graph of increasing sales Of themore than 200 people in the workshop, 77 percent said that theyspent up to 10 percent of their time on cold calling — but overhalf of attendees said focusing on the centers of influenceactually resulted in the most business.

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NASHVILLE – Of the time you dedicate toward marketing, whatpercentage of that is focused on cold calling? On centers ofinfluence? On referrals?

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Panelists at a NAPA 401(k) Summit workshop on “selling withoutselling” polled the audience. Attendees responded in real time bysending text messages with their answer.

  • Of the more than 200 people in the workshop, 77 percentanswered that they spent up to 10 percent of their time on coldcalling.
  • A quarter of the attendees in the room said they spent 50percent to 75 percent of their marketing time focusing on centersof influence.
  • And a quarter of the room said they spent about a quarter oftheir marketing time focusing on getting a client referral.

Which option resulted in the most new business? Over half ofattendees said focusing on the centers of influence did.

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For the panelists —  Austin Gwilliam  of GRPFinancial, Grant Arends of intellicents, Kristi Baker of CSIAdvisory Services, and Dori Drayton of Plante Moran FinancialAdvisors – it was centers of influence as well.

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However cold calling in early years, Baker said, resulted inclients that are still with her years later.  And Arendssaid his firm still does “pseudo” cold calling, using a leadgeneration firm and e-marketing. And all of the panelists stillwelcome referrals from clients, of course.

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Here are some tips gleaned from their discussion on prospectingand marketing:

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1. Consider CPAs and attorneys to help you keep thepipeline full.

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CPAs can help you put a lot of names in your pipeline, said DoriDrayton. “Find CPAs that are considered a trusted advisor to theirclient.”

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How can you tell a CPA is a trusted advisor? “If you're sittingacross from a CPA at lunch, ask them what they've done for theirclients recently. If you hear more things beyond audit and taxreturn, compliance, that's a sign that's a trusted advisor.”

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Attorneys are a good source too, said Grant Arends.  Tocultivate relationships with attorneys, you have to be specificabout who you want to meet and how you can help them.

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“You have to make it easy for them,” said Drayton. “Instead ofme going to an attorney and saying 'do you know anybody I canhelp,' say 'I know you're connected to John Doe at X company, canyou help me connect with him?'

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2.  Carve out time to be really intentionalwith marketing; otherwise you won't make the time to doit.

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“Internally, we have a document that you set up so you have fiveclients, five referral sources, and seven companies as targets. Andyou work those three different buckets,” said Drayton.

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“For younger consultants we have asked them to block offTuesdays for pipeline development,” Arends said. Specifically,Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., he said. “People are more apt totalk to you on Tuesdays between 10 and 2.”

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3.  Track everything in a CRM.

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“I can budget next year to the dollar if I am tracking thepipeline properly,” Arends said. His organization has people entergross revenue estimated for a prospect and a probability score ofachieving it.

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4.  Figure out your sweet spot for the numberof centers of influence you can cultivate.

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That number is the number of people you can have “regular,frequent, meaningful contact with. If you have someone in your listand you haven't talked to them in nine months, you might removethem,” Drayton said.

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“Four has been our sweet spot,” said Baker. “We're on site withthem at least a couple of times a month, there's communicationsgoing on all the time, emails, phone calls. We let them know whatwe're doing, how we're doing it.”

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5. Use social media and the internet to research clientswho might know your next target client.

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Several panelists mentioned using LinkedIn to “stalk” currentand future clients. Figure out what companies you want to targetand look on LinkedIn to see if they're connected to any currentclients. Then go in and ask the current client for a referral tothe target client.

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Following HR directors as they move from one employer to a newone can also be helpful, Baker said.

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And Google news alerts are also useful — you can put a companyname in and get an email if there's any news about them, Draytonsaid.

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C.J. Marwitz

C.J. Marwitz is a writer and editor.