How can you crack open the door to meet potential new clients? I worked with an architectural firm that specializes in health care design and has offices in NY, PA, Ohio and Florida, and I was able to accomplish two major goals for them:
1. Get the principals in the door to meet and present their capabilities to the vice president of facilities in seven institutions.
2. Develop a customer relations database of 300 institutions which included a chronological account of my contacts with these institutions.
How did I go about attaining these goals for my client? Here’s a step by step:
Step One – We first established various parameters for the targeted institutions: geographic area, size, type (acute, psychiatric, etc.) and maximum travel distance from one of my client’s offices.
Step Two -- Using a list of hospitals from a commercial vendor, we incorporated the basic information of each organization into a contact management software program and segmented prospects by size, type of facility and location.
Step Three -- We drew up several positioning points that established the unique skills and expertise of the firm. These talking points were incorporated into every type of contact we made and they were strategically inserted into letters, emails, phone conversations and presentations.
Step Four – We assembled a portfolio of online project sheets as our core marketing communications materials. I referenced these projects when I called prospective hospital clients and we were able to immediately send the appropriate project sheets with a tailored cover letter as a follow-up. I did this from an email account on my client’s web site, not from my office.
Step Five – I researched and called each institution to find out who the senior person was who hired architects; began to make the institution aware of my client’s capabilities, and established the preferred contact method – via email, postal mail, landline or cell phone.
Step Six – I sorted the potential clients into various lead categories – hot leads, not interested, call back in six months, unable to contact yet -- and followed up appropriately.
Step Seven– Eventually, I set up meetings with seven prospective clients. I remained the key contact until a few days before the meeting, when I turned the responsibility of keeping in contact with the prospect over to the partners and business development executives of the firm.
Long Term – To keep roiling the pot of potential clients, I weekly check my database and follow up.