Do you want to see your business grow? There are many different ways you can invest in your business, but if you want to see a sizeable return on investment, you need to focus on growing your client base.
I can hear you now – “But I have a very busy schedule. There are so many things to take care of already, I just can’t find the time to reach out to new clients!”
Regardless of your schedule or how well your consultancy is currently doing, you need to invest the time, energy, and effort it takes to grow your client base. Why? Because clients are the absolute lifeblood of any consultant’s business.
In order to keep your business growing and thriving, you need to expand your client list. If you don’t make increasing your client list a priority, your business will likely start to decline.
So what can you do to grow your client base? Here are 9 proven strategies that will help you increase your client base and propel your business to the next level.
1. Stay in Front of Business Owners on LinkedIn
You can also build relationships using social media, and with social automation tools like Edgar and Buffer, you can spend less than 30 minutes per month on nurturing content. There’s no excuse not to stay in front of potential clients on LinkedIn.
You should try to keep active accounts on several different social media platforms, but LinkedIn is the powerhouse for landing consulting clients. This will help you build rapport and it provides you with insight into how to market your services to them.
- Use SellHack to quickly pull people’s email addresses from LinkedIn profiles. When you see a good fit, you’ll save hours hunting for email addresses.
- Ever wish you could share your content in a bunch of LinkedIn groups at once? Now you can. Click the LinkedIn icon under “Shares” to the left of this article, and you’ll see how easy it is to share an article in LinkedIn groups with just a few clicks. Take advantage of SumoMe when you post content to your own blog.
Now you can find your best case study, share it in a few target-rich LinkedIn groups, and spark a discussion in the comments with potential clients who need your services. What if you don’t have any case studies written? Well, that brings us to…
2. Write an Epic Case Study
According to Forrester Research, B2B buyers go through 70% – 90% of the buyer journey before contacting a vendor. You need to win prospects over before you ever speak to them.
Case studies are another powerful tool you can use to demonstrate your capabilities to potential clients. A case study is a detailed account of a project that you have completed. Case studies are different from testimonials in that the customer can remain anonymous. They are also much more in-depth, which can better showcase the breadth of your skills and expertise. Including an in-depth case study will demonstrate to potential clients what kind of results they can expect from working with you.
3. Ask for Testimonials
Testimonials offer what’s called “social proof” to people who are considering using your services. Social proof is how people tend to take the opinions of others into account before making a decision. An example of this would be someone checking how well a product has been rated and reviewed online before choosing to make a purchase.
Testimonials can come in a variety of forms. On the easier end of the spectrum, you could simply ask former clients to produce a short written testimonial for you. If you really want to up your game, you can create video or audio testimonials to publish on your website.
Testimonials are extremely effective. Presenting multiple testimonials from former customers on your site confirms to potential clients that the products and services that your company provides are valuable. This helps them to develop a sense of trust in your business, which means they’re more likely to inquire about your services.
4. Go Above and Beyond
In order for you to have clients to profile in testimonials and case studies, you need to provide services that exceed their expectations. If you do nothing more than complete the contract, clients will be less than enthusiastic about promoting your services. Be sure to prove your value to customers every chance you get and do far more than they expect. This will undoubtedly make you stand out to your clients and enhance your professional reputation.
5. Blog Regularly
Another great way to grow your client base is through regular blogging. You should maintain an active blog on your business website. This marketing tool serves several purposes:
- Regularly publishing informative and readable blogs helps to increase your reputation and establishes you as an expert in your field.
- Posting regular blogs improves your standing in search engine results, which will drive more traffic to your site. This will provide you with more leads to work with.
- Blogging also helps to build rapport between you and the customer. Through reading your blogs, potential clients can get a better sense of who you are and what you can offer them.
As we’ve written before, B2B companies that blog regularly generate 67% more leads than companies that don’t. If you choose a niche wisely, you’ll be able to get in front of your target market and position yourself as a trusted advisor to potential clients.
