Know Your Clients: An Often Overlooked Part of Growing Your New Business

An Often Overlooked Part of Growing Your New Business

For anyone starting a new business or job, the future can be exciting, promising, and maybe a little bit scary. Most people just want to jump in, get going, and meet the challenges they see ahead of them.

But you need to carry out some basic steps that can form the foundation of your success first. It may seem time- consuming, but it’s nothing compared to the time you’ll consume just spinning your wheels, knocking on the wrong doors and pursuing the wrong relationships.

The time you spend up front is well worth it.

Doing The Work

Early in my career, I was invited to join a company that was considering whether to continue offering its services in a certain area. An employee I’ll call “Mr. X” wanted me to help him answer this question.

I’d never worked in this part of operations before, but Mr. X assured me I was the right person for the job, and that he’d help me learn how to do it. It turned out to be an excellent opportunity because of how much I learned that I applied throughout my whole career. This was before many of today’s computer-based technologies were available, but the steps used today are much the same.

Mr. X and I started by listing the tools we’d need, starting with maps of the cities and towns we’d canvass. Then Mr. X selected the geographic areas we’d start with, an important step. For example, consider transportation services – you

want to operate your services efficiently, so you need to plan the distance your vehicles travel for pickups and deliveries, in order to minimize traveled miles. Third step was to develop a form that we used to keep track of information about prospects – company name, address, product or service, and the name of the person making decisions on our service.

We gathered the other information on sales calls – such as who was actually in charge of making decisions on our service. It’s an important step, as could be that it isn’t the manager or department head who makes these decisions. You need to find out who really has “The Pencil” for signing purchase orders. You’ll be wasting your time and possibly company resources otherwise.

Compiling all this information was a big job, but worth it. Once our records were in order, and a call process set out, we were well prepared to contact the companies we had chosen as our best prospects. Mr. X and I proceeded to make those calls, and I must admit this was the best part of the process.

This time-tested preplan was a great success, increasing efficiency and adding revenue to the company’s bottom line, and to my own. I received many positive reviews from my managers.

When I reached the management position that Mr. X was grooming me for, I used the same preplan technique for all the salespeople I trained, and they were successful in moving upwards in sales or operations, or into business for themselves.

A Customer’s Perspective

When I meet with people pursuing my business, I expect them to have a basic understanding of my company before they walk in the door. Most companies have websites, so it’s not hard to know what my company makes or the service we provide before the first visit. They should use this information to select the products or services my company may require and develop their initial presentation with a focus in areas where they believe their company can provide something to my company. This kind of preparation saves time for all of us.

Bridge-Building Steps

These days, it’s so much easier to compile information through the Web – corporate websites, using LinkedIn or Facebook to build an organizational chart for a prospective company. Just as Mr. X and I mastered the tools at our disposal – state- provided directories and maps – you need to be current with the tools available to you. You better believe that your competitors are using those tools too.

Resist the temptation to jump into calling your clients directly. You won’t know how to set priorities on your time, or who you should contact at the best priority companies. Do your pre-planning in a way that applies the principles in my story above. First pull together the resources you’ll need, then determine who are your most desirable customers, and then develop detailed information on each one. There will be prospects that are better suited to what you offer. Find out who they are – it’s time well invested.

Bridge Series Books


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