The hardest part of business is finding new clients. Most of us start out by asking our friends and family. The frequency of inbound calls is influenced by a number of factors and may go through peaks and valleys. Referrals are great and LinkedIn has made this much easier, but at some point you will need to rely on cold calling to grow your database. These are some steps you can use to find potential clients.
Identifying Target Market
Your new clients are likely going to be similar to your existing clients. Narrow it down as much as possible using criteria such as:
- size of company
- title of decision maker
- title of influencer
An example of this would be: a manager in the post-production department of a medium sized marketing firm. Armed with your search parameters, you can begin to look.
Finding the Targets
The first places to look are the easiest to do. Google the industry name and your location and see who pops up. LinkedIn has a great advanced search that may also identify a shared contact for a referral. As a side note, if you are using LinkedIn for this purpose frequently, it is worth upgrading for the additional search refinement. Go old school and pick up the Yellow Pages.
Look for industry message boards or directories, either online or in trade journals. The business section of the newspaper (or their website) may give you some ideas and will help in researching industry trends.
Most industries have associations at the provincial and/or national level. They all have databases that are generally for members only. Many allow service providers to join and have rules regarding marketing to their members (which I agree with incidentally). If not, look for other ways to meet their members such as participating in or sponsoring their conferences, trade shows, or events.
Networking is a great way to find your potential clients. Pick the events you attend based on your target market. While being a member of a Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade is a good option if you are looking to connect with the bigger firms, it is not worth your investment small business is your target.
Research and Composing the Pitch
You’ve compiled a list of leads and events, but before you make the first call you need to do some more research. In person, you have 7 seconds to make a good first impression (great article from Forbes on non-verbal ways to make a positive first impression). What is your lead’s biggest challenge? What is stoping them from being successful or how could they increase their profits? You need to know what separates you from your competition and, more importantly, why that is important to your lead. Blueprint helps companies identify what makes them unique in 7 words or less. While you might not be able to do that, you want to use that mentality to create a concise statement that demonstrates your value to your lead. Once you have that figured out, it’s time to put foot to pavement and ear to phone and start calling through!