The biggest question for any entrepreneur is a very simple one. It's how to get clients or customers for your business. It really is quite simple once you start understanding some key components about business and sales. If you own a small business, by definition you are everything to the business, and your most important role is now sales. Congratulations!
If you've never done sales before, it can be more than a little bit intimidating. I speak from experience, as my corporate jobs were all in engineering and management roles. Those roles couldn't have been further from sales if I had tried, so I had to start figuring out a system that works for my engineering brain. So I broke it down into three simple steps:
1. Be Seen
2. Build Credibility
3. Bring Clients In
1) Be Seen
If people don't know about your business, they can't possibly do business with you. They won't be able to find you, or your products or services, so getting seen is the most important first step in any business lifecycle. You can choose any of a bazillion ways to get out there and tell the world about your business, from networking to social media marketing to advertising. They all work with varying degrees of success depending on your industry and location. What works for you may also be dependent on who you are and how you prefer to interact with the world around you.
2) Build Credibility
Once people know about you, it's time to build the 'know, like and trust' factor. You need to be a credible resource. Otherwise people won't do business with you. This is your opportunity to show off the quality of your products and services. You can also share your experience and education as part of your efforts to build credibility.
3) Bring Clients In
Once people know, like and trust you, it's time to start reeling them in as clients. This is where things are a bit more difficult. It can take a whole lot of following up with people to get them to agree to become clients. Depending on whose stats you listen to, following up can improve your close rates anywhere between 50% and 80%. That's a lot of improvement, but what does that mean? Well, in general, you're going to have to follow up a number of times to get people to agree to do business with you. I've seen stats showing that you close about 50% of your sales after the fifth contact. So, in general, you should keep following up with people until they completely ignore you, they tell you to go away or they drop dead. Otherwise, keep following up. This isn't easy to do, but if you don't, you may very well lose potential customers. I can't tell you how many businesses have lost the sale from me because they just didn't follow up, and I didn't bother to find them again.
There is another aspect to following up, and that is following up with clients after you've already done business with them to see if you can help them again. Clients you have already done business with are your least expensive option for getting new clients because they already liked you enough the first time to spend money on your products or services. Thus, it's generally an easier sale to get them to spend money with you again, assuming that they were happy with your services.
The more you get your business seen in a good way, along with building credibility, and then following up with prospects, the better your business will do in the long run.