Okay…you decide you’re tired of working for The Man, and you start your own business. Everything is set; now you’re ready to get yourself some clients. Like all business owners, there a few ways to get in front of your potential clients: cold calling, networking and referrals just to name a few. Once you have someone in front of you, or willing to stay on the phone with you, it’s time to dish out all your services and eventually get them to buy from you.
The above process isn’t necessarily wrong; it does work depending on what kind of business you have. Anyone who has sales experience has gone through the trial and error process figuring out the one sales process that works for them. If you have one, then use it, but how much is too much? At GoEdison, we have a sales process that focuses on our clients versus our product – because that’s what sells.
What Do You Do?
When you get that potential client on the phone or in person, find out what they do. I bet they get tons of calls from other companies trying to sell them something that maybe they do or don’t have any use for. How would you know what they need if you have no idea what their business does? What happened to the days when we just had a conversation with people and built a relationship with that person? We have done just about everything to get leads for our business – from cold-calling to social networking meetups.
When we do get in front of someone who could possibly need our services the conversation almost always starts with them and their business. There are times when we really are not needed for their business at the time. When this happens the intent pivots, and closing isn’t the point of having that particular conversation; building a relationship is the point. Don’t get me wrong, the main point is to ultimately get a client, but who says we didn’t? Think about going on a first date. If you walked into the meeting place and started talking about how you have this skill and that quality, then transitioned into getting married, I don’t see a lot of weddings happening anytime soon. You have to get to know the people you expect to trust you in order to make sure you’re a good match for each other. The same thing is true with business; it should be a long-term relationship.
So, you are in a conversation; they’ve told you all about their business. You’ve possibly established that you could be friends with whomever you’re meeting with. Three things usually happen. One, they are interested in what you have and want to learn more or buy what you are selling. Two, they aren’t sure, or are already using something similar to what you’re offering, and that’s okay. It wasn’t a no; it’s a maybe, or a yes in the future. Three, they simply tell you no and stop the conversation altogether.
Well, what do you do now? For the one who said yes, make sure you do what you promised and make them a loyal and recurring client. Now, with the last two, don’t get discouraged; it’s not over. You still have something going for you. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “follow up.” I can tell you follow-up is critical in getting a new client. We believe in a five-step process when it comes to finding new clients.
- Phone call
- Follow-up email
- Phone call
- Follow-up email
- Follow-up monthly newsletter
This sounds like a lot, but it works, and has worked for us more than a few times. A story that I love to tell people is the time our CEO, James Harper, got to be a keynote speaker at a conference. It all started about a year ago with following-up. A year before the conference, James made a phone call to a woman, and she was one of the “NO” people, but it was all good. All he did after that is send her an email about once a month for about a year.
Well, fast forwarding about a year, we found out she was in charge of getting a speaker, and the original speaker canceled at the last minute. The first person she thought of was James. Long-story-short, we did the speech. So far, we’ve achieved two clients from the event and an offer to speak at another conference at the end of the year. The same person he called over a year ago didn’t become a client, but a funnel for people we didn’t have access to before was developed. She remembered GoEdison because we stayed in front of her with our content – not a sales pitch. Many of the best sales people we’ve ever met or learned from say the same thing: it takes about five or seven times for someone to remember you.
Build a Relationship
This might sound repetitive. That’s good, because it takes repetition to get through to people. Most of the blogs GoEdison writes almost always talk about the importance of the relationship, and it’s true. We are strong believers in the idea that relationships are the foundations of any business. So, instead of being a sales person who is only looking to make a quick dollar, pump the brakes and make a connection with someone.
Before we meet with a potential client for the first time, we always remind ourselves we’re interviewing potential clients as much as they are interviewing us. We also want to see if potential clients are a good fit for us. If our client’s business is succeeding, we are succeeding, and that’s because we have a strong relationship with them. Instead of being out there alone, we have a tribe of people who trust us, and we trust them, and we help each other. The sales will come once you have the relationship, but not before.
Stop trying to sell someone from the start and focus on building a relationship instead.
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