Many of the business owners I speak with are looking for a relatively small number of new clients. It isn't that they're not ambitious, it's just the size of their businesses doesn't warrant a larger objective. Typically they own service-based businesses with an annual turnover counted in the millions of dollars, not hundreds of millions.
These business owners are successful in what they do but need to jump up to the next level. To do this they need another 5, 12 or even 20 customers. In the big picture, this isn't a lot of new clients.
Fortunately these firms already have many satisfied clients, so they have the opportunity to understand the type of client they best service and get a head-start on attracting new ones.
When working with clients in this situation I often find they have tried a few marketing activities (maybe some advertising or direct mail) and found they haven't worked very well. So we often need a fresh start - to look at what the current marketing tactics should be, rather than just re-hashing what has been done in the past.
OK. So here's a brief run-down on how to get a few good clients.
1. Firstly, take a closer look at the good clients you currently have. Is there a pattern? Are they similar in some way? Try and create a profile.
2. Make sure you understand why your current clients are using your services. What are the real benefits you provide? Be careful not to assume too much, even if you're sure you know.
3. Identify how you can contact more potential clients of the same type. You'll need to be as specific as possible to enable your prospecting work to produce results.
4. Approach your prospects with a carefully created message that will encourage them to talk with you. Expecting a “sale" on the first contact is usually unrealistic.
5. Follow up in person to customise the message for each particular prospect.
6. Where possible get referrals from your existing clients to prospects who are similar to them. Then follow them up in person as well.
7. When you get to meet with your prospects, use a ‘sales process’ that will ensure you:
a) Present a professional appearance
b) Get all the information you need
c) Answer all the key questions your prospect will have
d) Confirm with your prospect what you will do next. Don't let the sales process stall after this first meeting.
8. Get your prospect to sign up for your services.
Congratulations… you have a new client.
Do this a few times and you have reached your objective - a few good clients.
(c) 2005 Marketing Nous Pty Ltd
Stuart Ayling runs Marketing Nous, an Australasian marketing consultancy that specialises in marketing for service businesses. He helps clients to improve their marketing tactics, attract more clients, and increase revenue. Stuart also offers telephone consultations and runs regular marketing seminars. For additional marketing resources, including Stuart's popular monthly newsletter, visit his web site at http://www.marketingnous.com.au .