Category Archives: prospecting

Etiquette Is A Simple Balance Of ‘Give’ And ‘Take’…”First Converse, Then Commerce”

When was the last time you attended a networking event and you were approached by a person who was more interested in pitching his product or services with little regard of who you were and what you did?   Most likely the last networking event you attended.

Dictionary defines etiquette as conduct or procedure required by good breeding or prescribed by authority in social or official life. With this definition as a guiding principle, etiquette is even more important in a networking situation than in others because most who are in the “taking” end do not even realize that their behaviors and even attitudes are making it hard for those at the “giving” end to be gracious about being considerate.

Why?

Etiquettes are the lubrication that makes things move smoothly. Ignoring them can create unnecessary friction and hurt. Practicing the right etiquette will not only get what you want, it will also help you position yourself in a differentiated way in the eyes of those who are at the “giving” end!

Ways To Win New Clients

Many small businesses ring in the new year by taking a fresh approach to winning new clients. Whether you plan to reinvent your company or just attract an untapped demographic, there are a few ways to achieve your goals.

First, you must identify your ideal customer.  Do you know your target?  What do they do? What do they value?

After pinpointing your audience, reposition your message to gain those customers. Work your connections, but keep in mind, it’s tougher than ever to land deals.  These days, your potential clients might be hurting or short of funding, says Mike Silverman, managing partner of engineering-services firm Ops A La Carte LLC in Santa Clara, Calif. “If you’re fairly new at this, you really have to not be afraid of rejection,” Mr. Silverman says. “You can’t give up. There is light at the end of the tunnel.”

Here are three best ways to win new clients.

1. Go where the growth is. Silverman says he attended trade shows for a few core industries that were doing well (medical, oil and gas, green technology, defense and space), and concentrated on specific geographic regions including the San Francisco Bay area and southern California. This helped the firm not be spread too thin, Mr. Silverman said. More than half of 2009’s revenue came from these specific industries, he says.

At Homestead Resort, in Midway, Utah, general manager Britt Mathwich says the hotel made a quick shift away from the corporate and training market to families, after seeing a slump in business travel. The resort picked up more business by attending home-decorating and bridal shows, he says.

Walt Maclay, president of engineering-consulting firm Voler Systems, a division of Strawberry Tree Inc. in Sunnyvale, Calif., says he attended a medical trade show in 2009 for the first time in several years, because the medical device industry is stable. “People still get sick, even in a recession,” Mr. Maclay says.

2. Ally with other businesses. Maclay also is partnering with companies that provide similar or complementary services to pick up new clients. For instance, he’s now working on two projects that combine Voler’s electrical-engineering expertise with the other firm’s mechanical-engineering specialty. Other businesses are temporarily re-assigning employees. Law firm Schiff Hardin LLP, has taken the strategy of secondment, or “lending” lawyers to companies for positions such as general counsel, says Ronald Safer, managing partner in Chicago. The partnership can help a business that may be a potential future client, and allow Schiff Hardin’s lawyers to learn that business intimately.

3. Use online tools. Reach out to others by maintaining a blog or a Facebook page with useful, educational content. Social-networking tools are also places to post promotions. Mr. Maclay says he gained new clients by posting the company’s resume on Craigslist. Marie Danielle Vil-Young, owner of event-planning company À Votre Service Events LLC, says she is redesigning her Web site to attract a specific audience—young, professional brides—by changing the site’s colors to black, hot pink and white. Ms. Vil-Young said social-networking is important; her intern’s sole responsibility is to research and write for the company’s blog.

Looking For New Business? Call Your Existing Clients!

Your current client base is your most valuable asset. Having purchased products or stayed at your property, your clients know have a pretty good idea what you have to offer.  Holding on to these clients is so much easier than finding new ones because you already know their purchasing habits and there is something about your product or service that they like!

How can you get more business from past clients?  There is but one simple answer:  BY CALLING THEM.  This is obviously basic, but 90% of sales people do not do it! Instead, they wait for the phone to ring (that’s why they’re called “order takers”).  So it bears repeating: Call on your past clients!

In today’s busy world, the need to visit clients in person has lessened, although it is advisable to have face to face time with your VIP clients whenever possible.  However, if you want to retain any client, you have to pick up the phone and call them periodically. If you don’t call them, you can be sure your competition will.