For many of the clients I’ve worked with over the years, the most dreaded activity is reaching out to someone to speak with.
The horrors of cold-calling loom large and it literally terrifies people to reach out and connect with someone.
I’m not an advocate of cold calling. But there are several other ways to reach out to prospective clients, instead of waiting around for someone to contact you.
The first, and often the best, is following up with past clients. Look, you already know them, you’ve helped them before and they’ve paid you. You are hardly a stranger.
Getting back in touch with them is as simple as sending a short email and/or picking up the phone.
“But,” everyone moans, “I don’t know what to say!”
OK, look, I’ll make it easy for you. Here’s what works: The first thing you say is:
“Hi, I’ve been thinking about you!” It’s true, you had to be thinking of them if even only for a few minutes before you reached out. And everyone likes to know people have been thinking of them. Then…
“I wanted to catch up with you and hear about how things have been for the past couple of crazy years.” As a society, we’ve all gone through the same insane stuff and we all have something to share. Then you might say…
“I’m curious; what’s been working for you and what’s been a challenge?” The majority of an outreach conversation like this is not giving a pitch, it’s just a conversation where you ask questions and listen.
But as you learn about them, there will be natural openings to talk about what you know: “Yeah, hiring people right now is a huge challenge. Have you heard about the trend toward hiring internally for your top positions?”
Look, you’re a consultant, coach, or trainer. You’re an expert. You know what’s working and what isn’t. You’re experienced and in the know. You have ideas and can help clients put them into action.
When you connect in this way, you build the relationship, remind them why they hired you previously, and give them some new ideas to chew on.
And that leads to them saying things like: “Hmm, that’s interesting; can we talk about that a bit more? We really need to figure out how to hire internally. What we’re doing now sure isn’t working that well.”
So, reaching out to past clients, catching up, and sharing ideas is simpler and more fun than you may believe.
Start with a list of people you’ve worked with before. Then visit their website and look at their LinkedIn activity to see what they’re up to. In most cases, that will be enough the “prime the pump” and make you eager to reach out.
One thing not to do:
Don’t send a long, involved email letting them know all about your new service and how you need an hour to explain it to them. Sorry, but they’ll rarely get back to you!
No, make it informal and short. Let them know you’d like to catch up and chat. And don’t be disappointed if they don’t respond right away. Be patient and employ friendly persistence with follow-up emails, texts, LinkedIn messages, or phone calls.
Actually reaching someone is often the biggest challenge, but it doesn’t need to take up much of your time. I ask my clients to do their best to get just two conversations minimum with past or prospective clients each week. That gets the ball rolling.
And everyone can manage that. Including you!
Next week: How to reach out to lots of people you’ve never met before – without cold calling.