listen, help, listen

The other day I was asked how to acquire new clients, or in business lingo, how to do newbiz. I wasn’t quite sure what to say, and so I shrugged, because it’s not something I’m particularly good at. Or rather, I’m not good at sales.

I don’t usually think about acquiring new clients, but I do believe that it’s important to build trust and relationships and, bluntly, to simply be a good person, and the rest will take care of itself.

If there’s anything that from today’s point of view has helped me, it’s this: I try to listen to people, try to figure out what their problems are, and if I can help (note: actually help, not make them believe I can help if they hired me, not saying things like “we offer solutions for…”. Actual help.) I do it, or point them to people I think can do it. In turn, if I need help, I ask folks for tipps, and am constantly surprised how much most people are willing to help if you just ask them. Out of this kind of exchange, over time, you build trust. This might, or might not, directly or indirectly lead to a working relationship. What’s I find beautiful about it is this: It’s so vague, so unreliable, so hard to trace, that you can’t fake it just to sell some crap. Unless you mean it, it’s not going to work.

Also, it’s not really traceable.* In our company we thought for a bit if we could track our client acquisition. We gave it up quite quickly. It’s not how it works for us at TW, and it’s not how it ever worked for me during my freelance years.

In the end, I guess everyone needs to figure out for themselves how to do this thing, however we might call it, that leads to a client hiring someone. Personally, I’m quite happy it doesn’t include tracking it in a spreadsheet.

*update for clarification, what I mean here is: Not traceable in that very clear cause-effect relationship way that sales can be tracked if you sell products or standardized services. What TW does is highly customized and individual consulting. It’s not something you give to a call center to dial up a thousand potential clients and then track conversion rates.

Leave a Reply