About the interviewee
Dave Wakeman, Principal of Wakeman Consulting Group
Tell me about your firm (number of employees, location, type of companies you work with, etc.).
Currently we have 4 employees, but depending on the time of year and the projects our firm is working on we can expand to more 30. The work our firm does revolves around our expertise in organizational development and the 4 areas that drive our interventions: communications, change management, leadership, and strategy. Because of our focus, we find ourselves working with clients in a quite diverse number of areas including tech with Google and Yahoo!; American Express in financial services; the US Department of Commerce, Madison Square Garden, the NY Jets, and SAIC.
Tell us about why it is important for your firm to reach the C-level executives as potential clients.
For my firm it is important to connect with C-level executives because we are taking on challenges that have an effect on the entire organization and if we don’t have buy-in and support from the executives in charge of overseeing these changes long term, the changes we make will not be successful. Also, too many times, you will talk to an executive about making some changes and there has been a well established pattern of “do as I say, not as I do” in organizations…so coaching the executives on what change will look like is another valuable reason to establish that relationship from the start.
Why are those below C-level not as effective to reach to promote your company?
Unfortunately a lot of our corporate culture has shifted from taking initiative to passing the buck. So when you are dealing with managers on lower levels, they may just be uncomfortable accepting the responsibility of the challenges that will occur when trying to make positive changes within an organization. And, depending on the relationship between C-level executive and their direct reports, the relationship may not even allow for this kind of responsibility. Finally, even when you have empowered management at lower levels, if the C-level manager suggests an intervention or a plan of attack, it helps make the lower level managers more willing to put forth the resources to make the changes effective.
What techniques have you deployed to reach those C-level executives?
We use an aggressive and targeted marketing effort to reach C-level executives. Some of the most effective actions we take involve writing articles, giving speeches, and sharing my expertise in media and at events where executives already will be going to gain knowledge. Also, because of the quality of work we have done, we get quite a few referrals and these are super effective because the credibility of our firm is already established. There are other activities that we undertake, but the most effective are those I listed earlier.
One area we don’t spend a lot of time on, as a lead generation tool is social media. I bring this up because I get the question quite often regarding how can I use social media to prospect and generate leads or build my expertise…which I consider something akin to the tail wagging the dog. Because this whole concept of reaching out and connecting with C-level executives is about building a brand name for you and your company and you just aren’t going to effectively build that on social media alone. It is a tool that you can use to leverage some of the other tactics I mentioned like writing, speaking, networking…