6. Participate in Professional Organizations
Building relationships with other professionals, either within your field of business or outside of it, can lead you to new prospects. Unless you live in a very small town, you can likely find professional organizations to join. For instance, you could participate in a young professionals’ club or join your local economic development board. Through participation in these organizations, can get to know the business climate in your area. And if anyone in the organization requires the services you provide, they’ll know exactly who to come to.
Patrick McKenzie (a.k.a. patio11) shares his simple strategy for landing clients:
Do you work with dentists? Throw a local event saying How To $WHATEVER In Your Dental Practice. Rent out a room and buy coffee and donuts or, well, whatever people who care about their teeth prefer for snacks. Focus 95% on improving their businesses and 5% on mentioning that you have a product which makes this easier. Get mobbed by dentists after the talk ends.
Public speaking is arguably the fastest way to acquire new clients. Structure your marketing calendar accordingly.
7. Generate a Flood of Referrals
Don’t just wait for former or current clients to offer referrals to you. Be proactive and ask for them specifically. This is the very first step you should take when you start to build on your current client base.
Asking for a referral doesn’t have to be difficult. All you need to do is send your customer a brief e-mail telling them that you’re looking for new clients and that you would appreciate any help they could offer in making connections. If clients have been happy with the work you’ve done for them in the past, they should be more than willing to pass your name along or suggest other companies who could use your services.
Another really effective way to get referrals is by creating an incentive program. With an incentive program, you can offer a gift or discount to those who refer new clients to you. Setting up a reward system for referral up front will keep your client base growing.
Bonus: For a full playbook for generating referrals, check out the book The Referral Engine by John Jantsch. It’s well worth the $10 paperback price for any consultant, coach, or agency owner.
8. Email Your List for Appointments
E-mail campaigns are an excellent way to reach out to potential clients. The primary advantage that direct e-mails have over social media is that they can be much more personal. When you post on social media, you are addressing a very wide audience – it’s like talking to a room full of people using a bullhorn. But e-mail is more exclusive, like a one-on-one conversation. That means you will receive a higher response rate when you use e-mails.
Marketing to potential clients via e-mail is also effective because it allows you to customize your message. This works especially well when contacting qualified leads. Since you’re contacting a select group of people, you can tailor the e-mail to better sell your services. And if you use Calendly for appointment scheduling, you can use Drip’s integration to put new consultations on your calendar while you sleep.
9. Be Selective
This might sound counterintuitive, but sometimes the best thing for your business is to focus on the most important clients and let a few customers go. Of course this doesn’t mean that you start randomly cutting people from your client list. The idea here is to be deliberate by spending more time on profitable clients while eliminating customers that may be considered a liability.
Not all customers are alike. You may think that you have to treat all clients equally but that can actually keep your business from growing. Some clients are more valuable than others.
There is a principle called the “80-20” rule. What this means is that 80 percent of a company’s business comes from 20 percent of the clients. So to make the most of your time and increase the profitability of your consultancy, you should be focusing most of your time and energy on your best clients.
On the other end, you should make an honest assessment of your current clients that usually generate very little income for your company (compared to the upper 20 percent.) Are there any clients that routinely cause problems? Are there any who seem to never be satisfied, regardless of how hard you try? These customers are eating your time and energy and should be considered a liability. If they contact you for work in the future, feel free to tell them that you don’t have time to work with them.
So how exactly will this expand your client base? If your prune your client list and ask for referrals from the top 20 percent, you will receive some excellent new customers. And you will have time to work with them because you cut the more troublesome clients.
There’s one more thing you need to do – you have to take action. A lot of people will be tempted to read this article and then put off actually following any of the tips.
I get it – it’s hard. Building your client base takes a considerable amount of effort (more than ever before, actually). If your business is doing fine and you’re making enough money to get by, it’s very easy to get complacent. But in order to expand your business you have got to take action.
So make a commitment. Choose three of the above strategies and make a plan to implement them. Be specific in creating your plan and be sure to set deadlines to keep yourself accountable.
We want to hear from you. Tell us in the comments: Which three strategies did you choose? Have you used some of these methods in the past? What other strategies do you use to land new high-paying clients?