Thursday, June 18, 2009

Pump Up The Volume

How can you and your colleagues each make at least 15 meaningful business development contacts per month? We expect our professional services clients make at least that many contacts. Depending on your perspective, fifteen may be an enormous number or a nominal one. We more often hear about the former, “How do you make 15 meaningful contacts each 30 days?! Isn’t that an unreasonably aggressive goal?”

Play with me on this for a minute. Imagine we ratchet the monthly number up to 100 meaningful contacts per month? Assuming you can’t give up your existing client responsibilities, how would you accomplish this? Got no idea? Think again. How else?

Broaden your view of meaningful. What if meaningful contact meant something broader than “sales pitch to a ready, willing and able prospect?” For instance, a contact which helps move your relationship with a prospect or referral source from awareness of you to trust of you qualifies as meaningful contact. Here are some other examples of “meaningful” contact:

· Gaining knowledge about a prospective client by talking with someone connected to but not within that company

· Building a business friendship with a complementary professional services advisor who could refer business to you

· Sharing content of value with a client (unrelated to your existing work with them)

· Reaching out to a college classmate who you haven’t talked with in a long time but who is now in a position or company where she might be of help to you

· Setting up meetings with members of a Board of Directors for a community non-profit or business association where you are interested in getting involved.

· Interviewing a CEO for an article you write about an emerging business topic

· Reaching out to your firm’s alumni who are now in client-side roles?

· Come up with some of your own ideas here please.

Broaden your view of who is a contact. What if a meaningful contact didn’t just mean someone you’ve never met before in your life? What if it included a phone call with an existing client about an idea you have for how they can improve their business? If the encounter is intentionally leading towards more business with a current client – it’s a meaningful contact.

Broaden your view of how and where contact occurs. What if a meaningful contact didn’t just mean a one-to-one encounter? You could invite two clients or referral sources from non-competing firms to lunch – they benefit from meeting each other and you benefit from meeting with two contacts over lunch instead of just one. What if you gave a talk in front of fifty prospective clients? What if “how and where” included meeting a key executive at a prospective client while standing on the sidelines at your kid’s soccer game and suggested you get together for coffee during the work week? Or, spending time over a Saturday night dinner with a prospective referral source along with spouses?

I can brainstorm dozens of other opportunities and ways through which you could make meaningful contacts – many of which you may already be doing but not recognizing or mining as a meaningful contact opportunity. We’re not asking you to make 100 contacts…just fifteen each month.

Fifteen meaningful contacts a month is less than four a week. Because it takes longer right now for any one prospect to convert to a client, volume of outreach (in addition to quality) to clients, prospects and referral sources matters now more than ever. You can do it. Contact us at Creative Growth Group if you’re getting stuck.

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