So you're a good firm. Your business offers a good service to other companies. Now you're looking for some great clients to boost your revenue and push your business to the next level. But finding great clients isn't easy. They can often land on your doorstep, leaving you wondering how to replicate that triumph on a regular basis. So are there ways to get better clients? And how do you find more clients for less money and effort?
An analytical approach
Many businesses try to identify how their better clients found them and which channels generally lead to enquiries. Firms do this hoping they can learn something from their success that will help them get more clients. Modern day, many enquiries will go through your firm's website. However, how someone arrived at your website is the more important question, and why they decided to contact you, more important still. Going beyond a simple diagnosis and analysing what you do well, then simply doing more of it, can be a great strategy. Even if you already do this subconsciously, by taking an analytical approach, actively recording data and making data driven decisions, you can improve how effectively you spend your time and money. If there's a sense of randomness to landing good clients, then it may just be your industry or line of work. But it may be that you're not taking advantage of building on and learning from your current success.
Should you actively search for clients?
Unless you're a startup or newly founded business, you might not want to spend too much time hunting down clients. It's a tough grind and requires a lot of time and energy. Furthermore, the act of contacting someone implies that you need them. Reversing that social dynamic to "you need me" is complex. Not only does it require both guile and sensitivity, it might not be enough just to have a great pitch. Business owners are busy people and unless they see your service as an immediate necessity, they'll go back to what they were doing before you contacted them.
Observation: Search is effective (Google/Yahoo/Bing)
This is where search comes into its own. Search, gives your business the opportunity to appear in front of someone, precisely when they want to buy what you are selling. It is very effective and valuable because of this increased buying temperature. A search implies that there is a need and a willingness to act on that need. The person is in a buying mentality. For this reason, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Paid Search (PPC), both manipulations of top search results, have grown in their use and popularity amongst businesses. Positioning a firm in the top search results of Google, Bing or Yahoo can have a huge impact on a company's revenue. B2B firms that embrace this practice get more eyeballs from potential clients - a highly successful strategy.
When we need something whether it's information or a product, we've trained ourselves to reach for our nearest device and search away. This shift in behaviour is unlikely to change, if anything it will become more common. For now Google in particular have cemented themselves as the first port of call for any doubt or need. Therefore Google has become the gold standard for measuring your website ranking performance. Even if you know someone with expertise, you may find yourself checking out other options via a quick Google search. So, even if you have a great B2B reputation, remember that your potential customers may find your competitors online, before they hear about you. A coherent SEO and/or PPC strategy is a great way to get more clients and can be outsourced to specialist agencies. But how do you get better clients?
Advertising, networking or increasing your web presence are all good ways to increase your flow of leads and enquiries. But identifying profitable clients and filtering out time wasters isn't always easy. Up until now, there hasn't been a credible resource that lets businesses know what firms are really like to work with. While larger firms routinely check the financial health of potential clients, smaller firms simply lack the resources or technical know how. Many SMEs make use of national registrars like Companies House in the UK to find official company documents. Financial documents and director history are often a good place to look for red flags, but are by no means proof of successful relationships. It might be why there will always be a place for gut feeling and first impressions in the due diligence process, particularly for small companies.
How important is reputation?
As the internet continues to develop there is an increasing focus on track record and reputation. Company reviews now have significant clout. If this trend continues, business to business (B2B) will be less about selling and more about reputation. Businesses often look to form long-term relationships with their providers and so will check your background, want other firms to endorse you and expect your firm to have genuine client reviews online.
A good reputation for your business is gold in the long run. You will not survive in a B2B market without one. Established businesses understand what a genuine online reputation requires - a hugely satisfied client base. So not only may it ensure that great businesses contact you, it could make them more likely to convert into a client too.
Instead of purely focusing on finding more good clients, it's worth balancing how much time you spend going the extra mile for current trading partners. It takes a hugely satisfied customer to leave a positive business review or refer you to someone they know. So in your spare time go the extra mile for your better clients – it may lead to them recommending you to other firms. Failing that, if a potential client asks you to show them an endorsement, you'll have businesses to turn to.