If your business is like many, time is something you never seem to have enough of. Client and business responsibilities can pull you in what seems like a dozen different directions. One task many sales professionals never seem to have enough time for is finding new clients. It’s crucial for your business, yet it can’t be your whole business — you still need to do the work clients hired you to do! The solution isn’t more hours in the day or more of you in the office. If you can make your process for finding clients more efficient, you can improve your business with the time and resources that you have available. Here are five ideas to help you efficiently find new clients.
Match Your Business Model to Your Prospect Pool
Your business has an ideal prospect, or perhaps several ideal prospect groups. The question is whether your business is as finely attuned to the needs of this ideal prospect group as it could be. If your business model is outdated, out of sync with your customer base, or otherwise not a perfect match, you’ll spend more time and energy winning over those ideal prospects. That’s time that could be better spent elsewhere. Re-evaluate your business offerings once or twice a year to confirm that your offerings are right for potential prospects and that you’re on track with where you industry is headed. If you find discrepancies, fix it — if you can. If you find a discrepancy you can’t fix — say, your ideal client prefers working with name brand firms and you’re a solo brokerage — be prepared to answer that objection. You can create marketing materials that sell the benefits of a more individualized client experience and educate clients and prospects directly on the benefits of your business model. This will save you time in the long run, say if you encounter this objection unexpectedly late in the sales process.
Fine-Tune Your Referral Process for Better Prospects
There are two problems that may be putting a drag on your referral process:
- Your current base of happy clients don’t know what products and services are available.
- Your client could make a perfect referral match, but doesn’t know it.
The answer to both these referral problems is education for your clients during your referral process. First, make sure your clients are aware of your whole range of services. The client may have purchased life insurance from you unaware that you also offer comprehensive financial planning services, or they may have financed a new mortgage loan unaware that you do refinancing. Importantly, just because the client bought one service from you doesn’t mean they wouldn’t enthusiastically recommend you for another. People buy from people, and if your client is happy, he’ll direct referrals to you that he thinks you’ll also be able to make happy. Next, when you ask for referrals, educate your current clients on who that perfect prospect is. Are you looking for executives who are nearing retirement? High-income families who’ve just bought a home? Young couples who are just starting a family? If you put these prospect descriptions to your clients, you’ll be surprised how quickly they start thinking of people they know who fit that description. Making these fine-tuning adjustments to your referral process could greatly up your success and will certainly make for a more efficient process.
Manage Your Time Well When It Comes to Prospects
There’s only so much time in the workday. You’ve got to make the most of it. Client work could consume most of your available hours if you let it, but you’ve got to think about the long-term needs of your client business, too. You’ve got to make sure you set aside time to work on your business as well as in it. Part of the answer is in your planner, setting aside the time to do the business development work that will generate referrals, market your services, and get new clients. Another piece of the answer, though, is looking at how you’re prospecting for new clients. You want your ROI to be as high as possible so that your time can be spent as efficiently as possible. You may love marketing to potential customers through Facebook and LinkedIn, but if you aren’t getting a good return on the time spent there, you may want to try another approach.
Try a Targeted Passion Marketing Campaign
If you can kill two birds with one stone, you’re an efficient hunter. If you can enjoy your social life and build your business at the same time, you’re going to be a more efficient businessman. You already spend your free time with your running club, at a poker night, or participating in your child’s PTA. Consider hosting a client and prospect party and inviting your circle of friends and acquaintances. These type of events offer a chance to get to know prospects in a different setting and tell them more about your business’s products and services. What’s great here is that you already have a connection with this group of prospects. They know you, they know what you’re about, and that you’re someone who can be trusted. That’s not to say your sales work is over, but that first step of getting your foot in the door is already done for you. Now you can work on selling the benefits of your services. Part of the work has already been done here as well. You already know some things about your prospect, how many kids they have, their field of work, perhaps part of their plans for the future. That’s all information that will inform what products or services you think might be a good match for their needs, and again, that work is already done. Building that initial connection and getting the prospect’s background are two crucial and perhaps time-consuming steps in the sales process. Your efficiency improves when you’ve already done this work.
Market Your Business with a Cross Promotion or Host-Beneficiary Deal
You may think primarily of marketing directly to your prospect, but there are a number of ways you can indirectly market to a highly targeted audience. Cross-promoting with a closely related — but noncompeting — business is one way. An HVAC installer and a solar installer might make a good pairing. However, government regulation can be tight on some industries when it comes to such partnerships. For that reason, I suggest thinking further outside the box. Would yacht owners who lease a slip at the marina be interested in financial planning advice? Would parents shopping at a mom-and-pop baby boutique be interested in life insurance? Would people joining a food co-op or CSA group be interested in solar installation? Talk to the marina landlord, the boutique owner, or the food co-op director about a cross-promotion or host-beneficiary arrangement. You could provide a letter to include with their regular newsletter or pay for a separate mailing. Invite these targeted prospects to book a free consultation, or, invite them to the same social outing as your running club and PTA.
The fact is there are many ways to get more from your client prospecting efforts without needing to clone yourself to handle the extra workload. The key is efficiency. Look for ways to tweak business processes you’re already engaged in and seek out high-return marketing efforts that can be laser-focused on your target audience. Use these ideas to efficiently find new clients and grow your business at the same time.