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April 18, 2017

Former Clients + Coffee = New Business Opportunities

coffee5This morning, I met a former client over a cup of coffee. Though we haven’t done business together in a couple of years, we have stayed in touch… first, because he’s a recipient of our firm’s on-going marketing efforts (emails, social media posts, etc.), and second, because we take the time for an occasional meeting over a cup of coffee (once or twice each year).

My primary purpose for meeting with him is not to sell him on being a client again. We have a long history together, so it’s good just to catch up, talk about what’s happening in our respective businesses and in our industry and even chat about family and life away from the office.

Now, as it happens, because I have maintained a friendly and professional relationship with him, the conversation did take a turn to business opportunities, but – and here’s the key – he’s the one who took it there. I went with the goal of maintaining and strengthening our relationship and connecting as people… and, what do you know, it morphed into a revenue opportunity. I think there’s a lesson there!

So, the questions for you are this…

  • What are you doing to strengthen and maintain your business relationships, in general?
  • And, in particular, what are you doing to stay connected to former clients and sales prospects?

Why former clients?

A business truism: No one will do business with your firm until they move through the continuum of getting to KNOW you… then LIKE you… then TRUST you.

The good news is that former clients and sales prospects have already traveled along that path. They certainly know you and probably like you. They might even trust you, especially if you’ve done some work for them in the past. But what likely happened is that you let the ‘relationship’ fade away and they moved on to another vendor who was willing to invest effort in building and maintaining one.

So, commit to re-engaging with them. Make sure they’re on your email list and that you’ve connected on LinkedIn. Share an occasional article you think they might find interesting. And – most importantly – spend some time with them. If they’re in your city – that’s easy. If they’re out of town, it requires a little effort and some resources. But the fact is, it’s significantly easier (and less expensive) to do business with someone who already has some history with you than trying to build brand new business relationships from the ground up.

So, drop what you’re doing… pull up your list of former clients and prospects… and start making plans to re-connect with them. I promise you it will be time well spent.

Good luck.

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