach anyone without accountability.  I think some people view accountability in a negative way or relate it to micro-managing. It shouldn't be that way. Accountability to me is simply helping your team members, in a positive way, reach their personal and professional goals.  So, when you start to build that business development strategic plan, whether it's for the end of the year push or for 2019, accountability measures have to be a part of the program.

I usually include accountability in the last section of my plan so that once the team knows the vision, the goals, the tactics and KPI's (key performance indicators), you can establish accountability measures.  That simply means how you're going to help your team achieve the set goals.  For a simple example, let's say that, as the leader in your sales organization, one of your strategic plan goals for hitting your end of year number is for your sales people to attend 5 appointments or pitch meetings per week.  One of the tactics is to go networking. One of your KPI's for that tactic is for your sales people to attend 4 events per month. Your accountability measure for your sales people can then be a number of things including having them document those events on their calendar or in your CRM, holding weekly meetings with your sales people to review networking activity and its effectiveness or helping them select the best events to attend.  Keep accountability positive. Your ultimate goal as a servant leader is to is to help them with ideas, tactics and methods to hit their goals.

 Accountability takes work and time, there's no doubt about it.  However without it, you can't measure success and more often than not your sales people will be left feeling they don't have direction or support.  I've seen it too many times and have been guilty of it myself in the past. As hard as it is sometimes, it's also one of the most important management tools you can use.


It’s the dog days of summer and networking has slowed but there are so many good events on the horizon for September.  Use the time now to prepare. Make a list of prospects that you want to invite to events coming up or arrange a meeting with a channel partner.  Now’s a great time to plan and organize how you’re going to use good business development tactics to finish out 2018.

Tuesday, September 11 - Baltimore Business Journal - Future of Howard County - 7:30am - 9:30am - Two Merriweather

WHY?  I always loved the BBJ’s Future  You can count on great panelists, lively discussion and a good crowd representing various local companies and industries

Wednesday, September 12 - Baltimore Metro Business Development (BMBD) - 6pm - 8:30pm - Sheraton Baltimore North

WHY?  Excellent panel of local nonprofit leaders moderated by Casey Baynes.  Expect a good crowd

Thursday, September 20 - MD Tech Council - BIO + TECH 18 CONFERENCE - 8am - 7:30pm - Hilton Baltimore

WHY?  Attendance of 400+ tech and bio tech professionals with day-long networking, panel discussions and keynote speakers including Dr. Freeman Hrabowski III and Jay Perman.

Thursday, September 27 - Better Business Bureau - BBB One Hundred and One Signature Event - 5:30pm - 8:30pm - Baltimore Museum of Industry

WHY?  Great annual event highlighting BBB’s Spark Award & Torch Award Honorees as well as special guest, Commerce Secretary Mike Gill


Saturday, September 29 - Building Congress & Exchange - 7pm - 11pm - Maryland Science Center

WHY?  Annual fundraiser is sure to bring out top level executives in the constuction and development fields.  Great list of sponsors too!

Executive Networking by David Gertler

Many years ago, I was approached by an executive coach who took me to lunch to convince me of the value she could provide. I had just landed a great job as a senior executive in a software company and she thought there were several ways she could assist me in my transition. While I ultimately didn’t move forward with her, one part of the conversation was striking, and I recall it vividly nearly 20 years later.

At one point, she asked me how I landed the job and I told her about the extensive networking I had conducted. As an introverted math geek who didn’t find networking easy, natural or familiar, I was forced to quickly master the secrets of networking to land my new position. At the height of my job search, I was meeting 15-20 new people each week, spending roughly 60 minutes with each person talking about both their interests and needs and my own search for a new opportunity. Those 15-20 hours were in addition to the many hours of follow-up with existing connections. Networking to find a new position had become a full-time effort for me and we discussed many of the details about my approach, successes, and lessons from my job search.

Then the conversation turned. She asked me how many hours each week I was networking since landing my new position. I told her I was putting 100% of my effort into the new role and had cut my networking completely. This is when I was schooled…
“Senior executives network 20% of their time,” she said. “If you’re not networking while working, you’re making a big mistake.” I was shocked - how can anyone work full-time and spend one day each week networking?

She told me that networking is a lifetime activity. Not something you do just to find a job. Sure, when you’re looking for a new opportunity you naturally increase your networking activities; but you should always be networking at least a some of the time. Make time to help others, catch-up with past associates and keep your valuable network active. Your network can be a great asset; but, like many things in life, it takes some level of effort to maintain, nurture, grow and leverage it for mutual benefit.

