Your lead generation initiatives, if planned and performed correctly, will build visibility and connect you with potential clients and collaborators, often starting conversations with them. But conversations do not always happen naturally.
Sometimes you will engage with them but in a group setting, such as networking with multiple people at once in a conference or roundtable. Other times, they might connect but not proactively engage with you - such as someone subscribing to your newsletter or attending your public speaking event. To find out if and how your firm can help them, you will need to meet those people in a one-on-one conversation.
How do you do that? There are hundreds of ways you can initiate it but all of them will require you to win your first sales commitment: time.
They need to agree to invest some of their time meeting with you.
Here’s where the relationship stages become handy. You can use them to quickly see what are the most common ways to approach a given person, and ask for their time commitment to a one-on-one conversation:
- People that you haven’t connected with before ("Targets"): See if any of your relationships can introduce you to them. If not, reach out directly to invite them to your visibility-building initiatives.
- People that you've met via your lead generation initiatives ("Leads"): All of your initiatives put you in a great position to meet new prospects if they’re interactive. If you’re writing a book, you have the opportunity to interview leads or share notes over a quick chat. During a speech or presentation, you can conduct interactive exercises and follow up with attendees to offer additional value.
- People you've met before ("Acquaintances"): Reconnect to catch up with those you haven't spoken to for a while. If you have just recently met, follow up based on the content of your last conversation.
- People you haven't connected with inside client organizations ("Clients"): There are dozens of ways to meet new decision-makers. Walk the halls if you have access to their office. Set up an internal meeting - kickoff meeting or final presentation that is broadly attended. Interview leaders for your writing pieces or branded research.
You might need some orientation to master the specific tactics (a lot of consultants don't know how to ask for introductions, for example). But that's all, there's no secret here. Chances are you're simply not prospecting enough.
Prospecting is the beginning, the activity that opens up opportunities. The only commitment you are asking for is their time. You didn't have the chance to explore their current situation, discuss potential risks or opportunities, or even explore if and how they could benefit from a change.
That's why it is simple to fix a bad prospecting strategy. When you ask to meet and hear "no" back - "I'll take a look and come back to you", "Can we talk again in a month or two?", "We're crazy busy now" - you know for a fact these are all excuses.
It's not the offering. It's not the timing. As long as your positioning is clear, the real and only true objection here is: They think the meeting will be a waste of their time.
You didn't offer enough value in trade for their time. If you did, they would go out of their way to chat with you. It's simple, and it's true.