I want to share with you a client acquisition strategy that’s having a huge impact on my business. I learned it from a coach friend of mine, James Cooper in Houston. It’s called “warm market prospecting.”
As the name implies, warm market prospecting has you engaging people you’ve done business with over the past 12 months. Not to try and sell them anything, but simply to reach out, re-engage and see what’s going on in their business lives.
Now the reason this works is because it’s based on a concept that we all know is true: It’s much easier to secure a repeat client for your business than it is to get a brand new client. And that’s obviously true in every industry.
Whether bookkeeping, coaching, speaking, legal work, if I’ve worked with you in the past (and you were satisfied with the experience), then I am much more likely to work with you again if the situation arises. All we’re doing with warm market prospecting is making that a more intentional part of your overall client acquisition strategy.
So with that said, here’s how you can make it work in your business.
Step 1: Identify your past clients.
As I mentioned earlier, this includes anyone who has spent money with you over the past year. Make a list, and in a perfect world, input those names into your business CRM.
Step 2: Start making contact.
Now this can be a little tricky for some folks because if you’re like me, you might not be sure what to say! Personally, I’m a text man when it comes to the initial message. Here’s what I say:
Hey it’s Brian Hilliard, long time no talk! Hope things are going well.
I would love to hear how things have been going with the business lately, and I have a couple of ideas I’ve been working on that I thought you might be interested in.
Anyway, I have some time next week so just let me know if Tues or Weds or any other time works. Talk to you later.
That’s it. Nothing crazy or over the top. Just a straight forward message to someone you’ve worked with before.
Step 3: During the call, listen and add value.
This gets to that phrase in the message: I have a couple of ideas you might be interested in. Because you want to stay in integrity.
Personally, I know going in that I’m going to have at least one or two good ideas as it relates to their situation. I just need to hear where they are, listen to some of the sticking points/challenges they’re facing, and then, based on my experience, give them some good stuff.
I don’t go in with a predetermined list. Maybe I’ve heard a good point, or read something new recently.
Remember, these are folks you haven’t talked to in awhile. You probably have a ton of good points that they haven’t heard. These are the points you can offer during your conversation.
Step 4: Make an offer of continued assistance.
Now this depends on a lot of things, including their situation and the overall vibe of the conversation. Most of the time, making an offer of continued assistance is absolutely the right way to go. But notice the language: an offer of “continued assistance,” which doesn’t necessarily mean signing them back up as a client.
As a coach and speaker, I sometimes invite people to attend my next live workshop or webinar as my guest. Another offer I make is to get together for coffee next time I’m in town. And another (if that person has a legitimate business problem that I can resolve) is to schedule some time to talk more about their situation.
Now before I move on I want to be very clear: I did not go into the call with a predefined desire to sell them on anything. Ten to 20 percent of the time, when the call is over, there is no additional business opportunity, and that’s totally fine.
But the other 70-80 percent of the time, some type of opportunity is available. Why? Because these are people who are satisfied clients. So if you reach out, and listen for understanding, of course an opportunity for future work can arise!
So during the initial call, you’re catching up and re-engaging. Then they might bring up a challenge where you can help. No problem; now, you add value with some thoughts and ideas, as I said earlier.
Then they might ask some questions or continue to engage you along those lines, so you continue to add value.
An offer of continued assistance.
Such an offer might go like this:
Well I’ll tell you what Sally, it sounds like this is an area you’re really looking at going forward, and I have no problems talking to you about it further. I just can’t do that right now, because I only had a few minutes to catch up.
But I have no problem scheduling something later. I’m thinking 30 minutes to ask some questions, dig in a little bit…and of course there won’t be any transaction of monies or anything.
As a client this will be on the house, and if looks like there is an opportunity to add some value and do some further work together, we can talk about that as well.
Bam! That’s it. And it works — almost all the time. And now you’ve scheduled an introductory call with a previous client who has a current challenge that you can potentially help. I don’t know how much more you can ask for when it comes to client acquisition.