Just read a story in Ad Age about a nimble, LA-based agency moving to a relationship-based prospecting plan. Gotta love it! Your head will be nodding as you read the article. It details the challenges all agencies seem to have with regard to the traditional “identify our best prospect, identify their pain points, then offer up some free ideas” plan. Said in another way, offer-based prospecting efforts that many in our business use to get meetings.
Yours truly is a huge fan of relationship-focused plans. But not at the expense of some awareness-building and some numbers. Particularly for small shops. Here’s why:
- You often can’t make someone switch agencies. But you can be available when the prospect’s ready to change firms. Often, marketplace changes dictate the time. Usually, this is a client-side personnel change, poor business results, M&A activity, etc.
- You and I are in a business with a long sales cycle that offer high visibile services that are inherently risky to buyers. Careers are at stake. And usually, the decision to choose you versus someone else is made by a group of people.
- We ain’t selling bubble gum. Typically, the size of our industy’s sales are, generally speaking, big. Sometimes, really big. The bigger the budget, the more complicated and lengthy the process becomes. You only need look at the huge SCJ pitch here in Chicago as an example. The search was announced last December. And in mid-July, the winner has yet to be announced.
All of this and more suggests that there’s a need for numbers to generate inbound opportunities and referrals. The old adage of it being any selling being a numbers game, including the marketing of professional services, should be ringing in your head about now. So, absolutely, tap into existing relationships and rolodexes. But not at the expense of awareness.
It’s a question of emphasis and weight, right? The last adage you’ll read about today (promise!) is about a balanced breakfast. To me, relationship-building is the protein. The most important part. And fodder for future posts you may find helpful.
You can find all sorts of relationship-based prospecting ideas on this site. Just chuck in the word relationship in the search box found in the upper right hand corner. Enjoy! Hope you find it useful.
It occurred to me that this post actually features less actionable, helpful stuff. Lo siento! So, here are some of my favorite posts around relationships:
- Tap into your service providers.
- Think prospecting and relationships through HR function.
- Gift giving and relationships.
- Being a nice neighbor.
- Relationship-based prospecting plan starters.