June 30, 2009
Step Two: Compiling the guest list
Go through your top clients and think about whether your office is convenient to them and if this is the kind of thing they might be interested in attending. Be sure to avoid anyone who is particularly anxious or negative, or whose mood might infect the group.
Given how busy people are, you need to invite at least thirty clients to be confident you’ll fill two lunches. It’s not uncommon for a client who accepts your invitation to have to cancel. To be reasonably confident six clients will attend, seven should have accepted your invitation.
Next turn to prospects you might invite. Choose people you know who’ve asked questions about the market - perhaps from your golf club or a community organization you belong to or maybe someone you talked to in the past who didn’t want to meet at the time. Ideally, you should have fifteen names on the prospect invitee list.
Don’t over-think the invite list - give yourself a maximum of thirty minutes to put the names together.
Step Three: Extending invitations
Start by calling the clients on the list. You don’t have time to invite people sequentially, so don’t wait to hear back from the first seven people before contacting the others. Contact everyone on your list - worst case, you’ll fill the two lunches and have to book another one to handle the overflow demand.
The invitation is very straightforward: you’re hosting an informal lunch at your office to talk about the market outlook for the period ahead and think they might be interested.
Once you’ve worked through your list of clients, shift your focus to prospects:
”I’m hosting an informal sandwich lunch at my office for clients interested in hearing about where the market is today and our best thinking for the future. While this lunch is primarily for clients, I do have a spot available and was wondering if you’d like to sit in.”
If a prospect accepts the invitation, ask them about any specific questions they’d like to see covered - and also find out what kind of sandwich they’d like.
See the detailed implementation guide at the bottom of the article for draft scripts for these calls.
Step Four: Re-contacting people who are attending
At the end of week one, you should have all seven client slots filled for the first lunch and a commitment from one or two prospects. You should also be well on your way to filling the client spots for the second lunch.
Use the 90 minute time slot you’ve booked in week two to follow up with the clients who committed to attend, with a goal of seeing if someone they know might be interested in joining them.
In that follow up call to clients attending the lunch, ask them what specific questions they’d like you to cover and what kind of sandwich they’d like. Say that while the lunch is designed for clients, you do have one spot available - and wonder if someone they know might be interested in joining them.
This works especially well if you’re able to point to a specific candidate they might invite - their partner, a colleague at work or family member. Also ask whether you can give their accountant or lawyer a call, saying that their client is attending a lunch at your offices and thought they might be interested in coming.
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