Getting more clients for your business is an activity no business can ignore. Customers are the lifeblood of any organisation and must be attracted and satisfied to generate revenues. In this article we will cover some major points to get your new business strategy moving in the right direction.
The importance of sales and revenue generation
Why do many businesses fail in the first 18 months? One of the most prominent reasons is down to a failure to establish a good cash flow.
Companies often expect business to simply come to them on the back of a website, a few conversations or a basic brand. An effective sales and marketing plan is key to ensuring you have the right kind of money coming into the business. Some of the potentially weak points include:
- Over reliance on 1 or 2 big clients – by working with only a couple of organisations you can be incredibly vulnerable if one of these companies takes their service in house or finds an alternative supplier.
- Lack of clear value proposition – what do you do differently from the competition to improve the industry and avoid the pitfalls of others? Work out why your customers use you above the rest of the pack and put this front and centre of your marketing.
- Make a plan – understand what you are going to do going forward. Many new business experts make a 50/30/20 strategy where they divide their time in the respective percentages to ensure that they are diversifying across several areas.
Finding new business
There are many recognised ways to get new clients, ranging from the tried and trusted through to the more avant-garde that have arisen in tandem with the internet. Some that are proven winners include:
- Cold calling – there is not a week that goes by where some business expert declares cold calling to be a thing of the past. The truth is that many people are reticent when it comes to picking up the phone, but there’s no better way to make direct contact with a business authority you believe you can help.
Tip: Make a list of all the prospects you want to call and keep regular notes on progress so far that you are never lost for conversation and you don’t forget vital information.
- Social media – many people are good at the media part of social media, when it comes to adding their own content and link sharing. The social part however is perhaps more important. By sharing others’ articles, adding constructive comments and direct messaging, you show up to a new audience of followers, rather than expecting potential customers to stumble over your place on the portal.
Tip: Find out the key influencers and big players in your industry and on the periphery and make connections with them, so that they can share your content.
- PPC – one discipline that has certainly been on the rise in recent times is PPC or pay-per-click advertising. This is where you can bid on certain keywords on sites like Facebook and Google to achieve prominence. Whilst you do have to do quite a bit of forecasting with your sums to make sure your cost-per-click allows you to make a healthy margin, this can be more predictable than SEO activities.
Tip: Use a spread of keywords across different areas and be prepared to run tests at a significant level. There is no point turning off campaigns after 20-30 clicks. You will often need to run 300+ tests especially if you are selling high ticket value items.
- Networking – get out there and speak to people in your local area. Networking is about connections and even though you might not think anyone in the room is right for your business, you never know who people might have as contacts. Keep it light and make an effort to focus on others rather than what you’re going to say.
Tip: Try out many different types of networking event but be aware. Whilst there will be many networking groups that are concentrated on your own sector these are generally more about skill sharing than finding new business.
- Tenders – find out local tenders in the public and private sectors, and by checking that your offering meets the company profile, you can put yourself in the frame for these often lucrative contracts.
Tip: Read our article on how to find the suitable tender opportunities for your business and how to win contracts. Additionally consider how ISO 9001 and UKAS accreditation could put you streets ahead of your rivals in this situation.
Mindset and Mentality
Without question, one of the most vitally important criteria for new business success is a degree of tenacity and a never say die attitude. Remember that you are in a competitive business and there will be other organisations and individuals equally vying for deals and contracts.
One of the truisms is that 70% of your potential audience want to buy from you – but only around 3% want to buy now. Qualify prospects and ascertain their project timescales allowing you to reconnect with them at the right time.
It is equally important to not have an attitude where the potential buyer is doing you a favour for showing interest in your product or service. Your offering has an intrinsic value that could save a client money, improve ROI or reduce timescales. With the correct research you should be able to assess the difference you can make to an end user, allowing you to become more confident in your communication style.
Finding more clients is not about hard and fast rules. What works for your competitor may not work for you – for instance if they are great at PPC and blogging and you’re simply not that organised, perhaps getting out there and rubbing shoulders at networking could be your route to the money.
It is therefore vital to track your activities, timescales and returns so you can best identify the processes and arenas that are suitable for your style and personality and double down in these areas for continued, efficient success.
Shirley Mansfield is a Master Problem Solver and Author of The Grown-Up Business book.
Follow Shirley on Twitter for her top business tips.
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