Does Getting More Clients Require Sales?
In my experience getting more clients is the number one pain for start-up and small or medium-sized businesses. These businesses generally do not have enough clients and they do not know HOW to get more clients. They are often told to go out and do whatever it takes to make more sales. This could mean anything from spending a whole lot of money on a marketing plan & marketing material to knocking on coldly closed doors.
In my opinion, this approach is not always carefully thought through and may not be relevant for the business. I have seen too many business owners who really do not have the money to lose, throw their money away on exorbitantly expensive websites, fancy marketing collateral and the latest freebie gimmicks to hand out to potential clients. This approach can land you in the financial hot seat if you are not careful and can destroy your confidence and faith when it does not work.
I am not saying that a marketing plan, marketing collateral, cold calling and other best business sales practices count for nothing. They do. Everything has value, but it also has a time and a place. However, I am saying that getting more could require something a lot easier, a lot cheaper, a lot more fun and a lot more rewarding than blatantly trying to sell your services or products. It is said that the best things in life are free and maybe this is true too in the case of getting more clients. We do not have to always throw money at a problem which many beginning entrepreneurs do tend to do because they think it is the right thing to do.
As I am sure you know one of the best ways to get business is through referrals. Referrals are great clients because they already have been exposed to information about you through others who have experienced what you sell or what you do. These are people who believe in what you because they have seen what you do and have experienced the value you offer. As a result, they naturally share this information with others. You do not have to convince referrals. They have already been convinced of your value, worth and their need for your product or service. Isn’t that great, half the sales process has already been done for you.
How do you use a referral approach effectively?
- Create a database of your most valued and loyal clients who sell you easily because they have experienced the success of working with you and who are connected to you or are in touch with the type of client you want to add to your client base.
- Contact these VIP clients, your inner circle, meet with them on a more regular basis and familiarize them with more with more of your expertise and give away some of the benefits that you offer. Find out more even more about what they do and the type of clients they serve.
- Provide a sincere and valuable incentive for your VIP list to refer you to their clients. It must be fun, rewarding, exciting and beneficial for them to do so.
- Nurture all new clients to become part of your VIP group and share the same incentives and motivations to them to refer you on to their clients who would benefit highly from your services.
- Talk the walk! Refer clients to your clients whenever you can. When your clients get referrals from you, they will not think twice about referring you to others.
- Continue to create valuable, trusting relationships with your ‘inner circle’ and watch you and your business grow.
You now have a specific approach so that your networking can become far more focused and enhancing for you and your clients. All you need to do is to DECIDE you want to work it and START. Be disciplined and actively work the process to be able to measure real success.
Networking, contrary to some people’s popular belief, is not about targeting clients to buy your service or product. It is not! At the very core of it, networking is about creating, nurturing and fostering long-standing relationships that are mutually beneficial. Referrals that result from true and heartfelt networking is a direct outcome of a trusting relationship that has developed over chats, introductions, tea or coffee, a luncheon and maybe even getting to know the family and being invited for a braai or such like. Real networking is about being in the relationship for the long haul with long-term rewards.
The question you need to ask yourself is, if the time, effort and approach to networking, nurturing relationships and getting referrals is worth it or not and if not, would you rather start from ground zero each time you needed to get more clients. When you cannot rely on a good percentage of referrals it is like throwing your rod into a big sea of hopeful possibilities and praying that you hook some good catches. This could cost you a whole lot of time or knock on many closed doors. This is no fun and can become very discouraging and exhausting. It is no wonder that so many business owners freeze at the very thought of getting clients with this kind of approach.
Give networking and the referral approach some serious thought, take action and watch your numbers grow. In the process, you will have fun, meet some very interesting people, enjoy informative events and very possibly meet potential lifelong clients. I am sure you have read many articles on the topic which are all very valuable and offer expert and tried and tested advice, but in truth now, the reality is that you must stop reading and talk about it and start approaching your strong client base. Start building real relationships. Be visible, be available and show up!