The new year will be filled with some very significant challenges and also present us with some enormous opportunities. Here’s hoping that we’re all prepared to take advantage of what promises to be a very dynamic marketplace and that you meet or exceed your sales goals in the coming year.

So let’s get started. How is your firm currently prospecting for new clients? We know you are thinking that referrals are a major source of your new business. And that’s great. That will serve your organization well, but that’s not enough. There needs to be a proactive, systematic and consistent business development and prospecting plan in place to successfully sustain your business. Let’s review a few prospecting strategies that you may not have considered before, but that can be quite effective.

Also see:Add greater value to your brokerage in 2016.

One proven strategy is to establish a telemarketing unit that will contact potential prospects and attempt to secure appointments for your producers or sales executives. With the right tools and the appropriate incentives, a telemarketing unit can be quite effective. It could be started with part-time resources or by utilizing account management personnel who would like to earn additional incentive income, while evaluating the potential career opportunity to become a full-time producer. So talk with your staff about this approach, and you just might be surprised who steps forward.

Alternatively, you might consider launching an email marketing campaign wherein an email addressing a different topic or capability of your firm is sent to your entire sales pipeline on a weekly basis. Or perhaps it’s time for your organization to create a newsletter or blog that features relevant educational content. We’ve seen all these business development strategies implemented with great results. Contact us for more information.

Who should we be targeting?

One approach is to focus on a particular industry vertical such as educators, government employees (state, university, county, municipal, etc), healthcare, technology, pharmaceutical, trucking, etc. We have seen market segmentation used to great advantage by carriers, brokers and benefit advisers, and we have successfully used this technique ourselves previously when launching a voluntary benefit firm.

For some very insightful reading on market segmentation, consider Geoffrey Moore’s book, Inside the Tornado. Begin by evaluating your current customer base, and determining if your team has some meaningful understanding of the needs of firms in certain industries. Are there unique employer and employee needs in industries that you serve? Are there specific coverage requirements? Servicing capabilities? Does your firm possess some expertise that is a competitive advantage that can be leveraged? Then capitalize upon it and pursue prospects that will find your unique capabilities meaningful.

Also see:The winning client retention strategy.

Another strategy that can be effective in prospecting is to conduct education seminars for decision makers. Think about topics that are of concern to CFOs, HR VPs and members of the benefits committee. It may be a change in legislation, a tax ruling, or a recent court decision. Or it could be a discussion of trends in benefit funding strategies. Or benefit cost containment strategies. It could be something specific to your geographic market, or information that is relevant to a particular industry group that you serve.

Regardless, establishing a series of relevant seminars can be a great way to position your firm as an industry leader or an authoritative source of information. And it’s a great way to meet prospects face-to-face. Remember, it takes a minimum of three positive contacts to convert a suspect to a prospect. Information seminars may be the right starting point in establishing relationships for your firm. And if you have the resources and contacts, consider authoring a series of articles in local or industry publications that reinforces your firm’s positioning as an authoritative, industry leader.

All of these business development and prospecting strategies, and some others that we may have prompted you to think about, can be successful if you employ them consistently. So plan your work, and then work your plan, for sales success in 2016.

Kwicien is managing partner at Baltimore-based consulting and advisory services firm Daymark Advisors. Reach him at jkwicien@daymarkadvisors.com.

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