It’s common sense: You’re better off harvesting the opportunities you already have than chasing the ones you could have. And yet, many of us spend an inordinate amount of time seeking out new business from networking groups and introductory lunches instead of calling on our existing and former clients. Perhaps we just aren’t in the habit of looking to them for opportunities. Or perhaps we don’t want to seem pushy or salesy, so we avoid conversations that aren’t directly related to the work for which we’ve been engaged.
But an exploratory conversation with a client can lead to new business far more efficiently than referral hunting. Your existing clients are already comfortable with the idea of working with you, so giving you more to do is a natural step. And your former clients have probably developed new problems that you could solve…if only you knew about them.
So, use these three simple words to begin the dialogue: “How is business?”
The call might sound something like this: “Hi, John. I thought I would check in. How is business?”
John will probably respond with, “Fine. How are things with you?” That’s not an answer. That’s small talk. Circle back to your question so that John understands that you are genuinely interested in the issues that are important to him.
If you practiced this technique with all of your former and existing clients, you would likely find yourself in at least one discussion that resulted in a mutual benefit. So use these three words to dig a little deeper and provide more value to your most valued contacts.