I recently attended a very impressive business development conference in the US. One of the big takeaways from the presenter was that even heads of large corporations are reachable by phone and that we should be using the phone as a key tool to fill our practices and sell our products. I later spoke to attendees who were determined to call but still confused about exactly WHO to call. I had to chuckle because this inability to know WHO to pursue is mostly what’s stopping small businesses from marketing themselves.
Here’s how to figure it out:
Who cares about what you do?
If you are trying to convert the uninitiated, it’s a very hard sell. So think about who is already in pain for what you offer a solution around. For example, if you sell leadership training, target the Best Employers list. If you sell diversity coaching, target members of Women Owned Business Associations (like WBE). Trying to convince people that they need you is not the way to grow your business quickly.
Which industry do you have natural networks in?
Think back to your resume and old lovers. Think about people who have the same hobbies as you do and connect the dots by seeing if there’s a trend of at least one or two industries you know a lot of people in. If that fails, think about groups of industries that gather and allow outsiders to gather with them. For example, a client found it tough to get into lawyer’s associations since she wasn’t one herself. The decision makers won’t be at the monthly association meetings but you will meet people who might be able to get you his or her name which then tells you WHO to call.
Who have you helped in the past?
Having at least one key player in an industry that you’ve helped on your side really helps position you well in front of similar audiences. For example, if you have a success story in a certain industry or with an individual at a certain level of responsibility, leverage it by asking for testimonials, introductions and LinkedIn recommendations from that client. In addition, create events and executive platforms like Executive Roundtables where you invite that client and use his or her clout to recruit others in similar industries and levels of responsibility.
Picking up the phone is hard but it’s not the only answer to accelerating your growth, particularly if you’re reaching out to a corporate audience. Knowing WHO you’re calling and WHAT to say to them play a crucial role in what your outcome is. It ultimately always comes down to what are you an expert in and who is your most qualified buying market? Without having a clear picture of those two things, you’re flying blind in a world of cold calls.
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