REFLECTING AND REFOCUSING
Even though I work in what is referred to as a “service” industry, my colleagues and many of the other people I come across think of prospecting for clients as some sort of nightmare they would do anything to avoid. At best it is viewed as a necessary evil – something unpalatable but unavoidable. I have often wondered why? Have their past experiences been so unpleasant? Are they just scared of being rejected? Do they think of clients as an alien species?
And rather surprisingly I have discovered that indeed they do think of potential clients as some sort of breed apart that has to be carefully unearthed and ‘handled’. But potential clients are in fact just people that you need to get to know. They do all the things that you and your colleagues do and can be found wherever normal people hang out.
I know some of you still suspect this is not quite true, but let’s agree for a moment that clients are indeed professionals or managers who work for an organization. The starting point in prospecting for them is simply to place yourself in the same places. So, where are you at any given moment?
- Working at your desk
- Attending a meeting
- Talking to someone in the office
- Talking to someone on the phone
- Corresponding with someone by email (or postal mail)
- Commuting to or from work
- At the gym
- Eating at restaurant
- Having a drink at coffee shop or bar
- Attending a business function
- Taking a class
- Participating in a sports or leisure activity
- Going to church
- Attending an entertainment or cultural event
- At home with your family
- At the home of a friend or relative
- Driving somewhere
I am sure you will be able to think of a few others places and activities but the point is that your potential clients will be doing exactly the same things.
When you refocus and look at prospecting in this way the many opportunities for you to find prospect just jumps out! Your prospective clients spend a significant percentage of their time either talking to other people or gathering in public places. When they are not doing one of those things, they are usually at their home or office and even these places can be “found” with a little detective work.
So, finding these people called clients really boils down to three possible activities:
- Talking to people who can put you in touch with clients.
- Going to places where clients gather so you can meet them in person.
- Getting names, phone numbers, and email addresses of clients you can call or write.
None of these are difficult and they do not deserve the loathing that prospecting for clients attracts. If you want to improve your prospecting start the process with a simple description of who your ideal clients are. The more specific you can get, the better. For example:
- HR Managers in growing midsize companies
- Marketing Directors for health care providers
- Small business owners in the Nairobi CBD
- Midlife professionals in career transition
Then use your description to ask everyone you know these three questions:
- Do you know any _____ you can introduce me to?
- Do you know someone who knows lots of _____?
- Do you know any places where many _____ go?
For many professionals, just that one step will provide you with enough names and places to keep you busy for quite some time. Just keep talking to people and going to places where clients gather. As long as you keep asking the same three questions of every person you meet, your prospect list will continue to grow.
And remember – clients are people like you and me.
JANE DELORIE | Principal Consultant