Our focus, during this crisis, has naturally been on our clients. The reality is, however, that we are facing a ‘human crisis’ not a ‘client crisis’.
And that means that everything that I’ve suggested, to actively demonstrate leadership with clients, can also help nurture relationships with prospective clients. After all, they have the same concerns, challenges and aspirations.
For some, the mere mention of prospecting in the current environment feels, to use a technical term, ‘yucky’. I get it. However, there are two arguments that, I believe, are worth considering.
1. You run a business and the survival of that business is critical for you, your family and your team. It can be argued, therefore, that you are not demonstrating real leadership if you aren’t looking beyond survival and toward growth.
2. Your prospective clients will benefit from the information you have to share with clients, if that information is genuinely focused on providing meaningful support. You can help them.
To demonstrate real leadership, you also need to be thinking beyond survival and toward growth.
Growth as a By-Product of Effective Leadership
Without hesitation, I believe that we need to focus first on our clients. To that end, I’ve recommended a three-part plan to help you demonstrate leadership.
1. Gather input to understand what your clients are thinking and what they need.
2. Build your next review meeting around the concerns, fears or challenges that clients share.
3. Personalize your client communications plan to reflect what clients have told you they need.
If you’re doing these things, you don’t need an entirely new strategy to nurture relationships with prospective clients. Rather, you can leverage your client leadership plan with a different audience.
Nurturing Prospective Client Relationships through Education
What would that look like? Consider the following two-point plan for existing prospects.
1. Invite prospective clients to share their needs, concerns and challenges in the current environment. We recommend using a brief poll as part of our client and prospect communications programs.
2. Share communications (e.g., articles, resources, videos) that are personalized based on the input they have provided.
In so doing, you’re inviting prospective clients into the same kinds of conversations you’re having with clients and that’s a tangible demonstration of your commitment, your concern and the value that you deliver.
Your prospective clients are looking for education right now and you can play that role. The secret (now and always) is to provide education on the topics they are asking about, rather than on the topics that you believe are most important.
What About Identifying New Prospects?
The simple plan I’ve outlined above is focused on nurturing existing relationships. It’s not something that will help you identify new prospects.
But what happens if you don’t have an extensive list of prospects? My personal view has always been that education is also the best way to create or grow that list. And since the entire world seems to be spending more time on webinars right now, that may be your best plan of attack.
1. Offer to run a webinar for the clients of an existing center of influence. All professionals should be looking for ways to communicate effectively and having you share a positive message, such as ‘Planning for the Future During Times of Uncertainty’ may be exactly what they (and their clients) need. You may also return the favor and invite him/her to deliver a webinar for your clients.
2. Expand your definition of centers of influence when thinking about strategies such as the one above. While you might think immediately of accountants and lawyers, there has never been a better time to partner with personal trainers, nutritionists or stress management experts who may work with clients that are similar to yours.
3. Offer to run a webinar for an association to share a similar and hopeful message. Membership organizations have all cancelled their in-person conferences and they’ve lost significant revenue as a result. Many would welcome the opportunity to share helpful webinars at no cost.
If you do consider webinars, or any other activities designed to educate prospective clients, please keep three things in mind.
1. A personal connection matters more than ever. Consider using video for at least part of the presentation to make that connection.
2. Include an offer to share on-going information, with those who attend, by inviting them to share an email address. While you’ll want to guard against over-communication, this will allow you to nurture the relationship over time.
3. Fight the urge to ask for meetings too quickly. This is a time to tread carefully and to give and give and give before you ask.
New business development is always easier when it starts from a genuine desire to help. While it’s more important now than ever, it was ever thus.
P.S. Our Client Leadership Program launched last week and we’re thrilled with the response. It’s a program that can also be used to nurture relationships with prospects and you’re welcome to learn more here.
Related: How Can This Make Us Better?