The simplest approach (commonly practiced) is “not” — at least in any thoughtful or planned manner. We wait for inbound calls or requests, perhaps ideally from returning and referred clients, or watch for public announcements and then push out our tender or RFP responses.
More sadly, many AEC businesses subscribe or participate in leads-generation services. Some for the ICI market, such as McGraw-Hill Dodge or Reed, along with regional counterparts such as Merx and Databid, deliver some useful data and resources. Others in the residential sector — I won’t name them here because of my policy to speak negatively about individual businesses and organizations in this blog — exploit our good name and reputation and sell us leads that would have been rightfully our own with just a little thought and planning.
However, we can all benefit from an improved approach to our lead creation and management process, and here Bobby Darnell’s upcoming Sept. 10 webinar: Prospecting for Geniuses — at things other than prospecting is worthy of your interest.
My relationship with Darnell dates back a few years, to when we started publishing a construction newspaper in Atlanta, GA, as part of my ill-planned initial U.S. expansion. He reminded me how our relationship started in these emailed remarks:
The main ‘gist’ of the “Prospecting for Geniuses…” is that all the sales skills in the world are useless unless you have a qualified prospect in front of you.
Going back to how we first met…your article in the Atlanta Construction News about taking Jeffrey Gitomer’s advice on NOT avoiding sales calls. (That column is what let me to reach out to you as I was then/still am a Gitomer fan.) As you know, Jeffrey says, “Nothing happens until something is sold.” Well, my precursor to that is “Nothing gets sold unless a prospect is listening.”
A good percentage of the companies I work with are companies that do not have anyone dedicated, full-time, to building new business (Sales, marketing, etc.) What we will cover in the webinar is what I believe to be a very effective method to searching, identifying, obtaining contact information and approaching qualified prospects without the use of the telephone. This is most effective because it can be done at night and one weekends…which is when most of my clients have to do it because they are busy with their ‘day job’ (responsibilities) during normal working hours.
Darnell’s observation about my conscious decision to start accepting sales calls is worthy of some further observations.
While the initial results of my decision to treat inbound sales inquiries with courtesy seemed to have some value, when I dug down more deeply I realized that none of the offers presented to me through push inbound marketing had any real value to the business. I came to the more thoughtful conclusion that junk inbound sales calls are just that, junk, and reverted to my old rule: The salesperson needs to identify someone with whom I really have an interest and/or a highly specific aspect of a relevant and credible business issue before calling me, or I won’t take/return the call.
Darnell is absolutely right, however, that we need to know who out there would really and truly be relevant for our product or service, and we can absolutely benefit from a system to capture the leads and create an initial communication strategy that is not intrusive, works within our soft (evening and weekend quiet hours) time, and avoids the traps of being overly expensive and intrusive.
Would I respond better to a thoughtful email from someone who really knew my business than a cliche-ridden inbound phone call, made just as I’m pushing through on a deadline and my mind is on something much more (to me) important?