I’ve spent a lot of time working with business leaders who have left the corporate world to strike out on their own. Their makeup spans the corporate alphabet soup of former CEOs, CHROs, strategic HR, COOs, and CFOs. The thread that binds them together is their passion for people—and their understanding that strategy starts and stops with having the right talent to carry it out.
These brave entrepreneurs have already done so much of the necessary legwork. They’ve taken the initiative, established their own firms, and built a strong clientele. However, when it comes to adding new offerings to their firms these owners often struggle with where to focus their sales and marketing efforts.
At PI, we think it’s easiest to start where your footprint is strongest. That’s why we recommend starting inward and working your way out according to your firm’s “sphere of influence.”
Oftentimes, the best opportunities are sitting right in front of you. Expanding your business is all about making sure you’re taking advantage of those opportunities whenever possible.
When adding a new line of business or service offering to your firm, start with your clients. These are the people most familiar with your business—and thus your most prominent leads. You already have the familiarity with their business challenges to know where this new offering fits. You also have existing relationships you can leverage to carve out an hour and walk through this exciting new proposition.
Existing clients are also a great place to ask for referrals. If you’ve helped clients unlock potential in their organization and have proven ROI, they will usually be more than happy to refer you and your service offering to another company.
Once you’ve exhausted your client base, move out to the next rung: former clients. You likely have clients that you have on a retainer or an equivalent recurring model. At the same time, you probably also have clients that you’ve worked with on a project-by-project basis. The latter group is typically inactive until they have a new project that brings them back to you again.
Reconnecting with inactive clients can be as easy as reaching out to a former point of contact to catch up. Or, you can start by sending them valuable pieces of content based on what you know about their business. Regardless, be sure to fill clients in on the new and exciting additions to your offerings since you last touched base.
The key to working with this group is staying top of mind. Don’t just reach out when you need something. Rather, stay in touch with your contacts—and regularly demonstrate the value of your services.
Once you’ve reached out to your past and present clients, set your sights on your broader network.
One basic but essential item is to establish your LinkedIn presence. Make sure your firm and personal pages are up-to-date with your latest offerings. You can also reach out to your network and organize a series of roundtables or meetups that bring people together to share ideas and have compelling conversations. This will establish you, and by extension your firm, as someone who brings people together. As a result, people will naturally be inclined to reach out to you when trying to solve tough business challenges.
Another important way to build your network is through speaking engagements. Joining local chambers of commerce, business associations, and sales and marketing meetups is always a great way to build your name and network.
Ultimately, the key to developing your network and building credibility is to be both active and consistent.
The final layer after your network is the rest of the world. It’s everyone’s instinct to start here—typically with widespread advertising, digital design, or other flashy marketing campaigns. Spending a lot of resources on marketing may seem like a silver bullet, but it typically won’t yield the same ROI that leveraging your clients, former clients, and network will.
Looking for ways to grow your business? Download our Ultimate consultant toolkit for nine of our best resources. Or, if you’re looking to broaden your services and unlock your clients’ full potential, consider becoming a PI Certified Partner.