After this conversation, I decided to make networking part of my normal routine. While my level of networking varies, hardly a week goes by without some degree of connecting with people in my trusted network to catch-up, see how I can help them, make introductions or meet new people. Realizing that a trusted network of business professionals who have expertise and connections and are willing to help offer advice (and vice-versa) was a game changer for me. I now spend a lot of time helping others learn this too.

Why Face-to-Face Meetings Are Still Better Than Technology When Building Relationships

We live in a digital age where most things are now at our fingertips and technology keeps getting better and better.  The one thing that technology can’t replace is building long-lasting relationships through one-on-one connections.  A study done recently by Randstad polled workers in 34 countries around the world to ask them about technology and communication in the workplace.  Over 50% of the persons polled stated, “technology makes them feel less connected to people in the real world.  Furthermore, “over 90% believe that face-to-face meeting(s) is the best way to interact with someone.”  I’m out with business owners and CEO’s every week on multiple occasions and I can tell you that nothing replaces that one-on-one experience.  When I meet with people, that conversation starts a bonding process that helps me understand my prospects  likes and dislikes, commonalities and differences.  It’s what makes meeting face-to-face so valuable to the sales process.  

The opportunity  to physically get in front of your prospects and channel partners can open doors where technology cannot.  For example, body language can tell us many things.  When you’re face-to-face with a client body language can tell us, among other things, if the client is interested or not interested, engaged or not engaged.  With technology, even Skype or FaceTime, body language is diluted and in most cases not even present.  There are other examples as well.  One study’s findings  stated, “the lack of physical proximity decreases brainstorming and other communications that use a personal touch.”  Through face-to-face meetings, other opportunities arise and impromptu brainstorming sessions can lead to new discoveries about your client, their business and how your products and services can help them achieve their goals.

Now, by no means am I completely dissing technology.  Several technology platforms (including this one) have afforded me new ways to interact with clients that just weren’t available a decade ago and that of course can lead to opportunities as well.  I’d be lying if I said I didn’t depend on technology to help run my business, track my clients and communicate with my audience.  It’s a necessary part of your marketing and business development planning.  At the same time, there’s nothing better for building relationships than sitting down with someone to share a good meal, take in an O’s game or simply share a beer. 

Don't Forget to Build a BD Strategy!

Last week I was having lunch with a couple of friends at the Capital Grille (I love that place) and like many of you, I love to get a fresh perspective on things, especially when it comes to sales and business development.  It's the beast that feeds the engine and as we all know it's not easy.

So after the difficulty of selecting one of many tasty lunch entrees our discussion lead to strategy and our thoughts turned to the fact that in most organizations, there's usually a sales or marketing strategy but too few in business development. And I mean, a strategy behind building executive level relationships with their prospects and channel partners.  It seems easy enough, right? Yet many companies don't take the time to build out a plan that can get them in front of decision makers using multiple tactics to build solid, long-lasting relationships. It's a necessity at the highest level and in my experience I don't see many companies give it the time or attention it deserves.

Look at it this way...think about how much time and money you spend in marketing your products and services compared to the time and resources your spending on the activity to get your team in front of the right decision maker.  Is your marketing helping you develop relationships? A good business development strategy can leverage your marketing efforts to ensure you're not wasting time or money reaching the wrong people while using specific tactics to build high-level relationships with prospects and channel partners.  We all know, clients buy from people they like and trust and you can't build a trusting relationship without a good business development strategy.

I encourage you to take a look at your marketing and sales strategies to see if you have the tactics, systems and accountability in place to build deep relationships with your prospects so you too can close more business.


It's the height of summer and although things have slowed down on the networking front, there are still some good opportunities to expand your network.

Here are my picks:

Wednesday, July 18

Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) - Construction Tour & Happy Hour - 4:30pm - 7:00pm - Sagamore Spirit Distillery and Rye Street Tavern   WHY? Opportunity to meet with executives in CRE  and affiliated industries.

Thursday, July 19

-Baltimore Business Journal - Corporate Philanthropy - 7:30am - 9:30am - Martin’s West .      WHY?  BBJ will be honoring top corporate givers and Corporate Citizen of the Year.  Always a great event to mingle with the nonprofit community

Tuesday, July 24

Bisnow - Baltimore-Washington Industrial & Logistics Forecast - 7:30am - 10:30am - Four Seasons Baltimore.  WHY? The industrial market is booming in Baltimore and the surrounding area.  Hear from a great panel of local experts on this topic. Also, learn what’s next in the world of logistics and its labor market.

