"...there’s little distinguishing you from every other salesman vying for attention. Show your client that you’re keeping up with their industry, and that you remember them as an individual."
“Thanks for calling. It was good talking to you. It’s been too long.”
The words hung in the air. There was a ‘tone’.
In print, the words seem innocuous, but it had been a long time. I had reached out to an old client, and in his own way he was letting me know that I’d ignored him. We were still on solid ground, sure, but I’d slipped up in my business development tasks.
Getting started in the coaching business can be a challenge. We meet with other, more-established coaches, and inquire. We look for tips and tactics. We network. We market. We seek referrals. We creatively post and advertise. To varying degrees our efforts are successful. Over time, our business development strategies level out the the bi-polar peaks and valleys of solo-preneurship, but what should a solid-strategy include and how can you market successfully to existing clients?
Here are five technology-free tips that will help:
1) Always Make Time for Business Development (BD)
Schedule BD time for making the calls, sending emails, completing the quotes, knocking on doors. Outbound business development might not be a strength but keep at it. Few of us are natural born salespeople, but with practice there will come a day when you won’t shake when on a BD mission. Over time, you’ll have more business.
2) Always Bring Value
Do you send emails that suggest “meeting so that you can go over … (enter your oh-so-compelling offer here)”.
Unless your offer is so timely and persuasive, there’s little distinguishing you from every other salesman vying for attention. Show your client that you’re keeping up with their industry, and that you remember them as an individual. Keep vigilant for white-papers, new products, or content related to a challenge or opportunity you’ve helped with. You might be surprised at the positive response.
3) Always Be Asking
I’m not suggesting a feedback form (although that’s not a bad idea), but reaching out at the end of a session and asking questions is essential:
“How did that go today?”
“Are we on track?”
“What’s your takeaway?”
“Are there other challenges that we should be discussing?”
Each of these questions generate actionable feedback that you can use to course correct, drill down on discomfort and, yes, expose new opportunities. There’s no downside to showing that you’re engaged and leaning in.
4) Always Be Listening
Umm, coaching IS listening. Yes, I know, but I’m talking about keeping your ears on when you’re NOT in a formal coaching session. Your existing client, the person in the next office, or the person at the front desk, will casually comment and share things as you exit an office. If you’re already distracted by your phone or thinking of your next meeting, you’ll might miss an opportunity for more work that you’d never considered before.
5) Everyone Needs a Plan
We make plans only to discard them in the business of the day-to-day. In there lies opportunity. The next time you finish up a client engagement, try ending it with a 90-day plan. Doing so allows you a legitimate excuse to call and follow up again in 60-days. Schedule the call during your Business Development block and ask how they’re progressing. In doing so, you’re asking, listening, and creating value.
In our coaching practice, we often become trusted advisors to our coaching clients. Even if an engagement ended at the client’s request, a sense of loss might exist. By being yourself, showing interest, letting them know what’s new with you, and your business renews that connection. Have confidence that new business will come from it, directly or by way of referral.
Always be reaching.
Norm Adams, CPBC
With nearly 10-years recent experience in the financial services sector, Adams is an experienced leader in both public and private corporation settings. As a former regional manager with Workplace Training Systems (WTS), Adams consulted on numerous training and community development projects in British Columbia, Brazil, and Vietnam. Under his leadership, annual revenues in his sector at WTS grew from $1MM to $11MM over a five-year period.
Since leaving WTS in 2003, Adams has worked as a business developer and IT Training / Development Consultant in a variety of settings including work with First Nations, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), and the Government of British Columbia. His work with public companies dates to 2005, when Adams partnered to form a startup software development company, eventually taking the company public in 2005 on the Pink Sheets exchange. Adams has travelled extensively in Canada and the United States in support of a variety of projects requiring communications or financial expertise.
Norm is also a partner at the Business Coaching and Consulting firm Pivot Leader. At PivotLeader, their purpose is to make a difference in the lives of leaders, their employees, and their communities and instill a legacy of leadership for generations to come!
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