How magnetic are you at attracting new clients?
You know that your current clients are your best source for new business. As I wrote about last week, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. Sometimes, however, you have to seek out new clients.
But attracting new clients is challenging. How do you find prospects? How do you persuade someone who has never heard about you to want to do business with you? How do you get someone to evaluate you not simply on price? Here are some ideas.
When you can show people you can help them, you not only capture their attention but you also avoid the dreaded "Your price is too high" objection. The key to doing that is to uncover the different needs a buyer has, says Mark Hunter in his podcast Why You Should Never Discount Your Price.
"Uncovering and seeing a [buyer's] need is a huge piece. That's the ultimate in sales," he says. "When I'm able to do that, then I'm able to move beyond price."
You also want to avoid treating the sale as a single sale, Hunter warns. The goal is to turn the customer into a longtime customer, and that takes more time and effort. It calls for following up with them more and having more conversations with them.
"I may have overspent in terms of time initially in getting that first sale, but if over a period of two, three, four, five years, I create a long-term customer, my profit sustainability factor goes through the roof. That's how I build a long-term business," he says.
If you have a talent for giving presentations, speaking engagements can be the key to your attracting new clients. You can gain exposure to new prospects via those speaking opportunities, plus you can use them to enhance your thought leadership and demonstrate your expertise.
Speaking engagements can also be a source of revenue. Compelling marketing and branding will attract such offers, but the conversations you have with interested parties make or break a deal, writes Vickie K. Sullivan in her article 3 Conversations You Must Have to Get Big-Fee Speaking Engagements.
You must know how to communicate with the false positive buyer, as well as the real buyer. And you must know how to react when there are last-minute negotiations, she says. (Read Sullivan's article for how to handle those conversations.)
"Be ready for these interactions and you'll get your fair share of big-fee speaking engagements," Sullivan says.
Sometimes you have to look beyond what you currently offer to attract new buyers. Is there something you can offer that has a huge demand yet little competition?
Law firm Zuber & Taillieu discovered a new client segment when it created a software system to manage firm operations, writes Gwen Moran in her case study of the firm Law Firm Builds Awareness and Attracts New Business by Launching a Software Service. The IT systems available for law firms were expensive and inefficient, so the co-founder created a better one and made it available to other law firms.
The service, called LawLoop, allows firms to securely store client information, share documents, organize files and track billable hours. It's also easy to use, helping firms to increase their productivity.
The response to LawLoop has been overwhelmingly positive. It is now its own business, and it is expected to show a profit after just one year. Not only that, but Zuber & Taillieu signed on a new client in direct response to the system.
Sometimes a prospect you have been communicating with disappears for no apparent reason. They stop replying to your emails, don't answer their phone, and don't return your calls.
As Colleen Francis points out in her article What to Do When Your Prospect or Client Goes Silent, it could simply be because they are busy or away. If neither of those is the reason, something has gone wrong in your interactions with them. But all is not lost, she says. There are things you can do to repair the situation.
Maybe the prospect objected to something in your proposal but didn't voice it. Francis says you can help jump-start the conversation by sending a note in which you take responsibility for their silence.
"It could say something like: 'Wow, I must have really messed up that last proposal I sent because I haven't heard back from you in weeks!' As a gesture of goodwill, you could include a gift card to your client's favorite coffee shop and mention that you're keen to have the opportunity to talk again," Francis says. "This gives you a fighting chance to save a potentially lost sale because it gives someone an incentive to call you back without feeling they're being negatively coerced to do so."
If the deal is really lost, you owe it to yourself to learn why. What went wrong? What mistakes were made that you can correct and prevent from doing in the future?
To do that, Cian McLoughlin suggests creating a win/loss review (WLR) program.
"You can suspect and you can surmise [why a competitor was selected], but where decision making is concerned, it's impossible to fully understand the complex web of competing thoughts and emotions we all go through prior to reaching a decision," McLoughlin writes in his article How to Develop a Win/Loss Review Program. "As B2B sales organizations, all you can do is focus on continually improving, refining, tweaking, and finessing the way we engage with our target audience."
If you are comfortable with your people, services and processes, you ought to do some "real soul searching" and try to understand what you do well, what you do poorly, and how you can improve.
Image by Arte and Ramgopal
Michelle Davidson is Editor of RainToday. As such, she oversees all of the articles published on the website and publishes the weekly newsletter, the Rainmaker Report. She also produces the site's weekly podcast series, Marketing & Selling Professional Services, and the site's webinars. You may contact her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org and via Twitter at @michedav.
No comments posted
Expand your access with RainToday Premium Membership