If you are like most of the people that I speak with, I’d guess that you’re always on the hunt for ways to refine and improve your marketing strategy. When you’re looking to turn a prospect into a client, it’s important to have a number of ways to both initiate contact and then to follow up over time. Here are a few ideas that I’ve used myself and also with my coaching clients that may be useful for you.
1.) Call and recruit the decision maker:
Call the person that you would like to have as a client but instead of making it a marketing call, call to talk about his career. If you already work with people at his level, and you will keep your ears open for any outstanding opportunities for him, then it is OK to approach him about his career first as a softer way to develop a relationship. People tend to be much more open to a recruiting call rather than a marketing call and this allows you to build trust and rapport with him before progressing to questions about his hiring needs. You do not need to call with a specific opening if you frame it correctly.
For instance, “…the reason for my call is that your name was given to me and I wanted to find out if you may have an interest in keeping an ear open should an exceptional career opportunity come available”? If he asks if you have anything-specific say, “I don’t call professionals to ‘pitch a job’ until I’m sure that I know what their definition of an ideal career move is. So, the purpose of my call today is to get some clarity as to your career goals and then compare that to any opportunities that would be a step up for you that we may have either now or in the future”. Don’t lead into marketing questions on this call but use it as a way to build rapport.
2.) Get more business from current clients and dormant clients.
Statistics show that it’s 80% easier to get more business from current or dormant clients than it is to get new business from a new client. That fact is worth repeating; it’s 80% easier to get more business from current or dormant clients than it is to get new business from a new client. Yes, you should always be marketing to new companies but there’s no need to bang your head against the phone unnecessarily while leaving money on the table from current clients.
Make an exhaustive list of everyone that you could call who has some link to you through current or past business. Who do you have a signed agreement with that you’re not working with? Who have you done business with in the last five years? Make a list and keep in regular contact with them. Have you exhausted each hiring manager with your current clients? Have you leveraged what you did with one department in order to get business in another? Other locations you could work with? Any sister companies that you could work with? Any managers who have left to go to other companies that you could track down?
3.) Become a guru through a narrow focus:
If you specialize in a narrow niche then you have the opportunity to become the master of that niche and be seen as a valued insider. Get involved with the professional associations and organizations for your niche. Attend and/ or speak at their conferences. Write articles for their publications. Offer your perspective to their trade journal writers. Become a “known man” or woman. Keep in mind that it will take repeat exposure to have an impact in this way.
4.) Diffuse the pressure inherent in a sales conversation:
You must diffuse the pressure inherent in the sales process by acting like a consultant rather than a salesperson. If your marketing objective is to find clients that you can truly provide value for, then your prospect will sense this and tend be more open to what you have to say. The key is to let them know early on that you are someone that does business differently than many of the recruiters that they may dealt with in the past. On the first phone call you could say something like this:
“Before I describe my service to you I’d like to let you know that we don’t operate in a sale-sy way. We don’t pressure people and we don’t chase people. So I want to make sure that you are OK operating this way.”
5.) Referral based marketing:
Make this your primary marketing goal. Surprise and delight your clients with great service so that they want to refer you to their peers. Have a referral reward for candidates who tip you off on job openings. Get referrals from clients after you fill a search. Who are their peers? Who do they know in the industry?
6.) Follow Up Magnificently:
Keep in mind that it takes 7 exposures on average for someone to purchase a new service. Look at follow up as being more important than initial contacts. Have a plan to execute 7 points of contact with each potential client that is worth pursuing. Use both direct and indirect methods of contact.
7.) Use email as a form of marketing follow up:
Sample: “I hope all is well with you. We haven’t spoken in a bit and I wanted to follow up to see how things have progressed in your department since we last talked. I was wondering what you saw on the horizon in terms of adding new staff this year. Let me know if there is there anything that I may be able to help you with.
Even if you are not hiring for awhile, feel free to call if you need to keep a pulse on what the market looks like for certain skill sets or if you would like us to research salary comparisons for your current staff.