During the conduct of our recent U.S./Canada survey on Business Development Confidence, Mike O’Horo from RainmakerVT and I have been asked numerous questions about how to deal with the problems presented. This blog and several to follow will address the problem areas raised and a range of solutions to them.
If you’re not generating the amount and type of business you need it likely means either you have no steady stream of high-quality leads, or when in pitch meetings, you are talking about your solution instead of talking about their problem. The third cause of too few leads/opportunities is often the result of low or inconsistent lead-generating activity.
Typically the absence of a steady stream of high-quality leads or opportunities is a Marketing problem (vs. a Sales problem) and contains two components:
- Low number or frequency of occurrence
- Low quality or value.
When we ask who their targets are, we too often hear “anybody.” This is a function of not having a clear definition of your market and no objective profile of your optimal client. It’s not possible to communicate with “anybody.” What are your options?
First, re-evaluate past clients and prospects for reconnecting; they are typically a top source for new business. In fact a recent Harvard Business Review article indicated that at least 50% of new business every year should come from clients and referrals.
Take a closer look at your clients’ industry publications to refresh your understanding of the problems that companies in that business are experiencing. Unless your clients are outliers, they likely face the same ones, or will soon.
The third option is to get past the trap of communicating only with your direct contact. Initiate conversations with the people in different roles in the company or agency. In many cases, the emerging issues you are reading about in the industry trades won’t have made it to your contact yet; you’ve got to talk with the people out at the “pointy end of the stick”, i.e. out in the business units. In fact, they are more and more likely to be sharing in the expenses you are incurring on their behalf.
When viewed closely, this will get you closer to talking about their problem and not just offering solutions you have tried before. Don’t wait for a work lull to ratchet up your marketing activity. Set a weekly time budget to invest in your pipeline, and honor it. Make sure you are “touching” each of your clients and prospects at least 3 times a year.”