Hard to approach potential clients you already know?
I was recently asked — “How do I approach people I notice who could use my services and explain what I do without being annoying/intrusive? So many missed opportunities every time I walk around the hood!”
I think every single small business owner asks this question when they’re starting out – either out loud or at the very least in their heads. It is an *extremely* fine line between promoting your business and providing help/value to someone and going over the line and ticking them off, even damaging trust or a relationship.
Your friends want to help you!
Ultimately, however, I think it’s good for people to know about your business. Partly because they themselves might be able to benefit from your services, but also because as friends and acquaintances of yours, they are probably happy to support you and help you out if possible. But they can’t do that if they don’t know what you do.
There are a number of ways to approach sharing business information, and you have to pick the one (or ones) that work best for you and the people you’re talking to. (this applies whether your clients are other businesses or consumers)
Because I wanted more than my opinion on this I solicited a variety of business contacts. Below is what they had to say. (#4 is mine)
I think by speaking about how your service or product can help them, instead of just selling it in general, people become inspired and see it as less of a pitch. I hand out my business cards (which are really nice…thanks Moo.com!) and tell them to give me a call if they want to chat more. No pressure, just a chat. If they don’t take me up, often times they’ll refer someone to me.
Approach # 2
I think just being honest and sincere is the key. For example saying, “Hi there, I noticed you were X. I don’t know if this is something that would be a good fit for you or not, but I provide Y.”. Or something like that. I find the phrase “I don’t know if this is a good fit” always puts the prospect / other person at ease.
Approach # 3
In my view: First observe your target people around you. Examine what they are struggling with when it comes to child raising. Upon observation, if you could find problem, go to them and provide them a small piece of free advice/solution. This will help you start conversation and will spark interest in you.
Approach # 4
Ask questions, listen, then share if appropriate.
I find that it’s easiest to share what you do when you’re finding out more about what the other person does. I’m always curious about people I meet and like to find out what they did before having kids, whether they’re currently working etc.
If I’m asked in return what I do, I share. (Note: have your “elevator speech” ready – who you help and what problem you help them with).
If they’re interested let them know you offer lots of resources, tips, etc. on your Facebook page or blog, etc.
They might hire you one day and they might not, but either way you made a good impression, did your good deed for the day, and got your name and business contact info out there 🙂 Remember that it’s not about selling – it’s about helping solve their problem, whether that’s through your services or not.
Approach # 5
1. Setup & populate a blog / social media channel with valuable content
2. Print namecard with contact & the online channel URL
3. Be bold & gentle when approach the prospects
4. Highlight their issue & offer quick & short advice (don’t always point back to the business).
ie “Hi there, I noticed you are having X issue. How about trying Y (don’t always point back to the business)? Hand them the namecard “Do check this out. It is my site & I share about XYZ.”
As you can see, this is all about sharing how you can help the potential client solve a problem (and this may not be through your service!), then directing them to the appropriate place to get more.
Thanks to Crunch Compass for this question. Crunch Compass’s Charise Jewell is a parenting consultant and writer providing support, education, and practical solutions for the problems we all have. Check out Crunch Compass on Facebook
(and like the page while you’re there!).
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