Prospecting Makes Perfect

Prospect profiling begins with an understanding of what you are looking for in a client. The exercise of creating your prospect profile is a critical step in your business development effort.
A couple of questions for you…
Do you believe any business is good business?
Are all of your clients created equal?
When I ask who your clients are, what is your response? Is it any small to middle market business owner?
Or in the words of one of the cosmetics professionals at a networking event I was presenting at replied – ‘I work with anyone with skin and hair’. So the whole world is open to you, you should experience wild success, right? Wrong! Here’s why…
If everyone in the world is a prospect, where do you start? It’s pretty overwhelming isn’t it?
Do you know how you actually make $? Not just income – profit!
And when you look at the profitability of your client base, you begin to find the Pareto principle is alive and well in your book of business, just like it is with the rest of the world. That’s the rule of 80/20 or 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

Target Practice

What happens to your workload if instead of working with everyone, you just describe to me your best client – be as specific as you can without divulging confidential information. Such as, my favorite client is an attorney who is very good at what he or she does, works in a very specific field – actually environmental law. He has great client relationships and is now assuming the position of Rainmaker, like it or not. That’s much more descriptive than ‘I work in the Professional Services Industry’. Where did your mind go when I described my client? Normally the response I hear is ‘I was thinking of who I know who looks like that’.
Intentional growth in your book of business doesn’t happen by happy accident. The more you can target the specific type of work you want to do and the client who needs that solution – the better chance you have of gaining an intro to the decision maker or key influencer in that company.
I like to use analogies when talking about prospecting, so go along with me for a minute. Finding business is a lot like the world we used to live in before the days of grocery stores. If you wanted to put food on the table you grew it or hunted it down. Literally. Much like your responsibility is now. If you bring work into the firm you are now a Rainmaker, and as such you contribute to overall growth of the organization. Not just servicing someone else’s work.  Our analogy for this concept is that of hunting.
When you would go hunting, you had to select what you were hunting. If you bagged a bear, you ate for the winter, a deer, you would eat for a month. It takes several rabbits to feed your family, and so on…
Compare this to your book of business: A bear is a very profitable client. You enjoy working with them. The work is challenging, high value and the client appreciates your expertise. They pay their bills without nitpicking. A deer is a client that is easy to bring in and on board. They are consistent cash flow and don’t require extensive management. It’s good work. You make money. Then we look at the marginally profitable clients. Let’s call these Rabbits. They may be cute, but create more work than you get paid for. They never have enough money to do everything that needs done. And the final category is one we all face at one point or another. It’s the client that drains your time and energy and is NEVER happy. They nitpick the bill and drive accounting nuts. They are slow pay. No one likes them. Perhaps they are verbally and emotionally abusive. We call these spiders. And go after them with a can of Raid!

Categorize and Conquer

Once you have these descriptions in mind, review your account list and categorize into A (Bear), B (Deer), C (Rabbit) and D (Spider). Our attention and client management needs to be spent on A and B accounts, Rabbits delegated to an internal service team that is low cost (and not you) and Spiders need to be fired.
Then find the companies that fit the same parameters as the clients in your A and B categories and make a list.
Now, if you want to take this same approach to intentional account growth – pick the top 10 clients you would like to acquire in 2013. Share them when you go out for those coffee meetings, instead of asking for a referral to a corporate business leader – share the name of the person you’d like to build a relationship with. And watch the referrals happen!
Don’t think this means you limit your focus, unless you get lazy and stop sharing new names – remember if I don’t know them this month, your chances are not good for me to meet them this month. Give me another shot with other new contacts!
So go do Less – and Make More… $ales that is!
Guest Blogger: Breandan Filbert has the ability to sift through the product or service ‘noise’ and get to the real basis of relationship building- the people. She partners with her clients to create long-standing highly productive relationships with their clients and referral partners.   She has worked with attorneys and other professional service providers to increase their book of business and attain ‘Top Rainmaker’ status within their firms. She is the founder and managing partner of SalezWorks in Kansas City.
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