Every day, we strive to be productive, jamming as many client needs and meetings into our calendars as possible. Every evening, we leave the office frustrated that we didn't get to it all. So it's only natural that we would seek efficient means to acquire business.
Social media is useful as a platform for broadcasting a message broadly, but it's hardly targeted. Then there's email. There's much to be said for it. You can use it to write a quick reminder to a prospective client. You can attach an article for your top clients. You can "ping" your referral sources. No need to navigate past a screening secretary or sit through a loquacious outgoing voicemail greeting. No need to waste your time with pleasantries or protocol. But effective business development requires the following seven factors, all of which are very difficult to accomplish via email:
- Learn about the prospect's business
- Understand the nuances of a prospect's needs
- Find out where they are in the decision process
- Field their objections
- Counter their objections
- Respectfully ask for their business
- Nurture your relationship with them
I have seen the studies and read the books about generational differences. I know that baby boomers prefer to communicate in real time, Gen Xers prefer email, and Millennials prefer social media. (If you subscribe strictly to these distinctions, adapt your strategy accordingly.) But my personal experience has taught me that, when it comes to business development, an in-person meeting or telephone conversation is always better than an email or tweet. The 7 factors listed above are better suited to a two-way interaction than a one-sided message. Does it require an additional investment of time? Yes. Would you rather just send an email or tweet and be done with it? Absolutely. But ironically, the more efficient means of communication isn’t necessarily the most efficient way to accomplish your intended results. Like most things in business, growth requires an up-front investment.