Business Engagement Tips from AusIndustry Regional Managers
This video from AusIndustry Regional Managers provides practical tips for successful businesses engagement - before, during and after meeting with businesses.
This content has been provided by AusIndustry and the Australian Public Service Commission.
- Understand important steps AusIndustry Regional Managers follow to engage with businesses.
- You will learn about the importance of:
- conducting research early
- managing business’ expectations
- listening and learning with neutrality
- being honest
- asking questions
- being specific and brief
- collaboration and teamwork
- leaving an impression
- linking business needs to support
- always following up
APS 3 to SES Band 3
Craft and User Level
This resource aligns with the Engagement & Partnership Craft at the Foundation level.
Engaging stakeholders; Negotiation; Relationships; Representation; Communication.
Audio and Visual Transcript
Screen title: Business Engagement. Tips from the AusIndustry Regional Managers.
[Visual description: corporate logos are displayed for the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources and the Australian Public Service Academy.]
[Visual description: full screen title reads ‘Before meeting a business’.]
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On the left side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a woman - Rowena Ryan, Regional Manager, Gold Coast QLD and Northern Rivers.
The title reads ‘Tip 1 Conduct research early’. Subtitle: Show that you have researched the business/company in advance.]
ROWENA RYAN: We all know you don't get a second chance to make a good first impression. The first thing I do when a business would approach us as a regional manager is understand what sector they're operating in, what size of business they are, and what their key issues are.
[Visual description: Subtitle reads ‘Conduct a thorough internet search’.]
ROWENA RYAN: We need to ensure that we're well prepared. So that means, you know, doing some research via the website, looking at the company's website, and understanding now what sector they're in, where their operations are.
[Visual description: Subtitle reads ‘A good Google or YouTube search can tell you a lot about a business’.]
ROWENA RYAN: You know, it might also mean, you know, reading up on them on LinkedIn, or looking at ASX announcements. Of course, if they've got some existing interactions with your organization and you have a CRM, ensure that you are well prepared in terms of knowing what interaction they've had with us already, so they're not having to repeat themselves.
[Visual description: Subtitle reads ‘Conscious, committed and sustained learning’.]
ROWENA RYAN: By understanding where they're at and where they hope to be, and what their most important critical issue is at this point in time, then I can also refer them...make a qualified referral into the most appropriate assistance provider for them.
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On right side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a man – Damien Halliday, Regional Manager, Greater Adelaide.
The screen title reads: ‘Tip 2 Manage expectations’]
DAMIEN HALLIDAY: It's important for us as regional managers to manage the expectations of the businesses that come to talk to us, and when we engage with them, because they're relying on us to shape up what the offering is.
And we want to make sure that they don't lead them down the garden path and that we're often very honest about their prospects in gaining funding or investment. And we want to make sure that they go into it eyes wide open as to the amount of effort that will be required.
It's important to make sure that we are clear about what will happen, what the outcome will be from those meetings, and to make sure that the business understands that we will be providing clear guidance on where they should go to next.
But in the end, that initial meeting and that engagement, the purpose is to make sure that we can then look for the best opportunities for them. The business will get from us, then referrals, connections, and we'll follow up on that and make sure that they're not left wondering where to go next.
Even if it's not a lot of opportunity going forward, we'll still be very honest about that and we'll clear it up with them to say, you actually...in this particular sector, you might only have these following options going forward.
[Visual description: full screen title reads ‘During meeting with a business’.]
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On left side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a woman – Nicola James, Regional Manager, South.
The title reads ‘Tip 3 Listen and learn’. Subtitle: Identify issues that are relevant to the business.]
NICOLA JAMES: It's really important to listen because it's their story, not ours. And it's fundamentally identifying the issues that are relevant to that business.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Really listen to the client’.]
NICOLA JAMES: I think the important thing when you are engaging is to stop this [the woman gestures to her mouth] and open these [the woman gestures to her ears], because the minute that you let them talk, that's where you get the deep information and the stuff that you would never envisage.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Make every minute relevant’.]
NICOLA JAMES: Every minute that they're with us, it needs to be relevant. They need to get something from it.
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On left side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a man – Peter Masterson, Regional Manager, Illawarra & South Coast NSW.
