One of the questions entrepreneurs most frequently ask me is, ‘How do I get more clients?’ It starts with getting a healthy pipeline of leads. In the mid-90s I joined a company that pioneered executive coaching in the UK – I headed up their marketing. It was one of the highlights of my corporate career, although now I can say that having my own business is the highlight of my career overall. During my time with the company I worked with a coach who consistently generated over £1 million in revenues on an annual basis. She was a hard worker and had tonnes of determination and persistency but like any good coach she wasn’t overly forceful in her sales approach – this won her lots of friends and clients. Below are a few of the tactics that every good entrepreneur should consider using to help build a pipeline of future business.
Network! Yep that simple – if you are really serious about building your pipeline of potential clients then try and attend two networking events a week. Examine the guest list beforehand and aim to have between two and three good conversations that you can follow up on with the intention of turning them into clients at a later stage.
Organise a breakfast briefing or dinner for a small group of people. Make sure the group consists of some of your existing clients and some of your potential clients. Your existing clients will speak well of you; they become your unpaid sales team. However, remember this event is about giving your guests a great experience not you trying to force a sale. Potential clients will see you as a connector and will love you for it.
Ask past and present clients to refer you on to other people, work with a ‘friendly’ client to come up with a campaign to introduce you to their network – maybe it’s a drinks evening or guest blogging on their site. A personal reference speaks volumes but remember this is a two-way street so make sure that you are able to return the favour.
Social networking is a must for any business, it doesn’t matter how big or small you want to be. It’s about having the right connections and taking the opportunity to connect with the world to show people that you have the solution for them – you are doing them a favour by letting them know that you have the answers. If you are not on social networking sites then you are effectively anonymous to your future clients.
Offer to speak at events; when you stand on the stage you are seen as the expert and you can use that opportunity to your advantage. Some business owners give free gifts away at the end of their presentations in exchange for an email address, others get people to sign up for their services. The best speakers I have seen don’t ask for email sign-ups in exchange for free stuff or sales they simply give us an insight into their knowledge and expertise and at the end people are clamouring to get hold of their details. The key is to make your presentation interesting and relevant to the audience.
Smart business owners want their company to grow and if your business is not growing it’s dying. You have to keep progressing, it takes dedication and persistency. You don’t have to burn the midnight oil, you don’t have to be the next Donald Trump, Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey (although you may want to be) but you do have to be the next successful ‘You’! So decide whether you are going to give it your all or sit on the sidelines and watch everyone else do it!
Have a wonderful day everyone. Carole