Do you need new clients, or do you need to get more from your existing clients?
It’s a strange question to ask from someone who runs a business helping people to look for new clients!
The reason I ask is, most people we speak to want to improve their business development. That makes perfect sense, growth and development are good for businesses. The hard part is, new clients, might be a good strategy to pursue. How about looking more closely at your existing clients? What opportunities do you have with them first?
It’s too easy to make the assumption that there is no new opportunity with your existing clients. It has certainly caught me out on more than one occasion.
The one time that I got this really wrong is this one:
A little while ago I was really pleased to be speaking at one of our client’s conferences about business development. I mentioned to them that if they needed any other speakers or topics for the conference then to please ask us. We do this as we can usually recommend great speakers and save them time and effort searching.
My client called me one day and asked for help on the topic of social media for business development. More specifically on the topic of LinkedIn for business development, and ideally, they wanted an author. That’s me! I thought – great, two opportunities at one conference makes it a fabulous day. Then my client asked me – do you know anyone? I realised at that moment that I hadn’t clearly communicated one of our key offerings (using LinkedIn for business development) and the book I published 8 years ago. My assumption was they would know this. That was my big mistake.
It was a strange conversation because initially my client wouldn’t quite believe that I had written a book on that specific subject. I found myself having to explain that I had in fact written a book on this very subject. I can recall saying “I remembered the whole process of writing the book because I was there for all of it, and it was really quite a challenge!”
It was a Friday afternoon and I remember having to rush to the post office to put a copy of the book in the post. She texted me on Saturday morning to say “Hey you did write a book on LinkedIn!” (That was very handy of her in case I had forgotten from the previous day.)
In the end, I delivered two speaking slots at their conference the first on business development and the second on using LinkedIn to find new clients.
It taught me an invaluable lesson:
It’s not your client’s job to know what you offer.
Don’t ever assume that your clients fully understand the range of services and products that you offer. Take some time to explain, explain again and make sure you keep them up to date regularly. Tell them what you offer, how you help and how you might benefit them. It’s easy to miss opportunities to keep them up to date. It can help keep you at the forefront of their mind, both for their own organisations and their network (for introductions).
One simple way to identify any gaps in your thinking or understanding is to complete a client services matrix. To do this, simply sit down and map out all of your products and services against all of your existing clients. Put a tick in every product or service they currently take and look for the gaps. These gaps are your opportunity to have a new conversation with your clients, or an opportunity to market to and engage these clients in a dialogue about their specific needs.
The really nice thing about doing this is you are engaging people and businesses who already know you and trust you enough to do business with. There is a relationship that can be developed and enhanced. It means it’s not a cold start with a potential client who doesn’t know you. This can make your life so much easier (no getting on the supplier list or being set up as a new provider of services). It can really help you and your clients build that longer-term trusting relationship. That is a win/win for everyone.
My story about missing an opportunity is one I hear repeated regularly with businesses and individuals we work with.
They all have their own version of missing opportunities with their existing clients.
So yes, you can chase new clients, this is a great thing to do.
But first, wouldn’t it make sense to help, serve and support all of your existing clients with everything you can do for them? That’s a great place to start in growing your sales, revenues and income.