Client prospecting has become vital for freelancers and businesses in 2020.
With sales methods and revenue plummeting due to global conditions, the business world has had to find new ways to reach their audience.
We share seven methods of client prospecting that companies can adopt this year to keep their organizations afloat.
Understanding who your client is and where they are in relation to you will make the prospecting process more effective.
This is why you should be creating client personas and customer journeys.
You already have an idea of the niche that you are working within, but what are the traits of the clients who exist within that area?
If you can look through the successful client interactions you have had in the past, you can get a fair idea of who will be most responsive to your prospecting.
Also, look at your competitors and the kind of clients they are attracting—what are these customers’ challenges, demographics, and interests?
How can you solve their pain points and add value to their life with your service or product?
Once you can answer these questions, you can start developing examining the customer journey and how you can build more awareness and establish client relationships.
You can use a timeline infographic to visualize the client persona and their journey to make your prospecting attempts more effective.
When looking for new connections and business opportunities, there should be no limits to the methods and platforms used.
If there are some channels that you are more comfortable with or more adept at, you should definitely prioritize those—you will have more success because you know the lay of the land.
But there are multiple ways to reach clients—even if they’re outside your comfort zone—that could be beneficial to your business, and these should not fall by the wayside.
For instance, email marketing and social networking may be your forte while cold calling or attending digital networking events may not be something you are overly fond of.
But there are benefits to cold calling and digital events that you can’t get with emails and social media—such as personal interaction.
Diversifying your client prospecting methods will improve your chances of getting more leads and growing your business.
Use Social Groups
Social media can often feel impersonal, making it difficult to prospect for new clients.
But there is one aspect of the social sphere where you can create more intimate connections—groups.
LinkedIn and Facebook have had groups for a while, but they have been becoming more essential for building connections.
These two platforms do have different audiences so you will likely be prioritizing one over the other.
It is best to shop around a bit to pick the right groups for prospecting—you will find yourself joining and leaving some within a few days, whereas others will be a better fit.
Prospecting within digital groups needs to be done at a slower pace—start by commenting on posts, sharing your insights, or by asking questions.
Use these as stepping stones to build longer-lasting and impactful relationships.
Once you find prospects, you need to make your pitch—a bad first impression could sink your chances of building a relationship.
But how does one ensure that the conversation goes well and leads to a final deal? You can achieve this by scripting your prospecting pitches.
When one talks about scripts, one doesn’t mean talking or writing like a robot—you still need to sound like a real human trying to build connections with your audience.
It doesn’t make sense to write out an entire script and recite it word for word—the same pitch can’t be used for every client, nor will it fit every situation.
But what you could do is flesh out talking points that will help keep you aligned in your pitching process—that way, you can tailor what you say or write depending on the client.
When you’re working on a scripted pitch, think of what you usually open with when speaking to a prospective client.
Write that down—if you use your natural speech, your conversations will sound more fluid and real.
Adapt your scripts for the mode of communication—what you send in an email won’t necessarily work on social media or during a video call.
Read your script out loud before meeting someone and give yourself room to make adjustments during the conversation.
Keep a note of possible questions your prospect may ask and how you could answer them—it’s best never to leave your audience hanging.
A script can make the pitching process more effective but don’t rely on it too heavily or you won’t be authentic to your brand or yourself.
Finding quality leads is one of the biggest time management challenges when prospecting—but the connections you do make can become long-lasting.
There are a number of ways to prospect for clients, many of which take up a lot more time and can be very accurate.
One of the quicker methods is cold outreach, which continues to have its place in reaching audiences for businesses, no matter their size.
Cold outreach can be accomplished through cold calling or via emails—either way, you can earn clients using this method.
You will have to make a significant amount of calls and send large numbers of emails to get a few hits.
Ensure you follow these email marketing best practices before sending out cold emails—this will help to make the process more efficient.
Despite the challenges, there is a reason why cold outreach is still a go-to method for many—it acts as a gateway to enter the market and make those essential first contacts.
Cold calling and emailing eventually lead to you building an audience base that is more receptive to your business.
Once the first transactions have been completed, your follow-ups will fall into the warm calling or emailing category.
Warmer targets already know you and are more likely to continue a business relationship with you—the goal is to escort them into the ‘hot’ category where they become long-term clients.
Building relationships requires work—don’t just aim for one interaction.
You will need to follow up regularly with your client—ask them what they need from you and offer more value addition.
Of course, don’t initiate too many conversations or they will stop contacting you—these relationships need to flow organically to be effective.
Instead, follow up with prospects by arranging regular meetings—use calendar apps or create events on Google Calendar from Google Sheets to engage with multiple clients.
Prioritize your clients and their needs during these calls. Don’t sell to them—offer them solutions only you can provide. This will help build trust over time.
And even when you’re not selling, invite your clients to other events, meetings, or share content to stay connected with them.
Referrals are massively important when trying to win over new clients. People trust the word of other people—it’s human nature.
You will have competitors who are targetting your audience—to encourage them to do business with you, share the experiences of past clients.
When you’re approaching a new client, reviews and testimonials from people you’ve worked with before can go a long way in earning you these new prospects.
Of course, not all clients will be satisfied with your business, but there are ways to handle negative reviews that will help you still come out on top.
On the other hand, happy customers who enjoy doing business with you are the perfect way to seal the deal with someone who is still on the fence—that is the power of a referral.
But you need to get those referrals first—far too many businesses wait to ask for reviews and referrals.
You should be asking for a referral shortly after your transactions have been completed—when the interaction is still fresh in everyone’s minds.
You could also design a case study from your experiences with a client and ask them to contribute a review or write-up for it—this will give both you and the client added exposure.
Referrals humanize a company’s interactions with its customers, which is why it is vital to gather them as often as possible.
These seven methods of client prospecting will take time to perfect—and they don’t guarantee overnight success.
But with time and perseverance, businesses can create long-lasting relationships with clients to help them generate revenue regularly and keep their companies going for a few more years.
About the author: Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. Ronita regularly writes about marketing, sales, and small businesses. Twitter: @Venngage