Business development is very similar to gardening. You start by planting seeds. If you water and nurture them, you will be rewarded with sprouts that continue to grow and flourish. However, if you don't invest the time in caring for your seeds, they won't thrive, and eventually they will die. Of course, there's more that goes into business development than planting and watering seeds, but staying on your clients' and prospects' grid is truly the contractor's equivalent to having a green thumb.
Too often, the focus is on planting the seeds of sales development with too little effort placed on nurturing them. A properly developed and implemented touch point management program is what is needed. Prospecting and networking are unarguably essential components to achieving success, but they're only the first steps that then need to be followed up with timely, smart methods for staying in touch over an extended period of time. The following are five of the most effective strategies for taking those next steps for staying on the grid of your prospects and clients:
Stay in Touch Using Value-Added E-mails
While it's a good idea to "touch bases" with contacts after initially meeting them, repeated attempts to connect with them via e-mail or phone without a specific reason can be both bothersome and fruitless.
A better approach is to reach out to both new prospects and existing clients with a valid purpose. Instead of e-mailing just to say "hi," you will grab their attention more productively by also including links to articles or websites of interest. Identify these sources of information based upon what you already know about them - their business requirements, hobbies, or special interests. Find the links by simply Googling key words. You'll probably discover a variety of websites, blogs and online articles that will be useful. Choose what you think would be the most relevant (usually within the first three pages of a Google search), and copy and paste the link into the body of your e-mail. Then, add a personal note and send it off.
This is a very quick and handy way for breaking the ice with a new contact or reminding an existing client that you're still thinking of them. It's informative, interesting, not self-serving and of value to the recipient. This strategy can also be used with "snail mail". When you see an article of interest, cut it out and mail it to your contact with a hand-written note. In fact, the snail mail approach can often garner you even more attention than with an e-mail, as it has become so uncommon that it's now refreshing! The key is to be known as an information provider and a person who wants to stay on the grid because of the value that they add.
Become a People Connector
Linking people to other people can be an extremely beneficial way for you to stay on others' grids long-term. People don't forget those who have been helpful to them and who have connected them to someone of value. Seek out opportunities to connect prospects with prospects and clients with each other. Connections can be made through e-mail introductions, scheduled small group breakfasts, lunches or any way that is appropriate to the type of group.
There always seems to be an endless stream of charity functions, golf outings, networking get-togethers, seminars and conferences. If an event might be of interest to a contact, invite them to join you as your guest. You'll be able to have some quality time to get to know each other better and possibly talk a little business. Do you have invitations for events that you can't attend? Instead of throwing them out, think of who might be interested and forward them the information along with a note or e-mail that you were thinking of them.
Newsletters, Blogs and Articles
Do you like to write? Creating your own newsletter or blog or writing articles for an industry publication or website can help you to position yourself as an expert. This exposure will also help you to stay on the grid in an informational manner. Newsletters are almost always well-received when they provide useful information and aren't overly self-promotional. Solicit articles from other colleagues who can add information or different points of view on topics that are relevant to your readers.
Schedule a Minimum of Three Reconnect Meetings Each Week
Like with so many other aspects of selling, goal setting is necessary for staying on the grid. Make it a necessity to schedule at least three reconnect meetings with prospects and customers each and every week. Use this time to get updated on your prospects' and customers' particular situations and requirements and tell them about what you are currently doing that could benefit them specifically. Whether you meet for breakfast, lunch or for just an hour in the office, make these meetings an important part of your weekly business development tasks.
Adrian Miller is President and Founder of Adrian Miller Sales Training, a sales consultancy that she launched 20 years ago. Adrian provides real-world, highly practical sales skills training programs and delivers executive level sales strategy consulting. She is the author of "The Blatant Truth: 50 Ways to Sales Success" and is a highly regarded speaker and consultant.