The 7 ways to get
new customers

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Little nightly thoughts
by Business Exploration

Dear Fellow Innovator,

You reached Flavio's blog
on Business Exploration.

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I am always happy to talk
with interesting people.

if I look on-line to get some hint about prospecting for new clients
I generally find quite basic approaches, suitable for consumer businesses
and confounded with elementary on-line marketing tricks.

When you sell industrial equipment and B2B services with a high technological content,
where customers have to make life-changing purchasing decisions
over high-ticket investments that can make or break a company,
these approaches inspire compassion and benevolence.

The reality is that the salesman has to reach a buyer that is deeply entrenched (dug ) into his company,
that has erected high barriers to the change of the status quo,
and narrowed the path to gain his trust to almost invisible bridges.

Reaching that customer, is not a matter of polished weblines,
but of touchable human interactions.
Till now I found 7 of them, and I am happy to learn more, if you are willing to share!

The 7 ways to end up in front of a new customer

Get an Ally

To get in front to a new client, you may use an ally. Here some example:

  • Accountants
    In making difficult purchasing decisions, a buyer may need the help of accountants. They help set the figures, asses the price, qualify the seller (and also the buyer), help negotiate. Knowing some accountants may help you be referred to new customers.
  • Conference Managers
    If you take part to a conference or a fair ( expecially if you buy the ticket, the boot or the sponsorship ) go ask the Event Manager to whom you should talk to. It's his job to make the event a success, and he knows all the partecipants.
  • Schools
    Schools and training institutions - expecially if runned by industry associations - are a great way to be put in front an assembly of potential customers.
  • Politicians
    If you are in the position of making a huge investment in a territory, it is in the interest of the Governor of that territory that you get orders from companies of his network, so that you can hire new employees and he can get the merit.

Get a Peer

Better: get a peer of your customer. Someone that the customer trusts and that can lend his trust to you.

  • A former client's employee
    this is a classic: hiring a former client's director, brings immediatelly both trust and perfect know-how of customer organization and its needs.
  • Industry's association leaders
    This is the "lite" version of the above. An Industry's Association leader has direct access to the customer and a personal interest in facilitating the good relations among the associated.

Leverage competition

Poking into competition is an all time favorite. There are at least 3 ways to use competition to reach new customers:

  • Become a remora
    If you can not beat them, join them. If your competitors is too big, you can always try an agreement where they pass you lower quality orders. They may be small in size, needing more customization, or simply troublesome. You can attach to the competition and live of their leftovers. It's a dirty job, but could be very rewarding.
  • Steal their salesforce
    hire their sales representatives, and get with them a direct access to your competition's customer base.
  • Buy your competitors
    a day is not passing without someone buying the competitor just to buy its clients portfolio. Just be sure that you also buy the sales force, and secure that the competitor's managment don't drift away to rebuild the competitor … targeting the old fellows…

Get a referral

By definition a referral is a customer contact that is passed to you by an existing client. We can extend this idea:

  • Direct referral
    The classic referral made by an existing client.
  • Undirect referral
    You can push a referral and even multiply this effect if you contact your client's client. E.g.: if you sell machinery that manufacture special tiles, you may want to get in contact with architects in your target market and ask for referrals to tiles manufacuters that can be interested to manufacture those special tiles for them (and buy the equipment to produce the special tiles from you).

Get a directory

We cannot always rely on others to achieve our goals. Sometimes we have to pick up the phone and reach the customer directly. This can be done if you have somehow put your hand on customer's phone/email/address.

  • Warm calling
    is the low-commitment version of a referral: the clients tells you to contact a friend, gives you the number, and the permission to spend his name.
  • Social networks
    social networks can be used to reach a customer directly. They have the advantage that you are usually 2 degrees max, apart from your target.
  • Cold calling
    to call someone, you need his phone number. Get it from specialized providers, the yellow pages, industry associations members lists, etc..

Get a distributor

Sometime you can rely on someone outside your organization, to do the sales job. A middlemen brings a lot of value in presiding a territory.

  • Agents
    Ther are various ways to compensate for their services. When you engage an Agent, just be clear if he will rely on his customers base, or if you will need to finance his search. In this case, they will be your clients.
  • Resellers
    there are organizations specialized in bringing your product category on a specific market. Sometime you are obliged by law to use their service to enter a country, sometime is just suggested that you take advantage of their networking capabilities.
  • Clients
    well… sometime you sell to someone that resells your solution to the end user. Can be a system integrator like an EPC, a VAR - Value Added Reseller- like the local deployer of software created by a software house, or a licenser of your technology, that manufactures your products for a niche market where you cannot sell directly.

Do some marketing

You can get some new customer doing marketing. It really depends by your industry and business model. It is a realm and here I list just some example.

  • Paid media
    you can reach some customer partecipating to industry fairs, conferences, and associations events. The goal is to re-route the first contact to a 1 to 1 meeting where you can demonstrate your sales skills for real.
  • Earned media
    It takes a bit of effort but you can leverage social networks and SEO to reach some customers
  • Owned media
    your website is yours and you have full right to use it every way you think may help - also asking your friends to promote it. Your newsletter is a nice way to keep contact with existing clients, that you can invite to forward it to their friends.

Do you have any other way to share?

If you have any other way to get in contact with new customers and want to share it, I will be happy to add to this list and quote you, because it will help more people!

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