Courting prospective clients is in many ways similar to courting a future spouse. Both types of courtship can be long and drawn-out to help ensure there is a good fit between the two parties. And throughout both types of courtship there are periodic meetings and ongoing communications, during which the two parties assess whether they have a future together.
“It is necessary to nurture prospects to increase your chances of success in converting them,” says Yvonne Jodhan, marketing consultant with Alternative Asset Research Inc. in Toronto. “Prospects might not be ready to do business with you, or may simply want more time to consider their options.”
When courting prospects, you should focus your energies on those who meet your ideal-client criteria, which may include age, income level or some other demographic or psychographic measures.
Here are some strategies you can use in building relationships with prospective clients:
> Tell your story
Tell prospects about yourself — what you do, how you work and how you add value, Jodhan says. Highlight any relevant differentiating attributes you may have.
“Be careful not be pushy, overbearing or intrusive,” she says.
You may wish to refer prospects to client testimonials that address various solutions you have provided. You can also invite them to connect on LinkedIn or other social media platforms on which you post information. The goal, Jodhan says, is to build your credibility.
> Maintain ongoing communication
Keep in contact with prospects by regularly providing them with information of value. But be sure to get their permission before you send them anything.
“Be selective about the information you provide,” Jodhan says. Customize your communication program to meet the needs of different prospects.
Add prospects to your newsletter list or send them an interesting article every month from a credible, third-party source. “You want to remain top of mind,” she says, “while trying to influence the prospect to work with you.”
> Deepen the relationship
You may wish to invite prospects to lunch or coffee to strengthen your relationship, Jodhan says. Face-to-face interactions help to build familiarity and trust.
You also can invite prospects to events that you believe might be of interest to them — and where they might meet clients who work with you. “Picking a few trusted clients to interact with prospects and tell your story can go a long way in persuading them to choose you as their advisor,” Jodhan says.
> Follow up
Jodhan suggests you call your prospects, perhaps every few months, depending how well your last conversation went. You do not want to come across as hounding them for a decision; you just want to show that you are interested in working with them.
You may also send them an email, Jodhan says, and attach some content that might “jog their memory about a conversation you had with them.”