It is impossible to focus on your clients if you don’t have a tool to manage your relationships. Keep track of your clients, prospects, and sales with the help of a simple CRM like Base.
Companies can’t grow without a steady stream of new clients. Sometimes, however, the push to entice new clients leads the company’s focus on its existing clients to dwindle. Other times, attempts to make sure existing clients aren’t shoved aside mean the company isn’t doing its best to develop a steady stream of new clients. The key is to find a balance between doing what’s necessary to gain new clients and ensuring current clients are happy.
Let your old clients find your new ones
The hardest thing for a new business is snagging its first few clients. If no one’s ever heard of your brand, the credibility gap can be daunting. I had to rely on strong referrals and relationships to bridge the gap, and once I’d secured their business, the loyalty I felt for them was fierce. I was – and am – predisposed to support them first, and that’s okay. You can’t take your first clients for granted. You want to continue to earn their support and referrals.
In finding new business, there’s no better place to look than referrals from your current clients. If they’re receiving the best possible product or service, they’re much more likely to refer you to their colleagues, and vice versa. This is your best source for new business, so no matter how you find your balance, err on the side of your existing clients.
Grow your business through referrals
Your clients need to know that you keep current on industry trends, risks, and best practices, and that you implement continuous improvement that keeps you competitive. I put out a scheduled business review, like an investment portfolio update, regularly. We assemble the business intelligence and present it in a way that leads to improvements in service and cost.
By showing your clients that you not only care about your business, but also care about supplying them with the best product and service possible, your clients are much more likely to give you stunning referrals that will bring in new business. When potential new clients are at your table, you’ll have a strong presentation to draw them in – and they’re already predisposed to see you favorably.
Push for new business
There’s no absolute time when a startup should make a huge push for new business. You need to have a business plan, but make sure it’s flexible and changeable should unforeseen circumstances occur. I think of it as four phases:
- Establish the basic people, processes, and technology you need, based on current market research. You don’t have to have top-of-the-line equipment or a staff of hundreds of the most qualified candidates; you just need to make sure you have what you need to operate effectively.
- Find clients who fit well within your basic capability. Clients who need more than you can offer won’t be willing to work with you, and that’s okay. You don’t need to be able to provide the world right away. Instead, bring in clients who require what you can provide, win the deal, and make sure you give excellent service.
- Take a very critical look at your service and costs against the market. Have frank discussions with your current clients, and develop the capabilities you need to compete. Experiment openly and at no cost to your current clientele.
- Go big, and your current clients will be thrilled to tell others about how you brought value after the sale. While new clients will require advancements and, potentially, more attention as you grow, make sure you never lose sight of those clients who’ve been with you from the beginning – even if they have no use for that multi-million-dollar piece of equipment you just installed and are itching to try out.
Finding the “sweet spot”
New entrepreneurs often struggle to find the right balance between developing business and maintaining client relationships. If you’re having trouble, bring your team together and try a whiteboard exercise:
- Write down your sales goal for the year. How many deals do you need to make that number? How many leads do you need to close that many deals?
- Ask where those leads are coming from. These sources should make up about three to five groups. Client referrals should be at, or very close to, the top.
- Plan your effort, and budget your resources around pursuing those clients. Look at your calendar at the end of each week and make sure your time was spent where you planned.
By making your current clients a vital part of your business’s growth, you’ll be able to entice new clients to your table while continuing to provide the best service possible for the ones you already have. Treat your old clients well, and they’ll have their colleagues lining up to sign on the dotted line.