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July 5, 2013

Prove it! Nine ways to convince prospects to work with you for the first time.

ctcYears ago, Geoffrey Moore published a popular and important book called Crossing the Chasm. The book was written in the early days of the tech boom and provided a road map showing companies that had developed a new technology how to convince consumers to try it. The key strategy was to leverage the early adopters as “proof sources” to help those who followed overcome their hesitancy to buy (“Let someone else buy it first. If it works as promised, then I’ll try it.”).

And while only a few of us are in the business of providing technology or tech-based services, there is still hesitancy from prospective clients when it comes to trying us for the very first time.

How do you convince new prospects to become a first-time client… A great capabilities presentation? A dazzling proposal? A first-timer discount? A guarantee?

All of those options are good and your prospective clients will appreciate them all but what they really want is peace of mind! They want to know that if they take a chance on your firm, they won’t be let down or disappointed. Can you blame them?

Here’s an example we all can relate to: trying a new restaurant. Do you just show up at a newly-opened restaurant with your fingers crossed? Maybe, for you adventurous types. But more likely, you’ll do a little research online, talk to friends who have been there, visit their Web site, etc. In essence, before you plunk down your dollars for a meal, you want some proof that what you’re going to buy will meet or exceed your expectations.

It’s really no different for your business. Regardless of what role you play in the MR industry, your first-time clients want the same thing as those first-time diners. Confidence, peace of mind, reassurance. They want to know that their first experience with you will meet or exceed their expectations.

So what are you doing to set your prospects’ minds at ease? Here are nine ideas to get you thinking in that direction:

  1. Have a great Website! Nothing will make a prospect lose confidence in you more than an amateurish Web site. You only get one chance to make a first impression and it’s your Website that will do that for you.
  2. Provide great content on your site. Resources such as well-written articles, blog posts and e-books help you showcase your expertise and position you and your firm as thought leaders in those areas. Without that evidence, you’re just another vendor.
  3. Been in business a while? Have a long list of satisfied clients? Then show them off on your site. The simple fact that you have a long list is proof that you’re good at what you do.
  4. Clients will sell better for you than you could ever do for yourself. To make that happen, collect and show off positive quotes from clients, as well as any testimonial letters you have. How do you get them? Simple: Ask for them.
  5. If you have prospects who want to talk to some of your past clients, build a list of references. Ask only your very best, most loyal clients to serve as references. Test them to see if they’ll say what you think they’re going to say and then reward them for their help.
  6. As part of your content development, make sure to include ‘case studies.’ A case study is defined as an overview of an important project and how the client benefited as a result of your efforts. Case studies are proof positive that you can do what you say you can do.
  7. Another facet of content development is to write or speak publicly. For example, write for a trade journal that your prospects read or speak at an industry conference.
  8. Show me what you can do. If your services include the use of (cool) technology, then when given the chance, do a demo for your prospects. Remember, seeing is believing. And if you don’t have technology, how about showing them what a final report will look like?
  9. Lastly, where possible and appropriate, take advantage of third-party validation. Are you a Honomichl 50 firm? Did you make a list of the industry’s most innovative firms? Even something like “rated as one of Charlotte’s 50 fastest-growing companies” lends credibility. And once you earn the designation, promote the heck out of it!

Which tactics you employ will be determined by what type of firm you work for and who you sell to. But always be thinking about how you can lower or eliminate the barrier to buying for first-time clients. Make them feel good about the opportunity to do business with you.

Mitigating that hesitancy – when others don’t – will give you a huge competitive advantage.

Good luck and good marketing.

This article was originally published in Quirk’s.

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