Question: Do you know what your very best customer looks like? A lot of tradesmen don’t or they’ll say, “Anybody who has money.” Sure, money is obviously important - but so is knowing where you should be spending your quality time.

targetAh yes. Time. We all have a limited amount of it and in your case, you’re also spending your fair share working on jobs. For the time you have outside of the actual work itself, there’s the business of looking for new prospective customers.

If you’re like many professionals, you don’t have a great plan in place for finding potential new customers. Let’s do one better than that – by creating a plan for finding the right kind of new customers and not cold prospects. 

1) What are your true goals?
Do you want to reach a certain amount of new customers? How many?
Do you want a certain amount of referrals? How many of those?

Now let’s think about the time frame for meeting that number. Is this goal over a month, a quarter or a year? What kind of dollars do you need from each customer? Knowing all of this is crucial for understanding what kind of prospective customer you need to reach those goals.

By the way, a lot of people mistake activity for progress – don’t fall into that trap. Is it good activity that’s leading to positive introductions or mediocre activity in which you both say, “I’ll keep my eyes open for you?”

2) What’s a quality contact to you?
Not all prospective customers are created equal. Some are ready to go into a project now, some are looking to get started in 3-6 months and some are just “kicking the tires.”

Among those who seem anxious to get started, you may notice important clues in their conversation with you – such upgrading elements in their bathroom for the bigger overall purpose of reselling their home in the next 6 months – as an indicator that they’re going to move on a project sooner rather than later.

On the other hand, how can you spot a tire kicker? If you can’t identify them by clues in what they say or do, you may wind up chasing that cold prospect who was never a real prospect in the first place. They’ll talk a good game and perhaps lead you on, (“I’ll get started in a few months for sure,”) but they’ll never really materialize. They’re letting you down with a gentle little lie. In the meantime, you’re knocking on that door again and again with emails and phone calls. Don’t let these cold prospects waste your time. It’s fine to take a meeting but try to move them to a definite answer one way or another by the end of the conversation. It’s better to have a “no” than a “maybe.”

3) Are you spending time in the right circles?
Are there quality customers in that circle? How about people who can introduce you to those customers? It’s a good idea to judge what you’re getting out of a group of contacts by how many introductions you get that are quality – not just random names who may or may not have a problem you can help them with. The best groups know your services, who you’re looking to meet and can recommend you with ease. If you feel like you’re just meeting people for the sake of meeting them, it’s time to put that group under the microscope and ask yourself if it’s worth staying involved with. Especially for the time and money you’re putting into it.

When these 3 steps are in place, you’re beginning to set the table for the right goals, people and environment to line up in your favor – and that can make for a great introduction. Not to mention those golden referrals from someone who can’t say enough about your services.

Doesn't that sound better than someone who may or may not ever pan out?