In Part I (“Your Perfect Client”), we went over how to establish a business-relevant, realistic portrait of the ideal investor who wants your services.
Today, we’re going to talk about some relationship marketing — in other words, what the stages of interaction with such an investor are and how to establish when an investor is ready to move to the next stage.
Face in the Crowd
When the process starts, the investor is literally nothing more than a face in the crowd — any of an unknown number of people looking for your services in your area.
They might be surfers on your website, people flipping through a phone book, or talking to fellow property investors asking for a referral.
At this stage, your goal is to earn this person’s attention, which means you need to stand out from your competition. Social media, blogging, print advertising, direct mail, and providing excellent enough service to receive a referral are all primary tools for getting the attention of the Face in the Crowd — and you know you’ve succeeded because s/he will get in touch with you.
The moment that an investor gets in touch with you, they leave the crowd and become a lead — not yet a prospect, but more than a face in the crowd.
They have expressed an interest in your services, but not in acquiring your services — simply in what makes your services different from anyone else’s.
You’ve now earned their attention — the next step is to earn their trust. This can happen quickly if they’re desperate, or very slowly if they’re tentative.
Because of that, you need to have two different approaches at the ready: one personal, face-to-face response for people who are moving quickly, and one path of ‘nurturing’ that lead by showing them your expertise. Show them what you do and how you do it, and give them the opportunity to ask for more nurturing or a meeting to discuss business, as they see fit.
A big challenge at this stage is spending too much time chasing leads that will ‘never’ make a decision or ones that are using you as an unpaid consultant and picking your brain, but plan to stay DIY’s. No easy way to sort these types out, but you need to watch for them and set limits.
Once you earn the trust of a lead, their next action is to start discussing their needs with you.
That’s the moment that they take the next step up on the ladder to becoming a genuine prospect: someone who is looking to make a final decision as to how to solve their problem. It’s at this point that you should start evaluating them in terms of your ‘perfect client’ profile from Part I.
That’s because, let’s be frank, the further they are from your ideal client, the less effort you should put into ensuring that they choose you. You want to maximize your profit-per-effort, and your ‘perfect client’ profile should point you toward the prospects that will allow you to do that.
If you find a nearly-ideal client, you should put almost every conceivable effort into landing them. If that particular prospect has too many properties in marginal areas and have too many repair needs, for example, you can essentially continue giving the same treatment you did when they were a lead — because if they decide to sign on with you, they’re probably going to be about as much of a pain as they are a benefit to your bottom line.
In either case, the goal for both of you is to reach the decision point as efficiently as possible. You want to help them make the right decision for them, because generally speaking that will also end up being the right decision for you.
After all, if they don’t actually want what you have, getting them on your client list is just going to frustrate both of you in the long term. You help them reach the right decision by honestly telling them about your business’ strengths and weaknesses and techniques and marked position.
When they make the decision, they’ll decide whether or not you’ve earned their financial commitment — the right to do business with them. If you have, they’ll step into the role of Client; if not, they’ll vanish back into the crowd.
A Prospect doesn’t actually become a Client until the paperwork is signed and the keys are in your hand.
Up until that point, there are any number of things that can go sideways and break up the transaction. Don’t think, however, that ‘Client’ is the last stage in your relationship — not at all.
A Client is merely someone who has decided one time to do business with you. Your job is to impress them — to make them love having you as their property manager — so that they become a Fan. To put it another way, you have to earn their support.
There are Clients — the vast majority of them, actually — who never progress beyond being Clients. They’ll be your Client for decades, and that’s great for business. But it’s far better for your business if you can wow them enough that they become a Fan.
What’s the difference?
Simple: a Fan can’t stop talking about how wonderful you are. They send you referrals, they leave positive reviews of your services online and in trade magazines — they love you and they want people to know they love you.
It’s not easy to make a Fan; you have to put intense effort into exceeding their expectations in a personal and meaningful manner. You can be as beneficial to their bottom line as anyone has ever been, and if they don’t see you as caring about them, they’ll never become a Fan.
Show them that you’re willing to go beyond mere cashflow — whether it’s inviting them to discuss business over dinner on your dime or sending them a handwritten and thoughtful card for a favorite holiday — and you’ll be on your way to creating a genuine Fan.
Have you ever had a fan?
Be sure to leave your comments below!