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Five (different) tips for landing the next client.

I know. You’re not technically in a sales position. You are a professional services provider. I also bet that just doing a great job is not enough to attract every prospective client (we’ll cover this elsewhere) and convert that prospect into new business. You can always do better, and that’s why it helps to think like a sales rep sometimes. Here are a few sales tactics that you can employ to improve your close ratio, meaning the percentage of perspective clients who become clients.

Before you roll your eyes at yet another sales article, I thought about that too and tried to look at this topic from a little different perspective. First, it really doesn’t matter whether sales is an art, science, skill or black magic. It’s also not luck, so there are things you can do to make closing business a little easier. Second, I’ll try to get a little more specific than showing you how to be “amazing” or “remarkable.” Finally, this won’t be about active listening, consultative selling, or dressing for success. Others have scorched that earth quite effectively.

Pressure’s on, so here are the first two tips:

  1. Build commonality. The product (your specific service set) has to be good for a client to sign up. But your problems start when prospective clients can’t see the differences between providers. If you weren’t a lawyer, accountant, or like me a consultant, I’d say that people would because they like you. Sorry, but that whole billable hours thing makes it tough to love us. Your prospective clients will, however, buy because they think you understand them and feel their pain So build a commonality rather than trying to build that friendly bond. Ask a few introductory questions to find that link. Could be obvious, like you are both single parents with two kids and like to invest in IPOs. Or it could be a little more challenging to uncover, like you both used to race in triathlons before you messed up your knees skateboarding. It’s worth the few extra minutes.
  2. Differentiate. Tip #1 assumes that you haven’t been able to show that your product is better than your competitors. Why is that? Sure, lots of firms offer the same service set. Law is law, or it’s just counting the numbers, or you regurgitate information back to clients and charge them (like me), etc. But nuances in your product, and how you deliver that product, can be a powerful differentiator. Sometimes you can start with the things that bug your clients, or your competitors’ clients. Can someone else in your office normally answer a client question if you’re unavailable? Will you always respond during the same business day? Do you provide regulatory or other background research at no charge? Can you leverage special relationships to help your clients? With a couple of items like these, all of a sudden you really start to stand out, and you generate FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) as the prospective client evaluates your competitors.


In Part II, we’ll continue down the sales continuum with three more tips.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it.

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