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Recently, I’ve been coming across a lot of misinformation about prospecting.

“You have to make a lot of cold calls,” one guru insists. “You must send out hundreds of pitch letters,” another advises.

What these experts are telling you, essentially, is that prospecting is a numbers game.

But is playing that game really the best way to attract ideal clients?

Consider the following scenario:

Say a plumber knocks on your door one evening asking if you need any plumbing work done. It’s obvious that he’s canvassing the neighbourhood trying to drum up some business. You politely say, “Sorry, I don’t need a plumber.” So he hands you his flyer and goes on his way. A flyer that you’ll probably toss in the trash.

Now, let’s change that scenario around a bit:

Imagine that same plumber knocks on your door. But this time he DOESN’T ask if you need any plumbing work done. Instead, he offers you a free booklet: “How to Lower Your Hot Water Heating Bill.” You say,”Yes”, and take the booklet. (Why wouldn’t you?)

Then, a couple of weeks later, you receive a Thank You card from that plumber. He still doesn’t pitch his services. Instead, he offers to answer any questions you might have about the booklet and hot water heating. That’s nice of him!

Then, a couple of weeks after that, you receive a friendly letter from the plumber, with a 20% discount coupon for “Emergency After Hours Service” (should you ever need it). Also included is a fridge magnet with his 24-hour emergency phone number. That magnet goes right on your fridge door, right next to the Thank You card!

See what’s happening? That plumber is positioning himself with you as a helpful, knowledgeable expert. And by doing so he’s becoming the obvious choice should you ever need plumbing services.

Sure, he’s spending more time with each prospect. And probably reaching less prospects than he would if he were mailing or calling a gazillion names. So what? Prospecting isn’t about numbers, ratios, clicks, responses, conversions or whatever.

That’s right. Prospecting is NOT a numbers game. It’s a relationship game. It’s about building relationships with people today who may be able to do business with you in the future.

Think about it. Who do YOU call when you need a professional service? Someone who has hit on you with a cold call or a mailing? Or someone you know, either directly or by reputation? I betcha it’s the latter.

Now that doesn’t mean you don’t use phone, email, social media, networking, speaking, letters — whatever works for you — in your prospecting efforts. You do. But you do so with an intention and strategy of positioning yourself as a helpful knowledgeable expert with valuable information to share — and NOT as a desperate professional looking for work.

So prospect to less people. Take your time to build the relationships. And you’ll attract more ideal clients as a result. (And more referrals, too.)