Identifying and securing new customers is a necessary ingredient in building business health leading to long-term success. Finding client opportunities requires sales sophistication and stamina – here’s how:
1. Prospecting – This is the classic methodology referred to as the cold call, involving the seller identifying a prospective buyer through a hunting process. This is a methodical, time-tested and proven system for finding new customers by hunting for them. Target the “sweet spot” of the industry sectors you serve. If you sell using a needs-based system, then understand where your “unique and distinct” product/service serves a customer or segment. This is where you want to concentrate your business development efforts.
2. Existing Customers – Growing and expanding an existing customer relationship is very fertile territory. Just ask your client! What else does your customer buy that you could supply? Are you the sole provider for every product/service dollar spent by your customer? Often referred to as “share of wallet,” make sure you know what share you command as a percent of your customer’s total spend for your product/service. It is always important to add relationship value by understanding what other opportunities exist within your current customer environment.
3. Customer Referrals & Testimonials – This is similar to prospecting but recognized as a warm call based on your customer referring you to a prospective buyer on the basis of their satisfaction in your provider relationship role. Whether you’re referred to your customer’s customers or their suppliers/providers, it is ALWAYS a powerful testimonial to have your customer open the door for you on the basis of their satisfaction with your products/services.
Customer testimonials, like a referral, are awesome proof statements demonstrating how you have earned the trust and satisfaction of existing customers. Testimonials build confidence by reducing perceived risk in the minds of potential buyers.
4. Networking – Likely, this is intuitive to you already. Conversations leading to connections with others develop direct and indirect (referral) links to your next business development opportunity. If you have not adopted proactive networking into your business development scheme, try it. This is a really good way to find potential new customers through cooperation and collaboration with other networking sellers, buyers and connectors. Help them, help you! Many networking clubs exist with the express purpose of sharing business development target leads and opportunities.
5. Professional Associations – Link your “sweet spot” value proposition to organizations with like-minded members who have common interests, roles and (likely!) needs. LinkedIn Groups are a great place to identify potential decision-makers and influencers. Find the common LinkedIn first level connection who can refer you to group member/s. This approach “warms” the initial approach leading to the conversation/appointment setting process.
6. Marketing – Advertising, web presence and social media should all be integral parts of your marketing initiatives. Do you have a formal budget to create visibility for your product or service? While advertising alone will not fill your business development funnel, it will stimulate interest in some portion of the market for needs you can satisfy. Web presence is also imperative. Visibility through a strong web presence will help you/your firm get discovered from those engaged in virtual commerce. Furthermore, being present on social media is key. Start the conversation and participate in the discussion. Visibility helps bring questions, interest in your opinions, and requests for recommendations your way.
7. Professionalism – While this recommendation represents a characteristic rather than “finding a new customer” process, its significance permeates the buying decision process. Who earns your business? Sure, we all love a deal, don’t want to spend more than we have to, and have our favorite brand allegiance and time-tested preferences. However, known, trustworthy relationships that focus on meeting buyer needs inspire confidence behind buying decisions, ranking professionalism as the priority attribute in finding new customers. Professionalism is inspirational, professionalism is memorable, professionalism is authentic, professionalism is key in business development, professionalism is always in demand, and professionalism is constant and never goes out of style!
— The Columbus Chamber of Commerce provides access to the connections, resources and solutions you need to help start and grow your business. Learn more about the Chamber at columbus.org. —