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Thursday, February 24, 2011

SALES AND MARKETING: Nurturing Relationships, Generating Profits

Bill DoerrSales and Marketing with Bill Doerr, Markitect

15 Second 'Executive Speed Read

Following Up with prospects, clients and centers-of-influence is essential to building and maintaining a network of people who can buy from and refer others to you. Even though they know it's important, most small business owners still aren't doing it.

In this article, you'll learn from Ian Brodie a renowned UK business marketing consultant why follow-up is so problematic and what you must do to make it happen for your business and . . . your success.

The Problem

"Would you pay for your groceries but leave them in the store?" Of course not! "Actually", according to Ian Brodie, a UK-based marketing consultant who specializes in working with professionals and business service providers, "that's pretty much what most of us do when it comes to new contacts we're making."

"Paying for your groceries" says Ian, "is a good analogy for how many advisors manage their business relationships." Meaning? "We 'pay' with our hard-earned time and effort to make a meaningful connection with someone. But, if someone isn't ready to buy what we're selling, we leave them and seek out more immediately productive contacts. In effect, that's like working hard to buy food but never enjoying the fruits of your labors".

And by 'fruits of our labors' you mean . . . what, exactly?

"The lifetime value of a valuable business relationship" said Ian. "Think about it. If you nurture productive relationships with people who may need what you do (or, can refer others to you who will!), over time there's a potentially huge return on the investment of time and effort required to make a decent initial contact with someone."

"But if you turn away from the lifetime value of a relationship - just like groceries you've paid for but left in the store - it will never be enjoyed by your business. And that, would be most unfortunate". Amen, Ian. Amen!

Why Aren't More Businesses Following-Up?

Again, Ian has some great insights, "It seems to stem from several reasons . . . "


"If you're a professional or an advisor providing a service, someone must buy you before they buy anything you may have to sell to them. This requires TRUST in you and your problem-solving expertise. And that, like the CREDIBILITY it suggests, takes time to develop."

"With a new contact, trust is not sufficiently established to permit an otherwise qualified prospect to engage with you. You have to earn trust. Much like dating can turn a stranger into a spouse."

"Eventually, you may get married, but before you get to that point, you need to date first. In business, we call that dating process . . . 'nurturing' or 'cultivating' a relationship."


"Depending on how you first connect with a prospective client, they may very well not have a need that's strong enough to make them qualified to be an 'active' lead for you."

"Unfortunately, if someone is a 'future' candidate rather than a 'current' candidate, it's so easy to seek out more receptive and readily available prospects for your services."

This also means you're probably 'leaving behind' a lot of (future) opportunity which the relationship suggests for you and your business.


"Having "No Time" is often cited as a reason why someone isn't following-up with their prospects. Being honest here, we each have 24 hours a day to do 'whatever' we want."

"What we may not have, perhaps, is the ability to manage our activities so we generate the best value from the time we all have in a day. So citing a lack of time to follow-up is more likely a symptom of our time management skills (or, lack of it) than anything else."


"We're all busy. Being productive is a different story. And being busy, we don't always do the things we'd like. So following-up with prospects is, sadly, one of those things that we may decide not to do because either we can't do it ourselves or . . . we may not have anyone we can delegate our follow-up activities to - even if we want to do so."


"This is really the 'root cause' of all the other issues, isn't it? Not having a 'system' for staying-in-touch and top-of-mind with viable prospects is a big challenge to following-up with them. After all, if there's no system, what do you tell your staff to do in this area?"

"And even if you 'find' time to follow-up, what would you do with it to better follow-up with your prospects, clients and centers-of-influence - if you have no 'system' for doing that?"

"Also, if you're not doing or delegating this key function, how will you ever build up the requisite level of credibility and trust to be considered seriously by a prospect for your services when they're ready to act?"

Tough questions. Few easy answers. Well wait . . . Ian has some thoughts on that, too!

Start Slow and Build Up Steadily Over Time

"I see a number of professionals who grasp the importance of following-up with the people they're meeting and attempt to do it with great enthusiasm. But in a few weeks or months, they've reverted to doing little or nothing in this area . . . back to their old ways, if you will."

"The problem is they attempt to do 'too much' and 'too quickly'. It's better to do a little bit and do it consistently and conscientiously than to try to do it all and end up doing nothing of substance."

Use a Top 10 List

"In the beginning, Keep it Simple. Focus your attention on no more than 10 'prime candidates' at a time. Write their names on a card you will see throughout the day - perhaps in your schedule book or daily calendar."

