Developing new advocacy business and sustaining work with economically impacted organizations will be a daunting challenge for practitioners over the next few months.
For many lobbying and advocacy organizations, your marketability as an influencer is based on your access to policymakers and staff, attendance at live events, and hosting fundraisers. Those actions, if they are happening, are now taking place virtually. Still, it’s not the same as being there in person.
Despite this unique predicament, business development opportunities and new projects are still out there. For those individuals that are pitching new business or client prospecting, it’s a cautious time where you cannot be tone deaf to the situation and must craft your case accordingly. Here are a few ways to secure business development opportunities during the COVID-19 response and recovery:
Put more meat on the bones of your pitches.
Business development is something that easily gets put on the backburner in the midst of servicing current clients. Once you finally get around to it, you quickly fire off proposals, set reminders for follow up, and so on.
Now, companies are increasingly looking for more “meat on the bones” from their consultants, and the time at home that this pandemic has afforded us should allow for an opportunity to be more strategic and thoughtful.
Spend some extra time on that strategy memo, provide concrete written examples, set up a brainstorming session. Taking more time to dig deep on issues your potential client may be facing is a good opportunity to show you can do the work in addition to just making the pitch.
Socialize beyond the sale.
Companies are under immense political and financial pressures as a result of COVID-19. Taking time to socialize with potential clients over Zoom and other video chat platforms can be a good way to catch up without your contacts feeling like they are going to be pitched.
These interactions can help show that you’re a friend and trusted advisor during difficult times, but can also help you gain insight into what businesses are facing as a result of the pandemic which is extremely valuable. It’s perfectly fine to just check in with people to see how they’re holding up. This will solidify long term business relationship development and position yourself well for the future.
Dust off and refine the prospect list.
Take some time to go through your list of contacts and potential clients and spend some time on outreach and follow through. Comb through news to see what sectors may need additional government relations assistance. If you’re at a firm, take some time to refresh yourself with the skills and talents of your colleagues so that you’re better able to communicate the full slate of services you can offer to clients.
The time to dig in and focus is invaluable, and those who take full advantage of it will be well served once things start to normalize. Contact and database management of prospects and clients can be a time consuming and laborious process. This is a perfect time to devote some time to bolstering and building this database.
Joshua Habursky is the Head of Federal Affairs for the Premium Cigar Association and an Adjunct Professor at George Washington University’s Graduate School of Political Management.
Patrick Martin is a Principal at Cozen O’Connor Public Strategies and is co-based in Washington D.C. and Chicago.