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1,000 Prospects: Looking Where it is Not

July 29th, 2009


Look where it is not, as well as where it is. 


So says a centuries-old French proverb, and there’s truth in that saying where strategic alliances and partnership are concerned.


The reality is that alliances sometimes don’t produce new business results, because they are contracts or agreements as opposed to relationships.


A client of mine, the President of a technology service provider, wanted to target a highly regulated segment of financial services and needed to figure out an entry strategy. He believed that a partnership with a global software or hardware provider with a track record in the target segment was the way to go. To find out, I went to the source – the CEOs of 10 companies in the segment – and requested brief conversations with each of them.


Trust is important in any business but especially so in financial services. So figuring out which companies and professionals these CEOs relied upon and trusted became a key objective for my conversations.


When I came back with the name of a small law firm in the Southwest, my client was skeptical – a law firm?  That’s it??? But for the highly regulated processes that my client’s technology addressed, that law firm was one that several CEOs and their staffs said they relied on and trusted.


We reviewed the firm’s website, which was an off-the-shelf template – even less impressive to my client. One page on the site included information on the law firm’s hard-copy regulatory guides, which it provided along with legal consulting to its financial services clients. Aha. Instead of seeing this low-tech approach as a barrier, my client began to see the potential opportunity in a partnership based on reliance and trust.


We initiated contact with the firm, taking our cues from their site: we wrote a letter and sent it snail mail. A few days later we got a call and an invitation to meet.  It turned out that the law firm had a client base of more than 1,000 companies in the financial services segment my client wanted to target, and was looking for a way to handle the technology-based regulatory needs of its clients. It was the start of a mutually productive partnership and a steady pipeline of prospects for my client.


What would your company do for 1,000 new prospects? Not every high-tech/low tech pairing develops into a high-yield relationship. But listening beyond our assumptions and seeing beyond the obvious often leads us to profitable growth.


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July 15th, 2009

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