The title reads ‘Tip 4 Be honest’. Subtitle: Your credibility is important.]
PETER MASTERSON: We've got to deliver our programs with complete honesty and complete integrity. Well, it's all about part of the government's credibility and your own credibility.
That's why it's important. So, when you go to a business, if you're finding that they're not going to fit a particular program, you need to tell them. Sometimes, a no is as good as a yes.
[Visual description: subtitle reads “Sometimes a ‘no’ is as good as a ‘yes’”.]
PETER MASTERSON: And it's also important to give the business the reasons why, and let them understand what, you know, why you've made the decision that you've made.
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On right side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a woman – Elly Brophy, Regional Manager, Sydney NSW.
The title reads ‘Tip 5 Ask questions’. Subtitle: The best way to earn is by asking questions.]
ELLY BROPHY: As a regional manager, we do lots of face-to-face meeting with businesses, and I always try to approach these customer meetings with a genuine sense of curiosity.
And the best way to learn is by asking questions. And I ask more questions when something takes my curiosity or where I say there might be a lead in where we'd be able to help that business.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Ask directly what challenges businesses face’.]
ELLY BROPHY: It's been so important to us businesses directly what challenges they face. And in doing that, we cannot only, I guess, understand what support might be best tailored for them, but also gain, I guess, insight into more of the general issues that are facing industry at this time.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Help the client understand some of the complex material’.]
ELLY BROPHY: We can help translate for businesses into plain English, which will help them be able to navigate the kind of landscape of government grants and programs that are out there.
[Visual description: The scenes change to a series of short video scenes while the voice of Kevin Turner can be heard. The scenes show a Regional Manager interacting with business customers in their workplaces.]
KEVIN TURNER: It's important to be specific and brief.
You don't have long there. You've probably got some key information to share. Don't waste their time.
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On the left side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a man – Kevin Turner, Regional Manager, Northern Tasmania.
The title reads ‘Tip 6 Be specific and brief’. Subtitle: Make it clear the reason why you are there.]
KEVIN TURNER: An example of being specific and concise in a meeting is to just at the beginning, lay out really clearly, sort of the reason why you're there.
So, it can be along the lines of, you know, by the end of this meeting, I'm going to have heard about what your business is up to, and I'm going to be able to provide you with some useful information and some opportunities to help you grow.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘At best you will get an hour with the client’.]
KEVIN TURNER: At best, you're going to get an hour with a meeting. About 40 minutes of that will be then telling you about what's going on, explaining the history of things, what they're going to. You then get 10 to 20 minutes at the end to then work through what their options are.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Try to bring it down to 2 main points’.]
KEVIN TURNER: I believe that most people will remember two things really well. If you have to go beyond two, then that's OK. But back it up with the fact sheet. You and I have them.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Verbal communication, the written information and then a follow up email’.]
KEVIN TURNER: We've got the AusIndustry folders, we can hand them to them, and then follow it up with an email, as well. So, it's sort of those three things, the verbal communication, the written material that's left with them.
And then, the follow up email.
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On the right side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a woman – Natalie Gruenfeld, Regional Manager, Darling Downs and South West QLD.
The title reads ‘Tip 7 Collaborative and teamwork’.]
NATALIE GRUENFELD: It's really important to collaborate, particularly when you're a regional manager because you are based in a region where there are a multitude of stakeholders who you need to connect with and work with.
It's really important to be able to reach out across all of those networks and all those different government agencies or different other stakeholder networks relevant in your region to sort of combine forces.
Collaboration in your region is making sure you're open, and make sure that you are clear in terms of the different things that you're wanting to do in your region, and the different things that you're wanting to work on.
So that when it comes to collaborating with your counterparts, they know that they can reach out to you and pick up the phone and engage. And sometimes, collaboration comes where you don't expect it.
So, you need to really be open and approachable. And what it means on a day-to-day basis is actually relationships. At its very core is actually have relationships with other stakeholders to be able to go and engage with them and have a chat about certain topics, about certain things that you're looking to do with businesses, with regions on projects, and actually start to throw around a few ideas about how you could work together on those projects.
It really starts with forming those relationships, having a coffee, regular engagement, sharing of information to deliver projects for the betterment of your region.
[Visual description: full screen title reads ‘After meeting with business’.
