Ensemble Encounters: A Q&A with Heath Alloway on Business Development

By: The Ensemble Practice

In the advisory industry, the topic of business development can be tossed around like a hot potato. Heath Alloway, Director with Upstream Academy, recently met with the G2 Leadership Institute’s Class of 2024 in Austin, TX to help demystify business development and provide tips to make it more approachable.

Here Heath shares some guidance and advice to help hesitant advisors take that ever-important first step into business development:

Why should advisors invest their time in business development?

In the simplest terms: Healthy and profitable growth fuels the gas tank for all high-performance firms. Purposeful growth will build a better future for your people, clients, firms, and communities.

When business development is done right, it is truly an extension of how you serve your clients. When you get better at business development, you can choose the clients and projects you work on, and progress more quickly
in your career.

How can advisors navigate away from the fear of being viewed as a “pushy salesperson”?

I would start with an understanding that a “pushy salesperson” is not what works in professional services – or really in any setting! But the advisor profession is more about building high levels of trust and meaningful
relationships that last through a career. It is a safe assumption that our very best clients prefer a trusted advisor relationship.

You will fall into the sea of sameness if you only talk about your firm, stats, services, and great people. That is the trap most advisors and firms fall into. Instead, understand that some of the best business developers get
really good at asking questions and taking a sincere interest in the client, and then bring your best effort and desire to help them.

A less common approach – but one I strongly recommend you consider – is to identify the purpose of your work. When you know the purpose behind your work, you are not selling—you are helping. When you have knowledge and expertise you know others can benefit from, it would be a shame not to share it.

What advice do you have for advisors as they embark on their business development journey?

Nike says, “Just Do It”, and for advisors and biz dev, it’s really the same. Just get started and understand your business development journey won’t be perfect, but it will be worth it. With the right mindset, you will impact
your clients and career in ways you never imagined.

Don’t underestimate the power of a coach or mentor to shadow. I am a big believer in not reinventing the wheel but learning from those who have been there. They more than likely had some of the same fears and hesitations you may be feeling.

And finally, when you are starting out, find three or four of your best clients and start there. Set up a time and go on a fact-finding mission to better understand their goals and how you can help them.

Ensemble Extra! What ensemble recently made an impact on you?

When I was in Austin with the G2s, I was fortunate to have some engaging experiences with members of the ensemble from Francis Financial. Although brief, I had a good discussion with Natalie Colley about having a young child and balancing work and expectations. This is such an important topic, and we must draw more awareness to how we treat team members in one of the most critical times of their lives. And I can’t not mention Sunaina Mehra, for the mad ping-pong skills: We had two intense games during the reception!

Heath’s unique skillset helps clients to thrive no matter the business climate. Driven by a passion for helping others, he works closely with profession leaders to position firms for success through people development,
strategic growth, and positive change. He is a popular coach and speaker for firm and conference presentations.

Before joining Upstream Academy, Heath spent nearly fifteen years in a unique role in one of the top accounting firms in the United States. In this role, he led a multi-disciplinary team of 20, focusing on strategic plan
development and implementation, development and launch of new services and industry verticals, and led a firm-wide business development training program.

His leadership style has been influenced by numerous past and present profession leaders. His mission is to share his stories to help others write theirs.

Heath grew up in a small town and a family-owned business where his entrepreneurial mindset originated. In their spare time, he and his wife, Emily, are avid sports fans of their two children.