Unless you receive a very warm referral, winning a new client can often be a long process as they get to understand if you can really help them and importantly whether they like and trust you. Research has shown that on average it takes 7 interactions with someone before they commit to work with you and your company.
The other point to consider is that it is rarely a formulaic process; new potential clients may encounter you in lots of different ways before they work with you. It can sometimes be a long, convoluted and even surprising road for them to reach us, often with many points on the way. The same can be said for how people build trust with us internally too.
The best analogy is a journey. Think of different people travelling to Washington DC their route will vary depending on where they are coming from, how they are travelling and different people may choose to break their journey at different places – to stop for lunch, to refuel, to call in at a friend’s house – you get the picture!
I was reminded of this by a new client recently. She had been to an event hosted by a brand I sometimes blog for. She went to their website afterwards and saw one of my blogs. She then went to my website, looked around and sent me a message. We had our first session together shortly afterwards. This was not a ‘typical’ journey for how my clients come to work with me so it got me thinking. In this case, there weren’t the 7 interactions but my point in this blog is to get you to think about all the places people may encounter you before they actually work with you. I was pleasantly surprised that a blog had persuaded her to contact me!
When I worked in consumer goods marketing, there was a lot of talk of ‘touchpoints’, I think the term is highly applicable for all of us looking to work with new clients and build our professional relationships internally. What are the touchpoints a potential client or colleague has with you? Where do you need to consider what you are communicating? These are likely to include:
- Online – what is out there about you? More generally as well as the organisation’s website
- LinkedIn specifically as this is the professional social media environment
- In articles/blogs that you may have written, whether on-line or in print
- In person at networking events
- In emails/on the phone
- In a 1-2-1 meeting
- In non face-to-face meetings e.g. videoconferences
In all these places, you need to have a strong, clear and most importantly consistent image. If people are unsure what you are really about and/or you lack confidence in communicating this then they are likely to drift and not complete the journey to work with you.
Someone was telling me recently that they had met a person several times previously in a group context, she was looking forward to a 1-2-1 coffee. When that time came, the conversation was really hard work – not at all what she had expected based on the other meetings. So it shows that we need to think about how we engage in all contexts, even those that we feel less comfortable with.
If you work in a large organisation, you might think this is only relevant to the marketing department and their strategy of how they position the goods/services you provide. However, this is absolutely not the only thing that is necessary. As individuals, we are communicating about our organisations every time we engage with others professionally, however and wherever that may be.
This is even more the case when we are selling a service, as it is even more about the people delivering the service. When those of us who offer a service go to a networking event, we don’t have a whizzy, tangible product to demonstrate, so it’s even more about us.
When the person we met needs that good/service at a later date, will they think of us? Likewise, when a more senior person is thinking about the next round of promotions or who to place on the next project, will they think of us? It depends how positively memorable we were to them. If they do, when they go to find us on-line, will that picture reinforce the one they already have of us from when we met?
Remember, you never know where a potential client/referrer/colleague might encounter you on their journey so you can’t afford to forget about any of the touchpoints where they may experience you (some of them without you even realising!). A consistent, professional image is essential.
Guest Blog by Joanna Gaudoin who will be our guest speaker on 28 June 2016.
Joanna has a marketing, consultancy and image background, she helps her clients think about what they are communicating about themselves and how, at every stop of the journey to build positive professional relationships. If you’d like to learn more about Joanna before you meet her on 28th then please visit her website. Otherwise, please have your questions ready!
Image courtesy of freeimages.com/Barb Ballard