I’m spending the rest of the summer in the Poconos at my family’s lake house which I’ve talked about before.  I got here after a Diversity Masterminds® speaking gig at the NGLCC conference in Las Vegas and the pace and landscape could not be more different. It’s chilly in the mornings and even the kids get the day started slowly.

As I sit down to do my own follow up from the conference.  I’ve been thinking about a question we got during our workshop and one we hear quite a bit. “OK, I did make the effort to follow up. Now what?”

This is one of the hardest parts of the business development plan and where I find people’s energy starts to flag.  You’ve taken the steps to do the outreach – attend the conferences, send the emails, perfect your pitch. People are interested and you’ve diligently done your follow up. You personalized your notes. Maybe you even sent one or two “Just popping this to the top of your inbox” emails. And now, you’re waiting.

There’s a couple of things to keep in mind during this part to keep your energy up. Some will be more welcome to hear than others.

  • It takes an average of 30 “touches”, or points of contact, to close a deal with a large company. I can almost see the wind come out of your sails as I type this. Not only is that a lot of follow up but, done right, it will take a really long time. Remember that sales cycles are long, procurement procedures can be complicated, and you’re building a business development strategy, not only making sales.
  • Make sure all your eggs are not in the supplier diversity basket. If you’re just starting out  on your supplier diversity journey, 30 touches sounds like it will take an impossibly long time. In the meantime, cultivate your connections and sales around the relationships you do have with happy customers and referral partners.
  • You’re going to need reasons to keep in touch. This is where your strategy really comes in. You’re not going to be able to make templates and follow up emails for 30 touches in advance. You need information that’s relevant to your contacts at the correct time.  Is their company in the news? Did your contact win an award? Did you unveil a new product or win a new client in their industry? These are all reasons to keep in touch.

When I work with my one on one clients we routinely go over these touches and develop ways and reasons to keep in touch. If this sounds draining to you, get in touch and we can talk about ways to integrate these touches into your routine. And finally,

  • It’s August. The slow pace of life up here is a good reminder that people are enjoying these last few weeks of summer. I expect this newsletter to be met with a lot of out of the office replies and vacation messages. That’s OK. Your strategy is long term and with consistent effort and patient persistence, you’ll see results.