How to Know If You’re Chasing the Wrong Clients

Posted by Elizabeth Johnson in Entrepreneurship

When you’re just starting, it’s normal to settle for any client willing to pay... you need clients no matter who they are. It’s ok to do that - up to a point - because at the end of the day if you are a start-up you need revenue to keep the lights on. It seems to make sense, right?

Especially if you don’t yet know who the best people to work with are for your business.

Or you might still be defining your product or service and testing product-market fit.

Whether you are a new startup or are more seasoned, heed my warning… when you target the wrong clients, here’s what to expect:

  • You might have to spend a lot of time (& money) educating them why they need you. If they aren’t feeling the ‘pain’ of the problem you solve, it can be an uphill battle in the sales process.
  • In most cases, the sales pipeline is longer and it takes longer to close these types of clients. That means it’s more costly for you upfront before you even start working.
  • When they’re not a perfect fit, it’s also costly to service them. They may require too much customization from your typical process and still expect the product or service at the same or even a lower price. That’s a bad combo - they’re hoping for imported Wagyu ribeye steak at ground beef prices. It’s a proven recipe for constant headaches.
  • And of course, when it’s costly for you to do the work, it puts extra pressure on you or your team and it becomes a difficult client relationship to manage for everyone involved…
  • And that means that the lifetime value of those clients will often be shorter, you’ll often lose the opportunity for testimonials, and your chances of getting referrals from them are much lower.

On the other hand, when you do find the right leads, you’ll find that you’re able to really move the needle a lot faster. That means… less headaches for you, the ability to command higher prices, a shorter sales pipeline, and happier clients (which means a longer client lifetime value and likely some great referrals.) It’s a win-win all around.

Secret to Landing Amazing Clients from the Beginning

The secret to working with your very best clients, the ones who happily pay what you ask, pay on time, and keep coming back for more, is this:

Defining (and Sticking To) the Right Targeting

It starts with knowing exactly who you want to go after and focusing on a specific group of people. To do this, you’ll need to come to terms with the fact that not everyone is a good fit - and you might have to say no to some potential clients. Remember this: it isn’t enough to just get leads, you need the right ones for your business.

Look for the sweet spot - the intersection of clients you enjoy working with, and the clients you can get the best results for, and will give the biggest financial return (for your high-end offers).

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Take your time getting to know your clients. Besides your basic demographics (gender, age, location, job title), you want to know what motivates them, what factors they consider when they make decisions, who they report to, why they need your product in the first place (what their problem is), what will happen if they don’t find a solution and what solutions they’ve already looked at.

To find this, you might have to pick up the phone and talk to some people. But you’ll also want to read the content they share, read your competitor’s reviews (especially look for “before and after” insight).

Maximize Your Positioning

Then, if you want to work with them, you need to attract them to you. That means knowing how to take what you’ve learned about them and use it to position yourself in a way that’s attractive to them.

For example, in your LinkedIn profile, you’ll want to clearly state who you help and how so that your ideal clients know that you work with others just like them.

Or, use it to share some accolades that are relevant to your prospects, showing them that you’re not new to the scene and you know what you’re talking about...

In your messaging, clearly show you understand their pain or problems they are dealing with and demonstrate that you understand them by referencing things that are relevant to their lives.

The same goes for when you share content, make sure it’s relevant to them first and foremost. For example, you might be a marketing consultant interested in the in’s and out’s of the latest marketing strategies and tactics, but your client’s are small business owners, they are most focused on outcomes and results across their entire business. While marketing tactics is one important focus of theirs, they have a lot of other things on their mind.. So you’d want to share articles that talk about their problems and things they can do to fix them.

I love what one of our clients shared with us after he started doing this…

"I can NOT just wait until somebody tells me that I’m a leader and a professional. I could wait my whole life before somebody gave me that accolade. I’m gonna take it, but I’ve got to live it, I’ve got to prove it, otherwise people will see through it quite quickly. So it gave me the confidence to step up and say...

‘Look, I am an expert. I am a professional in my field and I want you to give me the chance to step up and prove it.’

And that’s basically the foundation to the success of my business - that I’ve been granted the confidence of my clients and I’ve been given the opportunity to prove it to them.”

~ Matt Jones, Advanced Health and Safety

Give A Shit

Finally, you just have to care. It’s a given for any business that is going to make it in the long haul.

Remember that your prospects are real people. Don’t think of them as just another call or email to cross off your to-do list. Once you know who you’re after and what motivates them, you’ll need connect with them (whether that’s through LinkedIn, phone, email or another platform). Once you’ve made contact never forget to treat them as valued people, not as a number that adds to your bottom line.

Here’s how you do it systematically with your marketing approach:  take time to prove that you have their best interests at heart. This means you share articles and resources. You get to know them, ask them questions. You do this before you jump to asking for a sale or to hop on a sales call.

For example, when we make a new contact, we try to build that trust and rapport through a sequence of 3-7 touchpoints before we ask for an appointment:

Only once you’ve shown in good faith that you want what’s in their best interest, then you ask for an appointment.

Another client of ours shared with us exactly what happens once a relationship was built and they started to trust her and the company she works with…

And in this case, it’s a substantial investment to work with them, so a relationship is crucial to securing contracts...

“Our whole marketing focus is relationship based. We’re not selling widgets. It’s all about the relationship. All of our sales process and systems are built around relationship selling.

We’ve closed four new clients from this system. And two of those clients are contracted work that will be multi-6-figures in new revenue. And the other two have the opportunity to be worth much more in the future.”

~ Denise Carter, Mantle.co.nz

It Starts With Getting the Right Leads

We’re not here to just give you advice on how to get leads. Anyone can do that. It’s about getting the RIGHT leads in the right way, for your business. It’s so simple. Know who they are, learn about them, connect with them, prove yourself by sharing resources, earning their trust, and THEN looking for the sales opportunity. When you want to land big accounts, this is the only way to do it.