As business owners we spend a lot of time thinking about how to woo, attract and then dazzle our prospective clients. Convincing decision-makers that we are results oriented, go-getters that will get the job done (because we are passionate about what we do)! But how often do we think about if these prospective clients are the right match for us? Most of the time when you start your own business you’re just thrilled to get a client to hire you, not on if they’re your dream client. But once you’ve started to help clients see the value of what you can offer on a regular basis (yay!) it’s time to start aiming higher.
Now that your business is maturing and experiencing growth it should become apparent that you “fit” better with certain clients. You know that feeling – when there is a synergy, an almost crackling energy as you connect; they understand your approach and together you help make each others business better. Having great clients is one of the best parts of being an entrepreneur. So, instead of thinking that those clients are not the norm, we need to change our expectations and maybe change our approach. Here are a few ways you can actively choose your ideal clients:
- Reflect and repeat After you have a great meeting with a prospective or existing client, sit down and brainstorm what made it great. Was it a common background? Did they have a dynamic communication style? What is the type of service they offered? Or were they simply passionate about what they do? When you can successfully identify why their was such a great connection between the two of you, then you can seek out and recognize those qualities in the next prospective client you meet.
- Listen to their story When you meet with a prospective client a lot of time is spent talking about impersonal things like product analysis and logistics. You can find out so much more by asking deeper questions that have nothing to do with projections or revenue stream. Ask things like: What motivated them to start their business? What gets them excited about what they do? Are the services they offer, what they imagined they would be? By asking open-ended questions you learn their story, see their business personality and see if you are a good match for the services they offer. Their will plenty of time to talk about nuts and bolts later.
- Don’t assume Sometimes when we make a new business connection we assume that they are to big to work with. Maybe they have been successful for a long time and we think they won’t ever need our services. Or we assume they already work with someone who does what we do. As soon as you make these assumptions your counting yourself out before they ever do. If you don’t believe that they need your services then you’re short changing yourself and potentially their business too. Get outside your comfort zone, talk about what you can do and put those assumptions to rest.
- Client introductions based on common ground The clients that you really hit it off with usually do business with people like themselves. Ask your clients not just for a general referral, but for the specific traits you want in a client. Tell them you want to work with people who “get it” just like they do and then offer to do the same thing for them.
- Form a business alliance One of the best ways to make sure you get the clients that “get” you is to form a business alliance with other like minded business people. If you align yourself with people that offer complimentary services or products then you can refer your best clients to them and vice-versa. This alliance strategy works best when you truly understand the other members business practices and style. This doesn’t work if you refer your clients to a business you wouldn’t happily utilize yourself.