"Below each name, note some basic information about each. For example, what 'issues' do they have? Who might they like to connect with? What is their unique expertise or strength? What challenges are they facing and would like help addressing? etc."

"At the start of each day, review your Top 10 List. Ask yourself a question about these people you've listed: "How might I be able to help this person do or achieve something they want?"

"Just by keeping these people and their interests in front of you, you'll be amazed at how you'll suddenly see that a notice of an upcoming business event might be a link worth sharing with them. Or, perhaps an article you've just read would be equally helpful.

You'll probably also meet someone during the week who might like to be introduced to one (or, more!) of the people on your Top 10 List."


As you stay 'mind-full' of your 'Top 10' people, many opportunities for being of service to them will become evident to you and you, in turn, will become more valued and appreciated by them. And that grows that TRUST factor Ian mentioned earlier.


"Eventually, you'll outgrow your 'Top 10' system. That's when some form of CRM (customer relationship management) software becomes an essential necessity. CRM software helps you automate contacts with people. Ian suggests, "Keep it simple! All you really need your CRM software to do (at least in the beginning) is two things:
  1. track contacts with / record information about someone, and

  2. send emails to them as a low-cost, highly-efficient way to stay-in-touch
Initial Follow-Up is IMPORTANT!

"As soon as you make an initial contact with someone of interest to you, FOLLOW-UP! It doesn't have to be complicated, but it does need to be timely!"

"You might send an email acknowledging your connection or send a handwritten note. But do it as soon after an initial meeting as possible because their memory of you will fade quickly if you're not following-up promptly."

Ongoing Follow-Up is ESSENTIAL!

"Once you've sent an initial follow-up email or note, plan or schedule subsequent email contacts with this person."

"But make sure you have the person's permission to send them email or you'll regret it. First, absent a bona fide reason to send someone email, you could be considered a spammer - not a good thing! Second, without permission to foll0w-up, the person may not be giving their full 'attention' to your messages. That would make anything you may send in the future likely to fall of 'deaf ears' and 'blind eyes'."

"So do ASK . . . "May I follow-up with you, by email, periodically . . . in the future?" It's not only good manners, it's good for business - YOURS!"

"Over time, your following-up with your contacts helps you build up three (3) things:
  1. awareness of you as a capable resource in your field,

  2. perception of you as a 'Preferred Provider' of your expertise,

  3. regard for and in your abilities to solve issues they may have"

"Easy!" says Ian, "you'll want to review what you know about the challenges they may have expressed to you (or, you have good reason to suspect they are likely to have or develop).

Next, create marketing materials that demonstrate how well you have addressed these issues in the past for your other clients, find links to relevant articles on topics that would be of value and interest to someone you're cultivating."

"Over time, you'll build up their awareness of you and their appreciation that, all things being considered, you're a 'preferred provider' of the problem-solving expertise and services they may want . . . certainly more than anyone else who might come to mind."

Ian Brodie's "TOP 10 LIST" of Important Things To Nurture Effectively

OK, so what pearls of wisdom did we learn from our friend, Ian Brodie in the UK today?
  1. Following up is so important and yet it's not done very well or consistently

  2. There are a number of reasons for this but 'No System' is likely the #1 factor

  3. Building a Follow-Up System should be kept 'Simple' - especially at first

  4. Keep a 'Top 10' List of key people in front of you to focus your attention on them

  5. Ask yourself, "What matters to these people?" (if you don't know, FIND OUT!)

  6. Introduce them to people, places and things that will be of interest to them

  7. Plan to follow-up with new contacts . . . AT ONCE either by email or by post

  8. Learn what needs these people have for your services and expertise

  9. Send information, periodically, on your successes in the areas they care about

  10. Commit to 'Following-Up' . . . you'll please yourself and surprise your competition!

Ian Brodie specializes in helping consultants, coaches, trainers and other professionals attract more clients and win more new business. He writes a regular blog at which was was recently named as one of the "resources of the decade" for professional service firms by RainToday magazine.

Ian has a SPECIAL OFFER for you, our National Networker readers: visit: to download his excellent report on Nurture Marketing Hints and Tips. You may also contact Ian at: or email him directly at:


Bill Doerr, Partner / Markitect
at SellMore Marketing, LLC helps professionals and other service providers to market their problem-solving expertise simply, effectively and affordably. You can reach him online at SellMore Marketing, or by phone at 860-798-6964.

For more information, please visit Bill's TNNWC Bio.

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