Leah Cortes
Leah Cortes Owner / Personal Assistant at

Asked this question on 5/12/14 -Customer Retention

What is the best way to approach prospective clients?

What is the best step to approach prospective clients, other than advertising online or sending out brochures?

Top voted answer
Andrew Egan

Andrew Egan Director & IT Specialist at

Referrals from existing clients is a good opportunity. Make sure you regularly ask your cuirrent clients if there's anyone they could refer you to.. maybe even offer referal bonuses ?

Leah Cortes

Thank you so much guys this is a great response! I had actually never thought about the referrals idea and that could be an excellent way to get the word around. Also the networking idea - excellent! I am searching around for local business events or similar but I guess at this time of year things are quiet. I am hoping things will pick up next year and there will be local business events that I can attend to network. Thank you :)

Lisa Ormenyessy

Lisa Ormenyessy Business Coach and Marketing Specialist at

10% Business Coaching

Hi Leah,

It is a big question. One thing you may like to consider is that successful marketing never takes on a single pronged approach. The more irons you have across different medias/ mediums the better. Just make sure you keep measuring, measuring, measuring. I can not stress this enough. If you don't know the return you are getting for your marketing spend then you are really just burning money.

If the intent of your question was to find some inexpensive ways to generate new leads then Andrew has hit the nail on the head. Your existing clients are always a great source for new clients as they already know, like and trust you.

Phil Joel

Phil Joel Director at SavvySME

10% Customer Acquisition

Hi Leah,

You can also try networking - both online and offline. Join groups that your target clients are in. Go to local events - basically wherever your clients are likely to go. It takes time and effort but it does work.

Iain Dooley

Iain Dooley Owner at

Hey Leah,

The first step is to narrow down who your prospective clients are. And "small business" doesn't cut it ;)

For example, in my software business, I'm interested in small service businesses that have between 2 and 10 staff and more than $2 mil in annual revenue, or professional consultants who generate in excess of $300k/year but have no staff.

In order to target these people I have setup a new brand called The Procedure People http://www.theprocedurepeople.com/ -- my goal is to identify business owners who have solved their sales problem but are having trouble growing due to lack of infrastructure. When I did some keyword research in Google AdWords, I found people looking for help with "policies & procedures", my hypothesis is that those people are exactly the target market I'm after (or at least a portion of them are).

But without first stating very clearly who my ideal client is, I wouldn't have been able to come up with a creative way to get access to them.

You're running a PA service: who is your ideal customer? Do you want to access solopreneurs (eg. on Flying Solo) or do you want to access professional consultants? What about picking an industry? Can you be particularly helpful to anaesthetists? Accountants? Lawyers? GPs?

Anyway, you get the point: the answer to the question "how should I get in touch with my prospective clients" will depend on who those prospective clients are. Identifying who they are is often more challenging, than trying to find them ;)

Leah Cortes

Thank you - great response! The issue I have is that in the short term the clients that I am targeting are very different to those that I plan to target once my business is up and running. Ie. after researching and to help bring in initial cashflow I will be focusing on the trade industries and just begin with admin support as there seems to be a skills gap and lack of resources in this area. However, my long term goal is to move on to CEO's and executive support for medium sized local businesses - obviously this will take much more effort to tap into and possibly require more funds for marketing and so my short term goal is what I need to be focusing on at the moment. But this has given me something to think about so thank you!

Iain Dooley

Great, admin for tradies. It's good to have a long term vision but you don't need to focus on that every day. Today, you have to focus on finding tradies. There are a tonne of directories like hipages.com.au where you might be able to advertise, but one other benefit in targeting tradies is that they're all in the phone book so cold calling is easy. I like to start my calls with "hello I'm calling to sell you something are you interested?" ... about half say no, or that they're busy so you get off the phone quickly, the other half say "depends what you're selling" then you can get into the sales conversation. You can say things like "well I can do all your tax and invoicing and answer the phone for you to get rid of cold callers for just $200 a month" or whatever. Experiment with it and see what works. That will be a good way too work on your offer and refine your brand. I would say you'll be better off having a brand that focuses purely on that market while you grow, rather than trying to have a brand that will align with both the market you wish to approach immediately and the market you wish to approach eventually. There's nothing to stop you from launching a separate brand down the track.