I’ve been speaking with a lot of chiefs lately.
The Chief Revenue Officer complimented my approach, aggressiveness and follow-up skills. The Chief Financial Officer politely suggested that I do some more homework and come back with specific suggestions (ouch, but thank you). And the Chief Executive Officer started by telling me his company will never do business with outside consultants as long as he’s the Chairman and CEO. He then invested fifteen minutes of his time coaching me on how to position my solution with other chiefs.
Unfortunately, none of these chiefs appear to be legitimate prospects in the near future. However, the lines of communication have been opened and I will follow up in ways that add value. As long as I’m diligent and strategic with my follow-up, odds are great that I will call one or more of these folks a client within the next year.
All of the chiefs were extremely polite, assertive and protective of their time. What a great example for all of us to follow. As someone whose role is to drive the business development of my firm, being protective of my time is critical. Here are a few tips that will increase the productivity of your team’s business development efforts:
- Take high-percentage shots. Know which industries and companies are most likely to value your solution and have the budget to invest in it.
- Clearly, concisely and confidently articulate why you are calling and how you believe you can add value. Engage the contact with questions about how they’re approaching certain challenges that you are able to address. Be ready with examples that establish credibility and actions that you’d like them to take as a result of your call.
- Have goals for each interaction. Best outcomes might be scheduling an appointment or getting a redirected referral. A good outcome might also be getting an e-mail address so we can follow up strategically. We’ve got to be prepared to drive conversations toward our desired outcomes.
- Get to know several people within each target account. We need to know as many chiefs and decision-makers as possible. If we only know a couple and they leave the organization, we start from scratch and waste valuable time.
- Balance Quantity and Quality. It’s not enough to have one or two REALLY good contacts each day. The only ways to get better at prospecting are to practice and then apply the knowledge by making more calls. It’s much easier to increase the quality of our calls when we’re making a lot of them. Trying to get better at something without practicing is not strategic or logical. The top reason salespeople fail is a lack of qualified prospects. Simply put, not enough chiefs.
Have additional suggestions? Post a reply to this blog or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.