I was with a client recently who was bemoaning the fact that his sales and marketing team was letting him down. It seems that the only new business coming into the firm was business that he himself brought in. So I asked him how the latest lead came in, he said that he was in a conversation he had with a good connection of his, someone he served on a not for profit board with, and the discussion turned to business and the types of clients he was looking for. The fellow board member immediately thought of someone that my client should speak with; set up the introduction and my client made a sale. The reality is that this particular client’s business is a referral business so how will he obtain leads?
A second story down this same road; I was recently in a meeting with a potential partner to our firm. This potential partner had done his research and understood the value of the firm; the sales training, the resources of a national firm, the ability to work with other partners in the region as well as the ability to quickly connect and get answers to tough questions. What this potential partner was concerned with in starting a practice, was whether he had a robust network with which to build a practice. So I asked him what he envisioned his marketing plan to be. He gave me a questioning look so I asked to whom you will sell. Who is your target client? How will you get in front of that target client? What will you say to them? What services will you offer? How will you demonstrate to them that you can provide the service you say you can provide? Can you validate this? Chet Holmes, an author and consultant on sales uses this example. If you are on the stage speaking to 100 of your top potential customers and had 30 minutes of their undivided time; what would you say to them that would keep them engaged and in the room for the 30 minutes?
This can be a tough question to answer. I find that the best way to fill this time is to educate your audience. What decision would your potential customer make if they knew more about the “why” they needed your product or service? That is marketing, and indeed was the conversation I had with the potential partner introduced above.
In addition, research shows that it takes twelve points of contact before someone buys from you. So what will you do to communicate with this prospect over twelve times that will not get you thrown out of their office? This also is part of your marketing plan, to educate your top 100 potential customers then find ways to connect with them time after time until they see the need for your product or service and are motivated to reach out.
To grow a business and create value is a never ending process that entails a number of disciplines with marketing and sales processes being one of them. In future articles we will explore the other business value drivers.