Tuesday, July 24

Cybersecurity Association of Maryland - July MD Cyber Breakfast Club - 8:00am - 9:30am - Secure Offices.  WHY?  Speaker Tim Kulp, Director of Emerging Technology for Mind Over Machines will be talking about AI, the workforce and how they collide

Wednesday, July 25

World Trade Center Institute - Tast of Business-Australia - 5pm - 7pm - Spark Baltimore.        WHY?  Attended the last Taste of Business and it was good. Lots of great people, interesting topic

Thursday, July 26

The Daily Record -  2018 Reader Ranking Gala - 5pm - 8:30pm - The Assembly Room            WHY?  Come out and see who the readers of The Daily Record chose in their annual reader rankings contest


Saturday, June 2 - Maryland Center for the Arts - A Night at the Oscars - 6:30pm - 11pm - Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel

WHY?  Expect high attendance of Baltimore’s executive crowd to support the arts.  Lots of great sponsors too!

Tuesday, June 5 - Maryland Business for Responsive Government - 2018 State of Business Address w/Larry Hogan - 11am - 1:30pm - Martin’s West

WHY?  This event will draw a great crowd of business owners and executives.  I look forward to hearing Governor Hogan’s address on current state of business

Tuesday, June 5- BWI Business Partnership - Annual Meeting - 6:00pm - 9:00pm - BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport

WHY?  The annual meeting always brings out a great crowd especially in that region.  The program will include an awards and recognition ceremony along with lots of networking

Wednesday,  June 6 - Howard County Chamber of Commerce - 2018 Cyber Conference - 7:30 am- 5:00 pm - Howard Community College

WHY?  Excellent event to meet and greet with cyber security professionals.  There will be two separate tracks of discussions including blockchain tech, leveraging the open source & building a talented workforce.

Wednesday, June 6 - World Trade Center Institute - Annual Women Spanning the Globe Leadership Conference - 8:15am - 5:00pm - American Visionary Art Museum

WHY?  I personally haven’t been to this event and it seems really good.  Relevant topics, lots of great sponsors. WTCI does a good job in getting a great crowd.

Thursday, June 7  - Baltimore Business Journal - Leaders in Diversity - 7:30am - 9:30am - Lord Baltimore Hotel

WHY?  It’s the BBJ’s signature minority celebration event.  Mix and mingle with the outstanding honorees and diverse attendees

Thursday, June 7 - Baltimore SUN - Business & Civic Hall of Fame - 5:30pm - 9:00pm - The Sagamore Pendry Baltimore

WHY? It’s the SUN’s 3rd annual event honoring individuals who have spent their lives for the betterment of Maryland.  Very powerful honorees so the attendance should be excellent and they have some great corporate sponsors as well.

Tuesday, June 26 - Baltimore County Chamber of Commerce - Annual Celebration & Board Swearing-In Ceremony - 5:30pm - 7:30pm - Venue TBA

WHY?  BCCC annual event will bring out a good corporate and executive crowd.  Excellent networking at a reasonable price

Wednesday, June 27 - Bisnow - Baltimore Multifamily Boom - 7:30am - 10:30am - Four Seasons Hotel Baltimore

WHY?  Interesting topic and one that many are talking about in the city.  Excellent speakers and sponsors. Likely to draw good CRE & investor crowd

Networking TIP:

One question I get asked a lot is where I like to network, hence this newsletter.  But there’s another way to look at great places to network and that is meeting places.  The next time you set a morning meeting with a referral partner, friend or potential client consider meeting at one of the many breakfast “hotspots” around Baltimore.  I’m sure everyone has their favorite spots like me and it’s a great way to meet new people, connect with old friends and further develop relationships. I always tend to get to my hotspots an hour or so before my morning meeting  so I can do some work and network while I’m there. Some of my favorite hotspots for coffee around Baltimore are: Stone Mill Cafe (Timonium), Order & Chaos & Southside Diner (Locust Point), Spoons (Fed Hill), Cunningham’s & Towson Diner (Towson), Werner’s (CBD), Atwater’s (Canton)  and Eggspectations (Columbia). I’m sure there are many more and if you don’t mind sharing, send me a note!!

See you out there!


Wednesday, May 2 - Maryland Chamber of Commerce - Maryland Business Hall of Fame Awards - 5:30pm - 9pm - Hilton Baltimore BWI Airport Hotel
WHY?  Large crowd of regional executives, business owners & CEO’s.  Keynote: Governor Larry Hogan.

Thursday, May 3 - CREW - Beacon Awards - 6pm-9pm - The Belvedere
WHY?  Annual awards program honoring women executives making a difference in the commercial real estate industry.  Lots of good sponsors

Friday, May 11 - United Way of Central Maryland - 2018 Young Professionals Conference - 7:30am - 5pm - Four Season Baltimore
WHY?  Large crowd of young professionals and a full day of workshops, networking, panels and presentations.

