Every decision maker who’s regularly in conversation with your consulting firm is a high-potential source of projects and revenue. But if you’ve been out of touch with a prospect, restarting the relationship can feel awkward. The script below will help.
An “A1” in your contact list is a decision-maker who has a strong relationship with someone in your consulting firm.
Three hundred A1s can power a consulting firm as high as $50 million in annual revenue.
You could build your consulting firm into 9-figures (over $100 million) with a handful of service areas, each of which has three hundred A1 relationships.
A quick rule of thumb no matter what size your consulting firm is, even if you’re below $1 million:
Maintain at least a hundred A1 relationships to keep your practice healthy and thriving.
Groovybeans. But what if you need more A1s in your consulting firm’s network?
Remember Joyce Jamnuckles? She’s the Big Cheese at Solidoleo Corp whom you met at a conference a few years back. You struck up a great conversation over a handful of post-conference conversations, but no business materialized and you stopped following up.
Joyce is a B1—a decision maker who definitely knows you, but not well and doesn’t think of you as a go-to resource. You’ve let the relationship wither, with minimal (or no) contact for years.
Every B1 is an A1 in waiting. All you need to do is rekindle and nurture the relationship.
But reaching out after you’ve neglected your connection with Joyce feels uncomfortable. What do you say after all this time? Won’t she see you as disingenuous or salesy?
Not if you observe the following five principles:
5 Principles for Restarting a Relationship
Stay Right-Side Up
Make your outreach about Joyce, not about you.
Keep your outreach short and to the point: you had a connection and you’d like to reengage.
Be a Peer
Don’t let yourself sound weak or like a low-level vendor begging for attention. It’s okay to be vulnerable and admit error; however it’s not okay to sound timid or unsure.
Avoid anything that could suggest your outreach is a setup for a sales call. In fact, you can go out of your way to reassure your contact that you’re not going to sell to them. (Because you won’t, right?!)
The relationship isn’t going to magically revitalize itself. You have to act!
You can apply the first four principles no matter how you choose to contact Joyce. (A phone call is usually most effective; however, email or even text works fine.)
Crush the fifth principle by gently modifying the script below then calling or emailing your B1s.
Your name popped up in a conversation today, and I thought, “Holy cow, how did I let my conversation with Joyce drop?!” Totally my bad.
When we chatted last, you were in the midst of a major, fat-cutting initiative at Solidoleo. I’d love to hear how that went and what else you’ve been up to.
Are you up for a 15-minute call?
That’s it. That’s all it takes to reignite your smoldering relationship with Joyce. It’s a simple, painless, incredibly effective outreach.
And it opens the door for you to fan the flame of your relationship with Joyce until she’s an A1 contact for your consulting firm.
Have you had luck getting back in touch with decision makers?
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.
This is absolutely spot on, thank you David!
About a year ago, I did exactly this (perhaps because I read your book and blog). It was nerve-wracking but ultimately, and over the course of many months, I reached out to about 300 people, some I hadn’t spoken to in decades. I ended up having conversations with over 100 of them! I was amazed by how many said they were glad that we were back in touch. One call even led to a $100k engagement.
Wow, Robyn. That is so impressive! Thank you for providing a case study and inspiration for every other reader. (You can do it too!)
The hardest part is working up the courage to contact people. A 33% response rate sounds about right; some folks hear back from even more of their contacts.
And I hope everyone reading your comment really internalizes the impact. You have 100, revitalized relationships now, which means you’re immensely wealthier. Plus, those relationships have (already) led to substantial cash on top of your wealth. Not bad for a couple of days of work reaching out to people you already know.
Thank you so much for sharing, Robyn.
David, do you have any thoughts on what to use for the email subject line? I am thinking of ways to get the contact to open the email, and not think it is spam or a bland system generated email.
Great question, Chris. Anything personal will usually work. I often go with subjects like, “Chris, we haven’t talked in forever!” or “Joyce, Update on you and Solidoleo??”
Suggestions from you and other readers are welcome.
Those 5 right side up tips are fantastic! Thanks for the great article…
You’re very welcome, Chris. Thanks for the feedback. (And your ears must have been burning, because you were a topic of conversation in my firm today!)
Thanks for this article David, it’s timely for us as we are just starting to work on this side of our business.
Good for you for working on your Network Core, Paul. You’ll find it pays dividends in many ways.
I like to use Earnings Calls as a reason to reach out. “Another good earnings call. Sounds like you guys are preparing well for whatever comes next in this most interesting of years” [actual message from July 2020]. Sometimes I get a little more specific if I can. For my A1s, this type of message always generates a response which leads to a short email exchange.
Your clients are probably thinking, “Wow, Troy listened to our earning’s call?! I’ve never listened to one myself.”
Good on you for using a deep, client-centered orientation to create a reason to touch base, Troy. Excellent tip!