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#171: Growing Your Clients Base: Cultivating vs. Acquiring Leads

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Monday, November 09, 2009
Updated: Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Which do you think is more important in growing a client base - filling a pipeline at the front end or transforming cold leads to warm ones?

This is an easy question to answer, based on how well most consultants perform at each process. Many consultants do not like to sell or cultivate clients, so this is where they spend less time. We get a stack of business cards, an email from a colleague telling us we "should meet this person," or an inquiry from a person who is not quite looking for consulting services. We often have no formal mechanism to either evaluate or process these leads, so they are often dropped. In this case, these are people already in our prospect bank that we don't even recognize as being there. Also, individuals in our bank that we do recognize are just not worked according to a plan as well as they need to. So, it is not identifying people to put into the bank that is the rate limiting step, but moving them from stage to stage, eventually turning them into clients.

Tip: It may be the use of terminology we use that affects how we decide to process leads. The concept of a "pipeline" involves inserting an object and pushing it, unchanged, through the length of pipe to exit the other end. This is not how prospects become qualified leads and eventually become clients. If we think in terms of farming, where we prepare the ground, plant seeds (many more than we expect to grow into full-size plants), cultivate and water, fertilize and thin, support and watch over, we are better served with a metaphor that more closely represents the actions needed to create healthy clients.

© 2009 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  client development  marketing  prospect  your consulting practice 

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