“New business is the holy grail really. That’s what we need more than anything.”
This is what a friend of mine said to me yesterday. Is he right?
Yes and no.
Of course, new business is a wonderful thing. Brining in brand new clients to your business is a powerful motivator and a true sign of progress. But is it easy? Absolutely not.
In fact, not only is new business hard to achieve, even when you bring in a new client, they require lots of your attention. Plus, you won’t get access to their bigger budgets until you’ve earned their trust, which could take over a year.
So is new business a good way to grow sales? Yes.
Is it the best way to grow sales? Maybe not.
Here are 4 alternative avenues for you.
1 – TALK TO YOUR LAPSED CUSTOMERS
The hardest thing with new clients is getting them to spend their first £1 with you. I’ve always maintained that it’s harder to get someone to go from spending £0 to £1, than it is to grow a client from £1 to £100,000.00. Getting that client over the line for the first sale is the hard part.
Well, your lapsed customers have already done that. They’ve already put their hand in their pocket once, and they may well do so again. Yes, there’s probably a reason that your lost customers stopped doing business with you, but it’s very unlikely that the damage done is irreparable. Plus, the fact that they stopped is a great reason to get in touch – to find out why, and what you could’ve done to keep them as a client.
One of my mentors loved the strategy of approaching lapsed customers. He was so committed to it that he invented the idea of a ‘Lapsed Customer Party’. The idea being that you invite a list of lapsed customers to a very exclusive dinner, with some important industry professionals, where they can network and learn. You use the dinner to find out about their businesses, and see how you can help them moving forward. I can say that this strategy was amazingly effective, and certainly opened my eyes to the opportunity of lapsed customers.
2 – SELL NEW SERVICES TO EXISTING CLIENTS
Take a look at your client base. Are you selling every single one of your services to every single one of your clients?
If not, why not?
In some cases, there will be a very good reason why not – perhaps some of your clients have those services in house, or established partnerships with other agencies.
However, my guess is, if you do a thorough evaluation of your client roster, you will see opportunities to sell other services to clients you’re already working with.
Remember what we said in #1? It’s easier to sell to people who have already bought from you once. Well, it’s even easier to sell to people who are currently buying from you.
3 – CONNECT WITH SUPPLIERS
How do you view your suppliers?
What type of relationship do you have with them?
If you’re not viewing them as potential partners, you may be missing a trick.
By definition, your suppliers can deliver a service that you can’t – that’s why they’re your suppliers. Well, the chances are, you can deliver a service that they can’t too.
How could that service that you can provide that they can’t help their other clients?
Is it possible that by partnering with them, you could add value to their offer and at the same time earn some new sales?
From experience, I can say the chance is fairly high.
A great example of this comes from my time in the events industry. Our speciality was concept and content for events, and we often partnered with production agencies that delivered all technical production needed to bring the event to life. One many occasions, we partnered up – all over the world – to offer additional services to current suppliers, and provided huge win wins for both sides.
4 – BECOME BRIEF MAKERS!
This may be #4, but it’s by far the most important part.
Brief making is the key to a stress-free sales pipeline.
What is brief making?
In short, there are 2 types of people in the creative industry, brief takers and brief makers.
Brief takers sit and wait for their clients to call them and give them a brief.
Brief makers are on the front foot, and know their clients well that they are constantly spotting gaps in their business and marketing that they can help fill – they literally make their own briefs.
However, to be a brief maker, you need a few things.
Firstly, you need total trust from your client.
Secondly, you need insatiable curiosity to constantly learn about your clients’ business, and what’s happening in their industry.
Finally, you need to be able to spot an opportunity and craft your pitch seamlessly.
It doesn’t sound easy, and it’s not – but it’s the most powerful sales tool in the world.
BRINGING IT TOGETHER
Growing sales doesn’t have to mean growing clients.
There are plenty of opportunities to sell more, without attending endless networking events or putting on countless webinars. That said, these activities are healthy too if you have the time and resource.
If not, focus on the points above, and if you do nothing else, become a Brief Maker. Once you’re there, you’ll never look back.