The quest of a business is to grow. Different measures of growth are used, it may be revenue or volumes but the idea is to grow. Whichever you value more the best case scenario is to do both, move more products and make more money. This can be achieved by amongst other things increasing the number of people you do business with. In service businesses, we refer to these as clients. We can draw a line between customers and clients based on the ongoing relationship that businesses have with clients and the personalised nature of the products provided to clients. All clients are customers but not all customers are clients. So looking at client-based businesses how can we get more clients. Let’s understand the client based business first.

Client-based businesses

Distinguishing customers and clients is more art than science. It has a lot of nuance to it. The consensus is that customers tend to buy goods or generic services from a business. The bread buyer or Ecocash user is a customer. Clients differ in that they receive bespoke products that cannot easily be transferred to other customers and have an ongoing relationship. Developing a website for someone is an example of a client. So the important things to note here are the close working and ongoing relationships that client-based businesses foster. So how do we attract more clients to these businesses?

Be clear about the clients you want

The first thing to do is be clear about the clients you want. I cringe (on the inside) every time I speak to people in business who identify everyone as their ideal customer. While you may be open to taking money from everyone your business is better served by having a particular customer in mind. This enables you to better target your marketing and sales processes to the appropriate customer. Many times people feel like narrowing down the ideal customer description limits your reach but we more often than not find that clarity on the ideal makes for better business. Apple its notoriously narrow customer focus has 7 of the top 10 selling phone models of 2021 and that is not an anomaly repeating this same dominance for many years on end.

Interview and qualify clients

Being clear about the clients you want is one thing and making sure you are dealing with them is another. This isn’t easy for every business but you need to learn to qualify prospects to see if they are likely to be ideal clients. Just because the goal of a business is to get more clients it doesn’t mean that you cannot interview clients in the process. This process helps you grow your business better because it helps you understand who your marketing is reaching and why. You can use this information to improve those processes. It can also help you understand how to better reach the people you want to reach.

Seek first to understand

In the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective people the late Dr Stephen Covey lists habit number 2 as seeking first to understand and then be understood. This approach when courting clients is very important. See as much as clients are concerned about your business and your story of coming from humble beginnings their main concern is your ability to deliver on what they want. To quote Dr Covey again “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”. To put it simply never forget what’s important, in this case, their business. I have seen businesses that focus on their prospect achieve better sales results than those that focus on telling their prospects about themself.

Feedback loop

Effective use of feedback is another tool that will greatly increase your success in attracting clients. We already touched on the processes that get you some of the information that you will use in the feedback loop but here we are looking specifically at feedback from existing clients. They are the best source of information for dealing with your business and how processes can be improved for the customer. They will also make things clear about misgivings customers may have before engaging you. These misgivings may create bottlenecks in your sales process. Feedback can be used to improve your onboarding and general client relationship management.

Good work is the best marketing

This should go without saying but good work is the best marketing. The saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” applies very well when it comes to customers in general and clients in particular. It is less resource consuming to retain existing customers.