Here’s an easy solution to some of your business woes: Go out and get bigger clients and customers. This could include, but is not limited to clients who have a bigger budget, clients who have more to spend and are willing to spend it with you.
Small businesses often have small customers; that’s the nature of the gig. Small business customers could be individuals, families, other small businesses, non-profits, professionals, freelancers, startups – you name it. And, while they all have budgets like the rest of us, it is also true that their budgets are usually pretty tight, which often means you have to work hard and long to make some real money since your margins are so thin.
That’s why I am telling you that the smart move is to go out and get some bigger, probably corporate clients who are playing on a bigger field with more dollars. You can do more for them and charge more.
Example: I have a pal who sells real estate. His specialty was selling small duplexes and four-plexes. When the real estate market was still humming along, this afforded him a nice lifestyle because there were so many of these types of deals available. But, then the economic tsunami hit. He was soon underwater.
Instead of drowning by staying with what he had always done, he devised a new plan – namely, the one I am suggesting here. He decided that selling large apartment houses took basically the same skills that he already had, but that he would make a lot more money per sale.
He decided to seek out bigger, better paying, customers.
So that’s what he did. He took classes on selling these sorts of properties and began to schmooze potential owners. It took a while, yes, but within a year he was in escrow for a 100-unit, multi-million dollar apartment complex. When it closed, he made more money on that one sale than he had on all of the deals he had done in the previous year.
So that’s the idea, of course begging the question: How do you attract and land these corporate clients? This is how, in seven easy steps:
1. Do your research: Make a list of your ideal corporate client. What companies nearby fit that description? Come up with a list of five or 10 candidates.
2. Target the right people: This part is a little tricky, but doable. Once you have identified a corporation with whom you would like to do business, you need to find the right manager with the budget who buys what you sell. But of course, in this Internet age, it is possible. Search for terms like “purchasing agent,” “procurement” and “RFP” (Requests for Proposal).
You should also turn to LinkedIn to research and find the right people in those corporations. My previous post shows you how to do this.
3. Be prepared: When approaching corporate clients, your job is to show them that hiring you is not a risk, and that you can handle the extra business and have a history of doing so efficiently. And look big. Spruce up your website. Dress for success.
4. Know your new customer: Corporate managers are busy, and must be able to justify the decisions they make. So, you will need to make a crackerjack presentation. Why hire you? What is your offer? Show them why you are the best choice for the job.
5. Understand their budget issues: Yes, they have bigger budgets than Sam the Butcher, but they still must spend their money wisely, justify their choices and get good results. You will need to able to show them that this expenditure is the best use of their budgetary dollars.
6. Check out their supplier diversity programs: Typically, large companies have supplier diversity programs, which are intended to increase their work with small businesses. They may even have legal requirements to do business with minority-owned, women-owned or veteran-owned business for instance. This can be your ticket in.
7. Follow up, follow up, follow up, and then remind: These words of wisdom once given to me do not mean you need to become a pest, but you do need to be persistent and professional.
Now, go catch that big fish. Do you have any success stories on “catching the big one?” Share your thoughts with the SBOC community in the comments section.
About Steve Strauss
Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.