Finding the Right Customers
An expert on how to find customers and guide them through their customer journey
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Expanding your business is ultimately about getting more sales. But who, exactly, are those customers? Even businesses with products or services that technically anyone could use need to hone in on who their ideal potential customer is. Business strategy consultant and sales expert Erika Tebbens joined our small business webinar series to help our community of entrepreneurs assess how they find new customers who could be interested in sales calls.
“Attract the best; repel the rest.”
Entrepreneurs need to have a clear vision of their business and, by extension, their customers. “When we are talking about attracting the right people, you want to get really clear on who you serve, what they’re struggling with, what they want, and how you can serve them really well,” Tebbens explained. Your pool of potential clients is likely to get smaller than you originally thought once you answer those questions, and that’s okay. Tebbens tells her clients, “attract the best; repel the rest” when assessing their customers. “This can seem counterintuitive, but I promise you it’s not, because we are not meant to work with everyone.”
In fact, it’s important to know what clients or projects aren’t a good fit for your business. Be honest; tell the client you aren’t a fit for them and point them in the direction of someone who really can address their needs.
Some training required.
Service-based professionals or product-based businesses with a very niche product may need to add an extra step when it comes to attracting the best clients: education. If you’ve created a new product or have a service people may not know they need, you’ll have to explain to potential customers why they need you. “It’s a really good idea to think about meeting your perfect people where they are in their customer journey, in their purchasing journey, in their pondering journey around what you do,” explained Tebbens. In order to do that, determine whether your audience is:
- Problem-aware: they know what their problem is but aren’t sure how to solve it.
- Solution-aware: they’ve identified their problem and have a general idea of how to solve it.
- Problem- and solution-aware: those that know both their problem and their solution are ready to invest.
Once you determine what stage those potential customers are in, you can create content or take other actions that correspond to their needs.
Connect with content and conversations.
Any blog post, social media post or marketing email from your company has the ability to influence a potential client’s decision before they even schedule a sales call. “Content really allows people to get to know you; it can give people some ‘aha moments’; some quick wins; they can learn about your values or your unique approach,” said Tebbens. That means your customer communications need to be about more than just your latest coupon or discount.
Another way Tebbens recommended founders find more clients is by asking “where can I connect and learn?” Look for professional organizations that will help you expand your network. Join online communities or mastermind groups. If you’re able to take speaking engagements, consider them opportunities to meet potential customers. Content and community-focused activities work hand in hand as well. For example, if you meet someone at an industry happy hour, you can then point them in the direction of your blog so they can learn about how you work with clients and why your approach is the best fit for them.
Of course, it can be overwhelming to try to stay on top of every social media app, newsletter platform or business group. Tebbens recommends going slowly. “What I would strongly, strongly suggest is…start small and be consistent with both your content creation and your connection approach before you branch out.” She suggested choosing three to five channels or methods, and spending 90 days dedicating yourself to them. Over that time period, you’ll be able to observe how those particular channels affect your business.
Be patient with clients (and yourself).
Remember, customers may not hand over their cards as soon as they see your first post. People need to become familiar with a company before making a decision. The groundwork laid during that 90-day trial period could yield customers months or years later. “I literally just this morning started working with a client,” she shared. “We were in the same [online] community back in 2018.” The key is to keep going and be patient. That’s especially important if you sell a sensitive product or service, like something involving finances, fertility or health. “It’s very likely that you’re going to have a lot more silent observers, meaning you’re going to be putting out content, and people are not necessarily going to comment directly on your posts…they don’t want other people to see them commenting. But that doesn’t mean that they’re not there.”
Once they are there, however, make sure they can clearly see what they need to do in order to work with you, whether it’s scheduling a discovery call or registering for an upcoming workshop.
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