What do you do when a substantial source of your new business pipeline dries up? With conferences and networking events of all sizes cancelled around the globe, travel curtailed, and prospects reassessing spending, new business pipelines are already suffering.
How do you keep the ball rolling?
The reality is you have to up your one-to-one outreach efforts, but so does everyone else. We can expect the already ridiculous amount of spam in our inboxes to increase at an accelerated rate – both email and LinkedIn. You don’t cut through that by adding to it.
I suggest this is an excellent time to slow down and take a more thoughtful approach. Think about the relationships you want to build, and approach those differently than perhaps you have been – not by sending more, by sending better.
Here’s a framework for doing that.
Step 1: Take a deep breath.
So many new business efforts are caught on a treadmill stuck in high speed mode, frantically relying on automation to increase the number of people we can bother, I mean reach out to. If this is you, stop for a minute and let’s do some math.
How many initial conversations with truly ideal prospects do you really need to have? You can get to this number by starting at the end and working backward.
- How many new clients or customers do you want to get in the next year?
- For every 10 ideal prospects you talk with, how many become opportunities
- How many of those become clients or customers?
With the answer to those questions, you can figure out how many new prospects you really need to talk with.
Step 2: Focus
Revisit your ideal client definition. Who are the people and accounts most likely to become good opportunities? Dig deeper into what makes the perfect fit for you. Your goal here is to focus your efforts on your best prospects and ignore the rest. This allows you to craft much more effective outreach messages.
Here’s an article with more info about how to focus your outreach efforts to meet more and better prospects.
Once you know who your best prospects are, go find them on LinkedIn. You can run a search to create a list of potential prospects. If you use Sales Navigator, you’ll have about 30 filters plus keywords you can include in the search; however – and this is important – the list that LinkedIn or Sales Navigator produces is not your final list.
Lists produced by LinkedIn or Sales Navigator are notoriously inaccurate. Take the time to go through them one by one and get rid of those who aren’t ideal. Some can be eliminated just by looking at the list. Others will require you actually looking at profiles and websites.
Do it. If you think you don’t have time, look at the number you arrived at in step one.
Step 3: Connect
Find a mutually beneficial reason to talk. Unless you have a product or service that your prospects have a critical need for and can’t get anywhere else, this mutually beneficial reason does not involve you talking about yourself, your product or your service. Not for the initial conversation.
What ideas and experiences can you share? What were you hoping to learn at the conference that was cancelled? What reason can you create for your prospect to contribute their expertise.
Craft your outreach messages to focus on each individual. Let them know you’re a human (yes we have to do that now) and you actually know who they are. You’re not just fishing – you’ve sought them out individually.
The new opportunity
The situation we find ourselves in now isn’t going to disappear overnight. Buying decisions will slow down, creating a great opportunity for us to build lasting long term relationships with prospects.
Instead of frantically reaching out to as many people as possible and getting lost in the noise, slow down, emphasize quality over quantity. And, where possible, help your prospects work through issues by talking. Remember, we’re all humans and they’re no more comfortable with our current situation than you are.