Three new clients a year can be all you need to grow

You’re forecasting your new business revenues for the next financial year.

You’re trying to imagine what that looks like in terms of actual new clients.

You assign some sort of quantity of new clients – and what ballpark revenue they might bring in – to the detail of the forecast.

Then you double it, add some, pick some numbers out of the air and write them down on the whiteboard. And sigh. Because you did all this last year, and what you ended up with looked nothing like what you had forecast.

You need a lot less of the right type of client than you think.

Let’s say you sell to other businesses, so you’re B2B.

You turnover somewhere between £250k – £3m and have around 4 to 20 employees – depending on what you’re selling.

We’ll imagine you’re an SME selling professional or specialist services.

Three new clientsSpecialist services which require high levels of knowledge and experience. Maybe digital marketing advice, technical consultancy, legal support, market research, environmental or engineering expertise…

In short, you sell time.

You’ve got a good retention rate – above industry average, so it seems – but there are always those clients who disappear from time-to-time (for legitimate reasons) which need replacing.

So – you’d like more new clients. More new business. More sales.

In fact, you wouldn’t just like them, but you need them.

Not just to replace that regular client churn, but to bring in the profit to re-invest in keeping operations running smoothly, current clients happy, service levels high and the overall business up-to-date.

And not to mention, to fit with your ambitious growth and expansion plans.

But how many new clients do you actually need?

Let’s have a think.

For most of the businesses that fit the profile above – and these are the businesses I’m most familiar with, that make up most of my own portfolio – they don’t need 50 new clients.

They don’t even need five.

They need (about) three. Give or take. 3. That’s it.

Three new clients is all you need

But – and this is really important – there’s something very special about those three new clients that you need to get. (You just knew there’d be a catch).

Those three new clients must have certain qualities in order to qualify.

What attributes must your three new clients have?

By the way – I’m talking three new clients each year (would’ve all been a bit too easy otherwise).

  1. They need to fit – in every way you can think of
  2. And definitely value you, as you value yourself
  3. They should be stable
  4. And profitable
  5. The right size and sector
  6. With the potential to grow as a client – or have a high lifetime value
  7. Three that will stick with you when the wind blows the wrong way
  8. Three that can and will recommend and refer you
  9. And also fit with your positioning
  10. They’ll definitely treat you with respect as a valued supplier
  11. And pay your invoices on time – or apologise when they don’t
  12. They’ll provide good case studies because they believe in measuring success
  13. And would happily stand on a stage with you one day at an industry event
  14. They will be three that other clients can aspire to be like…..

Now, I’m not saying you need three of each of these types of clients – that would be bonkers. (And it would make 3 x 14 = 42 new clients per year).

But I am saying that the three new clients you want to go and get should tick all (or most) of these boxes. Yikes!

How on earth do you go about making sure that your leads and prospects meet these demanding criteria – isn’t that a rather tall and unrealistic order?

No it’s not, and it’s a vital point. This recent post will help you with that stage.

Three new clients sounds achievable, right?

More achievable – I hope – than finding 10 of the wrong ones.

The wrong ones? Oh yes.

They’re those clients who are rarely profitable because they are hard to manage. Because they never pay on time. They are drains, and not radiators (that’s not literal, it’s emotional), sucking every drop of warmth out of your relationship. Because they are in a sector you really don’t know that well – and asking you more and more for services that aren’t on your ‘We’re mega experts at that’ list.

They’re the ones you sometimes wish you’d never met.

Three new clients a year should sound achievable even if selling isn’t what you enjoy doing. (But because you’re the business owner, or fee-earning employee with responsibility for bringing in new business, you’ve still got to do it).

So, next time you’re forecasting your new business revenue, and digging a little deeper into what those new customers might look like, ask yourself this question:

Which would you prefer – three clients who are a good fit, and hard to find. Or 10 of the wrong ones, who are still hard to find?

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If you’re looking for help finding your next three new clients, and are an SME selling B2B, you can find out more here how I approach things. Or you can call me on 07827 297569 for a chat, or email me on kim.mason@allthingsnewbiz.co.uk.

Happy reading!

Kim.

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