How’s your client/customer list faring these days?
If you’re like every other business around you, you’ve got some churn happening. People move, change jobs, experience a shift in financial circumstances … the list goes on. Even in predictable economic times (remember those days?), the task of finding new customers to replace the existing ones is an ever-present challenge for Indianapolis business owners.
You might have a great prospect list to start with – or you might not.
The truth is that no matter the size of your list, you have a ways to go with a pickaxe and shovel before you turn those names into satisfied buyers.
Building a prospect list starts with looking at your current clients, looking around your market area and figuring out the best ways to reach people.
It’s a lot of work – but it’s worth it.
Before I get into this topic today, one quick reminder:
Let’s try to grab a time to talk about your Marion County business before year-end, just to ensure that we are capturing every available tax-savings strategy for you.
Find us here: helmscpa.com/book-an-appointment/
Now, let’s discuss building that list…
How Indianapolis Businesses Can Build a Quality Prospect List
“Master the topic, the message and the delivery.” – Steve Jobs
Growing a prospect list starts with your current customers – and the ones you like working with most.
Look at them. What makes these folks special? What do they have in common when it comes to your business? Is there one service they use a lot or a product they always buy? Are they all in the same industry, or do they live in the same area?
Any prospect who has a lot in common with your best customers is going to be a hot prospect indeed.
Quick note: A “prospect” is not a “lead.” A lead is often little more than somebody’s contact info. A prospect is somebody who, for whatever reason, is a whisker more likely to want to do business with you.
Prospects also don’t even have to be interested in buying right now. They just have to fit the general characteristics of the folks who already buy from you.
Another way to find good prospects is to see what markets are doing well in your area. “Market” can mean a lot of things, from more people moving in to more businesses opening. Sometimes all it takes to spot an opportunity is taking the time to look.
And of course, what’s the competition up to? Probably most times you look at the other guy with envy that they’re doing something you can’t. When you’re building your prospect list, though, flip that around: What’s your competition not doing that you can?
Look around your company, too. People know people. You may have so-so prospects that can turn into great ones because somebody right under your nose has the inside story. Ask.
Get the word out
Now that you’ve got this list (with luck, a big one) of people who have a better-than-average desire to buy from your Indianapolis business, what do you do with it?
Thing is, you’ve got a lot of ways to reach them today – a lot – but you’re going to be just noise if you don’t speak loud and clear and right to their interests. Some mediums to consider…
Direct mail. Even though the mailman still brings you a lot of recyclable material, you have to admit that physical junk mail isn’t as common as it used to be. That could be your opening. Depending on how many people you’re trying to woo, invest the time for handwritten notes or the expense of mailing a book.
Sure, these aren’t cheap, but they could pay off when you’re trying to reach the best of the very best of your prospects. Requesting a signature on delivery is a relatively cheap way to stand out, too.
Despite the bucks for printing and postage, direct mail still works. And so does this…
The phone. Nobody likes getting cold calls and nobody likes making them – but salespeople say they still work. Study your list well, let folks know about you before you call and you might get somebody keen to buy (a happier cold call for everybody: the warm call).
Social media. Join online groups where your prospects are and then behave like any other member: helpful but not like somebody looking to sell something. Sooner or later, they’ll recognize your expertise.
Email. Most people say they prefer to be contacted by email – yet the open rate on unsolicited email remains small. Best bet is to only contact and communicate with prospects this way if they’ve given you permission. Drop any the moment they ask you to.
Your list will soon have to tell you more than just somebody’s address. It needs to provide you with actionable data. So think about:
- A second list for prospects you contacted but who didn’t give you business.
- Notes for a follow up that you can use when you ping them again next quarter.
- Scoring prospects on how close they are to buying from you – and who’s on the cusp of being dropped from your list because, let’s face it, some people just aren’t interested. Plus it makes room for new folks who ARE interested.
Happy prospecting. If there’s anything else we can do to help you and your business get ahead, just let us know.
To your (faster) growing company …
John R. “Rusty” Helms, C.P.A., CGMA
J.R. Helms & Associates, P.C.