(or any other contractor, basically)
Those of you who read some of our older posts – or almost anything here on our website – will already know that our bread and butter is lead generation. While we strive to deliver a solid service that brings significant value to our partners’ organizations, we ultimately rely on others’ actions to ensure our deliverables.
This can sometimes lead to slight differences of opinions – or even not-so-slight differences of opinions. That’s why, in our organization, we put the most emphasis on getting on the same page with new clients and collaborators when onboarding them.
We found that there are a handful of things that, if done correctly at the beginning of a collaboration, will build the foundation for a long term working relationship.
Establish a clear goal
This is an obvious tip that people often forget – and it’s understandable, you get carried away with so many variables that it’s often easy to skip talking about the goal, with both parties thinking that their interpretation of the goal is correct and fully understood by the other party.
At the very least, this is worth mentioning in the first major meeting with all stakeholders present. This will frame your working relationship, and if you do it early enough a lot of the tasks and actions will result from it.
Don’t be afraid to speak up if you think you’re moving too fast into the nitty gritty and glancing over the big picture.
Clearly define each party’s role
The worst feeling is when there’s a small task or area that you think the other party has got handled, only to discover they thought the same, and you’re now both behind schedule. A “who does what?” discussion early in your talks will help avoid any such situation.
When dealing with lead generation, the line between what’s part of the lead gen process and what’s part of the sales process is blurry, to say the least. So we started to make 120% sure that our clients and us all know where the expectation lies: should we reply to that person? Should our clients? It’s not always easy, and we end up shifting the blurry line between sales and leads one way or the other, but the end result is nothing gets missed and we work like a well oiled machine.
Make sure both parties understand and agree with methods/process
Years ago, when we were still solely focused on cold email, we had a couple of campaigns where we were surprised to find out that our clients didn’t agree with our methods – weeks into the campaign. We ultimately changed our process specifically for them, but that set us back, and took a lot of our (and our clients’) time.
So what we do now is we clearly explain what our process consists of. At no point should one party be surprised to find that something has been happening without their knowledge or approval, so for some aspects we even have mock campaigns that are meant to showcase what’s going to happen.
Set expectations for the first steps
Are you setting up a lead generation campaign that takes around a month to produce results? That’s awesome!
Is your client reaching out to ask why nothing has been happening… a week into the campaign? Not so awesome. It’s nobody’s fault, but more effort at the beginning will avoid headaches along the way.
Have a single point of contact for each company
This is something we struggle with even nowadays. If your collaborators are used to coming to your meetings in groups of 4 or 5, it’s tough to tell them not to – this is obviously coming from a good place, and interest is never something we try to dissuade people from!
Ideally, there would be 1 point of contact for each company. Even if in most communications a lot more people are involved, clearly identify one person from each company who is responsible for that company’s actions.
Otherwise, you’re going to wake up to a lot of “oh, wasn’t X dealing with that?” realizations.