How to Build a Client List
Winning new business and keeping it is central to the success of any new venture. The ability to maintain a client list is also vital if you work in a competitive sales environment. Putting an advert in local business and classified listings and hoping will only get you so far. If you’re going to build a solid customer base and grow, you need to aggressively chase market share and make sure you’re doing all you can to keep your clients happy.
Prepare two spreadsheets to store the contact details of your clients. Use one to keep the details of customers you’re currently trading with, and the other to record information about clients you’ve dealt with in the past and potential new business. Use a cloud-based spreadsheet service or make more than one copy of your client lists to ensure you don’t lose information if you experience IT problems. Update and review each list religiously as you gain new business or come across possible leads.
Create a professional-looking and functional website and a social media presence. No matter how small or large your business, a solid online platform will not only pull in clients searching for the goods or services your company provides, it will also act as an important point of reference for potential customers you contact when touting for new business. If you don’t have the necessary skills yourself, retain the services of a web designer and an SEO copywriter.
Put together a brief letter introducing yourself to potential clients. Include a short outline of your work history and previous achievements and a description of the goods or services you’re offering. Create a basic template you can alter for specific individuals or companies.
Ask your predecessor for her client list. If you’ve just started a new sales role and the person you’re taking over from is moving on to another industry sector where it’s unlikely she’ll be selling to the same individuals or companies, ask if she wouldn’t mind passing on her contacts. You can do the same if you’ve just bought an existing business. Although you’ll inherit regular trade that’s already on the company’s books when you take over, it will still be worth your while to ask the previous proprietor for any additional leads he may have. Call the contacts you get to introduce yourself and follow up by sending personalized letters.
Check local business listings for companies that may require your services. If you’re selling directly to the public, you can buy targeted data from firms that sell consumer contact details. Again, approach potential clients in the first instance by phone and then follow up with a letter. You should also make yourself available to meet potential clients in person. If this is not possible due to your location, liaise by video conference online.
Price competitively. Keep a close eye on what your competitors are charging. If your fees are higher than theirs, make sure your clients know they’ll get something extra for the additional money they spend with you.
Offer a generous discount for repeat business. One of the best ways of holding onto your clients is by rewarding them for their loyalty. You can also offer additional perks such as regular social events. Running promotions and offering clients commission for sending new business to you is another way you can keep your existing customers happy and drum up new trade.
Employ a sales agent. If you find you don’t have the time to chase new business due to the day-to-day demands of running your company, hire a sales professional to help you expand your client list.
Retain the services of a public relations agency to promote your firm and buy advertising online and in local media. Run any campaigns you launch with a special offer for new customers.
Maintain your service levels. Your clients will only keep trading with you if they’re consistently happy with the service you provide. Treat all repeat business as though you’re dealing with a client for the first time.