By Charlie Cook
If you are like most service professionals and small business owners one of your primary concerns is generating as many leads as possible. And that may be your biggest mistake, resulting in wasting time on unqualified prospects and working with too many clients you wish you didn't have to.
Bill is a financial advisor looking for clients. Working from his stack of leads he picks up the phone and starts making calls. The first person he gets on the phone has lots of questions and it turns out is just looking for free advice. After a half hour Bill finally gets him off the phone. Bill's next call finds a highly interested prospect. After forty-five minutes, he's ready to sign her up, when he discovers she only has a couple of hundred dollars to invest.
At the end of the day, Bill has spent eight hours on the phone and still hasn't signed up any new clients.
Do you ever spend time chasing leads that are just a waste of time?
Martha is a graphic designer who has plenty of clients but her profits have been shrinking instead of growing lately. One of her long-term clients calls her daily with a question or a complaint. Just when Martha thinks a project is done, this one client changes her mind and wants it redone. And while the customer is always right, this customer's lack of respect and professionalism is starting to get under Martha's skin.
Have you ever had to deal with clients who waste your time or are unrealistic in their demands?
A common mistake is to try to appeal to everyone, with the result that you attract too many people who don't want to pay for your services and clients you'd rather not work with. A more profitable marketing strategy is to position yourself and your firm to attract just those clients that want to work with you and who you'd enjoy sharing your expertise.
Imagine that every lead you pursued turned into a client, one who you could be honest and direct with, a client who you looked forward to working with. You'd make more money and have more fun.
Wouldn't it be nice if you could pick and choose your clients?
While you can't completely control who contacts you, you can use your marketing to position yourself to attract promising prospects and people who would make good clients. Here's how.
Define Your Ideal Client
If you want to attract the perfect client, you need to know who they are. Take out a piece of paper and write a couple of paragraphs describing their characteristics.
- What business is your ideal client in?
- What is their role in the organization?
- Where are they located?
- What type of person are they?
- What is their situation?
- What are the problems they want solved?
- What are other characteristics that are important to you?
Use Your Marketing Message
People are far more likely to contact you when they have a clear idea of who you help and how. Increase the number of qualified prospects who contact you with an effective marketing message and you'll reduce the number of "tire kickers" who waste your time.
Write and distribute an article and/or provide it on your web site, to help people understand your approach, who you help and how you can help them. Prospects who like and agree with your thinking will want to contact you and work with you.
Use Questions to Qualify Prospects
You can't be everything to everybody and it's a waste of time to try. Create a short list of questions to qualify prospects. Use these questions when you call them on the phone and in the service inquiry forms you provide on your web site. If prospects don't meet your criteria, you can keep them on your mailing list, but avoid wasting your time by calling them.
If you've called one of them and they don't seem like a good prospect, get off the phone in 3 minutes or less and move on to a more promising prospect.
It is tempting to want to sign up every prospect that wants to work with you. This is particularly true when you are just starting up your business or when business is slow. But before you close a deal or sign an agreement, make sure they clearly understand what you will do and when. You don't want them emailing you every five minutes or expecting you'll answer their phone calls at two in the morning or provide additional services for free.
Make a short list of questions to ask that will help clients define what they are looking for. When you talk with clients use these questions to clarify their expectations. If you can meet these requests, use their answers to provide a summary of services. That way you will both be working from the same script.
Get Rid of Problem Clients
With only a limited number of hours a day and years in your life, you'll be happier and more profitable if you focus your marketing on clients that understand and appreciate your expertise. They'll be far more likely to return and refer you to others. If you have clients who are unpleasant to work with or are taking up too much of your time, find a way to tactfully get them to look elsewhere.
Use these marketing strategies to position your firm to attract the prospects you want so you can pick and choose your clients. You'll have more fun, increase your profits and be more successful.
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