How to Find and Keep Great Clients
It’s a widely-held belief that most businesses receive 80 percent of their sales from around 20 percent of their customers. This rule, also known as the Pareto Principle, helps you focus on the people and resources that are driving most of your growth. Can you think of a few top clients that are contributing to most of your sales? Conversely, can you think of a large group of customers that will only amount to small purchases? That’s the Pareto principle in action. Put simply, it is a smart business practice to devote more time and energy to opportunities that will yield better results.
Now, don’t get me wrong: finding and keeping great clients is not just about science. Tendencies like the 80/20 rule only make up a part of the puzzle. There’s an art to acquiring and maintaining the right type of client for your business that goes beyond numbers and predictions. Holding on to stellar customers will involve some serious people skills. Ready to figure out what those are? Read on.
1. Define Your Ideal Customer
If you aren’t clear about what it is that you want in customers, it will be harder to draw them in. Take an hour or so to brainstorm a list of descriptors for your ideal clients. What is their age range, average income, type of business and personality style? What do they order and how often? Be as specific and clear as you can. If you want to take it a step further, find specific images that portray the type of customer that you’re looking for. Once you’ve identified him/her visually, put together a summary of his profile. Know who you want to work with, visualize it vividly and allow the way you do business to support finding them.
2. Make Client Empowerment a Part of Your Brand
Empowered clients are more likely to be low-maintenance, high-profit clients. This step is about setting your focus and allowing it to weave itself into your brand ethos. Decide from the outset – or make a change now – that your brand will connect with these ideal, low-maintenance, high-profit customers.
Make sure that the language in your business name, logo, slogan, marketing, website and in all social media channels reflects your ideal customer intention and appeals to those you want to work with the most. Engage respectfully on social media and feature testimonials from ideal clients prominently on your website and in other marketing pieces.
Ask for direct client feedback as well as general feedback on social channels. All of these steps send the message that you want a true partnership with your clients, instead of a co-dependent, hand-holding situation. Highlight the type of clients that you want more of, and more are likely to hear your call.
3. Be Awesome
One of the top ways to have clients clamoring to work with you is by consistently delivering your very best work. Any efforts toward finding great clients should still remain secondary to your primary business focus: being the very best at what you do, specializing and finding your company’s niche and meeting those needs better than your competitors. While the hope is for client relationships that are easy and effortless, your level of customer service should still be outstanding when called upon.
4. Listen – Truly Listen
Cultivate a genuine sense of empathy for your clients; get to know them and act from that place in your business mission statement where what you do is more of a calling than a job. In other words, show clients that your heart is in what you do, and that you genuinely care about meeting their needs. Combining this ethos with cultivating client empowerment (from step 2) is powerful, and you’ll quickly notice the difference in your business environment and bottom line.
5. Make It Fun
Contrary to what some business schools would have you believe, business doesn’t have to be dry and boring. Find that perfect blend of professionalism and a spirit of fun. Send out irreverent tweets and videos every Friday; post a humor section in your newsletters. Encourage sales reps to share fun personal stories during meetings to help deepen their relationships. People will often remember little about exchanges, but they will always remember how you made them feel. Create a brand and business environment that makes customers feel amazing, and they’ll be loyal for life.
Client Retention is Critical
Whether you’re a sole proprietor or have hundreds of employees, the retention of good clients is key to success. In many cases, dream clients are the ones who do their own homework, get up to speed quickly and repeat their orders regularly. If they also speak highly about you and send referrals your way, that’s an added bonus.
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