If you’ve been reading my articles lately, you know that I sincerely believe the most effective and easiest way to get new B2B clients is to completely understand your current clients first.
Why should you do this first?
You do this first because there are a number of things you need to know before you go after new clients.
For instance, you need to know the following items, in order to ensure that you don’t waste your time with the wrong types of clients. These items are imperative before you start going after new B2B clients.
1. Ideal Market
2. Ideal Client Company
3. Ideal Client Personas
4. Client Goals
5. Client Issues
6. Value Proposition
The easiest way to understand what you want in a new B2B client is obviously to know all of this information beforehand.
All of these items are imperative to run a successful business.
But, there are also many other questions you need answered from your current clients in order to succeed, and to make your business profitable, and fun to run.
You also should be selling more to your current clients before you go after new clients, so you can test out new markets, new products and services.
Most B2B people think that because they only have one product or service, that is all they can sell to each client.
That of course, is completely wrong, and in fact it is so much easier to sell to your current clients, because you’ve already built up a certain level of trust with them. As you know, people only buy from you, after you have attained that certain level of trust with them.
Example of B2B Clients you can sell more to.
Let me give you an example of why this is important to understand, and how you can use it in your business.
From 1980 until 1994 I started, owned and grew an IT (Information Technology) staffing and consulting business. I started the business from scratch. Although I had about two years of experience with another agency, before I started my own business, plus all of my experience at IBM.
It is interesting to note that I call staffing a commodity business, because it obviously dealt with placing the right “people” into an account to do a specialized job. And especially IT, where IT is a very specialized skill, such as programming, project management, etc.
And of course, we should never think of people as simply a commodity, but unfortunately, that is how most clients saw this business.
There are many reasons for this. One big reason is that different staffing agencies would submit the same person for a contract, and of course all at different rates.
So, the person, in essence, became a commodity.
I won’t get into why this happened, but that was the case back then.
It just shows how lazy some people can be about the basics of any business, such as qualification. And the way people qualify hasn’t changed much since then. Many sales people don’t even qualify at all.
Anyway, I had been trying for about three years to have this Bank (there are only 5 big Banks in Canada) use my company as their agency. In fact, they were not using any agency, but using a lot of individual independents, all on separate contracts.
The value proposition I presented to them was this.
I showed them what kind of money they could save by using an agency to do this type of work for them.
Now every company wants to save money, you would think. But Canada’s big banks are huge monoliths that make billions of dollars a year in profits – not just billions of dollars in revenue, but billions of dollars in after tax profits.
So, saving them a few thousand dollars, or even a few million dollars, here or there, didn’t seem at first like a real Value Proposition.
But it was!
Besides, it wasn’t just saving them money, I was also going to save them valuable time, and give them more productivity from their contractors.
Saving the Bank time & money
I found out that it took three months to get any new employee or contractor to get up to speed on how the IT department of that Bank worked. So, in essence, any new employee’s, or contractor’s first three months, were wasted productivity time for the Bank.
As you can imagine, any large company, especially a large Bank, has a huge IT department. In the 80’s most Canadian Bank’s IT departments had anywhere from 500 to 1,500 people working in IT. And about 10% of these people were contractors.
And, as with any large company, and especially Canadian banks, many times the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing. This meant that after a project was finished, it usually meant that any contractors, on that just finished project, were let go.
So, all of the knowledge gained from that project, but more importantly, all knowledge of how the Bank worked, was lost, only to have needless training again, for another new contractor for another project.
Another three months of non-productive time.
A better option
So, instead of losing these people, I suggested this option.
If they turned those independents over to my company, I would do a number of things for them.
1. I would put in a senior Account Manager to manage all of those contractors that worked through my company. His job was to work with all of the VP’s of each division within IT. He would find out what projects they had ongoing, and what projects were coming up, and what skill sets they needed for each of those projects.
2. The Account Manager needed to know the skill sets of each contractor, so he could move the contractors, with the right skill sets, into the next project.
3. His only account was that Bank.
We also gave them a write-up on all of the work done by each contractor, and the rating they were given by their respective project managers on each job.
Every time a contractor finished an assignment, within that bank, my Account Executive would have known that a few weeks in advance.
And by staying in touch with all of the people who ran projects, he knew what skill sets were needed for upcoming projects.
So, he was able to let these project managers know who was available, with the skill sets that were needed for that project.
This strategy helped the bank get more projects up and running on time and on budget, which of course saved the bank a lot of money, and management time on training.
By thinking about how your clients run their business, and by talking with them on a regular basis, where they have issues and bottlenecks, you can come up with ideas that will help them eliminate, or at least relieve these issues and bottlenecks.
This strategy allows you to become invaluable to that client, because you are helping that client grow their business.
So, put on your thinking cap, talk to your clients on a regular basis, and start giving them ideas, possibly outside of your company’s expertise, to help them solve issues, and grow their company.
An Important Method for Getting This Knowledge
One of the best ways, to help you understand your clients, is to have a third-party interview your best clients. It is better to have a professional third-party interview your current clients, for four main reasons.
1. Your clients will usually give a third-party more honest and direct answers.
2. If there is a problem, the third-party interviewer can uncover them better, because of his/her training and interviewing skills.
3. Your client will be impressed that you paid somebody to interview them. It makes them feel special to your company.
4. You will get all of the reasons they bought from you, the results they are receiving, and how they may be using your products/services to get results you aren’t even aware of.
Start interviewing your best clients ASAP to understand how and why you best clients buy.
And to get the best results, let me interview your clients, with my strategic questionnaire, that I have built for the past 40 years, to help you grow your business the most effective and easiest way.
Please contact me through my email below to get started.
Ian Dainty’s Email
Author of the Book – Grow Your B2B Business With Strategic Account Management
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