The screen is then split into halves vertically. On the left side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a man – Paul Henderson, Regional Manager, Darling Downs and South West QLD.
The title reads ‘Tip 8 Leave an impression’. Subtitle: Be down to earth and approachable.]
PAUL HENDERSON: I think the first impression that business is looking for is someone that's approachable, that's friendly, that is on their level.
They can understand what they're doing and the issues and the things that they're facing. So, when you turn up to a business, it's really knowing what sort of business they are and being prepared and dressing accordingly.
And it wouldn't turn up necessarily in a, you know, in a middle of a farm somewhere wearing a suit and tie. And that's not what they're looking for. They're looking for somebody that they can connect with.
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On the left side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a woman – Elise Gordon, Regional Manager, Southern SA.
The title reads ‘Tip 9 Links needs to support’. Subtitle: Explore any potential assistance.]
ELISE GORDON: Well, linking to other support is really important. It makes sure that the business gets support across different stakeholders, across different programs. So, we would link them through to potentially other stakeholders with warm referrals.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Provide good customer service by identifying the business’ need for support streams’.]
ELISE GORDON: We might have, you know, joint meetings with the business. We would, you know, ring around and contact other people that might be able to help the business along in their journey. And all of that sort of comes together as a nice package for a business rather than them having to speak to individuals one on one.
We can actually kind of bring it all together for them and save them time.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Communicate on relevant and timely information which can support the stakeholder and its customers’.]
ELISE GORDON: Yeah, yeah. Linking today is kind of like coordination point where a connector, I say. We're kind of like the jigsaw puzzle piece in the middle of everything within the regions.
Being able to know the whole lay of the land, what programs exist, what stakeholders exist enables you to have a better targeted response to the business depending on what they need, and reduce, you know, time wasting for them.
Essentially, be able to come up with some targeted objectives for that business.
[Visual description: The screen is split into halves vertically. On the left side is a blue background with white text. On the other side is a man – David Barbalet, Regional Manager, ACT & Southern Inland NSW.
The title reads ‘Tip 10 Always follow up’. Subtitle: Following up can be a simple email or phone call.]
DAVID BARBALET: Following up is the opportunity to capitalize on all that investment. You've got to know them. You understand their needs.
You've told them about something that's going to add value. Following up means you can help them bridge that gap or make that last, final step. A phone call, an email, when you're going past that business, dropping in, having a casual chat sometimes.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Or dropping by the business for a casual chat’.]
DAVID BARBALET: Really depends on the type of engagement and the type of business. Regional managers try and tailor our feedback and our support to the business. And so, we will try and work with whatever works best for that business.
[Visual description: subtitle reads ‘Follow up, even if it’s to say “hello” as this gains trust’.]
DAVID BARBALET: A lot of the time it's a combination of all of us. So phone, email, meeting them at a trade show. All of those things are an opportunity to check in and confirm that they're able to progress with an opportunity or a program and then, get the most out of it for them.
So, following up is the icing on the cake. Gives you the opportunity to capitalize on all of the time you've spent with them, and help them engage with that opportunity that's going to create value.
[Visual description: full screen title summarises the tips. The title reads ‘Regional Manager’s Top 10 tips’
Each of the tips are shown in 2 columns:
- Conduct Research Early
- Manage Expectations
- Listen and Learn
- Be Honest
- Ask Questions
- Be Specific and Brief
- Collaborate and Teamwork
- Leave an Impression
- Link Needs to Support
- Always Follow Up
An email address is also displayed under the heading APS Tool Kit: https://www.apsacademy.gov.au/aps-craft/engagement-partnership#toolkit .]
VOICEOVER: There are many ways to engage with stakeholders. Our network, the AusIndustry Regional Managers, have given you some guiding tips that we use on daily basis for engaging with businesses across Australia. The Australian Public Service Academy have developed a range of toolkits that support you to build capability in APS craft, including different ways to engage and build partnerships.]
[Background music plays]
[Visual description: full screen with title ‘Business Engagement’. Subtitle: Tips from the AusIndustry Regional Managers.
Further text reads: To find your local regional manager – business.gov.au | call 13 28 48.
Corporate logos are also displayed for the Australian Government Department of Industry, Science and Resources and the Australian Public Service Academy.
[End of transcript]