Last week I had a meeting with a very dejected business owner who, after nine months, had not been able to get one single client. Owning a service business and trying to position yourself as a leader is difficult, and with a lot of competition, it becomes an overwhelming task. He shared a copy of his very impressive resume which detailed his experience prior to starting his own firm.
In the past nine months he has called on hundreds of businesses offering his consulting services and leaving a very impressive resume; unfortunately, not one has call him back, not even for a preliminary meeting.
There is no easy way to start and grow a business. Instant gratification no longer exists. It takes a lot of hard work in a variety of disciplines to succeed. In this case I will share a method that I have found to be successful.
- Establish credibility: who are you and why should I do business with you? Before I hire you I want to know if you are “for real.” Your standing in the community is important. Where are you giving your time and talents? What businesses will recommend you? There is a long list of ways to accomplish this. A few include getting recommendations from your CPA, your bank manger, your attorney, participating in civic organizations, etc.
- Target marketing: there may be hundreds of businesses that need your services; you don’t need all of them. Perhaps a handful of good clients are what you need to form a solid foundation. Direct your initial marketing effort to no more than 50 of your top “ideal future clients.” If possible go to your data base of friends and see if they can help create your list from people they know and can introduce you.
- Establish a pattern of consistent contacts with them: this includes everything from direct mail, telephone calls, in person business calls, lunches, e-mails, networking meetings, etc. I use a figure of 8 contacts before I expect to be invited to make a contractual presentation.
- Define your benefits and what differentiates you: without a compelling story you will not get an opportunity to obtain new clients. Work hard on your benefits and how you are different. Put it in writing and work to improve these facts every day.
Using a 25% success ratio, your 50 prospects should yield a total of 12 clients in the next three months. Those that didn’t become clients should still be kept on a monthly contact list. After your first month add another 20 new prospects each month and repeat the process. The next step is to implement a strong referral program.
It’s not a question of whether this will work; it’s a question of whether you will do the work.
Nick J. Petra CFP let me help guide you to a successful, profitable and sustainable business.