I’ll be honest with you: finding customers who want to work with you can be a challenge. But it doesn’t have to be! If you’re interested in discovering how to find the right type of customer for your business, then this blog is for you!
If you’re struggling to find customers – or can find customers, but don’t feel as though they are quite the right ‘fit’ for you and your business, here are some recommendations that I can make, from experience, that might help you find customers that you can work effectively and efficiently with!
Firstly, it’s important to consider where to find new customers. There are a number of different options, from referrals (from friends, VA colleagues and previous customers), to in person networking, and online advertising. Networking is a great place to start to get your name out there in your local business community. This gives you the chance to build positive relationships with potential customers, and keeps you ‘top of mind’ when your contacts are speaking with their friends/family about services that could benefit them. Referrals are also a valuable resource – why not consider offering your old/existing customers a ‘referral fee’ if they refer a customer to you and they sign up for your services? In many cases, individuals trust the recommendations of friends more than they do a random post online, so building these positive relationships with people and asking them to share your information can prove beneficial. The other option to consider is working as an associate with a fellow remote support business professional – perhaps they have a wider network of contacts and therefore are more regularly approached for work? If you can support them, as well as your existing clients, you can expand your reach (and therefore, income potential) without having to network in person yourself.
Once you’ve found a potential client, it’s not always plain sailing – it’s simply not possible to have an excellent working relationship with anyone, anywhere, regardless of your skills and professionalism. Sometimes, work relationships between customer and service provider can descend into mayhem, so it’s worth carefully considering whether or not you want to work for someone if you are faced with any of the following:
A gut feeling that makes you hesitant about working with them – Sometimes, there’s an underlying feeling of unease when you meet a new customer, and this is your body’s way of telling you that something about the situation evokes anxiety or fear that you’ve experienced previously in your life. This may just be initial nerves or excitement, but it’s worth stopping and thinking carefully about what has triggered these feelings and whether or not these may have a negative impact on your ongoing working relationship.
Are they haggling on price, to the point where you feel undervalued before starting work? Yes, everyone wants a bargain, but not to the detriment of the person selling an item or delivering a service. If we respect the professionals who support us then we need to acknowledge the value that they bring to our lives, and the years of expertise that they bring to the table. This needs to work both ways – if a potential customer is driving your price down to below that which is fair (and covers your outgoings as well as ensuring that you have something left to take home), then you need to consider whether or not they respect you. Some business owners have minimal budgets, but they should be encouraged to consider ‘how far can this go?’ rather than ‘What else can you do for me that isn’t going to be financially compensated at a fair and appropriate level?’. The most troublesome customers I have worked with have all haggled on price to the point where it became uncomfortable, and regularly questioned the ‘value’ they were receiving from the work I was carrying out. When you are a skilled professional delivering a high quality service, this is not something that you should have to deal with.
Concern that you don’t have the knowledge or skills to help them – I’m not a fan of the ‘accept the work and then wing it!’ approach to business support! If you haven’t got experience in the area they want help with, speak to them about it. Perhaps you could learn on the job at a reduced rate, allowing both you and them to benefit from the agreement (you get extra skills, they get the support!)? Alternatively, you could consider bringing on an associate who could help you with that particular service. Again, I can say from experience that offering a service that you aren’t 100% confident with can lead to feelings of anxiety, which can then impact the quality of your work and your wellbeing – it’s just not worth it!
Even if you do find the perfect customer – your absolute dream client – it’s SO important to ensure that you have adequate contracts and appropriate insurance in place to protect both yourself and your customers. As a responsible business owner, you need to be prepared for the unexpected and to convey your trustworthiness and professionalism to your clients so that you can continue to build a positive working relationship!