The first step in building a relationship

In the early days at Accelerated Success we had a lot of first contacts. They never went anywhere. They were mostly with people trying to sell us stuff – accountancy, computer software and Christmas turkeys – rather than business leaders who might want to buy our coaching.

We stockpiled other people’s business cards, followed up on some, got nowhere, lost heart and eventually pushed them to one side.

Er ... would you ... do you think ... I mean, I don't suppose ... of course, we'd offer you a significant discount ... perhaps you would ... no, silly of me to ask!?

Er … would you … do you think … I mean, I don’t suppose … of course, we’d offer you a significant discount … perhaps you would … no, silly of me to ask!?

We needed a better approach. We clearly needed to spend more time doing things that added value to our marketing and less time doing those things that didn’t. It sounds obvious but by increasing our worthwhile effort, the high value activity, we increased our chances of selling our services. Also, by reducing the amount of pointless, worthless and downright nutty stuff we were doing, the low value activity, we had more time and head-space for the worthwhile stuff.

A better approach

So, first off, we had to distinguish between the worthwhile and the pointless. Not easy when your business successes are few and far between, with few clues as to what it is you did that enabled you to win those meagre crumbs.

We actually cheated. We went on a marketing programme that taught us loads about the right and the wrong way to market coaching services. We learned that we needed to know who our ideal clients were, the sort of roles they had, companies they worked for and problems they typically encountered. We also learned to focus our marketing messages on the value of our services to our clients – the difference our leadership coaching makes for the leader being coached, those around them and the company as a whole.

Simple stuff but very powerful! There’s is no point in targeting anybody and everybody with your marketing, claiming to be able to do anything and everything for your clients. You end up speaking to nothing and nobody. Your marketing messages become part of the white noise of corporate life and you go unnoticed. Much better to be as specific as you possibly can. Give your marketing teeth and real bite, with which you can grab the attention of your target leaders.

And then, of course, you must have a plan of what to do when you’ve got their attention, otherwise they’ll lost interest and quickly disappear.