How Business Owners Can Really Find Their Ideal Clients

Being a small-business owner can be both rewarding and lucrative. However, a significant chunk of service-based small business owners find themselves spending too much time with the wrong type of clients, or discovering that their leads are a dud.

In this article, I’ll be covering some of the ways that you, as a business owner, can understand your ideal client at a much deeper level, and then how you can look at creating an automated sales funnel that can ensure you can spot the bad fits ahead of time.

What most service-based business owners are doing wrong

When we build out our avatars, we’re usually looking for our ideal customer: the person that we think would be a really good fit for our business’ service or product. 

Some examples of things that make up an avatar are:

  • The sector their business is in
  • How old they are / their gender
  • Where they shop
  • How much they earn
  • Their marital or parental status
  • Topics of interest
  • As well as other soft characteristics, such as ethnicity and type of job, for example.

And whilst these boxes should absolutely be ticked, along with what niche they are in and the rest of the characteristics that tell you about this person  (in advanced avatar creation we literally give these personas a name as well), it’s not always the full picture when it comes to our ideal client.

How is it that someone can tick all of these boxes and still not be your ideal client?

There might be a personality clash or there might be an ideation clash; on paper, they should be your ideal client but in practice, they’re not.  It is for these reasons that finding your Ideal Client is more than just a tick-box exercise. 

How can you, as a business owner, take steps to ensure you onboard your ideal client?

The first step you can take to make sure a lead is well suited, is to add a robust and well thought-out discovery process to see if they qualify as a true ideal client and help you filter through characteristics. 

One of the reasons this works well is that by asking people the right questions up front and discovering what the problem is they are looking to solve with you, as well as taking this opportunity to  set expectations, means that they are enrolled in the process and that they are invested in it, rather than just handing off the end result to you as the service provider.

This discovery / pre-qualification process can be automated very simply by creating a simple yet specific questionnaire before the call – there are many online form builders that fit the bill nicely.  Google forms is a good free one, Jotform or Typeform if you want to get a bit snazzy or, of course, a native Keap form.  You could ask them to complete a specific questionnaire, and you can tell a lot by the way in which people complete this questionnaire upfront. 

A few of the questions you could include to ask them  are: 

  • How do you describe your business?
  • What are your key challenges?
  • What steps have you taken to solve these challenges?
  • What is your experience with [product/service]?
  • Would you consider an investment of x to solve this problem worthwhile?

You can see here our very own pre-qualification questionnaire, that you would be asked to complete should you book a discovery call with myself or one of the team.

What you are also looking at is whether  people take care with their responses or if they are slapdash or detailed.  With a carefully constructed qualification discovery process, you can spot any potential red flags. 

How to automate your lead-generating forms

There is a time-effective way of creating this efficient filter: by using a  scheduling software, such as Calendly, ScheduleOnce, Acuity and Keap,  and using your form as a thank you page.

If you are using automation software such as Keap, then you will be able to automatically track who has made a booking for the first time and if they have or haven’t completed your qualification form, you’ll be able to chase them up (automatically) and of course follow-up.

How you can use this data

When the time of the call comes around, you will find that you are able to have a really focused and productive call, bringing huge value to you and the prospect, because you’re armed with key information.  You’ll also be able to use it in the follow-up proposal and in some cases down the line as your starting KPI against which to measure the success and progress.

Could it be good to say “no” sometimes?

Absolutely! When you’re in a new business, it’s likely that you will want to serve as many people as possible in order to generate as much revenue as possible. However, this may not be the most efficient use of your resources.  In fact, by trying to serve everybody, you could be at risk of serving nobody.

If you are not very clear on who your ideal client is, it can negatively impact your bottom line as you may find that you are spending valuable time and resources serving the wrong client who doesn’t appreciate you. Furthermore, this client may be a time suck who takes you away from either time for yourself or from serving the profitable clients.

Grade your current clients to understand how you’re doing now

A quick exercise that you can do is to look at all of your clients and grade them on certain characteristics.

Have a look at the clients with whom you’re already working, create a list and grade them on why you like working with them. For example:

  • Is it that they’re clear on their outcomes? 
  • Is it their personality? 
  • Is it the type of business that they’re in?
  • Is it that they are invested in the process or they leave you to it?

Then consider: what is it about your top five clients that makes you really enjoy working with them? Establish those traits, possibly even interview the clients, and ask them why they like working with you – then go and find more people like them.

Hopefully by putting all these elements together, you won’t only start to generate quality, high-conversion leads for your business, but you’ll also be able to filter potential clients in a way that indicates that they’re worth your resources.

Over time, this will allow you to not just capture many more potential leads, but to be able to automate whether or not you take them on as clients.

If you want to learn more about creating the Ideal Customer Journey for your business, book a call with Lisa here.