Thursday, 7 June 2012

Prospecting for new clients - Part III

Wong was happy with his 5 new leads. Ah! The old small business cycle comes round again! While the small business owner is doing his usual unpleasant type prospecting, he complains about it and makes half-hearted attempts at other methods. These half-hearted attempts only produce half-hearted results. After a bit, business from the unpleasant methods slows because, being unpleasant, they are cut back when business is to hand. When the business is done and new business slumps panic sets it. The half-hearted results from the half-hearted attempts at better prospecting methods is not enough so a blast on the old unpleasant methods is re-instituted -- and the cycle begins again! 

    If only our regular small business owner would apply as much effort to the better methods as he does when using the old unpleasant methods in panic, he would be so much better off. But it's really hard to let go of something that works, even poorly, in the hope that something else will work better. 

What Would I do? 

    So I started thinking, what would I do in Wong and Iskandar's situation? I wondered about Welch and Co. What would they do? This is what I would do - I think it's what they would do, too -- 

    1. I would create a website which includes a description of my new business, some industry information, tips, helpful hint, my résumé, and a signup page for an XYZ industry report. I would invite people who want to hire XYZ-people and XYZ-people who want to keep in touch with the industry for when they are ready for a new job, to sign up for my report. I'd optimize the website to get good rankings on the search engines. 

    2. I would make a list of 100 people I know. 

    3. I would divide them into groups (A) people I know well enough they would say, "Oh, Hi, Frederick! How's it going?" (B) those who would say, "Who? Oh! yeah!" and (C) those who would say, "er...ok, I don't really remember you but I remember the event." 

    4. Starting with A, and then moving through B and C, I would telephone each person, explaining I am starting a new business, this is what I am doing, I need some help to get started, I need to contact people who work in XYZ-type companies - Would you give me the names of one or two people you know who might be able to help me get started? I'd tell them about my website. 

    5. Then I'd call the referrals and ask if they have need for what I offer - either a job or an employee - now or in the future? If YES-NOW I'd do my best to help them. 

    6. I'd also ask them what industry news they would be interested in hearing about on a regular basis, and ask if I can put them on my e-mail list for occasional industry reports. I'd also tell them about my website. 

    7. This would give me a few people who want my services now and some who might want my services in the future. I'd also get a few people who would like to keep in touch with me by way of my industry reports. 

    This would get the ball rolling nicely and start producing regular business in an orderly fashion. Not the feast-to-famine process than many small businesses generate with their spamming techniques. 

Let's get specific 

    No matter whether you call it spam or not - I think sending a 1,000 messages all the same (in other words, bulk e-mail) to people you don't know will be received differently to 1,000 messages sent one at a time to people you do know. Sending an *individual* message or fax addressing the recipient by name, referring to their company by name, and noting something specific about their company is a legitimate approach, in my view. 


    A) Dear IT Manager, If you are looking for Help Desk personnel or other IT staff, we have several well qualified applicants available right now. We are blah, blah, blah...and offer blah, blah, blah...Please contact me. 

    B) Dear Mr. Johnson, I understand Woodson Computer Services is looking for Help Desk staff for your IT Services division. I have three people available who seem to meet your stated requirements, and I would like to send you their CVs. I am an IT recruitment specialist, and work alone so that I can give you my personal attention and a fee scale 50% less than major staffing companies. Please contact me. 

    In terms of labels, to me A) is spam, B) is not. A) will annoy people, B) won't. If you send lots of A-messages, in time recipients will get to recognize your name and will be disinclined to want to do business with you. No matter how many times you send B-messages, recipients will not be annoyed and will always remain open to doing business with you. 

    The idea of, It doesn't matter if some people are annoyed by my methods, they won't do business with me anyway, is false logic. It means you must keep searching, searching for new companies and new people to approach. And every approach is a new, cold approach. 

[To be continued ..... Part IV]

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