By Harvey Pollack
The word “quality” has been used and abused for so long that we almost don’t even hear it anymore, and when we do, we are skeptical of the reality of that quality. The unfortunate truth is that we have almost stopped talking about quality because of the way commercials and taglines have abused the idea of it.
For as much as we have learned to tune it out, quality still matters. We know that delivering a high-quality service to our clients is essential. What we’ve learned from our own business development efforts can help you grow your business as well, whether you handle your marketing internally or hire specialists to help.
When it comes to developing high-quality prospects, follow this process:
- Work from a structured plan. No matter what marketing efforts you pursue, you should always take a step back and evaluate how that new piece fits into what you already do. Does it duplicate an effort? Does it naturally connect with the other pieces of your sales funnel? If you don’t consider your overall strategy before you start, you are likely to waste a significant amount of resources.
- Identify your target audience. This sounds simple enough, but many advisors still miss the mark. Instead of imagining who your ideal client is (versus your bread and butter), look at the top 25 percent of your client base to develop a prospect profile. Using the clients you have makes it easy to flesh out demographic details and also can facilitate more in-depth research. If you want to know more about what attracted these clients to work with you in the first place, you can simply ask.
- Tell a compelling story. Attention spans are limited, and competition is fierce. When you or a member of your team engage a prospect to set the first appointment, your story needs to capture their interest within the first few sentences, and the overall experience needs to lay a trustworthy foundation. The way in which you talk about yourself should be thoroughly thought out and well-crafted.
- Hire skillful individuals. If you are chasing high-value prospects, it’s unlikely that you are the one calling on potential prospects. You will build a team internally or bring in an outside team to take on that work. Choosing whom you hire to speak on your behalf is critical. These individuals will not only represent your business but also serve as stewards of your reputation. They need to be great at engaging high-level decision makers and telling your unique story.
- Control for quality. When other people are marketing your services on your behalf, you should be engaged and aware of the process they are following. If your team is making these calls, listen to a sample of those calls. Review the notes your team members take. Compare the people to whom they are reaching out to that prospect profile you developed earlier in the process. Checking in on how the outreach works will help you to identify opportunities for improvement more rapidly and prevent problems from becoming serious issues.
- Look at the data. A wise man once told me, “If you can’t measure it you ought not do it.” Track as much of your process as you can. How many prospects did your team identify? How many calls did they make? How much time did they have to spend on the phone to set an appointment? Of the prospects you met with, how many were a good fit your practice? Of those prospects, how many did you close? Measuring and evaluating this data will help you to understand the impact of your efforts and illuminate stages that need more work. You might need to reassess your story, your callers or even your own sales process.
Investing in quality is important, and it’s rarely cheap or quick. Quality will always matter, and you should accept nothing but high quality from yourself, your team or your outside partners. Measuring and creating quality should be an active part of your new business process because, ultimately, the quality of your process will determine the quality of your prospects. The quality of your prospects will define the kind of growth you see. That growth could be a mediocre average or an exponential advancement.
Harvey Pollack is co-founder, president and CEO of The PT Services Group. Previously, he was a partner for 24 years at Alpern, Rosenthal & Co., a large Pittsburgh-based accounting and consulting firm, and he was the founder and CEO of RedSiren, an international provider of IT security management solutions. Harvey may be contacted at [email protected].
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