Chief Relationship Building Officer
Evan Thompson and Associates
Purposeful prospecting is a process, not an event.
By Evan Thompson
The old-fashioned, ad hoc approach to business relationship building is over. Hyper
competition, a multitude of new and complex products, globalization and the accelerating
speed of technology have redefined the business relationship building process.
For example, lunches, golf games and dinners were once the stock in trade for successful
relationship building. As socializing is still a nice touch when acknowledging a successful
business relationship but no longer takes the place of quickly understanding the prospect’s
needs and presenting a sound business case for them to work with you.
As a business owner with more than three decades serving the investment industry as a
marketing communications writer and business coach, the most important thing I’ve learned
is that purposeful prospecting is a disciplined process, not an event. Making profitable
connections with investors and industry participants involves more than reaching out once
or twice and then waiting for the business to roll in.
I used to think that the more people I reached out to, the more business I would earn
and that it was a given they had to have my services. I soon realized that’s just working
harder, not smarter. That misguided approach burns physical and emotional energy faster
than a match set to an oil slick.
Over time (and after several missteps when I thought my services were irresistible),
I learned how to prospect effectively. I finally figured out that it’s all about building relationships
built on trust over time – which sometimes passes very slowly. Here are three simple but
essential elements to consider in any successful new business approach:
• Identify the audience.
• Identify their needs.
• Have confidence in your professional ability to help them.
If you want to earn a person’s business, you must first earn their trust.
Building a business relationship by earning trust isn’t as easy as simply explaining the
benefits of your product or service. You need to invest time in learning about your prospects’
industries and unique gaps and needs. If what you say about their industry or business
doesn’t ring true with them, you will likely not move forward with the business. Only when
you prove that you are on their side of the table and understand their needs will you be able
to position yourself to provide solutions that satisfy those needs.
The prospecting process is a lot like working out. You’ll only get results when you follow
a regimented plan that you stick with daily, such as scheduled follow-up phone calls or
consistently sharing regular content of interest to your audience.