Situation: A CEO is concerned that her company does not have enough new prospects or business on the horizon. New business opportunities appear sporadically but not predictably. She asks how others schedule their time and effort to bring in new clients. How do you maintain a robust pipeline?
Advice from the CEOs:
- Devote a regular amount of time to business and relationship development. Even when business is busy it is important to have the discipline to devote 4 to 6 hours per week to new business development. Schedule this time and fill it with activity. Occasional networking doesn’t work.
- What differentiates a company is its brand. If new business comes from referrals, turbo-charge this by becoming the information hub for the referral group. Make it easy for others to make referrals.
- There is a hierarchy of things to do.
- Stay on potential referrers’ radar screens – monthly or quarterly awareness marketing to referral sources.
- Spread awareness of best practices in areas where the company has expertise.
- Make best practices relevant with situational stories.
- Think in terms of a target.
- Where do most referrals come from? This is the center of the bull’s eye
- 2nd Ring – 2nd level of referrals
- 3rd Ring – 3rd level of referrals
- Network more with contacts at the center of the target – they know clients in need of help.
- There is a lot of information in the cloud that is relevant to the business – personnel moves, hiring, firing, etc. If you it is possible to track this, it can help.
- LinkedIn can help. Look for 1st and 2nd degree links to individuals of interest. For example, you want to meet a CEO who on LinkedIn is a 2nd degree link. Request a warm introduction from a 1st degree link between you and the CEO.
- Think of LinkedIn in terms of rifle shots, not a shotgun approach. This makes it both more manageable and more valuable.