For me the number one ability essential for winning new business is a talent for building relationships fast. Relationships that can evolve into trusted conversations, meetings, a pitch and a win.
The question you’re all asking is how? What’s the journey? How do you stand out from the pack?
First of all you need to be sure of who you are and what you are offering. Many of the problems I fix for clients are around identity and tone of voice. Articulating your offer and proving that you’re great at what you do through case studies is crucial.
Be sure about who to target and develop a great database. Bought data is fine but if you’re serious about winning these clients you’ll have researched that data using social resources like websites and Linkedin to make absolutely sure you’ve got the right decision makers and influencers.
Orchestrate your efforts across email, making calls, sending a mailer and using social resources. But whatever the format for reaching out always use plain English, be clear about what you want from the relationship, stay relevant and listen to the feedback you get.
As you spot trends about how people react to your offer, keep developing your approach and mould it to your target market. Stay iterative, be flexible and keep improving.
As your new business campaigns get up and running, make sure you begin to nurture longer-term prospects carefully. It’s not enough to just ‘call them back’ a few months ahead of a review. Look after them, educate them and give them useful information along the way. If you get it right they’ll remember you and be keen to pick up the conversation again. If you get it wrong they will opt out pretty quickly.
When the time comes to meet the prospects you’ve been targeting make sure you are well prepared. They need to know that you want their business. I’ve seen too many businesses just turn up for a chat and hope they can steer themselves into an opportunity. It can and does work sometimes but you need to show that you truly understand their business, their market and their business challenges.
If you’re given a brief by a client be sure to challenge it if you feel they have got it wrong or seem not to have fully understood what it is they are looking for. Remember, you’re pitching because you’re the expert so behave like one from the start. Be honest with yourself about how you can help them too. The more faith you have in your pitch the higher chance you have of winning the business.
So, to sum up: Be sure about who you are and what you offer. Make sure your website is up to date, clear, concise and makes it easy to buy; that’s the secret, don’t hide your brilliance behind cliché and rhetoric.