When you stop to think about ways to grow your businesses and increase profits, you probably think first about how to get new clients. I propose an easier path.
Over the last four years, most of the growth in my business has come from selling to the clients I already have! I don't have to go from cold to sold because I've already established trust. I know their brands. I know their cultures. I know their communication style (for better or for worse).
And the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. Here are two tips to help you sell more to your current and past clients.
Be Bigger Than Your Skills
One of the most important things that I did for my business was transition from being a specialist—a writer, in my case—to being a problem-solver. Now, when someone asks what I do, I don't say, “I'm a writer.” I say, “I help businesses grow, and I make problems go away.”
I have a lot more things to sell now because I'm in the growth and potential business, rather than the content business.
What about you? Do you normally identify yourself as a web developer? Try this tack instead: “We help companies look good, get found online, and use the internet to meet their business goals.”
Do you normally introduce yourself as a designer? Dig deeper: “I make eye candy. I help my clients use attractive design to make good first impressions and to build brands worth remembering.”
Do you say, “I'm a photographer,” or do you say, “I use photography to capture memories and to make people, products, and businesses look good”?
You'll be tempted to turn what you do into a commodity to make it easier for other people to understand.
Resist that temptation. Stay vague, and pique curiosity. Let them ask more questions.
Sell the benefits of your work, not your skills.
Sell the disappearance of problems.
Sell the arrival of desirable outcomes.
Sell the value of goals achieved.
Stay in Touch
Let's say you do land a big project. The client is pleased with the outcome. She now has a fabulous website with a high conversion rate. As far as she is concerned, you're the Willy Wonka of the World Wide Web.
Several months pass. You do more work. You learn. You grow. You become good at new things. You begin offering new services.
And then you run into your old client at the grocery store, and she tells you that her company has started paying an SEO company in New York $15,000 a month to create backlinks and manage the company's YouTube channel.
“What the pork?!” you think. “I could have done that for her!”
The problem is that she had no idea that you, her beloved Willy Wonka, could steward her newfound passion for all things SEO and, with the help of Fun-Dip and Google Juice, make the money flow like money.
How did this happen? You didn't stay in touch.
“I would have,” you say to make yourself feel better. “I just didn't want to spam her inbox. She's super busy, and I didn't want to be annoying and turn her off.”
Fact: you can stay in touch without being annoying.
- Create space to discuss future needs. After you finish projects, offer to check in a couple of months to see how everything is going. Here's the most important part: put a reminder in your calendar. Follow through!
- Extend an invitation. Take her out to lunch. Or invite her out for a coffee to catch up. Or imbibe an adult beverage and talk shop.
- Ask open-ended questions. Remember these Million Dollar Beauties:
- How's business?
- Do you need anything?
- Do you have any bottlenecks?
- What are your goals for this year?
- What are you excited about?
- What would you like to see happen?
Bingo. When your clients begin to associate you with their goals and when you begin serving as trusted advisor, rather than a vendor with a certain skillset, you'll find that selling them more work is really easy.
Worry less about how to get new clients. Worry more about how to deliver smiles and rainbows.