How To Get Your Calls Returned By Becoming an Industry Expert

By: Mark Satterfield


Mary Haven, who is a top rainmaker for her company believes that she gets her calls returned because her clients know that she has a wealth of knowledge about whatís going on in her industry. She can discuss business trends as well as whoís been promoted, demoted or changed jobs. This type of industry knowledge, or gossip, is very enticing. Taking a telephone call from Mary is really an opportunity to get updated on trends and whoís doing what in her industry.

Mary supplements her reputation by writing frequently for an industry trade publication and speaking at conferences, meetings and symposiums. She uses her speeches as a tool for staying in touch by calling existing and prospective clients and encouraging them to attend. Writing articles both enhances Maryís credibility and provides her with a variety of excuses for staying in touch with her clients, both when she is researching the article and after it is published.

Focus is an important component in developing your reputation for expertise. Most people define their focus by industry. Others define it by function or by what department typically buys their services. Finally, others may have a geographical focus. Naturally, focus can be some combination of these three. Itís important to have a focus, otherwise itís very hard to become an expert. If you donít, itís a little like saying letís go eat American food. It just doesnít limit your choices significantly in order to target your efforts.

Joining What Your Prospects Join

Once youíve determined where to focus the next step is to join the group that caters to that industry or function. If youíre unclear on what association serves these groups, the answer is as near as your computer. Go on-line and access Google. Type in the industry or function you want, followed by the word, association. In a matter of moments youíll see a vast list of potential groups that cater to your search criteria. It will probably take you a little bit of time to investigate the various sites that are listed, and itís likely you will run down a few blind alleys.

However, with a modicum of effort you should be able come up with multiple associations that are worth investigating. Another benefit of this search process is that you will uncover special, one-time events that you might want to attend. Iíd encourage you to get on-line with Google right now and see what your research turns up!

Reading What Your Prospects Read

The second strategy of successful rainmakers was that they read what their targeted group of prospects read.

Now, in order to do this they first had to find out what their prospects were reading. Fortunately, this is pretty simple and straightforward. The easiest way to find out is to simply ask your clients what they read. This is a good excuse or reason to stay in touch with your clients and it sends a very positive message about your personal commitment to their industry. Also pay attention to what magazines are lying around in the reception area the next time you call on your client. This not only gives you information about what your clients read but who else sells to this group of prospects.

When youíre reading these magazines or trade journals youíll want to make sure that youíre reading them from a marketerís perspective. How can what Iím reading help me build my business? An interesting point of fact is that few people who are mentioned in the press are ever contacted by individuals seeking their business.

This point was driven home a few days ago. I was in a local bookstore and happened to browse the magazine rack. I picked up a copy of the Harvard Business Review and noticed that there was an article in it by an old colleague of mine. Of course I was thoroughly impressed to know someone who was published in such a prestigious magazine, and took it upon myself to give this person a call a few days later. I knew that the magazine had been on the racks for the better part of a month, so I was interested in how many other people had called the author to congratulate him or to seek his business. I wasnít terribly surprised when in response to my question the author replied, ďHow many people have contacted me? You mean aside from my mother? Just you.Ē The point is that hardly anyone contacts people who appear in print, and thatís a shame. Itís easy to write the author of an article youíre impressed with a short note, and if you donít know the address, you can send it to them in care of the publication. Itís an easy and highly productive method to establish contact with people who would be difficult to get in touch with by other means.

Along these same lines itís helpful to establish relationships with the business reporters who cover your industry. For example, since a lot of my work is with technology companies and consulting firms, Iíve made it a point to get to know the reporters who cover these areas. By being a source to them Iíve been able to establish relationships that are mutually beneficial. They get quotes and insights into the goings-on in these industries, and I get tips about personnel changes, mergers and relocations. Iím a little surprised that none of my competitors have tried to strike up similar relationships with these reporters.

Something else youíll want to pay attention to as youíre perusing the trade publications is who is advertising? Again this is an often-overlooked area of opportunity.

I do a fair amount of business with one of the largest technology consulting firms in the country largely because they happened to run an advertisement in a trade journal. This particular ad listed the name of the regional VP and gave his phone number. That prompted me to give this person a call in which I referenced the ad and how effective I thought it was. This initial call ultimately resulted in an introduction to their national head of training. Today, this consulting firm is a valued client of my firm.

I used to think that if I actually contacted people who were quoted in the press or wrote articles they would think I was a pest. I incorrectly assumed that they got bombarded with telephone calls. Ironically, the exact opposite is true. Moreover, when you introduce yourself and say that you really enjoyed their article, itís a very positive way to begin a business relationship.

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Mark Satterfield is the creator of the Gentle Rain Marketing System: How to Generate a Consistent Flow of New Clients. Quickly & Easily. With No Cold Calling. Find out more: www.gentlerainmarketing.com

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