It seems simple enough. “Let’s do lunch and talk some business.” But without a plan of action on how to follow up after you’ve taken your last bite, you might end up with a prospect who falls off the grid.
A business lunch is a great business development tool, but it should be only one step in your sales process. Most clients are not going to be won over with one meal. Expect to be in it for the long haul. It may take months, if not years to cultivate and win a client.
Once you’ve had the opportunity to plant the seeds of a relationship with a business lunch, it’s crucial to nurture them to make them grow. Consider the following:
Stay in regular contact with your prospect by using a contact management system.
Find ways to stay on their radar that may be slightly “out of the box” such as sending invitations to unusual events (gallery openings, fundraisers, sporting events).
Demonstrate that you’re thinking of them by emailing articles and links that might be of interest.
Be a conduit to other people that might be of interest to your prospect. Facilitate introductions, so that you are viewed as a valuable resource.
Be patient and understand that persistent and intelligent outreach that is value-driven and not merely “touching base” will ultimately help you to convert a prospect into a client.