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So, here’s the situation: You run a small business that provides a service, perhaps even an inbound marketing service. Like a smart service business, you’re running an inbound marketing campaign and you’re kicking butt at it! You’ve got killer content, you’re doing guest posts on major blogs in your industry, you’re an avid reader of top inbound marketing blogs, etc, etc.
And, it’s working!
… Working a little too well even…
Now you have loads of people contacting you and you’ve got to make the most of it. It’s a great position for a small business owner to be in. But it can be a trap, too. How do you make time to continue your own marketing efforts? How do you maintain quality of service?
With other types of marketing, you may be able to turn the flow of business on or off. But with inbound marketing, you build a permanent marketing machine that works day and night. Plus, readers of your content may want to speak directly to the author, which makes it tougher to hand them off to other sales staff.
I’ve faced this issue, and the strategy I came up with can be conceptualized into two stages: Filter and Focus.
Experience has shown me that A) it is possible to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ clients based on certain signals and that B) spending more time with the ‘good’ potential clients increases the chance of success greatly.
Filter Out the Less Promising Prospects
Don’t spread yourself too thin!
You’re better off filtering out the leads with less potential.
3 signs of a ‘bad’ client:
- They ask about price before attempting to fully understand the service.
Being in a situation where you have too much potential business, I’m assuming that you don’t need to be lowering prices to attract clients! So don’t bother with them. Instead, focus on the ones that seek quality of service.
- They are rude.
If people are rude before even getting to know you, just imagine how they’ll get when you need their support or there’s a problem to be discussed.
- They use the words “easy,” “quick” or “simple.”
Because, you know, what you do is a really simple thing that anybody can do, right? If they seem to think your work is overly easy, they will undervalue you.
3 signs of great clients:
- They demonstrate that they’ve done their research.
Great clients often talk about articles they’ve read, ideas they have or plans they’ve made. They’re likely to ask intelligent questions about your business. At the very least, they are familiar with the services you offer on your website.
- They know what they know and what they don’t know.
Great clients hire your team for your expertise. They’re willing to listen to you rather than impose their ideas. For example, if you provide an SEO service, great clients won’t ask you to change the strategy based on the three basic SEO articles they’ve read.
- They make an effort to get you to work with them.
Clients, sorry to break it to you, but vendors with great marketing and little supply get to choose their clients as much as their clients get to choose them. Great clients will explain the benefits of their business to you.
These signs aren’t hard-and-fast rules, but guidelines.
Focus on the Best Prospects
After you’ve filtered out the less promising leads, it’s time to put your best effort into your best prospects. It’s a game of chance, but the odds will be in your favor. After all, it’s better to bet on a pair of Kings than a 3 and a 9, right?
As an inbound marketer, you understand that you have to earn your client’s trust. That doesn’t stop with them contacting you. It should continue all the way down the sales funnel and with your service.
Inbound marketers should 1) produce great content, 2) be excellent communicators, and 3) provide great service!
Plus, even if a potential client has contacted you, it will still take time to build enough trust to earn their business. This can be especially important for businesses that do not necessarily meet clients face to face.
2 Tips on How to Win Over the Best Potential Clients
Focus Tip #1: Be Fast!
To start a relationship, reply quickly. VERY quickly. Reply in minutes if you can, even if it’s just to say “Thanks for the email. Looks like a great opportunity. I’ll reply in detail within a few hours.”
If they’ve contacted you, they may have contacted a competitor of yours as well. So it’s best to build your relationship with them as a barrier to other bidders.
Plus, the client is interested in discussing this now. It’s on their mind. They may even be really excited about it! But next week… Well, next week they might be busy with other work, or on holiday.
Focus Tip #2: Provide What They Want
For inbound marketers, this tip must be pretty obvious! Just don’t forget to carry this concept throughout the sales process. If you make a proposal, make sure it is tailored to the needs of the client.
More specifically, make sure the solution you provide makes all the decision-making contacts in the client’s company happy. For example, you may need to win over a marketing manager, marketing director and CEO.
This is how one inbound marketer deals with a constant flow of potential clients. I’d love to hear what you have to say. What sales tips do you have?
photo credit: kevin dooley
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