Allan Colman: Absent a Steady Stream of Leads

Continuing with the problem areas presented and responded to in the U.S./Canada survey we conducted along with RainmakerVT, 70% scored themselves a 5 ( 1-10 with 10 high) or lower when asked about having a “steady stream of leads.” In the previous blog we addressed the major reasons identified in our client work and tactics useful in overcoming the absence of leads. Today the discussion will focus on “relevance” to the client/prospect.

Are you meeting merely because you can, i.e. your connection is via a trusted source or some other random cause? But is there a specific issue to drive the new relationship?

And if you have a high incidence of calls/meetings being rescheduled or cancelled, that’s a pretty good indicator that the other party sees insufficient relevance to keep you on the schedule. This is true whether you are talking with clients or prospects.

To enter your pipeline willingly and remain engaged with you, prospects must see you as relevant to their world. So how can you improve your relevance?

Identify and discuss business issues that someone in this prospect’s situation are obligated to care about because of the problem’s current or projected impact.

Next, demonstrate your depth of understanding of this problem, using language that insiders use. Now, you are participating in an ongoing business conversation rather than interrupting one to talk about your credentials and experience. Over time, as people in that business associate you with that issue, it becomes almost impossible for them to discuss it without you coming to mind as the solution.

Allan Colman: SBEC Mentor

Dr. Allan Colman
The Closers Group
Author of OWN THE ZONE-Dominate the Competition

Allan Colman: Own the Closing Zone

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.”

Allan Colman: SBEC Mentor

Dr. Allan Colman
The Closers Group
Author of OWN THE ZONE-Dominate the Competition