Are You Doing Three-Steps for Proactive Client Development?October 31, 2013
The idea of acting proactively, is foreign to many in client development. We seldom pick up the phone and say, “Mr. Client, I think you need some of our services; let me help you out.” The client does not generally want his lawyer suggesting legal projects.
So we tend to sit back and react. We wait for that client phone call that we can respond to with information in response to a request for service.
Business development is a completely different game. If you wait for the prospect to call you, you may be waiting a long time.
The waiting game is not a business development strategy. That is simply hoping that someone will pick up the phone and call you at just the right moment, as opposed to a planned and thoughtful process of client generation.
Business development is most effective when it is transformed into a process.
A THREE-STEP SALES PROCESS
Consider the following three-step sales process. I often call the process “making your own busy.”
Step 1: Profile the characteristics of your target client.
Step 2: Identify those prospects and leads that match your target client profile and align with your mission statement.
Step 3: Create a proactive plan to find and meet those target clients through your strategic partners, meetings, organizations and other activities that will put you in front of those prospects and leads.
Of course, we all have ethical and professional rules. We cannot just pick up the phone and say, “Wouldn’t you like to hire me? I have great services. I think I can deliver fabulous value-added opportunities for you.”
So how do you act proactively to generate new clients from your prospects and leads?
RESEARCH IS THE KEY TO CREATING AN ETHICAL, PROACTIVE ENVIRONMENT
What we can do is first to find out everything we can about that prospect. What organizations does he belong to? What association meetings does he attend? What publications does he read? Who currently provides him with the service similar to mine?
We can use our strategic partners and other business relationships to understand the needs of that prospect and to find ways to schedule a meeting.
What happens after you make that connection? I have often observed that most service professionals find the prospect, make a connection, have a meeting, and then fail to get to the next step. They don’t know what to do next.
“What do I do? I can only take my prospect to so many baseball games. I do not have time to keep sending stuff to them. I don’t know what to do!”
This is why a sales process is so important.
We have addressed the what-do-I-do-next problem by creating and using a set of business development tools. These tools are often used to make contact with prospects and to keep our name out in front of them.
What tools would be valuable to your prospects? If your prospect matches your target client profile and is consistent with your mission statement, there will be many things you read and information you have that may be relevant to your entire universe of prospects.
These informational tools sent to your prospects may be useful in their everyday business. The information may have very little to do with your practice—it may be survey information, M&A valuation studies, an interesting article or candidate résumé.
It’s a way of saying, “We understand your business. We are thinking about you. We want to support your success.”
The most effective way I have found to stay top of mind with a prospect is a personalized message. Email blasts are often not read. A customized message that is directed to the prospect, that uses his name and includes a sentence or two that says you know and understand his business and his concerns, goes a lot further.
For example, I read a research report recently on a company in China with terrific technology that I knew a prospect was considering. I sent the report to him along with this note:
“Bob, as you suspected, this technology could be the solution you’re looking for. I’ve got a connection in China that might be able to open a door for you if you’d like an introduction.”
You will also find that keeping up with a large target list is inefficient and dilutes your results. If you are a beginner at business development, focus on five or less prospects at any one time.
If you are more senior, divide your prospect and strategic partner lists so you can allocate them to different members of your team.
Our technology team meets every Monday morning to discuss business development, determining which tools and actions can be used that week to align with our prospects and strategic partners. This system builds teamwork and coordination and avoids several people contacting the same prospect with similar information. It is also important to keep the CRM database up to date. These weekly meetings help us to stay current with updated lead and prospect information.
One final thought for when you find yourself becoming impatient with your results: business development is a marathon, not a 100-yard dash. Don’t give up if you don’t get an instantaneous response. Keep using the business development tools and refining your message to targeted prospects—and success will follow.
Of course, the introduction, meeting and follow-ups are all just the steps leading to a client relationship with the prospect. It isn’t until you have a signed engagement letter that your sales process is complete.
Source: Daily Report