Caution! Heavy, but incredibly useful reading ahead.
Unless you are making a concerted effort to nurture those relationships after your initial meeting you might has well just hand the next person you meet the .50 cents that business card cost you and walk away.
Follow up is crucial.
Admittedly, though it can be hard to keep track of who you’ve reached out too, if you do a lot of reaching out to potential clients—as I suggest with the Rule of 40.
In the last post I talked about using the Rule of 40. If you haven’t read that one get over there now and read it first! OK, so in short, you’ve got to reach out to at least 40 people a day and tell them about your business.
There are two thoughts on this. Some people say business isn’t about numbers it’s about relationships. Others say ‘sales’ is a numbers game. Both are right.
First: Get this straight—-business is sales.
Second: Business is about relationships.
Third: If you don’t reach out to enough people (numbers) you won’t be able to develop enough relationships to sustain your business.
And finally, yes, relationships equal sales.
That’s why it’s important to put the Rule of 40 into play in a way that aids in building relationships.
Categorize the people you meet
Do that by categorizing contacts into something I’ll call The Ring. It’s actually an adaptation of a concept called Sphere of Influence, but I have a hard time saying the word “sphere” so I’ll call it The Ring.
You should be doing this with a spread sheet or other contact management software and creating labeling or highlighting each contact with one of the following categories.
To help you visualize how to categorize the people you meet I’ll describe it this way:
Imagine a large circle. Within that circle are several rings. Each ring holds a specific marketing category.
The outermost ring is reserved for the General Public. This is basically everybody. Because after all anybody can become a client, right? When they do they will move into another ring. But I’ll get into that in a minute.
The second ring is Potential Clients. This is your target market. The people who need or could potentially need your product or service. They can also be people or companies that you’d like to work with or sell to.
The third ring, as you move toward the center, consists of Friends, Family and Former Clients. These are all the people in your life that care about you, who have been pleased with your work in the past and generally want to see you succeed. They are your supporters and the people willing to be your brand ambassadors and send business your way whenever they get the chance.
The fourth ring consists of Warm Leads. These are people who have expressed a need for your product or service or that you know for a fact need it. They could be businesses that have sent out a Request for Proposals or maybe just someone you were referred to. It can also be someone you’ve contacted previously (like from the outer rings) that indicated they may be interested at some point in what you have to sell.
The inner most ring is Hot Leads. These are people who have expressed an interest in what you are selling and have a need in the next three months.
Like I said, your contacts can at any time move from any of these rings into another. After contacting a Potential Client they may tell you they have a need for your product or service within the next 4-6 months and then you’ll want to move them into your Warm Leads category. A Hot Lead may indicate they changed their mind and won’t need your product or service until the following year. In that case, you’ll put them back into your Potential Client ring with a note indicating your need to follow up with them next year.
Now that you’ve got everybody categorized here’s how you market to them
General Public: Ongoing. This is your advertising, banner ads, print ads, optimized website etc.,
Potential Client: When you initiate a meeting or the occasion presents itself. Thereafter if the Potential Client isn’t put into another ring working them closing to becoming a Hot Lead then touch base on a quarterly or less frequent basis, depending on how receptive the person is. Keep in touch or initiate first contact through direct mail, phone call, mixer, meet-up, social media.
Friends, Family and Former Clients: Quarterly so you don’t chase those close to you away. Phone call, email, in person, just to say “Hi” and to remind them that you are in ______ business and if they know of anyone interested in your product or service to send them your way.
Warm Leads: Bi-weekly to Monthly. Email, invite to coffee, send them something of value in the mail. Follow up phone calls. Do this until they either buy or get moved into one of the outer rings.
Hot Leads: Weekly or more. Call or email. These people are ready to buy and if you aren’t there they will buy from someone.
As you reach out to 40 people a day you’ll want to categorize them into one of these rings and then you can more easily keep track of who you’ve contacted when. It also becomes easier to build relationships while simultaneously reaching out to lots of people because you know you are building relationships with people in which there will be a mutual benefit.
In the next post I’ll explain exactly where I go to get my 40 contacts a day—and ultimately my clients. Make sure you don’t miss it sign up to be alerted below: