This isn’t a piece about how to land your next client. The truth of the matter is, I don’t know what you should do to land your next client. I can tell you what I’ve done, but that may not work for you.
I can tell you about a sales process that works, and it just so happens to look a lot like my marriage. It’s not perfect, but it works. Surely, you’ve developed a significant relationship at some point in your adult life. If you haven’t, you should. It will make you a better person and better in business.
1. The Spark
Of course, you remember the moment you first saw your significant other. This initial attraction makes your heart skip a beat and thoughts of them flood your mind. Maybe this isn’t exactly how it is feels when you come across a potential client that you think would be a great fit for your service or product, but you get the picture.
There is just something about the company that says that you were meant to work together. It could be where they are located, the phase of the business life cycle they are currently in, or an innovative leader at the helm of the organization. You want to be affiliated with them not only for what they can do for your business, but you’ve got something great to offer them as well. This is the initial spark that ignites the flame in the relationship.
2. A Subtle Chase
You see the connection. Now, you’ve got to get the prospect to see it. If only they would notice you, they would be interested or will they? Of course they will because, well, you’re you. There is no one else exactly like you; you’re special.
You have to distinguish yourself from the crowd of others and show that you’re the perfect match because you understand their business, and you can help them become better. You pursue them with ways to improve their bottom line.
3. The First Date
The first date is your first phone call or it may be your first meeting. You never get a second chance to make a first impression, so be over prepared. Know everything possible about them before you get to this stage. Scour publicity and public records. If they have recently filed for a divorce, you should know it. If they did, it’s not a good time to meet. There really is no such thing as being over prepared. If you don’t cover everything in this first meeting, you’ve got some good material to keep the fire burning.
Someone once told me that all money isn’t good money. It’s the absolute truth. When starting out in the business, you’ll be inclined to take any and everything that comes your way. Resist this temptation. Some things should end at the first meeting. That’s okay. If you don’t gain a client, you’ll gain a valuable lesson. You’ll have a better idea of your ideal client, and you’ll hone your skills for the next first meeting.
4. Woo Them
Determine if they are perfect for you, not that they are really perfect because no one is perfect, but they should be perfect for you. When you’ve decided that you’re a good match for one another, you’ve got to keep their interest. Continue to woo them. It’s not over yet. You’re only halfway to your goal.
Study their business—every aspect of their business—not just the business you’d like to get. It will trigger other ways you might meet the company’s needs personally or by referral. Become indispensable.
5. Settling In
They take your phone calls, return your emails, and reach out to you. You see one another as an integral part of your professional lives.
This cannot be a one-sided relationship. Your prospect must show you that they are interested. If they don’t, you’re wasting your time when you should be moving on to bigger and better prospects that appreciate the value you have to add.
6. Till Death Do Us Part …
Now here’s the really good part–the marriage. You sign an agreement. Let’s be clear. You sign an agreement. You don’t have a client if you don’t sign an agreement.
You’re still a wanna be, and they are testing you out. They don’t have any skin in the game. How many professionals work their fingers to the bone and hope that they’ll get paid in the end? Think about it. Neither should you.
It would be even worse if you don’t give it your all because you feel like they aren’t fully invested. Your very best should never be optional.
7. The Honeymoon
You are proactive. You anticipate their needs. You are everything their heart desires and more.
You send birthday gifts, handwritten thank you notes, and even chocolates. The list goes on. You call regularly just to check in. You go out for lunch. Their needs are your priority.
8. Taking Them for Granted
You get comfortable. You are focused on other pursuits because this one is secure. You believe this relationship isn’t going anywhere. Their profitability and productivity become secondary to your other interests.
You’ve already secured this relationship. It’s solid, so you don’t invest time and energy into building and continuing it.
9. Divorce or Rekindle
If you wake up and acknowledge your lackluster service, you can rekindle the relationship. Don’t make excuses.
In the alternative, you can watch your client walk out the door and into the arms of a hotter, younger more attentive suitor. Believe me there are those of us out there that are eager to make them a priority.
10. Grow Old Together
Grow old together in a reciprocal relationship where you help them spend less time working while making more money. During this process, you make money while serving them.
Wouldn’t the world be a better place if our first priority was to help someone else? The safety and security of growing old together is the ultimate goal.
About the Author
L. Monique Gonzalez is Vice President, Retail Advisory Services at Avison Young. She helps retailers streamline their processes and grow their bottom lines through targeted real estate strategies. After practicing law for more than a decade, she decided to dive head first into sales and pursue her passion for real estate from a different vantage point. She’s had to rebuild her client base from scratch after having a robust and select clientele. Through a lot of trial and error, she continues to figure out what isn’t working, fixes it, and shares it with others. Follow her at @RetailMonique.