Many leaders of small to medium-sized professional service firms believe there are hundreds, thousands or maybe even hundreds of thousands of great new prospective clients out there. But these service firm leaders often struggle to find the prospects and pull them into dialogue.
Does this sound familiar? Do you believe you’ve only just begun to tap your potential for client acquisition? Do you feel as if there is a world of opportunity just outside your reach and that you could really grow if you simply had the right strategy, the right approach?
If so, I have some good news for you. Your best new client is actively looking for you right now. They are searching the digital ecosystem for ideas that will help them achieve their goals, realize their opportunities and overcome their challenges. If you put the right content and the right strategy in place, they will come right to your doorstep. Let me show you how to do this.
Your prospective ideal client is out there right now searching for ideas to help them achieve their goals. I’ll guarantee it.
The organic prospect
All of the service firm leaders I speak with, at The Shattuck Group, are deeply desirous of new client acquisition. In most instances, this goal tops their list. But when I dig a little deeper, I begin to uncover some contingencies, some further clarification, about the kinds of conversations they want to have.
First, they typically believe that their referral engine is doing okay. While they could always use more referrals from existing clients and partners, most service firm leaders know that this network has its limits. You can only ask clients and partners for referrals so many times before you might start to annoy them. You don’t want to do that.
Second, service firm leaders know that while their networks might have a limited number of contacts, the internet is full of hundreds of millions of people. Service leaders believe that their prospective ideal client is already on the internet. They have a sense that it’s only about six degrees of separation that prevent them from connecting with those prospects. But service leaders don’t know what those degrees look like or how to pull someone through those degrees.
Third, service firm leaders don’t want to waste time on prospects that are not a good fit. They want to make sure that by the time a prospect is ready to engage in serious sales dialogue, that prospect has appropriate need, budget and a timeline in which they must act. This greatly increases the likelihood of a closed deal and ensures that your senior people aren’t wasting their time.
Fourth, service firm leaders want to speak to prospects that are truly organic. This usually means that the prospect exhibits a few key characteristics:
- They had no prior knowledge of the service provider before they found them online. This means that the genesis of the relationship is completely within the digital realm.
- They had no inclination to say yes to the service provider before they began their digital journey. In other words, they were persuaded online.
- They go on a journey where they warm up over time and at some point reach out for a conversation… After they are convinced that the service provider is right for them.
These criteria represent the kinds of prospects that most service firms would like to have in abundance: no prior knowledge, no pre-existing inclination to say yes, appropriate need, budget and timeline to take action. Sound right?
Do these prospects exist?
When we first engage with new clients, I’ll often ask them how many prospective clients they believe are out there. Only very rarely can someone tell me, with any confidence, precisely how many prospective ideal clients there are in their universe. More often than not, this is a SWAG.
So I want to be honest about something. I cannot tell you for sure that there are great organic prospects out there for your company. But this has been our experience. If you do a really good job of defining exactly who your ideal client is, you’ll usually discover that there are far more available to you than you previously realized. You’ll also likely discover that there are networks that already exist where a high concentration of your ideal clients are already aggregated.
Most small to medium-sized professional service firms have far more organic prospects available to them than they realize. If you build the right strategy, you won’t have to find them. They’ll find you.
As part of a positioning exercise, we help our clients build a clear picture of who they are ideally suited to serve. We usually build a profile based on:
- Demographic, psychographic and geographic factors
- Decision-makers & influencers by title and responsibility
- A deep-dive discussion of decision-makers’ top goals, opportunities and challenges
It is usually this last category of activity – goals, opportunities and challenges – which most service firms really struggle to define. Usually this requires some qualitative market research to really dig deep into the minds of clients. But this effort is worth it because it positions you to do something really valuable – create and provision strategic content into the digital ecosystem.
The digital ecosystem
The word digital has come to mean – anything we do with computers, tablets and smart phones. This is a workable definition. But when many service firm leaders hear the word digital, they tend to think of two things: their website and social media. That’s a good start, but it’s not nearly broad enough.
Here is the reality that we see today that has given rise to a tremendous opportunity for service-based organizations. Digital is now an ecosystem of interconnected websites, webpages and content assets where the walls that used to separate them have dissolved. The ideas are now interlinked into a highly connected digital ecosystem that is alive with activity.
Here is how this creates an amazing opportunity for you. Your prospective ideal client is out there right now searching for ideas to help them achieve their goals. I’ll guarantee it. Most professional service firms solve complex problems that their clients find very perplexing. They are eagerly searching for ideas and counsel from an expert who can be their Sherpa. They are looking for you.
An organic prospect can encounter an idea on one website, follow it through to a landing page on your website, register for the asset and then spend hours thinking about how you can help them accomplish a goal that deeply matters to them.
This is how you stimulate the digital ecosystem.
Some ideas to get you rolling
The digital ecosystem is just one very important idea that I’ve developed in an E-Book called Ten Things Service Websites Must Do To Drive Revenue. This free, 52-page E-Book goes into much greater detail about how to position with and pull ideal organic prospects into a business relationship with your company.
If acquiring great new organic clients is high on your priority list, I know you’ll thoroughly enjoy this E-Book.