If your primary source of business revenue is selling services, there is no worse feeling than having an empty pipeline (especially when you’re completing projects with your current clients).
So how do you keep a full pipeline with eager clients and customers? Let me share 3 steps to get you started:
Step 1 — Know who your ideal client is. If you don’t know who you’re trying to put into your pipeline it’s going to be pretty hard to get them in there.
But this is deeper than just taking on anyone who waves a check in front of your face. If you want to fill your pipeline with clients who are EAGER to do business with you, you want to attract your IDEAL clients.
So what is your ideal client? Your ideal clients are the ones who you love to work with. They’re the ones who are a perfect fit for what you offer. They are NOT “women between the ages of 20 and 50 who are married with 2 children and trying to start a home-based business.” That’s a target market and that’s different from ideal client. Ideal clients are about an attitude, a shared vision or goal. An ideal client description would look more like this: “mothers who have been stay-at-home mothers but their children are now starting school and they’re ready to start working. But they don’t want a job, they want something they can do at home and have flexible hours so they can still put their kids first.”
See the difference in the description?
Now, you might be someone whose pipeline is empty and you REALLY need the cash flow, so while an ideal client is nice, you’d be happy with anyone who waves a check in front of your face.
First off, I get it. I’ve been there myself. However, as I know you know, taking on those less-than-ideal-clients while might be necessary for financial reasons, usually turn into a bigger headache than what you signed up for. I know you sometimes have to do this, but wouldn’t it be better to NOT have to? Start now focusing on attracting your ideal clients into your pipeline. Will a non-ideal client slip in from time to time? Of course. And if you so choose, you can take the on as a client. But start it off right by building that solid foundation first.
Step 2 — go where your ideal clients are. Now that you know who they are, it’s time to hang out where they’re hanging out. Don’t know where they are? Then go back to step 1 and do more digging. If you really know your ideal clients, you’ll know where to find them. Then you can focus your lead generating activities in the places where they are.
Step 3 — nurture your leads. Once you have your leads in the door, now it’s time to build a relationship with them. The best way to do this is through a consistent follow-up system, such as an ezine and/or direct mail piece. If you have a weekly ezine or something that goes out regularly to your leads, you don’t have to worry about remembering to contact them.
It takes AT LEAST 7-13 touches to turn a prospect into a client. In this “new economy” this number is even higher (I’ve found you need to be a little more aggressive to get the same level of sales as you would have a few years ago.) So if you have an easy and automatic way to stay in touch with your prospects, you’ll find building that relationship with your prospects that much simpler.