QUESTION: I am successful in obtaining retainers and am working on good terms with existing clients.  What I need to do more of is generate introductory meetings with new potential clients.  I have had some success with a broad email marketing approach, but wondered if there was something more specific that I could be doing.  Gillis, UK

ANSWER: Yes, and I wish you were a little more specific on the broad email campaign, but I have some ideas what could be.  Introductory meetings, and this is a concept I have talked about in a lot of training is what I call a flip marketing call, and I cannot do the whole training because that would take about an hour on this call, but the main concept is to engage people at the level that you are talking to that will invest in retainers, and you might be doing this, is to try to recruit them.  If you do no have an opening for them, there are a couple ways to do it that I have coached people on.  One is to find one on the internet.  So if you place salespeople, find an opening for a VP of Sales.  If it is a CFO, find a posting for a CFO in the niche.  I am not going to tell them too much about it because I am going to find and uncover what is going on in their career that might make them consider a move.

I prefer to use the Peter Leffowitz model when calling a hiring manager by saying:

I have no idea what is going on in your career.  I just wanted to see if you were open to hearing about something potentially stronger than your current situation.  What are your thoughts on that?

A lot of time they are going to say, tell me what you are working on.  I always say:

It is a confidential search, but before we even go there, are you even in a position of making a change?

When you are trying to market to them to set up these warm meetings, you do not really want to probe for what is going wrong as one would in a recruit conversation.  If they say:

Well, you know, I cannot really complain.  Things are kind of okay.

I reply:

Okay.  Why are things really good there?

I take okay, and I blow it up to really good.  I get them to tell me a story basically of why they are happy there, the role they have played in the success of the company, and then I transition into a business development call by saying:

Obviously at the time of my call it sounds like things are going really good there and it sounds like you are not going anywhere for good reason.

They say:

Well, yes, things are pretty good here.

My reply would be:

Well, my question to you then is, I love how you told me about A, B, C, and D that your company said that you do and that you have done there.  Unlike a lot of the retained firms out there, we also thrive at building the teams underneath the VPs.  We do not find the $20,000 to $30,000 fees associated with that at all insulting, and my question to you is what could I do to earn the right to help you build your team?

It is a very consultative question.  I am giving the bullet points.  That is something I would really want to blow up.