The business world moves too fast for any of us to rest on our laurels. While Monday might be great, smart entrepreneurs worry about Tuesday, knowing that ensuring a steady stream of new clients is essential for a healthy business. It’s a struggle we all face – finding high quality prospects to convert and keep our companies growing.
Client referrals have always been a traditional source for new prospects, but there are some problems with getting good quality referrals. If we assume that you’re providing outstanding service to your existing customers, they’ll have two primary concerns about sharing your services with their competitors. First, they’ll want you to continue to be available to serve their needs. They don’t want your success to get in the way of their demands. Second, if you’re providing a service that gives them a competitive edge – whether it’s personal or professional – they’ll be reluctant to share their brilliant discovery – you – with their competition. They may want to keep you all to themselves.
The gold ring is the organic referral – when a friend of your client is desperate for a plumber, asks for a recommendation, and the client shares your name. An associate asks who designed your client’s logo, and they give you a rave review and pass on your contact info. The problem is that these high quality referrals are few and far between, and they’re also – by their vary nature – inconsistent.
So what do you do? You require new clients, but cold-calling is expensive and yields poor-quality results.
The answer is fast flow prospecting, and here’s how it works: You approach your clients and ask them for a referral to their other vendors. They may look at you like you’re crazy. The angle, though, is that you’re going to reach out to their other vendors and work with them to provide even better service for your mutual clients. Whether you can consolidate shipments to save your clients money, or whether you can bundle services and offer predictable monthly payments, working with other vendors can help you create efficiencies and provide better service at a reduced cost for the client who referred you.
Here’s the key, though – once you’ve established a relationship with your vendor partners, then you ask for referrals to their other clients. You’ll be presented with a pool of new clients – clients to whom you’ll be recommended by your partners, and clients for whom you can provide outstanding, streamlined and efficient service. You’re expanding your network via new partnerships.
So let’s say that you’re a small, independent internet access provider. You get some vendor referrals from your satisfied clients and you connect with a company that installs and monitors security systems. The two of you offer bundled services to your existing shared clients, providing them with better, more affordable internet services that improve the reliability of the security system. Win-win.
The security company shares its client list with you, and you can now pitch your combined services to a whole new group of prospective customers – customers who can get reliable references from the provider of their security services.
Working together with your clients and their other vendors gives you a much wider field of clients, and provides ample opportunity to improve efficiency and profitability for everyone.