How do you hunt down new clients? Do you post ads and hope they come knocking, or do you seek them out and tell them about how much better off they would be if they used your service? Either way, it’s important to be able to identify a business opportunity when it presents itself, and to give your business the best chance to take advantage of those opportunities when they appear.
Overconfidence Can Crush You
One of the most important things when talking with potential clients is to never make assumptions about what will happen. Things can fall through, clients can decide to delay projects, anything can happen to make a deal that you thought was a sure thing turn out not to be. And that happens in business, it’s something that every company, big or small, has to face.
When you’re making assumptions, you’re making day to day decisions on those assumptions, and that’s not good for your business. Say you assume a large deal that you’ve been closing will go through, and you stop pursuing other smaller deals as a result. If the large deal doesn’t work out, you’re stuck without any other leads to follow up on and your business could take a substantial hit as a result. If you had assumed nothing, then you would have kept following up with other leads and even if the bigger deal fell through, you’d still have other options. Until the contract is signed by both parties, you should never trust anything you’ve been told and you should always be working on getting to the finish line with the potential client.
To keep yourself from counting your chickens before they’re hatched, you should focus on the pipeline instead of the end goal. If you focus on keeping potential customers headed through the pipeline where they end up as customers, and keeping more and more potential clients lined up behind them, you’ll have a solid base of potential customers to fall back on if a larger deal doesn’t work out. Since there is always a delay between the beginning of the negotiation process and the final contract being signed, you’ll want to be working through that process with as many people as you can find.
Whales, Sharks & Fishes
Another way to keep potential clients moving through your pipeline and headed towards becoming customers is to vary your target. Some businesses only go after the largest potential clients and don’t bother with smaller fish. This is a mistake, because it not only focuses a lot of energy on you closing one or two deals, but it is a lot more energy expended for the larger deals.
Only hunting for whales means that you’ll be focused on a small number of potential clients that are a much higher dollar value per capita. The smaller clients that you would be potentially going after, however, are going to require a lot less time and effort to sell them on your business and the question becomes ‘why not both?’. Why not go after a larger client while also targeting the smaller clients? Since the smaller clients take less effort and less time to close, you could start both at the same time and close with the smaller client much earlier, so you’d have a smaller stream of revenue coming in before you closed with the larger client.
If you’re only focused on the largest clients you set yourself up so if two or three deals fall through in a row, it could severely impact the bottom line for the company even if nothing about the deals falling through was anyone’s fault. Having some medium and smaller potential clients lined up lets you have the peace of mind that no matter what, you’ll have some revenue coming in and your business can handle a deal or two falling through. Since the sales process is so different with the different size companies, it also gives you more variance in terms of getting negotiation experience and more information about how to close larger companies vs smaller companies.
When people come to you and say “we want to do business with you” it means that they believe it would be a good partnership and would like to start negotiations to work together. When people tell you that it means they see potential. It isn’t a done deal, and it will still require work to get from a starting place of both wanting to work together to a signed contract. Don’t be complacent, and keep making new connections, hooking new potential clients, and growing your business.
Using Content and SEO to drive new traffic
To drive new potential clients into your pipeline and to get the attention of people in your target industry, one of the major ways to improve your visibility is SEO optimization and content generation.
If you were to do a search right now for your niche in your industry, would you be one of the top three results? If not, why? Is your competition just better than you in every way? Of course they aren’t, they’re just the top search results. They were the first people to post anything about your industry, or they had great SEO management five years ago and nobody has challenged them for the top spot. Being first means they’re much more likely to be seen by people looking for someone to do what you do. The way to combat this is to work on your SEO (search engine optimization) to make sure that you’re showing as a business that is a leader in your industry. You’re a leader in your field, and your company deserves to be treated as such, and if you can show Google that you should be ranked higher, you will be displayed higher in the ranks.
Do you know what the SEO for your website looks like? When was the last time your website was updated? How often are you posting new content? The answers to these questions are what helps Google determine where you’re placed in the search results, and they are things you can improve with very little work.
If you don’t know SEO, find someone that does. A lot of people do freelance SEO work, or you can hire a marketing firm (like us!) that would be able to come in and do a total overhaul of your website’s SEO to ensure it is optimized with the best keywords. We specialize in marketing for manufacturers, so we are able to pin down what keywords and what industries are the most important for the companies we work with.
Once you’ve got your SEO refreshed, you have to start posting content. Yes, really. The algorithms Google and other search engines use to determine the top results is partly based on how much and how often new content is posted. You (or someone else that works at your company) probably already reads news articles and industry publications related to your company, so you’ve got a good handle on the current topics in the industry. If you set up your website to post relevant news articles once or twice a week, you get a huge bump up in the rankings.
Your company is a leader in your industry, and you’re up to date on current happenings in the sphere you do business in. If you’re posting regularly and have your SEO optimized, you should jump way up in the search results when people search for your industry. You’re basically telling Google that you’re a content creator in your field, you’re a company that is putting a lot of work into being noticed, and that you deserve the top spot. In the manufacturing industry specifically, there isn’t nearly as much work being put into SEO and marketing as in many other fields, so it’s very easy to make a big leap in the rankings.
Constantly producing content in the field and monitoring your SEO is one of the best ways to keep your business relevant, and to keep driving people to your business. After you figure out how to get the top search result spot and stay there, then you need to focus on making new connections and driving potential clients into your pipeline.