Monday, May 14 - Greater Baltimore Committee - GBC 63rd Annual Meeting  5:30pm-9pm - Hyatt Regency Baltimore Inner Harbor
WHY?  Great crowd of high level executives, CEO’s & business owners.  Multiple sponsors in many different industries

Tuesday, May 15 & Wednesday, May 16 - Association for Corporate Growth - ACG Deal Forum -Tuesday, 9:30am-4:30pm, Wednesday, 7:30am - 12pm - Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards
WHY?  Opportunity to meet with middle market deal makers.  Speakers include Adam Benesch, co-founder, Union Craft Brewery and Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Waltz

Wednesday, May 16 - Moxie Promotions - Waterfront Tech Series - 7:30am-10am - Brown Advisory
WHY?  Interesting topic and good panelists.  Discussion around blockchains as well as virtual and augmented reality

Wednesday, May 23 - Maryland Nonprofits - 2018 Member Appreciation Party - 5pm-7pm - Humanim American Brewery Building (rooftop patio)
WHY?  Opportunity to meet and mingle with nonprofit community from around the state

Building Your Network with a Pay-Forward Mentality

Almost 250 years ago, three men rode off into the night to alert the colony of Massachusetts that the British were coming to attack.  You’ve heard the tale, you probably even read the popular 1861 poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. What you may not have heard, were the other two men that rode out that night, William Dawes and Samuel Prescott.  All three men were accomplished but only one had built up such a massive network and had built such impressive relationships that he became the one we remember today. That person, of course, is Paul Revere. He was successful that night because of the strong and wide network of people that he had established and their willingness to spread the word.

I bet if you think about many of the people you know today that are successful in business you can trace that success back to their networks and a pay forward mentality.  Building your personal and professional network is more relevant today than ever. We live in a very technology-based society that makes it more and more convenient for us to communicate.  At the same time, most of that communication is via our mobile devices and yet as much as I like to use my mobile device it cannot replace the action of communicating with someone in person.  People do business with people they like and they trust. You can’t build trust and you can’t build relationships on your mobile device. It’s imperative that if you want to build your business, your personal brand and your network you need to be in front of people.

Building your personal and professional network does take time and effort and although attending networking events is a key strategy it’s not the only one.  Networking events are wonderful ways to meet new people and I attend a lot of events each month. I’ve learned a lot of tricks over the years to make sure I’m using my time effectively and efficiently and the main thing I think about before going to a networking event is having a plan, setting some goals for myself and preparing ahead of time.  It doesn’t take long and you’ll have a much better experience. Having a plan and setting some goals simply means taking a few minutes to think about why you’re there and what you want to accomplish. Are you there to meet the guest speakers? Is your goal to meet business owners and CEO’s? Did you set a goal of how many people you want to meet?  It’s a simple practice that if you adhere to it each time you go network, you’ll get better results. Preparing for a networking event is equally important and the main things I think about are my personal brand and how I represent myself, catching up on the latest local business news and how I can bring value to the people I meet. Again, simple preparation can mean a big difference.

Other than networking events, there are other ways to build your network.  One effective way is joining a nonprofit committee or board. There are few things more satisfying then working with a group of like-minded people for a cause you’re passionate about.  It’s also a great way to build relationships. Another way is by joining a referral group. Many organizations in the region offer the opportunity to join networking groups and if you can’t find one, create your own.  Another way to build your network is by joining an association in your industry or a client’s industry. Associations are very good at offering educational opportunities as well as networking events. Lastly, when you’re scheduling one-on-one meetings with clients or referral partners, meet at many of the well-known hotspots.  I’m always running into other people at some of the popular coffee and lunch spots and it’s a good way to stay in front of your audience and meet new people.

I’ve also learned that in order to build your network you need to help people.  Having a pay forward mentality is not only the right thing to do but it works. The bigger your network grows the more people you can help.  The more people you can help, the bigger your network will grow. It’s not rocket science but it does take effort and you have to train yourself to think differently.  I know of several people in my network that are really good at paying forward and they are all some of the most successful and happy professionals in their field. When I meet with someone for the first time, I’m automatically looking for ways to help them and whether it’s advice or an introduction, I know that will leave a lasting impression.  That impression and my willingness to help may or may not lead to a new client but I know that if I help them they will think of me when the time comes. And if I’m meeting and helping a few people per week then that’s a few more people that I have in my network looking out for me.

Growing your network personally and professionally takes a mindset that you should carry with you throughout your life.  Whether you’re just graduating high school, in the middle or at the end of your career, building your network should be a lifelong endeavor.  So get off your phone and go attend an event, networking group or join a nonprofit and I’ll see you out there.