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9 excellent ways to truly understand what your clients want to buy

bumble bee flying to flowerNeed to attract clients to you? In this article, Heather Townsend, co-author of How to make partner and still have a life shares the mindset shift you need to make to help attract clients to you.

I’ve been spending time with a group of consultants, helping them begin to win their own clients.  Like many of us, some of them were uncomfortable with the “ra-ra element” (their words, not mine) to marketing themselves. Most professionals prefer their deeds and results to do the talking, but unfortunately, the world doesn’t work like this.

One way to overcome this resistance to the idea of “selling” is to think instead of creating the right conditions for people to buy. To do this, you need to understand what they want, and the process they go through to buy services like yours.   This articles looks at nine ways you can do this.

You need to put yourself in your clients’ shoes and understand what is going on in their world. You may be tempted to think you know already, and that you can skip this step, but you’ll get priceless insights if you take time to really talk to your clients and prospects and understand their views of the world. To help you plan how you will build your marketing campaign to win more clients download our free step-by-step guide to building a successful marketing plan (email needed)

9 ways to do your market research

There are a number of different approaches you can take to understanding your target client:

  1. read the trade-related press, blogs, and articles,
  2. following companies and individuals from your niche market on LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and so forth,
  3. attending industry-relevant events such as conferences and seminars,
  4. interviewing people who work within the industry – particularly your existing clients (more on this below),
  5. running focus groups on relevant topics for people in your target industry,
  6. sending out questionnaires and surveys,
  7. reading online forums,
  8. reading the blogs and articles produced by your competitors, and
  9. signing up for newsletters from your niche market and from your competitors.

Persuading someone to say yes to an interview

One of the most valuable, but perhaps the most daunting, way to get information is to interview someone working in your target industry.  Here are some tried and tested tips to get agreement:

  • Don’t make it about you and what you need. Make it clear that it’s about understanding them and their business so that you can offer better services.
  • Don’t ask for too much. Most people will be willing to grant 15-20 minutes, maybe even half an hour. Go with the time available in their diary, don’t let your convenience dictate the appointment.
  • Send the questions in advance, and keep them short and open ended.
  • Don’t give any hint of wanting to sell to them. Make this clear from the outset, you just want information. It’s not unusual for work to stem from these interviews, but you must not let it be your primary aim.

How often to do research interviews?

Client research is not something you can do once and never again. Circumstances change all the time and you need to repeat your market research to keep abreast of your clients’ changing priorities.   Running one or two interviews every month will bring you powerful ways to refine and polish your approach to winning new business, particularly as it will give you spot-on relevant material for your own website.

To keep yourself focused on your personal marketing plans, even if your chargeable time targets are high download our free step-by-step guide to building a successful marketing plan (email needed).

In summary:

Time spent really understanding your ideal clients and what matters to them will really pay off with attracting new business.

Further Reading:

  1. Five ways your online footprint helps you sign up the right clients – part 1
  2. Five ways your online footprint helps you sign up the right clients – part 2
  3. Five ways your online footprint helps you sign up the right clients – part 3
  4. 8 ways to help prospective clients sign up quicker – part 1
  5. 8 ways to help prospective clients sign up quicker – Part 2

This post originally appeared in a different form on the How To Make Partner website.

Author Credit

GTE thumbnail_100Heather Townsend helps professionals become the The Go-To Expert. She is the author of the  award winning and best-selling book on business networking, the ‘FT Guide To Business Networking’ and the co-author of ‘How to make partner and still have a life’, and ‘The Go-To Expert’. Over the last decade she has worked with over 300 partners; coached, trained and mentored over 2000 professionals at every level of the UK’s most ambitious professional practices. 

Heather blogs regularly at How to make partner and still have a life and works with future and current Big 4 partners and professionals from mid-tier firms all over the world

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