For most business owners, sales growth is probably the one activity which yields most satisfaction.
New clients are the lifeblood of a new or growing business, the excitement of seeing new clients come to us seldom wanes.
When we start a business, our search for new clients is all-consuming and we live in a state of permanent anxiety over our numbers.
Such an approach though tends to encourage the wrong behaviours. In our excitement, or our anxiety, we can sometimes:-
Yield to the slightest bit of pressure on pricing and offer discounts
Take on the wrong type of client
Sacrifice our payment policies to accommodate client requests
By doing so we compromise our offering and ultimately make less money.
Why is this and why does it matter?
We find an easy analogy in life. We meet people, we become friends, we get to know each other better, we find we have shared interests and common ground, we spend more time together and ultimately such friendship may lead to love and marriage.
When courting potential new clients, our tendency is to cut many of these corners – in fact, in many cases, we jump straight to a marriage proposal!
But it’s important to realise why this is the wrong approach.
With friends, sometimes relationships simply don’t work out. We might find a values imbalance, we might discover that we don’t, after all, have much in common, we might irritate each other!
And so those relationships wane with interactions becoming more infrequent. No harm, no foul, no long-term damage done. But hang on – what if, in haste, that relationship had resulted in marriage? It’s a tad harder to disengage from such a relationship, no?
Or consider this – in days gone by, when people shopped locally, the corner-shop shopkeeper knew most of their customers really well. Well enough, in fact, to tempt them into buying a little treat or something extra than they intended. How did they do this? Simply by knowing their customer – knowing their interests, their preferences, when they were paid and also, of course, their chocolate weak-spot!
So, knowing your ideal client, really knowing them, is the common ground here. But I can already hear the argument about time – won’t it take a long time to get to know a potential client? Don’t we run the risk of them going to another (not so fussy) accountant in the meantime?
The answer to both questions is no.
When we broaden the sales funnel, we’re effectively telling every potential client we want to marry them.
Which is absurd!
By instead adopting a relatively narrow funnel, by being very specific about who we want to deal with, then by being in the spaces where they live, work and socialise, talking their language and being seen in their environment, there’s a much deeper connection. A feeling of common ground, of knowing each other already, of association. And, of course, ultimately a much more focused marriage proposal.
As well as being focused, this marriage proposal, or sales conversation, is much easier.
So easy in fact, that sometimes your ideal client might even “propose” to you!
“We don’t know each other but we’ve seen each other at different events and on social media. I feel like you understand my type of business – how can we work together?”
Knowing your customer isn’t just a case of looking for business owners with a pulse and an ability to pay. It’s about being really specific about who you want to work with and saying so.
What if all your messaging was about supporting tech clients? What if you attended lots of technology events where tech clients congregate? What if you advertised in the publications tech geeks subscribe to? What if you did short presentations at tech events? And what if your website contained a few testimonials from tech clients?
Guess what type of client you’ll attract?!
Knowing your client is about really knowing them – their feelings and emotions, their age profile, their circumstances and common frustrations, their hopes and dreams. So, when your messaging quotes such language back to them, they automatically feel a connection.
So, who is your perfect client?