Build a Never-Ending Stream of New Client Referrals
Expertpreneurs are constantly working on getting more clients. Correctly targeting new clients is a lot like bowling.
If you’ve ever been bowling, then you know that there are 10 pins on the deck, and the one in front is called the “Headpin.” In order to score a strike, you aim for the space just to the right (or left) of the headpin. Bowlers call this the “Pocket.” If you do this correctly, you knock down all the pins at once. Then you enjoy the mathematical advantage of counting the next two frames twice. That’s how it’s possible to score 300 points in just 10 frames.
1. Identify your Headpin Customer
The same is true of your marketing. Once you identify your Headpin Customer, the people most likely to need your expertise or services, then you can target them (and those closest to them) with extreme precision. You also unleash the power of word-of-mouth, as they recommend you to their neighbors, friends and co-workers.
Who are your favorite clients right now? Wouldn’t it be great if you had a lot more, just like them? Who are they? What do they look like? What do they do? How do they do it? What problems do they experience? How could your expertise or service help? Where would you find them? When do they need your product? Find out as much as you can: their age, gender, income, education, hobbies, and community involvement. What problems are they trying to solve? What’s their potential motivation for becoming a client?
With this information, the guerrilla can zero in on those people who have a real and urgent need.
Look for the “Trigger Event”
In the life of every customer, something happens that sets them on the path to purchase:
- You have a flat and soon you’re shopping for new tires.
- Take a new job, you might soon be looking for a new house.
- I booked a series of seminars in Hawaii, so Denise and I signed up for scuba lessons.
Trigger Events happen to all sorts of people, all of the time. The important question to ask is, “what trigger events motivate people to seek out my services.”
Getting New Clients for Guitar Lessons
My friend Rob Candler has taught guitar in Boulder for many years. He’s noticed that most of his students started lessons just after buying their first guitar. So instead of advertising under “Guitar Lessons” or “Music Lessons,” (along with all his competitors) he runs his ad in the “Musical Instruments for Sale – Guitars” section of the classifieds.
For an accountant, Trigger Events might include a prospect starting a new business, opening a storefront, passing $1 million in revenue, or moving to a new location.
2. Do some reconnaissance
Once you have your prospect profiled, you can seek them out on Google, Bing, or Yahoo, searching by industry, job title and geography. Look for them in Facebook and LinkedIn groups.
You can also use Internet tools like LinkedIn to search for people who fit your ideal profile, by name, company, industry, school, job title, geography, or any of dozens of other criteria. Now you’re ready to launch your attack with surgical precision.
3. Use an unusual, creative or unexpected approach.
Linda took a new job as a sales rep for a national temporary help agency in Houston. She decided to target oil refineries because they use a lot of temps, there are a lot of them in Houston, and because they are difficult to call on, surrounded by high fences and barbed wire.
It was the week before Easter, so she goes to the Dollar Store to buy a bag of plastic eggs, the kind that snap together, thinking she’d put her business card inside and hand them out. Then a bag of jellybeans catches her eye. “A-ha, I’ll fill the eggs with jellybeans along with the card. This is fun!” Now she needs a basket, and the green cellophane grass to go with it. Caught up in this idea, she stops at a costume shop, but the only thing they have is the sort of bunny outfit you’d see in a nightclub. She thinks, “I can make this work!”
So the next morning, she pulls her car up next to the guard shack at a local refinery.
“Hi. I’m here to deliver an Easter egg to your Human Resources Manager.”
“Who are you?” asks the guard.
“I’m the Easter Bunny!” she says, incredulously.
“Let me check.” He steps inside and makes a call. “OK, go ahead.”
She walks right in, basket on her arm, hands the HR Manager one of the eggs, says “Happy Easter,” turns and leaves.
This oil company became a major account, and within a year she was the leading Account Manager in the country.
4. Ask a lot of questions
We’re often so eager to share the good news about our business that we forget to build trust and confidence. Ask LOTS of questions. What are they using now? How much are they paying for it? What do they like most about it? What do they like least about it? Why would they want to change? And how can you help? In next month’s issue, we’ll cover The 37 Magic Selling Questions.
5. Ask for Referrals
It helps if people refer you to their friends, associates and family members. This puts you and your prospect on a common ground from the get-go. Network with bankers, lawyers, real estate agents, and other professionals who serve the same constituency of clients as you. A prospect is five times as likely to do business with you if you’ve been referred to them by a trusted advisor, so ask for, and reciprocate referrals.
3 x 3 x 6
My friend Jordan Oliver runs a landscape business called Garden Art. He tries to concentrate his work in a particular neighborhood, because traveling between jobs eats up profits. Whenever he starts installing a project, he visits each house three doors to the left, three doors to the right, and the six houses across the street.
He explains to each neighbor, “We’re doing some landscaping over here at the Hamilton’s, and I was wondering if you could help us out. For the next few days we’re going to have a lot of material and equipment on the site. Would you be a good neighbor and just help us keep an eye on things?”
Of course they agree.
“And while we’re in the neighborhood, I’d be happy to work up an estimate for any work you might need. Here’s our brochure.”
Who Else Do You Know. . .
You can help your clients suggest referrals by asking this simple question: “Who else do you know who…?” The variations run something like
- “Who else do you know who was recently promoted?”
- “Who else do you know who just had a baby?”
- “Who else do you know who just moved into town?”
Likewise, people who do not have a need today may develop one later. You should touch base with every past and current customer at least quarterly, whether they buy or not. Maintain the bond. Talk about their favorite ball team, or how the kids are doing in school, or how the new location of their restaurant is working out. Most important, make the calls personal rather than strictly talking business. If you maintain the person-to-person relationship, the business relationship will take care of itself.