I am having the most difficult time making contact with several consultants, either through phone calls or e-mails. I always have to leave voice messages that are never returned and e-mails that seem to get lost in cyberspace. Any suggestions?
Persistence key in calling consultants
The key is to be persistent, without being obnoxious or so annoying that the consultant doesn't want or feel obligated to return your call or your e-mail. I would place at most two calls spaced two days apart that, as you correctly point out, will inevitably result in voice messages before you move to Plan B.
If you are fortunate enough to get a person to answer the phone, see if this individual will take your name, number and very brief reason for your call and deliver this message to the intended “callee.” Most times, the person who answers the phone for all the consultants will ask you if you want to go into the intended person's voice mail. Always say yes, but also try to get this person to personally deliver to the intended “callee” your name, number and reason for your call.
Let's assume that you have already called twice and left two voice mails. So far, radio silence. Now send an e-mail, stating the reason for your still unanswered calls and ask if there is a convenient time to schedule a phone call so this consultant can control when a conversation will take place. You might receive back an e-mail stating that they and their firm really have no interest in your firm or your products. In some ways this information is better to get up front, and though painful for you — who can't understand why everyone doesn't want what you have to sell — it does allow you to “qualify the lead” early, allowing you to move on to hopefully greener pastures.
You have to remember how many people just like you are trying to make contact with the asset consultants who, in most cases, can be and are pivotal in the manager selection process. The key is to not waste the consultant's time. You should do your homework before you call or e-mail. If you are raising capital for a private real estate fund, for example, you should know the consultants who are solely focused on real estate, you should know the name of the key person who is responsible for real estate research and due diligence. This will provide a meaningful shortcut that provides better effectiveness and efficiency in your marketing and sales process.
The key is to develop a relationship with the consultant, which you can do by being respectful of their time and the demands they face from their clients. This takes time. Be patient, persistent and professional. But remember, in most cases to be an informed consultant serving the best interests of their client, they need to know what firms and products are out there, so you are critical to their success as well.