Sometimes it’s difficult to look past our own busiest times of year and think about business development. For professionals who also sell it can be one of the biggest challenges to maintaining consistent growth. But, the most successful firms are those that take their own busy times out of the equation and adopt a more year-round approach to growth. (Which, incidentally, is also usually more market focused.)
There are four main methods for prospecting. Some you can work into your schedule even when you are busy serving clients. Some you should think about for once your busiest time is through. But a mix of all should be implemented consistently to help even out the peaks and valleys of your growth results. Planning ahead helps make sure you’re getting the right mix and helps you be more effective at implementation.
- Whoâ€™s Your Friend? Youâ€™ve just finished. or are doing a lot of work for a lot of happy clients, right? Now is good time to call and ask for referrals. Thank them for any referrals you receive and touch base again to let them know the outcome. Be sure to follow-up right away with the referred company. You can do this while you’re meeting with and delivering value to your clients.
- COI Development: Develop relationships with centers of influence or evaluate current relationships you have with COIs and see if they are willing to provide any sales leads. Get back to this activity shortly after your busy time is over.
- Get Involved! If youâ€™re not already, become active in local community or industry groups. Membership in area associations is a great networking tool. This personal marketing effort should eventually transition to sales, donâ€™t just wait for referrals. After youâ€™ve established relationships ask about your prospectâ€™s businessâ€”and how you can help. Once you’ve checked in and picked up with your COI relationships look to broaden your efforts with this type of activity. Most community and industry groups publish an annual calendar of activities so you can look ahead and decide the activities that best fit into your schedule.
- Dear Prospect: Acquire a list of companies that meet your target criteria and send a direct mail piece. Follow-up with a phone call and set appointments with interested prospects. As long as you are willing to do the follow-up and work the sales cycle, direct marketing can often be a fairly quick and effective method for generating leads.
Use this big-picture approach to planning your prospecting activities and spend less time thinking about what you should do to grow your practice, and more time growing it!