Developing New business

Finding New Customers

Accepted wisdom tells us it is far cheaper to sell old customers  than find new customers, but – new sales are the lifeblood of business.

Naturally referrals may come from existing and happy customers, but still the vital area of entirely new business leads cannot be neglected, and should form part of business development plans.

It’s all about communicating with the customers you could have as well as those you’ve already got.

Where to start?

You could apply some logic and attack the challenge in 2 stages.

First take a look at overall market / product segments. This applies if your business is already established – for new startups see below, its all about acquiring the first 10 customers to get going.

Are you trying to sell existing products into new markets? Or new products into existing markets (ie  developing current customers)? Or perhaps new products into entirely new markets ( the most risky)?

Options 1 and 2 are clearly going to be less risky and expensive, while option 3 , a greenfield of dreams, is the most risky.

Having a clear idea of the big picture from this analysis, you can move on to the nitty gritty – getting customised messages out to those who may be interested and profitable customers in each of the segments identified, and tailoring the sales process.

Dan Kennedy coined a term for this – split the work into 3 areas and address “MMM”:

  • The market
  • The medium
  • The message

In this idea the whole picture is covered from the internet / social media to old school billboards. Simply break up the task into manageable parts and drill down to devise activities which are cost/effective in each area, rather than take on the whole thing at one go.

Start ups

For new starts, developing opportunities from zero is the name of the game. What do customers really want, that they cannot find now, and how can you supply the demand at a profit?

To keep it simple ignore the threats and weaknesses in your fledgling idea, focus on the upside.

To start with you may have an idea, based on industry knowledge, but failing that you will start with some research and financial estimations to see what ideas may be profitable based on assumptions about pricing, distribution, and marketing/selling costs.

Almost everything in marketing research is expensive, but there are some free sources to try:

  • Your own records
  • Your competition
  • Your suppliers
  • Government trade assistance and statistical research
  • Getting out and about with your eyes open – asking questions
  • Trading platform reviews – look for solutions to compaints

Once a likely candidate product surfaces the work has only just started. All aspects need to be examined and somehow documented for assessment.

Then the key – find 10 customers by whatever means possible – to transform your idea into a real business with cashflow. The key will be actually talking, toe to toe, and the selling proposition.

Conclusion – Product succession

One thing is constant and that’s change.

Having one success is only the start, the process must be repeated and ongoing in order to stay up with trends and keep the new sales coming in.