SMPS Heartland Regional Conference / Uncategorized  / Building a Seller-Doer Culture: the Extras – Donna Corlew, FSMPS, CPSM and Frank Lippert, FSMPS, CPSM

Building a Seller-Doer Culture: the Extras – Donna Corlew, FSMPS, CPSM and Frank Lippert, FSMPS, CPSM

Normally, our Building a Seller-Doer Culture session is presented as a half-day pre-regional conference session. For HRC 2022, we’ll cover the highlights in about 75 minutes. As we tightened the material, some pieces are better covered in this blog post. Consider this a teaser to the session. Trust us, in 75 minutes you will still get a growler full of tasty, hoppy goodness suitable to be called a Milwaukee cold brew that will prove helpful back at the office.

Building a culture where seller-doers thrive, especially with our special brand of A/E/C technical folks, centers around having a good system and process in place. The session covers that with tons of good takeaways to implement immediately. The other key aspect to developing a seller-doer culture is, of course, the people, and that’s the focus of this blog post. 

Today, millennials and Gen Z comprise the majority of our workforce. Baby Boomers are retiring and Gen X, a small generation, is stretched thin. The good news is millennials and Gen Z love training and education. Give them the right tools and processes, show them how to use them, then look out. Take a step back, give grace for failure, have patience, and be the most-helpful marketing and business development coaches possible. Your business will transform through your marketing leadership. This thirsty group of young leaders will twist and bend the ways we’ve approached business, and that’s great. Remember, most of their counterparts on the client-side of the table are young leaders, too. There is always a better way, a newer way, a more inventive way to win work. These dynamic new generations need a foundation on which they’ll build a culture that wins. 

Here are a few tips for working with millennial and Gen Z seller-doers:

  • Roadmaps, especially career maps, help them understand expectations and responsibilities as they progress in their seller-doer journey. The clearer and better articulated you can make these, the better success you’ll have.
  • Teamwork makes the dream work! This is a naturally collaborative group, so pulling together a team or cohort of seller-doers and working with them collectively can save time and effort. They will learn from you and from each other. 
  • Authenticity and transparency are vital. if your seller-doer system includes rewards and recognition (they should), then the formula or process for determining rewards and recognition needs to be communicated and readily accessible where everyone can see it and understand where they rank.
  • They love influencers. On the surface, this doesn’t seem like an easy thing to pull off in A/E/C. (Are we really that cool?) Every firm has a rockstar, a rising star, and a star-struck person that gets business development. Turn these folks and what they do well to your advantage. Use your internal podcasts or social media channels to highlight the good things your seller-doer rockstars do to win work. Fifteen minutes of vlogging can go a long way.

A lot has changed and continues to change about seller-doer culture besides the shifting generations. The seemingly never-ending pandemic has shifted much of how we communicate and build relationships. Interactions are more remote/virtual, less in-person. Some public agencies are on record saying they may never go back to in-person interviews again. Embracing the WFH lifestyle when approaching business development has its advantages. We were recently talking to a mutual client from his family home in Massachusetts. Over the past 22 months, we’ve watched the seasons change in the windows and on his sports team tee-shirts from Red Sox to Patriots to Bruins. It’s added to the mix of things to talk about and brought a sense of him as a person into the meetings. We’ve gotten to know him even better than we would have if we were still on conference call lines or only meeting in person. 

Help your seller-doers navigate their online business development with a few suggestions:

  • Visual tools. Have a graphic or document to talk to when Zooming with your client. It could be
  •  a site map for a potential project, a page of notes about their agency, or an org chart they’ve shared. With something on the screen, seller-doers can focus more on that than how they look in the camera.
  • Practice, practice, practice. It’s not just for interviews anymore! Position the camera angle at eye level, confirm lighting and sound are working well before starting the meeting, and have your questions ready to go. 
  • Meeting in person again. Ask about COVID protocols up front, well before arriving at the client’s office. Bring a mask in case it’s needed and be willing to meet outside even if the weather isn’t exactly ideal. 

Diversity, equity, and inclusion are also changing the culture of our firms and affecting the way we win work. With improved hiring and promoting practices, we have a greater variety of voices and experiences at the table. The results are business conversations that are more meaningful, educational, and mindful. With greater diversity comes innovation and questioning. Let’s face it, we need a little shake-up. 

Help your seller-doers adapt to a more inclusive approach with these tips:

  • Words matter. Drop the “hey guys/you guys” language. Teams aren’t all guys. 
  • Know your client. Do the research upfront. If their DEI statement is prominent on their website, be ready to talk about yours if asked.
  • Don’t go it alone. Bring someone different along to meetings. It can be someone younger (age diversity is important) or with a different perspective, background, or expertise. Make sure they’re as prepared as you and ready to help win work.

We work with firms every day where new leaders are emerging and finding their way. As marketing and business development professionals, it’s our job to educate on the process for building good relationships that result in winning work. Our session will focus on that, but keeping the people in mind – the seller-doers themselves – and recognizing their everchanging faces is critical. 

See you in Milwaukee!


Donna Corlew, FSMPS, CPSM and Frank Lippert, FSMPS, CPSM

Connect with Donna and Frank on LinkedIn.

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