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business connection (TCmake_photo/Getty Images/iStockphoto)
business connection (TCmake_photo/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

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How past, present and future clients can help you generate business leads Add to ...

“How do I generate more leads for our professional service firm?”

Presidents, CEOs, marketers, and sales professionals often ask this question. But because there are so many directions a firm can take, it’s a difficult one to answer. Further, many of these same professionals are finding information on lead generation from articles, business books, courses, and presentations that provide advice to companies that offer tangible products in the marketplace. This isn’t necessarily helpful for a company in the service business.

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In order for professional service firms – such as accountants, lawyers and architects, for example – to generate leads, consider the following fundamentals:

1. Deliver value every step of the way by sharing ideas, strategies and concepts pertaining to your field of expertise. If prospects feel you can help them, that’s a great first step in earning their trust.

2. Understand their needs so that you are able to tailor your knowledge to their specific problem or opportunity.

3. Be compelling by sharing your expertise in relation to their problem or opportunity and then paint a picture on what you expect would happen by using the strategies, ideas and concepts you bring to them. Provide them with specific examples if you have any; remember, a little social proof can go a long way.

4. Invest in your market by staying in front of them with valuable insights. You don’t know the exact moment they will be ready for you so be certain you’re always there so when the time is right they can only think of you.

Once those foundational elements are in place, you’re ready to move on to the next phase in professional services firm lead generation which is quite simply fulfilling the roles of marketing and sales.

It’s up to marketing to develop content that goes to prospects, existing and past clients. This content should be a collection of stories, ideas, strategies, concepts and corporate information that will compel those audiences to give you the time of day. Your content – which can come in the form of case studies, webinars, infographics, reports, presentations, videos, articles and teleconferences – has to be good. It’s it isn’t, few will read, attend, or download what you created. If that’s the case, you’ll have to work harder at bringing something compelling to market.

The marketing team, however, can’t do it all. Generating leads that turn into real business opportunities requires the help of sales to reach out to the same prospects, existing clients and past clients with whom marketing is sharing content. Reaching out to these groups requires a unique approach for each audience:

Existing clients

These clients already know what you do, for the most part. You have a level of credibility and trust established with this audience, so your conversation will be far more direct than if you were speaking with a prospect. Here are some steps you can take:

· Ask to take them out to dinner, a sporting event, etc. Lead generation is about relationship development, so take it outside of the nine-to-five hours and get to know more about them (this is something consistent with all three groups);

· Ask to conduct a case study to capture the value your firm has brought them;

· Share reports that cover information on their industry;

· Ask about their upcoming projects or objectives they are trying to hit. If your services can help them, offer to create a draft proposal that you both can review in person;

· In this proposal, you should also share information on the other services you offer so they understand the full gamut of you can provide to them.

Past clients

Past clients know what you do to certain extent, but they’ll need to be re-engaged to get them back into your sales funnel.

· Conduct a case study, if you have yet to do this, as it’s a good way to remind them about the value you can and have provided to them;

· Ask for a meeting to discuss offerings they may not have used and the applicability to their business;

· Show them some of the results you have accomplished with other clients;

· Since you know their business and past issues, help them uncover any new issues that may be present that your firm can help with.

Prospects

These folks are just beginning to experience your firm, so they won’t know a great deal about you and vice versa. Your objective is to get to know about them and educate them.

· Find out if they have read any of the information marketing has sent out and use content as a springboard to conversation;

· Ask about the projects they’re working on and overall corporate objectives;

· Make connections between what they’re doing and current/past clients that you have worked with and provide case studies as a point of validation;

· If you do find something that stands out and your firm can help, then offer to put together a brief proposal that you two will review soon after delivering it.

My challenge to you: If you’re a CEO, marketer, sales manager, or a consultant, approach lead generation through this simple, easy-to-follow system. By following the fundamentals and staying consistent with execution, your firm will soon be able to realize the benefits of your investment in the marketplace.

Ryan Caligiuri is the founder of Ryan Caligiuri International, a growth consultancy focused on developing programs that generate credibility, competitive advantages, leads/demand and new revenue streams for small to medium-sized enterprises. Mr. Caligiuri is also the founder of The Growth Network, a mentoring program that teaches entrepreneurs and marketers best practices, frameworks and strategies to become business growth generators.

Engage with Mr. Caligiuri on Twitter.

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