You Ask, I Answer: How to Target Larger Clients?

John asks, “Targeting larger clients can be extremely competitive. Any advice on developing a strategy to grab their attention?”

You Ask, I Answer: How to Target Larger Clients?
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Christopher Penn 0:13

In today’s episode, John asks, targeting larger clients can be extremely competitive.

Any advice on developing a strategy to grab their attention? Well, it depends.

It depends on how your your clients or prospective clients do their purchasing.

Right.

So what is their customer journey look like? And a lot of the time, companies that are in the same industry have similar purchasing processes.

So the first and probably most important question is, what is that process? How does it work? How do people make choices in your industry? Is it something as simple as you know, an intern pulling together a shortlist? Is there an RFP process? What are all the different things that go into purchasing? Once you know that, once you know how somebody does business in your industry, then you can start figuring out what are the specific tactics that map to that, for example, if you are dealing with a situation where you just have sort of a junior staff or pulling together a shortlist, then a lot of things that are in the public relations realm actually apply really well.

So awards.

And as much as awards are paid to play.

A lot of the time, they matter because you’re more junior persons, just going to Google, you know, award winning, whatever.

And of course, if you’ve done a good job with your organic search optimization stuff, you will probably be in that list of results.

If you’re in industry publications, you’re building mindshare, that’s for a more casual purchasing process, that’s the way to go.

If you have presence of mind, then getting in front of people is a little bit easier.

Right then if no one’s ever heard of your company, before picking up the phone smiling and dialing is not super effective, because nobody likes being called by people they don’t know.

Well, very few people like that.

If you have something more like an RFP process than making sure that you’re doing, you know, simple stuff, like being in SAP arriba, and the arriba marketplace, and maintaining your profile, so that as companies go to issue RFPs, you make that list, making sure that you are targeting and focusing on procurement staffers within organizations, because again, those are the folks who are logging into arriba and typing the searches that are needed to bring up a list of vendors that they can then go do to do their due diligence on that’s, you know, the more formal process for RFPs.

One of the challenges with RFPs is that as my colleague, John Wall likes Capo like second place contests, typically a company has a vendor in mind, but for many different reasons, some of which are regulatory, they have to put it out for bid.

And then they got to pick what they chose anyway.

So you’re still, there’s still value in cultivating those relationships, cultivating mind share within your industry, one of the more valuable things you can do, especially for larger clients, and also for organizations where there isn’t a clear, professional community is to build your own community.

For example, we have the analytics for marketers slack group, if you go to trust insights.ai/analytics for marketers, you can see this, it’s just a Slack group.

Having regular frequent access to your audience to communicate with them a two way communication is incredibly valuable.

Because when somebody starts thinking about, well, how can you know, who do I know that does this thing.

If you’re on their mind a lot, then when it comes time to issue those requests for information or request for proposal, whatever you at least get at a chance at bat.

And ideally, you know, the sort of the dream for every salesperson is your company’s reputation is so good, that they skip the RFP process entirely and say there’s no other company that can do this other than this vendor.

So we’re just gonna go ahead with this vendor.

Again, there may be regulatory requirements.

In particular, if you’re working with governments, for example, in the place where I live, a certain percentage of government contracts must go to women owned businesses and minority owned businesses by law written in so though, that’s another area entirely where if you are dealing with larger organizations that have regulatory requirements, how can you conform your business to those requirements so that again, You make the list.

Think of it like search optimization for procurement systems, right?

Christopher Penn 5:07

When somebody goes into Google, there’s a massive complex, very sophisticated machine learning engine making recommendations, when you go into some of these more legacy purchasing systems, they’re all basic keyword search systems right there, they don’t have a lot of vendors don’t invest a ton of money in machine learning algorithms and recommendation engines.

So they’re still pretty primitive, which means that you want to optimize your profile in those systems to have the best chance of being shown for the categories you want to be shown for, to the types of companies you want to be showing with.

Again, this requires market research, and not just Googling for stuff, but actually picking up the phone and talking to your existing customers.

Say you have, you know, 20 customers, but three of them are really in the target that you’re seeking, like, you know, they’re they’re the bigger companies, they’re, they’re good customers, things like that.

You get on the phone with your point of contact, and maybe their boss and say, Hey, I’m doing some research, we’re trying to figure out where we can find more great clients like you.

When you were making the decision to hire us, how did you find us? What was your internal purchasing process like, Hey, can I spend 45 minutes and buy you a coffee or a lunch or something and have you walk through how you and maybe any competitors that you know, we’re non competitive companies, how they do their procurement, that level of market research can only come from in depth questioning.

So you want to make sure that you are well positioned and it to do that you need to get inside the heads of your your buyers, right.

And that all comes from just talking to people and trying to figure out how companies work inside.

So your strategy has to map to the customers.

There is no one size fits all strategy, particularly for larger companies, there is no one size fits all strategy for an industry and you’re going to have different kinds of companies.

One other thing to think about is if there are certain companies in your industry that have a reputation of being difficult to work with, you may want to see how those companies do their procurement and then avoid them.

Now I recognize obviously, you may not be in a position to turn down business but a bad customers a bad customer, so anything you can do to to not only target those larger clients you do want but not target those clients you don’t want is going to pay dividends down the road.

So really good question.

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