Over the last 35 columns, I’ve spent a lot of time making note of good business practices and bad. While quite a lot of the things we’ve discussed are about the perhaps misguided things that businesses do, there’s always a lesson for the smart business owner who is paying attention.
Now, it’s time to start fixing things. Your things.
This seven part series is about making real, substantive steps to improving your business in seven weeks. Really. It doesn’t matter whether you are a butcher, baker or candlestick maker (or perhaps an attorney, insurance salesperson, or Realtor), these things will get you going in the right direction but they will not do a darned thing unless you read this stuff, pitch the paper aside and start actually making changes.
As I warned you last week, please don’t pitch your laptop aside if you’re reading this online.
Our strategy for week two: Get a lot closer to your existing clients
So many businesses seem to spend all their time trying to get new clients, yet they fail to spend any time finding new products or services to sell to people or businesses who ALREADY like doing business with them. Some businesses are actually “shy” about approaching existing clients to see if they can help them with other problems or needs they have. Is that nuts or what?
Don’t believe me? How many businesses that you buy from have gone out of their way to see what else they can do to help your family or business life get even better after they sold you the first product or service. I’m guessing “Not many”.
When I ask businesses which challenge they want me to help them with first, close to 97% of them say “Get us more new clients”. Given that “get us more new clients” is 1 of the 3 fundamental ways to grow your business, it’s obviously important, but there is something else we can do that is a lot easier and usually is cheaper and faster.
Before we pursue a program to get new clients, I first ask a business owner about their existing clients. One of the first questions I ask a business owner is to describe their ideal client to me. For example, a carpet cleaner might say “a family with kids”. I’d hope for lots more specific info than that, but that’s a start.
Some businesses can go into more depth about who their ideal client is, but most have to be prompted about it. That’s ok. I ask this question for this reason: I want them to think about their clients and what they need, but more importantly about what they want. We talk about their lifestyles and other aspects of their lives.
I want to know as much as I can about their clients. Why? Because that info is the key to figuring out what else your business can provide to those clients. They already trust you, why wouldn’t you offer additional products and services to help them? Every additional product and service they can depend on you for will strengthen your relationship with them.
Beatle John Lennon used to comment that he was going to “go write a swimming pool”. What he meant was that the Beatles had millions of existing fans (clients) and that he was going to write a new song so that they could sell more records so that he could pay for a new swimming pool. YOU can do the SAME thing (well, maybe not that songwriting part but you know what I mean).
Look carefully at the business of your clients. Look at the things you do for them or sell to them. How can you do more? I guarantee you that there are ways to do more for people who already like doing business with you. LOTS more.
What to do next: Learn more about your customers. Figure out a new product or service to offer to them to help them get what they want or need. Wash, Rinse, Repeat.
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