Dear Preston: I Am Running Out of Clients
May 12, 2015
I am a planner who has been in the business for twelve years. I have always had a steady stream of repeat clients, but the reality is that they only have so many events in a lifetime. The bottom line: I need to get new clients and it is proving more difficult than I expected. Do you have any tips?
I appreciate your email so much because it is such an important topic that people at every level can relate to. While there are never any guarantees in this business (or any other), I do believe there are five skills that will always benefit a business owner. Here they are:
Identify Your Brand: Have you ever sat across from a salesperson who jumps from one idea to another, changing their viewpoint or “talking out of both sides of their mouths” so to speak? When you don’t know who you are (or know but don’t hold true to your values as a person or a brand) it shows and you lose credibility. Clients want to align themselves with people they can trust and who share their vision, so know what yours is, what you can offer them that no one else can and what you will and won’t compromise on. Know exactly what you are selling, why you are selling it, what objections they might have and how to overcome them. You should know your brand like the back of your hand and be able to speak about it confidently, passionately and honestly.
Have a Strategy: It’s one thing to want new clients, but casting a wide net and thinking “anyone will do” is not going to be useful. Really sit down and think of who you want to reach, how you will reach them and what you will present to them when you make contact. Don’t ignore your current client base. I have said many times that it is essential to stay in contact with your clients with the goal of building relationships. The referrals will come organically.
Communicate Clearly: Listen to your clients, share information in a clear, concise and transparent way and follow-up to ensure that all questions have been answered. Summarize after every exchange and make sure clients, vendors and staff members are all clear on next steps and end dates.
Never Underestimate The Value of Human Interaction: I insist that all of my staff members answer a ringing phone and I have been known to answer it myself. Each and every person who calls my design house is to be treated like a VIP, and if we cannot help them directly, we always try and find a resource to have them leaving us with more information in which they came. We are in an emotional business and leaving a potential client to wander through an automated system will only frustrate them and hurt your bottom line.
Finally, Make It a Team Effort: How many people do you have on staff? Every single person in your organization is a potential salesperson. Not only should you ask for their feedback and create a space where brainstorming and sharing is encouraged, involving them in the overall vision and making it “fun” will get them passionate about growing the company.
What are you best new client strategies for this planner?