by Tony Vidler
We all want to be at the point where the ideal prospects just ring in – preferably continuously. So many incoming calls from ideal prospects in fact that we have to put our fees up just to control the demand.
Oftentimes we see senior professionals where that is happening and the question which is inevitably asked is “how did they get to that point?”
There are several ways that professionals can find themselves in that position of course, from dominating a demographic niche in the market, or being positioned as “the expert” in a particular thing, through to having built such a strong brand position that they have secured top-of-mind-awareness in their target market. Regardless of which of these things is driving the income calls from those ideal prospects, they all have one thing in common, and that is the professional has secured the position of
One of the best business authors, and thinkers in professional services business development, was David Maister. In his brilliant book “The Trusted Adviser” (co-written with Charles Green and Robert Galford) he described the pathway as follows:
Maister was prescient in recognising the importance of “valuable resource” as one of the critical steps to becoming the professional whose phone rings continuously with ideal prospects wanting advice. It is more often than not the element which prevents professionals from achieving that ideal outcome of having more potential business than they have time to deal with.
Most professionals are excellent at putting in the time and effort to become subject matter experts, and equally, most professionals actively pursue or find themselves naturally drifting towards a strong specialty area where their expertise is acknowledged and their reputation is cemented. At this stage of their professional development the new business opportunities are excellent, and largely driven by strong word of mouth marketing, or centres of influence, as the reputation is strong.
Getting from “strong reputation” and “having a good stream of business opportunities” to “I’ll have to put my fees up to control the demand” is a significant step. The link is developing,and then providing, valuable resources which cement your expertise and reputation, and which extend your brand reach to wider audiences. To use the terminology of recent years, which evolved after “The Trusted Adviser” was written I believe, we are talking about content and engagement marketing.
Relevant content and engagement with a large audience of potential future prospects is the missing ingredient for many professionals who want to go from “good” to “great”. The valuable resources delivered as a demonstration of expertise and an initial engagement mechanism with the target market is what propels the professional to “trusted adviser” status, and creates the opportunity for the phone to begin ringing off the hook.
This is no different really to the academics and medical professionals who do not achieve their nirvana until they have publishing history which is accepted as insightful and deeply relevant to their peers. Their expertise and acceptance as being at the very top of their game often relies upon their ability to research, provide insight and thought leadership, and deliver that thinking to their audience.
To become the Trusted Adviser to your target market consider how to follow the lead of other professionals, and develop (and then deliver) the valuable resources that will propel you from good to great.