This is a LMBDW member submission by Rachel Klaver.
I own Identify, a marketing agency in Auckland, New Zealand. I started out with piles of passion, determination and a fair chunk of fear. It was just me three years ago, and through many mistakes and lessons, I’ve got a team of six (and growing).
But LAST YEAR – I almost destroyed my own business – because I was not getting the right leads
My business grew faster than I planned. Not only did I have to go on a huge learning curve around employing (and retaining!) people, managing cash flow, and all those other things I thought would just be easy, I also found that I was just like many of my clients.
Working ON the business is something us advisors and strategists tell you you need to do. When you’re the business owner yourself, it’s a lot harder to do! (I am now a lot kinder to my clients about finding ways to get this done).
As we grew, the expenses grew. My overdraft had to get bigger to manage cash flow and I needed to keep on feeding the machine of employees, office space and work costs I’d created.
It was at this point I started to become a little unstuck. I made a few errors in judgement that meant we began a downward spiral to ruin.
To be honest there are probably way too many mistakes I’ve made in the last three years to fit into one blog. But here’s some of the key ones that caused me to come to breaking point.
- I panicked when the sales slowed down, and instead of staying on track and reminding myself of the ideal client, I started to look for quick wins to get me through another month. Here’s one thing I learned from that “Quick wins become expensive wins” It meant we undersold what we did, or we sold to people who couldn’t really afford us (so always moaned about paying, asked for discounts or paid late), or we did fixed priced deals that had no padding for painful budget blowouts.
- I let the panic get to me and it impacted my team. I have a very open communication style with my team – we share in everything and they know what’s going on. But they too started to bring me terrible leads too because they were being modelled “the quick win” cycle. Plus an anxious boss creates an anxious team – and none of us could see the long term vision for who were are, and where we were going anymore.
- The fun loving person I am – I went where the party and action was, not where the sales are. It’s FUN to be a big part of engaged busy groups on Facebook. I felt I was making headway. And I was getting piles of leads! They were just all the wrong ones!. From one group alone, I was getting fifteen leads a week! BUT – unlike LMBDW, who has a good range of business stages, and sizes, THIS group was mainly what I’d term as “micro businesses” with a part time, solo owner, who didn’t have the funds to pay for external help.
I had to reset.
I stepped away from the whirlwind.
I took a firm look at who my ideal client was and measured it against the people I was attracting.
I cut loose the clients who took our energy, and couldn’t really afford us (I “rehomed” them where I could), and though it hurt, I dropped the groups where I had this amazing buzz with the wrong returns, and I instead put my time and energy into being where my target clients were.
Turning that around and changing those behaviours, turned around my business.
In the last four months, all of our growth has come from organic leads, and word of mouth referral. Our ideal clients are coming to us. We’ve quadrupled our turnover, are back to loving where we work and are growing our team.
You might not have the same reasons as me for not getting the right leads, but if you’re not getting the leads you need, you can turn it around.
Here are my starter tips on getting the right leads…
#1. You have to know your target person well. It’s something you stick on your wall and talk about together every day. It’s not a BUSINESS. It’s a person. Because people make decisions.
You may have 2-3 types – and that’s ok
#2. You need to be where they are. I love all women in business facebook communities. But for ME, my target market is hard to find in most of them. However they’re easy to find on Linkedin. Don’t get sucked into spending energy in an exciting marketplace, if your target market isn’t there
#3. Set your mindset on your worth. Don’t get fixed on a race to the bottom around price. If it’s too expensive for the people you are talking to, you are talking to the wrong people – and hanging out where the wrong people are.
This includes working out your time value too
#4. Work out your “expected customer value” and times by .2 – this is your cost of client acquisition. (so if your average client spends $5k with you, your cost to get them can be up to 1k
#5. Work out how many you speak to before you get one client. Divide the above by that (so if you get one client from for leads it’s 1k divided by 4 = $250
#6. This is your time/ cost budget to spend on getting each person
You might also be doing adwords, and fb advertising, networking groups – so you might need to take $50 off for that.
#7. So now work out – how much of your time does that buy you to use on getting this customer. Not just in terms of one meeting, but proposals, follow up calls, nurturing.
#8. Set boundaries around time, what content/ insight you’ll share, and how much you’ll give of your “gold” for free. Stick to it.
( Never start work until you’ve all agreed on payment terms, expectations and how you’ll work together. )
From here you need to start making decisions around sales processes (a whole other topic!!!)
For me – I offer a screening 15 minute call to anyone who wants it. I give generously in that call. Even if they aren’t my target market I fully give them as much as I can with no limits.
And I offer two 45 minute sessions a month FREE (well they pay me by paying a foodbank) that I can give those people I want to help but can’t afford me. And some people can’t afford us, and that’s ok, because lots of people can, and some think we’re cheap!
When you get the above right, the leads just start to flow. And you’ll be like me – posting on a Saturday because the work will be flooding in and it’s the only time you have this week to breathe.