by Paul Martin

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by Paul Martin


They made a big movie about my friend’s life–with big name stars. My friend speaks with a wonderfully unique dialect so casting the right actor would make or break the film. Every time I see the film, I hardly believe my ears when I hear Jack Black speaking just like my friend. And casting the right business support leads can make or break your business development program just like casting a movie.

Partner Journey: The Lead Stage

The Partner Journey embarks with the Lead stage. You get to invite who you want to join you on the journey–just like a Casting Director determines who would be in the right roles.

leads are like casting a movie

Using our Partner Journey map, the goal of a Lead is to set an appointment for the Partner Opportunity Interview–the next step in the journey. That’s it. Not a big commitment–just a meeting.

Casting The Roles

A Casting Director breaks down the script and creates descriptions of characters for speaking roles before talking about specific actors. A solid business support plan does the same thing: the three S plan. We describe the industry Sectors that would be Suitable on the air and Size–the business appears large enough to make a good commitment to our organization. That’s how to gauge business support leads.

Leading Radio Advertising Industries gets us started–and then we’ll add a few at the bottom of the list.

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With your character / partner descriptions ready, where will you find the “actors”? Typically, there are only two ways to meet your potential business support partners: Outbound and Inbound.

Is business support bought or is it sold?

Did enough decision-makers wake up this morning saying, “Today, I need to support [name of your organization] and defend the decision to my fellow shareholders”? Probably not.

Typically, sponsorship, underwriting and advertising are sold, not bought. That means we predominantly use Outbound methods with an occasional Inbound prospect arrival.


When we initiate communication with potential clients (sponsors, partners, underwriters, advertisers, etc…), we do Outbound. Several benefits come from Outbound:

  1. Choose. We get to choose our business support leads (this is a big deal for most organizations)
  2. Fit. We get to know the prospect well through The Partner Journey to see if they could be good partners
  3. Strategic Integration. We know the calendar of promotions and events so we may develop relationships with sponsors that are a good fit for our inventory.
  4. Speed. When you need more revenue, you generate more Outbound activity.
  5. Flexibility. You can tailor steps in The Partner Journey to fit the prospect.

Examples Of Outbound Activity

Outbound activity takes many forms. Here are a few:

  1. Referrals. Ask your current business partners to introduce you to their friends who might be a good fit with the station. Most every business leader’s friend group is comprised of their peers. They expect to be asked, so do! When the business partner gives you a referral, you also receive an implied business recommendation–pretty cool way to start a journey with business support lead!
  2. Community Meetings. Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Clubs and similar organizations sponsor monthly meetings where you meet those who want to do business with others in their community. Most everyone who comes to a meeting, comes to make a sale as well as be sold.
  3. Your Breakfast Club Meetings. Many organizations plan a monthly (or quarterly) meeting with their business partners to hear an inspirational or business speaker. Here’s the beauty: you ask every business partner to bring a friend. These Breakfast Clubs quickly expand your network.
  4. Gold Calls. Phone calls (yes, voice calls) help connect with the power of the human voice. Powerful, persuasive, and speedy Gold Calls can generate a lot of appointments with a few hours of effort.
  5. Postal Mail. Snail mail works. Sending a letter before a Gold Call can lift your response.
  6. Business Social Media Groups. Look in social media and you may discover that business people in your community gather online in a group. Try to get into that group and, individually, ask other members for appointments.


When the prospective partner initiates the conversation, we are experiencing an Inbound process.  With Inbound, you rely on the prospect’s timetable to fit your schedule. Not a good situation.

In all candor, few (if any) organizations rely solely on an Inbound approach. You may occasionally receive an Inbound Lead so treat them well. Inbound just doesn’t generate enough revenue to make a sustainable organization.

One of the reasons some people choose the Inbound approach: Call Reluctance. Call Reluctance is a psychological condition that prevents people from making enough introductions to succeed. Just because a person has Call Reluctance doesn’t mean they are a bad person. Nonetheless, Call Reluctance should never be the reason to choose an Inbound strategy.

Evaluate Your Lead Approach

As a reminder, the goal of a Lead is to set an appointment for Partner Opportunity Interview–the next step in the journey. So the best evaluation of your outreach is simply the number of appointments you set.

When at a Chamber of Commerce meeting, mention to a new acquaintance that you would like to meet next week. When they agree, settle the day, time and location while standing there.

After every 3 meetings, evaluate: Am I receiving enough appointments with the way I’m doing this or do I need to do something different?

Regardless of Lead Approach, it is only as good as the number of appointments you set with business support leads. So keep count.

Have A Big Year

So Jack Black portrayed my friend Greg in The Big Year. The rest of the cast included Steve Martin and Owen Wilson. The movie is about a man (Greg–named “Brad” in the movie) who set an enormous goal and encountered immense challenges, but accomplished more than he imagined.

Sounds like getting Business Support Leads in The Partner Journey, doesn’t it?

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