“Most professionals are reactive when it comes to marketing. That’s in part due to the nature of many professions, which are often reactive. We respond to client-imposed deadlines or requests. On top of that, most professionals make marketing a low priority. Yet, the more time you invest in marketing now, the less dependent you will be on others later for your work. The key to integrating your marketing is to have some kind of system that works for you. From experience, I’ve learned that most professionals have no system or have an ineffective one. The best rainmakers in any firm always have some kind of system.” Ch. 6 “Integrating Marketing Into My Daily Practice,” Rainmaking Made Simple by Mark Maraia
Anyone who has read Mark’s book or attended one of his workshops has heard about the importance of having a Plan, System and Metrics—and for good reason. Without a business plan to guide you to your goals, metrics to measure your progress towards your goals and a system to be sure you take the steps necessary to stay on track, it is hard to achieve the milestones you have set for yourself. Arguably the most important of the three, a good system (or the lack thereof) is the key differentiator between those who successfully incorporate rainmaking into their careers and those who wish they could. In fact, systems are so important that when we begin coaching a professional at Maraia & Associates, one of the first questions we ask is “What system do you use for business development?” Often, the question is met with a blank stare or “well, I just try to remember to do more marketing.” You’re in good company if you would answer the same way and the good news is that establishing a system for business development is easier than you think.
Setting up a system that ensures you regularly engage in business development activities that you enjoy will be the single-most effective step you can take toward becoming a rainmaker for several reasons. First, a good system puts your rainmaking on autopilot since following a system builds structure and routine into your actions so that you don’t have to expend any energy or time thinking about what you need to do or when you need to do it. Second, having a system reduces your pressure to succeed since executing a single action item in your system is much easier to contemplate than trying to accomplish a lofty business development goal. Goals tend to be aspirational which can be overwhelming and even paralyzing, whereas systems simply require incremental, easily accomplished steps that provide immediate gratification. Finally, for the “marketing phobic” who dread the idea of selling, having a system breaks the concept of business development down into simple steps and thereby takes the “selling” out the equation. No more dreading it and being mentally drained by the idea of getting more clients or bringing in more business, instead you simply need to tick off the items on your system. And, the good news is: setting up a system is relatively easy to do.
So, what exactly is a system? By definition, a system is a set of action items tied to a goal which are undertaken on a regular basis. For example, say your goal is bringing in 10 new clients this year. Then your system is having a calendar entry every Tuesday at 9:00 am that says “call [3 past clients/former colleagues] to reconnect.” Your system can be as simple or complex as you’d like, although in our experience we’ve found the simplest systems are often the most effective. If you don’t already have a system in place, here is the simplest system to put into effect right now: (1) add a recurring entry on your calendar to engage in 1 or 2 marketing activities you enjoy for a specified time each week and (2) create an excel spreadsheet with names of current, past and prospective clients, industry peers and referral sources to track when you last called or met, what you spoke about, when you’ll next call and any related action items. As simple as it is, this system helps eliminate the very common “I don’t have time” and “I don’t like selling” excuses many professionals cite for failing to market. Not only have you built the time into calendar, you are simply calling to “reconnect” and there is zero pressure to sell. Sure, over time the hope is one of your reconnection calls will result in a referral for business, but in the immediate moment the only goal is deepening your relationship with the people in your network. As you intentionally, and regularly, focus on building your professional relationships, you will find that you have cultivated a rich soil for the many seeds of business development that you are planting to take root.
In order to make your system work for you, we’ve found in our many years of coaching that there are some “do’s” and “don’ts” of having a good system.
- Do be very specific with your entries. Write “call John Smith at Acme Corp to ask how his new acquisition has worked out” instead of “call one former client” or even just “call John Smith.” Remember, the less mental time and energy you have to think about what you’re doing, the easier it will be to just do it.
- Do set aside time at least once a week. Hold this time just like you would do for a client appointment and you will be amazed at how time regularly spent marketing quickly accrues results.
- Don’t write aspirational entries into your reminder system like “meet 5 CEOs.” The point of a system is that it helps you stay on track with the incremental steps required to reach your goal, it is not just a collection of goals. Keep your entries focused and action oriented, as opposed to writing down vague or intimidating goals.
- Do have a clear objective and write out one or two questions for each call because, while the goal is not sales per se, it is still important to approach every opportunity prepared for the conversation so you can make it more meaningful for you and for them.
- Don’t set reminders for things that you dread doing! This cannot be stressed enough. There’s no point in putting action items into your system that you hate to do. Instead focus on what you enjoy and play to your strengths.
As I said before, the system is meant to make your life easier and turn marketing activities into easily executed steps. If you book yourself to do things that you genuinely enjoy, you will be more likely to do them. That’s why we suggest reconnecting with former clients and other colleagues as your first action item—in twenty years of coaching, we’ve found almost everyone enjoys and finds it easy to reconnect with old friends and if you do nothing else directly focused on marketing, this one important activity will add a great deal of value to growing your network, enhancing your business development opportunities and becoming a rainmaker. Commit today to creating a system and implementing it. This simple and effective business development tool can help you become the rainmaker you want to be.
Do you have a system? Comment below and let us know what’s worked for you, we’d love to hear! If you need help setting up your own system, give us a call at 303-791-1042 or firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help.