Before we go any further, I want to go over a few insights about the actual conversation that you need to have with your “prospects”. Start by telling everyone you meet about at least one of your Clearly Stated Needs (CSNs). I do mean everyone: your hair stylist, the cashier at the grocery store, even your spouse. Do it without being pushy and make sure you explain the agency mission and how this CSN will help fulfill the mission. Then ask, “Do you know anyone who might be able to help us with this?” After that, stand back and take notes, because I guarantee that they will have ideas and you want to get them written down so you don’t forget.
After your “source” has shared their ideas and possible contacts ask if they will either a) call or send an email introduction or b) let you use their name? I’ve never had anyone say no.
The minute you get back to your office, follow-up your conversation with a thank you note or email and your contact information. Make sure to let your “source” know that you will keep them informed as the situation progresses. You want to encourage and reward their ownership in your enterprise, so let them know you are treating their referrals with respect and care.
About this time, you may start to notice that you have a bazillion names–those of your sources, the referral names and their business names. It’s a lot to keep track of, so you’ll want to consider using a good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system to track and maintain all the details.
A good CRM system can help you track:
- Basic contact info
- The dates you and times you contacted your referrals.
- What source referred you to a contact.
- Relationships (the “R” in CRM) between various contacts.
Many folks use Outlook because it came with their email program, but it is really just a database not a CRM. There are better systems that allow you to do more and manage info better. I use HighriseHQ.com because I can import and export lists, see everyone who works for a company with one click, allow multiple users access to the info and create a variety of connections for each contact (boards they serve, place of employment, softball team, college attended, etc). In addition, the price is right. You can start a trial version for free and upgrade as needed. Of course, there are other CRM systems that will work just as well. Be sure to use something to track all this information or it will quickly overwhelm you.
In the next installment, we’ll discuss some strategic ways you can begin approaching businesses before you need help. In the meantime, here are a few good places to meet “Sources” that can help you with your CSNs:
- Chamber of Commerce events
- Rotary, Kiwanis & Sertoma meetings
- Local festivals or fundraisers
- Other non-profit agencies
- United Way events
Stay tuned for the next article on working with other organizations in your community to leverage your access to resources and help.