How to Find the Perfect Client (In 5 Steps)
Small businesses need good clients who pay, on time, and pay well. But that’s just half the story – there are a range of other needs to meet and research to do to find that elusive perfect client.
A bad client is a serious problem for small businesses in particular, as they are less able to bear the fallout from a truly bad relationship. Where a larger business can shrug off or bring their power to bear on bad debt and other issues, small businesses often can’t.
With the above in mind, in this article we will introduce you to five steps that you can take to ensure that you find ‘dream’ clients that cause the fewest issues, bring in most money, and are the best fit for your business from the outset.
Let’s get started!
Step 1: Define Your Perfect Client
Many issues arise because businesses don’t have a clear idea of what their ‘perfect’ client looks like. You should.
The first step is to clarify your requirements. Be specific about your target client. Profit is vital, but you also need clients that are easy to work with; that don’t make unreasonable demands.
Creating custom profiles forms part of a tightly targeted marketing strategy. Ideally you should profile your ideal clients through such tools as demographics; identifying their age, gender, location and income, and behavioural characteristics such as likes, dislikes, attitudes and interests. There are online tools that can help, and you can ask existing good clients too.
When you’ve done this, create ‘client personas’: written profiles for each group you can identify. Attracting the attention of those ideal clients means promoting yourself in locations and media that they are likely to frequent or consume, and your research will help you to work out what these are likely to be.
Step 2: Run the Numbers
Profit is an important factor, so obviously the perfect client will be one that recognises your worth and pays the going rate. This closely relates to your service or product – are you looking for a small group of people who can readily afford your offering? Are they also a group that really need what you provide?
The better you understand your products and services, the more easily you’ll identify your going rate. Research what your competitors are offering and charging. Are you providing something extra – something unique? Should this carry a premium?
Needless to say, it’s also important that payments arrive on time. Don’t be afraid to ask clients about their payment schedules as part of your discussions – if you’re open about it and they can’t, or won’t, provide detail, consider it a red flag.
Profit is not the only thing that matters, however. During discussions – whether face-to-face or online – you will need to assess whether you feel they are being honest with you, whether they listen to you, are courteous, and mindful of your time and efforts.
Ongoing questions to ask include:
- When you do something for them, do they give positive feedback?
- Do they recommend you to other potential clients?
- Are they regular customers?
The ideal client should ‘pass’ the majority of these basic tests.
Step 3: Locate Your Target
Taking all of the steps above, you should have a clear idea of your target client in terms of where they live and their age, gender and common interests. If you’ve segmented your market well and understand your client interests, you should be able to identify media that they are likely to use – for example, types of magazines, newspapers, online forums and social media.
You also need to have carefully identified your market niche – the more focused your niche and the better you understand it, the more likely you are to be able to identify your potential and ideal clients.
Your perfect client is someone that fits your market profile, needs whatever falls within your niche, and also ticks the various boxes outlined above. From those details you can be innovative in locating them – go to events that relate to their interests and attitudes, or advertise in related online resources and magazines. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box!
Step 4: Communicate Your Expectations
Be sure about what you need from clients. Generally speaking you’ll want them to provide a clear brief that doesn’t get extended at short notice or embellished without explanation. They will give clear feedback as the project progresses. They will be consistent and positive in their dealings with you.
You’ll also need to be mindful that clients, similarly, need things from you – they’ll want you to provide a great service or product, to their deadline and requirements, for a reasonable price. They’ll want you to be there (within reason) when they need you.
Matching your requirements and those of your clients means being open and transparent, and choosing clients who are equally candid. There will be a set of specifics related to your product or service that you’ll need answers to in order to provide a good service, and a good client will be able to provide you with the information you need.
Work positively with clients – set out your expectations and make sure you are clear about what your client wants, and that they are clear about what you can deliver.
Step 5: Seal the Deal
To seal the deal, you’ll have to persuade your client that you are the right one for them to do business with. This means identifying your unique selling point (USP) as a way of differentiating your offering from that of your competitors.
You will also have to build credibility – make sure your communication with clients is always business-like – dress well, have well-designed logos and email signatures, make sure if there are issues to follow up that you confirm them and keep your promises.
Attracting the attention of the perfect client means being where they are, in literature they read, and where they are looking online. Remember the Pareto Principle: 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your clients. To attract this magic 20%, create interest in your business through an attention-grabbing website and an active social media presence.
Get people involved – create polls and questionnaires, post regular newsletters and blogs. Promote useful free trial offers. Involve prospective clients in your world and they will want to work with you.
Cementing a long-term relationship means remembering that ultimately, it’s all about your clients. They will want to know that the company they choose to work with puts their interests front and centre, and convincing them that they matter to you is central to your offer.
Use these steps to find your perfect match:
- Define your ‘perfect’ client
- Run the numbers
- Locate your target
- Ensure that your’s and your clients’ needs align
- Seal the deal!
Do you have any thoughts about who your perfect client would be? Let us know if there are any extras you see as key.