Common Mistakes in New Business Outreach

Posted: October 27, 2014 in Sales / Biz Development

Outreach is vital for new business, vital to building awareness about your firm, and an important way to express your interest in your prospect’s industry.

Most companies seem to be making the same mistakes, over and over, when it comes to doing outreach. Here is a quick overview of the five most common mistakes we see, along with a check list, to help you fix your new business program.

Top 5 Mistakes In Outreach:

  1. No Plan:Failure to plan is a plan for failure. And so it goes with outreach, which seems to be a haphazard effort at most firms. Establish a clear plan, roles and responsibilities, and resources for effective outreach. An effective outreach plan must outline target companies, set up a calendar, create a rolling effort that builds awareness and relationships, and tracks the number of leads coming in. It’s our belief that every prospect on your list should be “touched” at least 19 times over the course of a year. If a mailer goes out, call behind it. Twice if you don’t get through the first time. Invite them to an event. Send a holiday card, a note on something your firm did for a benefit. A friendly reminder about an industry conference. And more. Then, most importantly, stick with it!
  2. Too Much Interference:The number one issue we see in most firms is allowing other work to interfere with regular outreach. Outreach is the single most important activity your firm can do to generate leads. And leads drive new business. If you allow day-to-day client work to interrupt your outreach then you have adjust your priorities. It has been our experience that most firms suffer a 33% annual attrition rate in their client base.  Some of these clients leave because of mergers and acquisitions, bankruptcies, change in management staff or have found another supplier (usually due to inattention).  If you’re not consistently working to bring new customers to the dance, you’ll soon find yourself in disaster planning.  We suggest tapping one person in the organization whose sole responsibility should be new customer acquisition.
  3. No Nudging:It’s worthless to work hard on building awareness and establishing relationships if no one is going to follow up on a regular basis by “nudging.” Nudging is what friends do for friends, sending your warm prospects a regular stream of interesting articles, notes, birthday wishes and more. This is much more impactful than sales calls or mailings, less expensive, and more personal. Does your firm do “nudging?” What impact would this have if a competitor was nudging your clients?
  4. Have an Attitude:Outreach without a good new business attitude is bad business. Most companies have a negative feeling about having to do outreach. They continually tell themselves that “we too smart, too good, to have to stoop to this sort of activity.” Firms who think positively focus on the great things their brand can do for prospects. They have a good new business attitude. Consequently, they feel powerful. They feel optimistic. They rise to challenges. Powerful thoughts make you feel potent and help you act to influence the situation for the better to make new business happen.
  5. Not Picking Up The Phone:Too many firms rely on social media, email, and perhaps an occasional post card dropped in the mail. They never ever pick up the phone and call. And if they do call, they have no idea about what to do, how to leave a message, or what questions to ask should they get someone on the line. So after a few aborted attempts, they just quit. We strongly suggest you reach out behind every touch, and never-ever leave your number, or ask for a call back. That’s sales, and very annoying. Just leave a friendly message, breezy, checking in, no need to call back. Outreach is about building relationships. Know exactly why you’re calling, what you expect to get out of the call, and have a great list of questions – just in case.
What To Check If You Aren’t Getting Enough Leads:
  • Do you have a plan? Is your outreach system set-up?
  • Who is responsible for your outreach program?
  • Do you have a good list of prospects?
  • Are there regular touch points going out?
  • Do you call twice behind every touch?
  • Is your outreach program a priority?
  • Establishing relationships?
  • Are you nudging your prospects?
  • Is your brand clearly established in your outreach program?
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