Bringing Clients in the Door: How Professionals Can Encourage Business
You’re a professional – either a doctor, or a dentist, or an artist. Maybe you’re an independent sales person who works on commission, or a speaker who must sell yourself.
You might even be a B-C business whose product depends on a product or service you’ve developed.
You’ve been trained well; you went to a professional school, or positioned yourself as an expert, and you’re very good at what you do. And now you’ve gone into business to give others the opportunity to pay you to do what you do best.
You rent space, hire staff, take out a loan – possibly a very large loan – to populate your office with the best: technology, staff, ambiance. And a few of your friends come in as your first clients. And then you wait for others to walk in the door.
And you wait.
You’re not a business person and you’ve not been taught the fine art of marketing. Not to mention that it’s embarrassing to have to tell others how good you are and that they should pay you because you’re good.
“Hi. I’m Joe Smith. I’m the new doc in town. You oughta come in and see me. I’m really good and I’ll take good care of you. When can I expect you? I’ve got time to see you, um, all day today, and, um, well, whenever you want to come in I could make time for you. When are you coming in?”
WHY CONVENTIONAL SALES DOESN’T WORK IN THE PROFESSIONAL MARKET
Part of the problem is that sales’ has been based on some rendition of a push strategy, or, the newly coined approach of a relationship’ (which does nothing more than try to have the prospect like you – and of course all of your competitors are doing the same thing). But the model as we’ve known it is inefficient. Statistically, the very model brings in no more than 7% of its target (obviously leaving a 93% failure rate).
Following the conventional sales model, you’d have to sell your services by influencing/convincing/persuading folks that you are better than your competitors, that you are to be trusted, that you are price competitive, and that the buyer needs you and your product. And, whatever else they might be basing their decision on.
Indeed, that is the problem: who knows what buyers base their decisions on? They do. Only the client knows the criteria that help all of the internal factors come up with a decision to fix or change something. It’s been a fallacy, all these years, to believe that because the vendor (you, in this case) can understand the problem (and you do! You do!), and your product can solve their problem (you can! You can!), that your product is a natural fit – and that of course you are the best vendor.
But, only those who live inside the problem have the capacity to understand the problem and resolve it. While a solution may look obvious to you as an outsider, it isn’t obvious at all to them. They’ve had the problematic issues, along with a certain set of givens’ and expectations and work-arounds, in place for a long time; it feels normal to them. And until/unless they are willing and able to do something different, they won’t change.
At the end of the day, you will never fully understand the client’s criteria, or system, or viewpoint, or set of systems that hold the problem in place; and you can’t know their criteria for making a change or for using you over their current provider (and everyone has some sort of provider’).
When I moved here to Austin, I obviously had to change my long term dental providers. After working with a new periodontist for a while, he suggested a regular dentist for a cap I needed. Of course I went on his recommendation. But as I sat in the chair with a numb mouth filled with dental paraphernalia, this guy began telling me about his political convictions which were very, very opposite to mine, and frankly, offensive to me. Next.
Was his care good? Probably. Was he a nice guy? Um well, maybe. But I’m a highly political animal and couldn’t abide by political opinions being spouted at me when I was helpless to object. He had no idea what my criteria were. In fact, he was actually surprised when he called me months later to get my ongoing business and I told him no.
It’s not about the product. It’s not about how wonderful you are. It’s about the internal systems – the beliefs, the tangle of relationships and policies and historic remedies and people issues and and and.
Given you know your craft but may not have the same level of savvy to garner all of the patients or clients that you deserve, how indeed do you get the business to come in the door?
Remember: it’s not about you. Remember that it’s about how the client makes their best decision. Your job in finding business is to help your clients decide to come in.
Here are some ideas that might help. Pick the right ones for you:
1. send out a monthly newsletter with an article of interest. Make sure you mention a new product or service that you have somewhere in the newsletter, but ensure there are articles of interest written by you as well as other colleagues. This makes you an authority and keeps you top of mind for when your client/prospect is ready to make a new decision. Of course, the article itself might help people decide to come in.
2. contact colleagues in adjacent industries (like periodontists if you’re a dentist) and arrange some form of referencing model so you both help each other get business. Getting a referral from a current provider is a great help in the decision process.
3. hold monthly lunch sessions that teach aspects of your business to prospects/clients. Either do it yourself or invite some of your business partners (see #2) to speak some of the time. That will bring in their clients to meet you, help them highlight their skills so they can get new business also, and will offer your current clients new data.
4. write interesting articles in local magazines. This will get you natural press.
5. write interesting articles in e-zines that your client base might read – or that will get you local notice.
6. hire someone to call your current clients to find out how you are doing; have them tell you what you can do better, what they’d like to see that they currently don’t get from you, and mention you’d like a referral if they would feel comfortable doing that. Use facilitative questions like:
a. What would you need to see from us to ensure you get all of your needs met? What would that look like for you?
b. What would you need to see from us to feel comfortable recommending us to a friend?
7. give your current clients 50% off on X if they send a referral. This will not only get you a new client but will ensure that you keep your current client base. It’s easier to keep current clients then it is to get new ones.
8. set up a website. Have a page for each of your services, and have links to your business partners/colleagues (see #2). Have your newsletters accessible, and have links to other authorities who are affiliated with your work. Make it a site that your clients or prospects can come to to meet’ you, and determine that you’re a professional. By the way, make your site stand for who you are: make your personality shine through. For example, I have 2 main sites: one is to introduce my Buying Facilitation Method, and it’s mainstream looking to make a large number of people comfortable with a revolutionary idea. My keynote site is creative, flowing, powerful, and fun: this introduces my character as a speaker – very different from an information based site as my other one is.
These ideas should get you started. Just remember to stay open’ and flexible to whatever will be necessary to have people decide that you will be part of the solution they need to embrace to solve their problem.
Should you wish to learn more about this, go to www.buyingfacilitation.com and purchase my ebook Buying Facilitation: the new way to sell that expands and influences decisions