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atom thought

How existing relationships can help you win business

24 Sep 2015
By Andy

As a digital marketing agency, we’re constantly helping our clients connect with the right people online. But how do we gain new business for ourselves? Existing relationships are generally key. atom42 founder, Andy Atalla, gives his top insights from eight years of new business experience.

Be picky

Having a clear idea of the sort of clients who would make a good fit for you is incredibly important, as it helps you seek out connections which are more likely to end up being longer lasting, more fruitful relationships. There’s always a temptation to do something, just because you can, but over time this approach can create problems including high churn and low staff satisfaction.

Look for referral opportunities

We’ve had a huge uplift in new clients recently thanks to focusing on referrals. Marketing is a smaller world than you’d think, and building good relationships with your contacts can reap huge rewards. Aside from feedback and good reviews, we’ve found that working with existing clients to find interesting new partnerships will often provide a great ‘in’ for other businesses in their network.

Be ‘recommendable’

When I started atom42, it was with the belief that looking after our customers was the same as looking after ourselves. This view has been a huge part of our success. Whilst we do market ourselves, the vast majority of our clients have come from direct recommendations. If you’re in a competitive market, companies often assume they need to be more bullish, or sell harder. We’ve found that just caring about what you do, and genuinely wanting to do the best for your customers is a breath of fresh air for clients – and it’s that which delivers longer relationships and more recommendations.

Encourage reviews

There are, of course, things you can do to help the positive relationships you foster become more visible to the outside world. We ask everyone we work with to review us on TrustPilot. These star ratings can be integrated into our PPC search adverts, which gives potential new customers a reason to click on us vs a competitor. Also, when people are researching us, having positive feedback from other people we’ve worked with can really help give them the confidence to get in touch.

Provide something valuable

The biggest problem with contacting potential customers is that, because people think it’s a numbers game, they batch contact. While it might work on occasion, we find a much better approach is to take a bit of time actually researching the company you’re contacting, and sending them something genuinely relevant and helpful. While this means that it might take a couple of hours to contact one person (vs. a batch approach of 100’s in one go!) we get a much better response rate because we stand out against the competitors.

I give the same advice to graduates applying for jobs – it’s about the quality of your approach, not the quantity of approaches. This way, even if the people who you contacted aren’t quite looking for your service, they’ll still know you’re good at what you do, and that you go above and beyond in comparison with the rest of the market. That’s all you an ever want really, and maximises the chance that when they are ready, they’ll remember you and get in touch.

Three tips on managing your new business process, by Hannah Slapper:

  1. Keeping track of potential partners and clients is essential to progressing new business – and jotting down names and numbers in a notebook swiftly becomes inefficient. Even if you’re not quite at the point where you’re brimming with enquiries, take a long-term view and start creating a streamlined system to help you prioritise your leads.
  2. At atom42, we create our own online spreadsheets to keep tabs of the leads we’re working on. We find this to be a versatile and cost effective (free) solution which allows for multi user access, versioning and alerts. I would advice all businesses try to develop an approach like this before assuming they need a costly third party piece of software.
  3. Your first email to a potential lead is as vital as a first impression at a marketing event – you want to demonstrate that you’re professional and well qualified, but also that you’re interesting and somebody they might want to work with, or at least have a chat with. We always try and litter our first emails with interesting tidbits of insight to pique their interest, and to inject a little charisma and personality into our tone, so we’re not instantly discarded or ‘marked as read’. Being memorable is just as important as being accurate.

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