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It’s probably not surprising to most people that even among senior executives, the Internet is becoming their source for exploring for solutions. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have become the new directories of choice. Yet, many professional services firms continue to insist on buying listings and ads in printed directories.

“It has shelf-life,” they lament.

“That’s right, a dusty shelf-life.”

The Internet has put the power of investigation and education in the hands of the executive. They no longer have to call a provider to educate themselves, or even search an old directory. There’s more thought leadership and answers on the Internet. Blogs, Forums and online libraries make it easy to an executive to ignore you. So what do you do?

It’s time to switch from having a “sales cycle” and create a “buy-cycle.” You have to think beyond the first, second or third contact and create a program that has 6, 7 or 12 points of contact. And you have to make sure those contacts are full of relevant and timely information. If the conversation starts with state and local tax, then you need to carry that conversation forward through offerings of more articles, white papers, web seminars, events that have to do that topic so you become an educator in a passive way.

They don’t want to hear from you unless you have something relevant and informative to say so make sure you undestand that. They will call you when they are ready. You can call them but it needs to be a “soft” approach with relevant ideas and information.

So as you think about sending a letter, email or direct mail, think beyond that – and don’t talk about you and your company! Talk about them, their industry and their pains!

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