Earn the Right to Win New Business: A Guide for Early-Career Professionals

In the competitive world of business, earning the right to win new clients is a crucial skill, especially for those early in their careers.

Whether you’re a financial planner, a salesperson, or an entrepreneur, the challenge remains the same: How do you earn the trust and business of potential clients? Let’s delve into some proven techniques and real-life examples to guide you on this journey.

The Ten-Minute Interview Technique

One young financial planner I interviewed had a unique approach to this challenge. He was new to the industry and had to build his client base from scratch. His strategy? He identified 20 influential individuals in his community and asked for just ten minutes of their time. The catch? He wasn’t selling anything; he was learning. He asked them, “What should I do to earn the right to do business with people like you? “

This approach made it safe for these potential clients. He was transparent about his intentions and respectful of their time. The result? At the end of his first year, three of those individuals gave him a small portion of their portfolios to manage. By the end of three years, seven out of the original 20 had become clients. He had indeed earned the right. Over the next seven years they had given him a significant portion of their portfolios. After you earn the right to do business you must prove you are beyond capable.

The Three Types of People to Market To

Decades ago, when I was a men’s hairstylist in San Francisco’s financial district, my client Homer Dunn, a rising sales star at IBM, told me his categorization of potential clients:

Current Customers: These are people who have already bought from you. The key here is maintenance. Ensure they’re satisfied with the product and service.

Prospects in the Sales Cycle: These are potential clients you’re currently engaging with. The sales cycle can be long, especially for high-ticket items. Homer told me he kept in regular contact.

Future Prospects: These are the people you haven’t earned the right to do business with yet. The goal is to maintain a relationship and keep them updated on your progress and the success of other customers who have invested in what they were considering, although not immediately.

Keep in Touch with Your Network

Don’t underestimate the power of keeping in touch with those who already know and appreciate your work. Whether it’s through occasional email with a purpose, networking events, or social media, make sure you’re consistently communicating with your existing network. They are your most valuable resource.

Remember, earning the right to win new business is not just about selling; it’s about building relationships, showing genuine interest, and proving your worth over time.

Fripp Note: 15 years ago, when I was about to tell this example in a presentation to an IBM audience I connected with Homer and we had a great conversation about our conversations when “in my chair.” We have both been young and optimistic. One of my greatest educations was from my clients as a top men’s stylist in the Financial District of San Francisco.

Before I posted this article, I again searched for Homer. Only to find he died in 2018. However, his wisdom has served me well. RIP, Homer.

Frippicism: It is not your clients’ or prospects’ job to remember you. It is your obligation and responsibility to not give them a chance to forget you.

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