Sandy Stefano of Sandler Training led the Professional Consultant's Association's October meeting on the topic titled Developing A Business Development Plan for 2018. Sandy was the perfect person to lead it because her company trains people on sales and prospecting... and it's literally her life.
She started out asking the group what the definition of business development was. After a lot of responses, she defined it as "a Broadway show played by a psychiatrist". After the laughter died down, she reasoned that we as consultants, many sole proprietors, work on finding the need our potential clients have for whatever services we provide. We need to do this by using the process of asking questions to get the prospects talking so we can listen, like psychiatrists to find out where the pain might be laying.
Then we talked about the process of clearing the garbage out of our own minds so we can focus on the issue at hand. We all tend to question ourselves and have periods when we feel defeated, which she addressed with a triangle that showed how we should reorient our minds towards getting new clients. The idea of establishing a behavior that we can maintain along with refining our techniques helps all of us maintain a positive attitude... even when we're getting beaten down mentally.
Sandy laid down 3 things all of us need to work on attaining to help our careers go better. The first is partners, those who are willing to work with us in finding new clientele as well as offering support; the second is referrals from clients we've worked with who've appreciated what we've done for them; third is a list of potential clients, as many as you can who you believe should be your target market. The more the merrier, because you never know if a potential client might have a potential client for you.
She said a couple of things that resonated greatly with the audience. The first is that she's always prospecting because, no matter how good the work is they do, every year they lose around 35% of their customers, which means they need to refill the pipeline. The second is that it could take up to 8 attempts just to get through to a potential customer... not close a sale, just to reach them. That's daunting, but her position is that if we take care of the points of the triangle mentioned above that this becomes part of a process and removes all the emotional baggage from our heads.
Next on the list was our addressing 30-second commercials, something PCA does at the beginning of every meeting. She offered 3 things that every statement needs to have: your name and company name; the type of company you work for; what you do to help your clients. This is big because at least half the people in the room owned up to doing 2 out of 3 of these, with the last piece often missing. This is especially important if you're using the phone to reach contacts and need to leave a message. She agreed that it also helps to tell people on messages that you'll continue calling regularly, but if they wish you to leave them alone to ask them to call and say so. This is an important addition; if they call, tell them you'll leave them alone for a specified period of time, 6 months to a year, before trying to reach out to them again, and then see if they tell you not to bother or are open to hearing from you later on.
The finale of the presentation left us with 4 Sandler Rules we all should follow:
* You never have to like prospecting, you just have to do it
* A prospect who is listening is no prospect at all
* There are no bad prospects, only bad salespeople
* You can't lose anything you don't have
It was a wonderful presentation and we all learned a lot. We all thanked Sandy, who's also a member of PCA, for giving us this great information.