If you had to distill everything there is to know about business development into a sentence, it would be something like: get face to face with as many clients and prospects as you can, as often as you can. That point was made nicely today in The Selling Sherpa blog. It's written for professional salespeople, but the point is absolutely dead-on nevertheless.
Many years ago, I read what might have been my very first book on selling, written by Tom Hopkins, who is one of the leaders of the old-school high-pressure/crafty-close school of sales. I remember Hopkins illustrated this same point by referring to a diagram that looked something like this, from the "ship arriving too late to save a drowning witch (which, interestingly, was the title of an album by Frank Zappa, which is a completely different story)" school of illustration.
No, it's not what you think.
The point of this illustration? According to Hopkins, to be successful at sales, you need to see twenty prospects a day belly to belly. No matter what happens, you will do just fine if you accomplish that.
The Sherpa guys have much the same idea. The blog post reads as follows:
Your goal should be to make at least 4 personal, face-to-face contacts every day. They should include:
- 1 prospect, to determine needs, present a proposal, or close a sale1 existing customer, to maintain the relationship, deliver on promises, up-sell and gather testimonials and referrals
- 1 lost customer, to see how they are doing and to remind them you haven’t forgotten about them
- 1 professional colleague, to ask how you might help them further their career (don’t worry, they will offer to help you too)
If you do enough of this, you will soon have to see 2 existing
customers each day because there won’t be very many lost customers to
Contact. There ain’t no other way.
In marketing professional services, which is all about relationship, this is even more the case. It is all about regularly, systematically making contact.
Who are you going to contact today?