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Through COVID, we have noticed an increase in unsolicited business development efforts. Emails, cold calls, and LinkedIn messages from contacts we don’t know. The lack of in-person meetings, industry events, and community social gatherings has limited the organic opportunities for connecting with people, likely further driving unsolicited direct sales activity.

Most people are unreceptive to this approach.

We surround ourselves with a “force field” and repel any attempt to contact us where we haven’t first given permission to be contacted. This is even more true when we don’t recognize the person reaching out to us. Rather than doubling down on your outbound direct sales efforts to generate new leads, you should instead seek to identify centres of influence and leverage them to access your ideal client.

A centre of influence (COI) can be a person, organization, event, industry association, or communications channel that is already known and trusted by the ideal client. They are already partly inside their “force field.” Your business development efforts should focus on COIs you know that can warmly introduce or connect you to your prospective ideal client. COIs can come from friends, family, clients, suppliers, or organizations you partner with.

Can you find a mutually beneficial way to partner with COIs to increase introductions and referrals?

Co-authoring blogs, co-hosting webinars, social media cross-promotion, and reciprocal introductions are all ways to collaborate and engage with COIs. Another COI strategy is to identify another organization that sells a non-competing product or service to your ideal client. They have already built trust with your prospect and can be a source of introduction. Find ways to partner with them.

Strategically working with centres of influence is more effective to reach your ideal client than relying primarily on direct sales. Remember, if you don’t like receiving unsolicited sales calls, your ideal client likely doesn’t either.


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