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Diary of a CPSM Candidate: The Intersection of Research and Business Development

April 18, 2013

Diary of a CPSM Candidate is written by Valerie Conyngham, Marketing Manager at The Cecil Group, an urban design and planning firm in Boston. The opinions expressed below are hers and hers alone. She can be reached through LinkedIn or Twitter @valconyngham.

It’s a good feeling to say you’re halfway through something and I’m delighted to be halfway through studying the six domains of marketing. This past Tuesday my study group gathered to discuss Domain 3: Client and Business Development.

The preparation reality check…

SMPS CPSMHere’s the surprising thing, I felt I had a strong grasp on the reading materials for Domain 3 (at least those that I read), but my score on the practice questions didn’t support that confidence. This is the section that really amplified the advice that other CPSMs have been giving our study group – it doesn’t matter what YOU think the answer is, it matters what THE BOOK thinks the answer is. Case in point, the purpose of networking is?

a) To give information to others

b) To gain information for yourself

I hate to be the pessimist, but altruism is pretty hard to reach on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs so while I realize we’re supposed to think we’re networking to help others, helping others is simply a tactic to help us reach our own end game – to help ourselves. Alas, the correct answer is a) to give information to others.

Another piece of advice I can give future studiers: while the Marketing Handbook is the must-read book for preparing for the test, the book Rain Making: Attract New Clients No Matter what your Field by Ford Harding seems to be an equally important read for Domain 3. I’m ordering a copy today to supplement what I’ve already read.

Marketing advice outside of test preparation…

Research is the cornerstone of a successful business development plan. Within each step of your business development process you’ll need to refresh the data you have about a prospect or client. Become the person that knows everything about how to get information on a prospect and you’ll find that you’ve cemented your future at a firm. Just remember, sometimes the key to determining a path is to figure out the questions you need to answer. Here’s a list to get you started in assembling your prospect pool:

  1. Identify your targets – provided you’re working off an already articulated vision, it should be easy to narrow down the types of potential clients you’re looking for (example targets include federal courthouses, higher education institutions in New England, transportation departments across the US, etc). The list should be specific, even if it doesn’t include a contact name. For example, if your target market is federal courthouses your list might include: Moakley Federal Courthouse, Robert S. Vance Federal Building & U.S. Courthouse, John McKinley Federal Building, etc.
  2. Research everything you can about your targets – you’ll want to be answering questions like: Who are the key decision makers? What are the organization’s values? Do they compete with any of our existing clients and does that matter? Is it likely they would need our services? When would they need our services?, etc. This is the stage where you can also narrow down the prospect list developed in the first step. If you find out Company X publically admonishes the charity your firm’s CEO founded, you can probably cross them off your prospect list.
  3. Initiate contact – everyone loathes making cold calls, but it’s relatively easy to turn a cold call into a warm call. Apply the theory of six degrees of separation and start sifting through your network to identify how you can be put in touch with someone at the organization you wish to reach. Perhaps your neighbor plays golf with a friend who has a daughter who’s friends with the daughter of the facilities director at College X who plays basketball with the facilities director at College Y.
  4. Build relationships – once you’ve made the warm call to the facilities director at College Y start to build a relationship with that person. Send them articles that might be of interest to them, ask them to participate on a panel at a local conference with you, invite them to accompany you to a professional event, etc. This sets the ground work for you to inquire about future projects your firm might be qualified to perform for them.
9 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2013 2:00 pm

    Great post, Valerie! I like how you tie together b.d. and research (like one of your fine chocolate pairings?). I have tried many times in 2013 to remember to ask more questions and better questions of the people I meet in business circles.

  2. April 19, 2013 8:51 am

    Thank you, Karen. We spend a lot of time at my office being thoughtful about determining what we don’t now so that we too can start asking better questions.

  3. April 30, 2013 6:40 pm

    I too am studying for the CPSM exam and am in the same boat as you. Some of the questions make sense, however there can be multiple answers. I haven’t taken the exam yet but will be the end of June.

  4. Jana Brickey, CPSM permalink
    May 3, 2013 1:05 pm

    Having just recently passed the test, I have to say the studying was very enriching. I gained the most from our study group discussions. As an Arizonan, a lot of the “correct” answers didn’t reflect our particular market. I wish you the best of luck on your test and your journey!

  5. May 3, 2013 4:21 pm

    Thank you, Jana. Congratulations on passing the exam. Jodi, good luck on the exam.

  6. Jennifer Booth permalink
    May 6, 2013 3:46 pm

    Very good post, Valerie. Going home tonight to read more of domain 4 … it’s true what you’ve heard about falling behind! Very hard to catch up. I’ll get it done before the test …


  1. Diary of a CPSM Candidate: Please, Just Tell Me Something I Care About | Outlook Blog
  2. Diary of a CPSM Candidate: Executing your Marketing Plan through Promotional Activities | Outlook Blog
  3. Diary of a CPSM Candidate – The End is in Sight! | Outlook Blog

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