Everyone in business has preferred clients or customers. I don’t mean people to whom you give preferential treatment — you should treat all your customers alike — but those with whom you prefer to interact. They’re the ones who always greet you warmly, appreciate and compliment you on your expertise and don’t nit-pick over minor issues. You know and they know that you’re helping them achieve their goals. They fit you to a tee and you fit their business just as perfectly.
Imagine if all your customers or clients were like that! What if you could double the number of referrals to prospects who are just like your ideal clients?
What if you could double the number of referrals to prospects who are just like your ideal clients?
Not all your referrals will turn into ideal clients, but you can do much more to ensure that a larger number fit that model and have the potential to be great clients.
How? By first drawing a profile of what an ideal client looks like. Armed with this information, when you ask for referrals, you can be specific about the kind of client you want, which actually helps other people be more effective in finding them for you.
Profiling your preferred client means taking a hard look at what makes that organization or individual a perfect fit for you and your business.
Start with probing questions
You need to start by looking within your own business — especially your historical client relationships — and asking some important questions:
- Why are you a perfect match?
- What do these clients need that you supply so well?
- What can you provide that your competitors can’t?
- What problems do these ideal clients have that you’re superbly equipped to solve?
- What is the smallest and biggest size that you can work with best (people and/or revenue)?
- Where are these clients located to minimize frustrations of travel?
- What other characteristics do they have that make them a great fit?
In the book The 29% Solution, BNI founder Ivan Misner and co-author Michelle Donovan give the example of a profile created by a life coach. He wrote that his ideal client would be:
Women in transition (divorced, widowed, or empty-nesters), mid-40s+, located in Westmorland or Allegheny counties, currently employed, unhappy with their work or life situation, no kids at home, household income over $50,000, college graduate, home owner, with a valid driver’s license.
You’ll find that you’re much more effective at networking your business when you have established a profile of your preferred or ideal client and can express that to the people you’re talking to. This gives listeners more information and helps them to picture the people they know who fit that profile. The closer your listeners identify a match, the more likely you’ll get the perfect referral.
Shown below is a sample worksheet that you can start with to complete your first profile. Be as specific as possible. In using the worksheet, don’t limit yourself to the items listed. Consider all the elements that apply to you. Every business is different, so your unique profession may have a variety of other aspects not shown here. Be creative.
- Years in Business
- Specialty or Type of Business
- Size of Company (revenue or number of employees)
- Number of departments
- Public or Private ownership
- Relationships to other industries
- Stage of growth (startup, merging, preparing to sell, etc.)
- Specific crisis or business problems currently faced
- Family structure
- Marital status
- Household income
- Educational background
- Children/No children
- Home owner or renting
- Specific crisis or life problem currently faced