New clients are the lifeblood for any business. We have clients we love working with, who often allow us to experience why we got into business in the first place, and we have clients who we would fire in a heartbeat if we had a choice- maybe they don’t pay, complain all the time or keep us up at night worrying.
Without clients, let’s face it we have no business, and so, the endless pursuit for clients is fundamental. So, is there a more effective way of finding and landing clients? The answer: yes, of course. You just need to decide which one works best for you.
There are four effective ways how you can proactively get new clients and they all work. The difference between these methods will be their efficiency and the cost to attract and convert these clients. It is particularly important for new entrepreneurs to understand these distinctions, because they often come from a corporate background, where companies have significant budgets and resources. In fact, poor decision-making in the acquisition of new clients is a significant reason why 85% of new businesses fail in their first two years. So, the four key methods to get new clients include:
1. Marketing and advertising
They absolutely work, and if the company has the budget, there is no better way to get to large portions of society. But how many entrepreneurs can afford AED50-AED100,000 a month?
2. Cold calling
Yes, it works, although you need a skin of iron to handle the rejections, and we need to pay sales people to make the calls. Our personal and business brands are also impacted with those who make the calls- or we have to bite the bullet and do it ourselves.
3. Using PR
PR is a great tool- for instance, by being in this publication, people will recognize you as an expert and this can help with the sales cycle. Yet the conversions are often less immediate and less in quantity than other methods.
4. Building relationships
Networking can be a great tool for catching new clients: it’s mostly free, requires no or little marketing budget, and doesn’t need the involvement of too many people from your team. In a survey by BNI’s Dr. Ivan Misner, over 98% of business owners claimed they relied significantly on building relationships for their new clients.
So how can we invest more time into getting new business through relationships?
Related: Sales Excellence In Five Steps
1. Network up
We are the average of the people we hang around. Successful people like to be around successful people. Choose your inner circle well. Get out from your cave and be around people. A positive mindset is one thing, but success never came to the person who sat at home just hoping, they had to “get up and do.”
2. Bring value into the equation
Relationship building is about “building” not “taking.” Make sure you invest in your relationships by adding value. The more we invest ourselves in others, the more willing they are to help us. It may not just be referrals; it could be important information at a crucial time, or even support at a time when we are at our lowest.
3. Location, location, location
Think about who your target market (your ideal client) is. Then choose to network in a place that will give you access to those clients whether directly or indirectly. Make sure that you are not a bull in a china shop. It is about relationships building even when in a place with your potential clients- not trying to close them on the spot. Networking is not meant to be face-to-face cold calling.
4. Just ask
Most people don’t ask for referrals. If we can get over this, then it is often surprising how many people will help us. Make sure to ask where you have previously given value. It’s called an emotional bank account, and we can’t take anything from an empty account.
5. Prove yourself
When we are hoping people will refer us, we are asking them to put a part of their reputations on the line. We must prove ourselves to be credible as people and as a business. Do what you promise or be even better than that. If we do a bad job -turn up late, or not return phone calls- the message we send is “you are not as important as something else to me.” This is a poor way to start or maintain any relationship.
6. Share the good news
When building our business by word of mouth, it is often more important to control the bad word-of-mouth than develop good word-of-mouth. Statistically, when we do a good job, only five people will find out (over a life time), but when we do a bad job, it is 55 people and that is only our offline presence.
7. Confer with your clients
Good customer service is not enough to guarantee referrals from clients. Some clients may be working with us until a better option presents itself. The real test is how likely they are to refer us. Try asking your clients. A Harvard business review study showed that out of 100 clients who were asked this question, only 68% said that they would refer the provider.
8. Look for the golden geese rather than the golden eggs
Most salespeople are so busy chasing a golden egg that they don’t realize that if they find a golden goose, they will get multiple eggs for their efforts. Learn how to develop these kinds of relationships and you will have an endless supply of high quality clients.
9. Put your best foot forward
Most people know the golden rule “treat others how we want to be treated.” In referral marketing, it needs to be the other way around for people to like us and want to help us.
10. Listen more, talk less
We can’t learn a lot about other people while we are talking about ourselves. Learn to listen rather than talk. Networkers have two ears and one mouth and they should be used proportionately. A great way to build a relationship is to let someone else talk about themselves, and interject periodically to show interest (and be interested), but let them talk.
It stands to reason that for any business, whether new or established, if they can learn to proactively and effectively leverage relationships, then a whole new revenue stream could be opened up. Then, rather than just leaving it to the “one good networker,” the whole company could be bringing in prospects, from the receptionist to the owner, because we are all surrounded by people.