One of the more pressing questions my clients ask is: How do I reach busy decision makers?
It’s a crucial question. If you know how to interest skeptical, easily-distracted executives in your solutions, you will be more successful than most of your colleagues.
Based on my own research and personal experience, three strategies work, and can be implemented in tandem:
Strategy One: Become the "go-to" professional
in your specialty
If you are the go-to professional in your specialty, powerful decision makers contact you. They think of you first when they have a need. You don’t have to chase them.
Go-to professionals get that way by doing the following:
- Develop a compelling marketing message that sets your services apart and demonstrates value to decisions makers. Focus on their prospects’ top concerns and how to solve them – and back up claims with facts, data, and case studies.
- Invest time getting visible to decision makers with interesting, valuable information. Top-producing professionals speak, write, and produce informational products (e.g. reports, CDs) about things that decision makers want to know. They also write press releases in publications that their decision makers read.
- Get visible where decision makers congregate. Do this by taking leadership roles in trade associations, industry groups, charity and community organizations, and other places where ideal prospects are likely to show up.
- Follow up with prospects over time. By collecting contact information fanatically (and with permission), you can continue to demonstrate their credibility and value. Do this through your newsletter, sending out additional educational products, and inviting prospects to attend speeches and seminars.
- Become expert at asking for referrals from current clients and your sphere of influence. Then follow up to continue to build your network.
- Provide exceptional service and value, so that people rave about you.
- Work hard to understand the specific needs of current clients, so that you can continue to offer them additional solutions.
Strategy Two: Focus on specific niche market(s).
Too many professionals mistakenly think that "everyone is a client." While that may be true, this mindset leads to superficial, generic, and expensive marketing. It is much more powerful to focus on a specific niche market. That way, you can develop a targeted message that will really get your audience’s attention – and get them to spread the word about you. Also, you can set yourself apart from other professionals who are "all things to all people." By choosing a specific niche, such as a vertical industry, you can reach top decision makers by doing the following:
- Develop a marketing message with words and issues that will resonate with people in that niche.
- Get visible and very involved in trade groups where decision makers attend.
- Build referral relationships with complementary professionals who also target that niche.
- Create informational pieces that specifically address the problems that decision makers in this niche face.
- Conduct and disseminate research that will interest the executives in your niche.
- Getting newsworthy publicity in publications that target your niche.
- As you succeed in one niche, start to penetrate another.
Strategy Three: Pursue your "Target Prospect" list.
Finally, some of my clients have had excellent results with the "Target Prospect" strategy. Here is what they do:
- Choose about 100 prospects with whom you would love to work. (Adjust this number to be sure you can manage this many prospects).
- Develop a series of letters to reach these prospects. Each letter should demonstrate your value up front with facts and case studies that get attention – as well as information that your prospects will value. Your letter might also include an article or executive brief you have written. In a postscript after your signature, tell your prospect when you will call (that way, you can tell any gatekeepers that your prospect is expecting you).
- Send your letter to your target prospect list.
- Follow up with a phone call, and perhaps even a visit.
- Keep repeating. Don’t be a pest, but do continue to follow up with educational, valuable information every 21 days or so.
- Over time, some of these prospects will be willing to meet with you.
- Replenish your list as prospects become clients, or as prospects tell you they are clearly not interested in what you have to offer. Always have 100 target prospects (or whatever number you choose given your goals).
- Continue to get visible with your target market using the other two strategies described in this article.
Conclusion: No silver bullet. There is no magic letter or silver bullet to reach decision makers. It takes work and time to get visible. Most importantly, you need to present your firm’s value in a way that compels your decision makers to respond.