In my previous article, I shared three tips on how to keep your clients from delaying your show. Now we’ll go into something that is every professional’s concern: keeping the business of good clients.
A little while ago, I was speaking with someone who wanted some tips on how to drum up his new business. He told me how frantic he was about getting new clients so he could turn a profit that month. I asked him what strategies he was using and the results he was getting. I then asked him about his existing client base. “What about it?” he asked.
I was stunned. Here was a talented performer going on about needing new clients while ignoring his old ones. It had never occurred to him that he could go back to the well more than once. He had forgotten one of the staples of business relationships—the repeat client.
Getting new clients is great, but keeping existing clients is even better. Think about it: they have already seen what you can do, they have been amazed by you before and thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and they are already believers so you don’t have to sell them your services. They are, in fact, the ideal client because they already trust you and you have a working relationship with them.
So what do you do?
Introducing… the Call Tracking SheetIt has become my standard daily practice to go through my old records and call up past clients in order to do business with them. One quick look at my call tracking sheets (found in our book Highway to Success) and I know who to call and what kind of services they are likely to need. Hopefully, you are keeping track of all your actual and prospective clients through call tracking. If not, start now!
If you don’t know what call tracking is, picture a grid sheet that lists your incoming calls for the entire day including your prospective clients’ names, contact information, date of event, location, and types of shows these prospects are looking for. Whether or not you close a sale with these people, their information should remain on your call tracking sheet.
Once you have a call tracking sheet, you can turn it into a sales tool to drum up repeat business. I always consult my previous year’s calls and use those as leads for current and upcoming bookings.
Wrong. There are many reasons why people didn’t book you the first time. Perhaps it was a scheduling conflict, perhaps it was a budget issue, perhaps something happened at their end and they did something else. The point is that you don’t know why they didn’t hire you last year, but you do know that they were interested enough in your services to give you a call. If they were interested once, they can be interested again.
Now that you have your call tracking sheet and you have made up your mind to call everyone on that list, here’s what you do next.
First Up: Call Your “Old” ClientsIt is imperative that you give your past clients a ring. Call them, discuss how pleasant their event was last year, and inquire whether they plan to hold another event this year. Offer them your new show to entice them. If you don’t have a new show, don’t worry about it. If you are good, people will want to see your show again and again. Either way, they will remember you and be open to doing repeat business with you.
Don’t be discouraged if your previous clients don’t book you though. Their situations may have changed, they may not be holding an event this year, or they may want to try something different. It doesn’t mean they didn’t like you the first time; it just means that the situation is different this year. Whether you get booked or not, you have kept the lines of communication open with your client and you will be able to draw on them again the following year.
While you have these clients on the phone, feel free to ask them for referrals. Just because they don’t need your services this time doesn’t mean they don’t know someone else who might—friends, relatives, neighbours, work associates, people in clubs, groups, and organizations they belong to. Don’t forget that your past clients have already seen your act and can vouch for you. They know how good you are and how well your show would fit in with some of the events their friends might be hosting. This is an easy source of new prospects. It pays to ask and it doesn’t cost you a penny.
Whom to Call Next: Your Promising ProspectsAfter your repeat clients, call your hot prospects. They have to be treated slightly different. They have never seen your act so you might have to work a little harder at making your sale. Let them know that you were going over your records and saw that they had inquired about your services the previous year. Ask them if they’re still holding this or another event this year. From there on, offer your services the way you usually do. If they’re still not buying this year, ask for a referral as they may know someone who might be interested in your services.
Tap Your Peers to Offer Variety to Your Repeat Clients
On the flip side, your peers can also book you out to their repeat clients, so you are essentially creating a small network between peers. Keep in mind however that your peers’ clients remain their clients, just as your clients remain your own. That’s what an agency is all about.
Where to Find Other Repeat BusinessOne last quick sources of repeat business are hotels, banquet halls, and conference centre industries. These often put parties together for their clients. Make sure to keep in touch with these people on a regular basis so you stay foremost in their minds when they need someone for their events. It also helps to ring them up regularly because in their industry, there is a lot of change of personnel.
You will find that repeat clients and hot prospects are more likely to hire you than a stranger contacted through cold calling. That means more paying shows with less marketing effort for you. Why pay thousands of dollars in promotions and advertising when you can drum up business strictly by keeping good records and making some phone calls?
Just this morning before writing this column, I called up my friend and asked him if he’d followed up with any of his previous clients. He had. Now he has four shows booked simply because he called past clients. He hadn’t been using call tracking sheets before so that means no hot prospects for him this year, but he said he is faithfully doing it now. His only regret is not having thought of it sooner.
What about you? Ready to flip through your past client records and give previous customers a ring? I encourage you to do it, because the best clients are regular clients.
And remember, don’t ever let anyone steal your dream.
Think that you are now ready to make more money by charging more for your shows? Stay tuned next month to learn more about how to negotiate higher fees.
Want more useful tips on how to grow your kids entertaining business? Check out my other posts in this series.