Most of the entrepreneurs I know are very good salespeople. The vast majority of business owners I have been in contact with tell me that they attach more importance to selling to a potential client than finding the ideal client for their business. But in my opinion, attracting, finding and reaching out for the right client is more important than selling to them.
You could be selling the greatest product or service in the world, but without having the right client to sell to, then you have no business. One of the most valuable business lessons I learned in my life came when I was young and my uncle taught me how to fish.
Anyone who knows how to fish understands that picking the right spot and going where the fish are makes the difference in the number of fish you catch. If you were fishing and seeking out a particular trophy, you’d make sure you found the right spot where you could find it. You will not find an alligator in the Clapham Common Ponds, London. But you could find other species, such as bream, carp, perch or roach. If you are looking for an alligator, you most likely need to go to Florida in the USA. You can catch alligators there. And you need to know whether you’re looking to eat the fish as well as catching it. Some fish cannot be eaten. You need to find a place where deep water meets shallow water and to fish at the right time of the day. Some fish can only be caught during the night. Others in the early hours of the morning. If you want to eat the fish, you make sure the water you are fishing in is clean.
Let’s relate that to our business lesson. As a businessman, you must know how to find potential clients. The first questions you should ask yourself are: where can I find profitable clients to grow my business? Are there enough potential clients in the local area to buy from me? What is the income level of my ideal client? You should also be aware of what your potential clients do, where they go and what their interests are. You should know exactly what time is best to reach them. You should talk to business owners in the area to collect information before you make a business decision. Having the right spot is a good start. The second stage of the fishing process is to get a fishing license (in some places this is compulsory). Then you need the right fishing equipment. That means getting a fishing rod and reel, getting the appropriate fishing line, the appropriate variety of hooks, choosing the right bait and getting a container to keep the fish in.
In terms of business that translates into having the right marketing tools, marketing software, the right marketing system and all the necessary resources to reach your potential clients efficiently. You’ve probably heard that in order to run an effective marketing campaign, you should pay attention to the five Ms: market, message, media, moment and method. First you need to know where your potential clients are and how to reach them. In order to reach them you must decide on the best marketing medium to use. Should it be online or offline? Should you call them? Should you write to them? How many emails should you prepare in order to convince them to talk to you? The message you want to communicate must be clear. Are you trying to reach potential clients at the right time? Is the client looking to be approached by you? Are they looking to buy your products or services? Remember: the fish must be hungry otherwise you will not catch it. As an entrepreneur you should always know who you are targeting. You should also understand the reason that the customer is buying from you rather than your competitors. Choose the best marketing channels to deliver the message to your potential clients, whether it’s your website, adverts, direct mail or articles. Don’t forget that timing is everything. The marketing tool you use for each medium needs to set you apart from every other business that’s selling to the same target market.
For me, catching the fish is the most exciting stage of fishing for two main reasons. The first one is the element of surprise that you feel when the fish starts to bite the hook. A good fisherman always follows the same routine: you tie your hook on the line, attach the weights and bobbers, bait your hook, cast your line and wait quietly; until you hook the fish. Then you pull it in by lifting the rod vertically and pumping the reel. After a hard fight, you bring it in with a net.
In business, implementing the marketing campaign is sometimes more important than designing it. You must try to communicate to your potential clients as much as you can. Sometimes, your message must reach them more than twelve times in order to convince them to listen to you. Don’t give up easily. Most people give up after trying to reach a potential client once or twice. You must convert as many sales leads as you can. Like any good fisherman you must be patient and persistent.
Now you have your fish. Should you keep it or release it? We must always measure the fish, remove the hook and make a decision.
Not all potential clients are nor should be converted into long term clients. What kind of client are you looking for? Is your potential client a big or a medium/small business? Every business has an ideal customer. Make sure you catch the right fish with the right hook. If your client is too big for you, you might not be able to satisfy them. If the client is too small, they might not fulfil your expectations and may bring you a loss rather than profit.
I hope my fishing lesson helps you develop your business. Have a great fishing season!