New Customers

Happy Friday.  In a few hours I go get Brendan and David and they are evening have a few friends over this weekend.  4 young boys playing X-box, drinking soda’s and eating gummy worms.  Pizza night is being replaced by spaghetti.  We generally do our own individual pizza’s over the barbeque but I even making a big pot of spaghetti too!

One area I think we often overlook, especially in small business, is prospecting and new customer development.  It isn’t that small business owners don’t care, it is that they are focused on bringing in business – any business, to help pay the bills.  And then, one day, you wake up and your whole world is consumed by “bad customers”.

A few years back, I went to a seminar and the speaker presented the fact that there is no such thing as a “bad customer”.  What there is, he said, was poor training.  My biggest takeaway from that presentation was this:

You train your customer or your customer trains you

With this new thought bouncing around in my head, I revisited how I went out and did prospecting.  How do I let prospects know that the firm will be training them on how to do business with us?  How do I ensure that the new client respects the rules of our relationship without it seeming overbearing?  I created what John Jantsch in his book “Duct Tape Marketing” called the New Client Orientation Kit.

We actually followed his prescription to the letter.  The kit laid out how the process was going to work from beginning to end, including asking for their participation in quarterly and annual client workshops.  We explained how we were going to bill them, when to expect the bill and how important it was to pay the bill on time.

In short, we trained new clients on how to work with us.  And we started that training in the prospecting stage.

By clearly stating what we wanted from the relationship and how clients could benefit from this approach, we left them with the “Yes” decision.  In this stage, I was no longer saying “Yes, we want to work with you”, it turned into the client saying, “After hearing all this, yes, we want to work with you.”

Instead of bringing in 20 new $250 tax returns, we were now bringing in 1 new $5,000 small business client.   The marketing approach pivoted and we got far more “No’s” than ever before, but we ended up with new clients that met our expectations and who wanted to work the way we envisioned it.

Can you do the same in your small business?  Absolutely.  You don’t even need to read “Duct Tape Marketing” (although I strongly recommend it) and you don’t even need to create a New Client Orientation Kit.  Although I found it much more effective to have it in writing.

First Make sure  your marketing literature is targeted to your ideal customer.   Yes, that means be very clear with yourself on who your new ideal customer is!  Throw out the pulse and checkbook approach!  If your target market is a single mom in the medical field, then identify that mom and find out what makes her want to do business with you.

Second, once the prospect gets to “Warm acceptance” explain your expectations.  Your expectations are “This is how you will get the most from working with us”.  If you are picking up that mom’s dry cleaning, then the expectation is “You will have your dry cleaning in the bag we will provide and it will be at the front desk at 3:30.  Our courteous driver will be there to pick-up and drop-off between 3:30 and 4:00.”  Oh, and don’t forget, “We will charge the credit card on file for the items dropped off on Friday morning.”

Third, make sure they know who to call with questions, comments and referrals.  Something else I learned the hard way, you do not have to take every phone call!  You have an amazing staff (or you soon will), let them do the job you hired them to do.  Which means you explain that if you are going on vacation, call the 800 number and press 3 to speak with dispatch.  Call the 800 number and press 9 if there is a question on the bill, etc.

Fourth, ask if they have questions about the process.  And finally, ask them if they can see themselves being successful in this process.  The answer is “Yes” or “No”.

I know I make it sound easy.  Trust, me, this part is very easy once you believe that the process you offer is what adds value to your customer.  The hard part, is wanting to take a hard look at how you are currently doing business and asking “Can we do it better?”

Have an awesome weekend.  John (my oldest) and Andrew are both in town this weekend and are coming over for our Father’s Day “Grill and Chill”.  I am looking forward to a great time with the boys.

BTW 840 works and 44 minutes.  (I was editing too much today)



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