“Thanks for joining my network, Tom! I noticed you work for a recruiting agency. Have you heard about the NEW LinkedIn lead generation?? Let us bring recruited prospects to you on auto-pilot. If you would like to receive an infographic on how it works, please let me know and I’ll send it your way. I look forward to talking to you in the near future, Tom, and hope you have a great day!”

Have you ever received a LinkedIn Message like the one above? Don’t you love when people ask for the sale either as a first or second touch? Arggg. I hate those. People don’t realize that you only get one chance to make a LinkedIn impression. But beyond that, it shows that so many people still don’t understand the difference between Reaching and Connecting. More importantly, they don’t understand how the difference is costing them potential sales. So let’s talk about the difference and how it can power up your agency’s biz dev efforts.

Reaching vs Connecting With Potential Clients

The person who sent me the message above, who must be using his/her fancy pants software, has reached me five times in the last month. But he/she hasn’t connected with me even once. Which begs the question, what do you really get when you reach a potential client?

Nothing. Sure, you get to check a box in your CRM. You get to report that you reached that client the agency has always wanted to work with at some point. But if you reach them and they don’t respond, did you really reach them? Did you make an impression? Did you start moving them down the Propinquity Pathway? I’d argue no. Chances are you accomplished little to nothing and may have actually set your business development efforts back a step or two by annoying that prospective client.

So now you’ve reached them but you’re no closer to having them as a client.

What if instead, you didn’t just reach them, but you connected with them? And no, I don’t mean connecting in the LinkedIn “Congrats. You’re now connected to [person name]” message you get every time you accept a connection request. No, I’m talking about making a real, memorable, and hopefully lasting connection. 

What’s The Most Important Part of The Agency Business Development Process

I was reading an article recently about automating your LinkedIn outreach. I won’t name the author or company to protect them — yes it was that bad. Mainly because it was talking about social selling but framing the concept in traditional “it’s a numbers game” psychology.

“As the largest social network, LinkedIn can become an intimidating place. By automating at least part of the process, many sales teams and leaders find that they have more time to spend on more important work.”

So what’s the important work?

Well according to their article that is:

“Instead of wasting time on cold emails or calls, using Linkedin automation tools means that your sales team will have more time to concentrate on actually selling. Your sales team will be spending their time chatting with people and building relationships instead of desperately trying to reach out to potential leads.”

Hmmmm, well I guess if you think potential clients will respond to spammy automated messages that find them via their LinkedIn Messages box… but seriously, are prospective clients really more willing to be cold called on one platform vs another? I don’t think so.

Quantity vs Quality in Agency Business Development

If you approach your biz dev efforts from a failure mindset then yes, it is a numbers game. If you expect to fail more than you succeed with your pitching, then yes, you have no option but to consider prospecting for clients as a numbers game.

Here’s what I mean. If you need to gain 10 new clients a year, and your average conversion rate is 10%, then you expect to fail in 90% of your outreaches. That means you’ll most likely have to fail 90 out of 100 times to get those 10 new clients. So you and your biz dev team must focus on quantity. You have no choice.

And, you certainly won’t be alone. Business Development is one of only three jobs I can think of where you’re expected to fail more than you succeed — even the very best in the business are awesome because they fail less than their peers. Hit me up on Twitter (@TomMartin) if you’re curious about the other two jobs.

But what if you flip the script?

What if you focused not on reaching but connecting? What if you decided you’d reach out to fewer potential clients, but you’d spend more time with social reconnaissance researching them prior to reaching out? Maybe you’d even find a social vs professional touch-point around which to craft your initial outreach.

The point is, most biz dev people are just trying to reach clients. But if you can go one step further, actually try and connect with those potential clients, you can afford to focus on quality vs quantity and still end up with those 10 new clients each year. It will just be less frustrating and a heck of a lot more fun because you’ll call on fewer prospects to get those new clients every agency needs.

Turning Conversations Into Customers

In my opinion, that’s the name of the game in social selling. Be social. Create meaningful connections and conversations that put you, not your competitor, in the unique position of turning that conversation into a new customer.

And if you need some help with that… here’s 50 minutes of my best thinking on turning conversations into new clients – free as my gift to you.

Till my next post… may all your prospecting be painless