Leveraging References for New Municipal Business

Breaking into the market for whales [huge clients] for any professional service is difficult without an inside connection. Most of the business for consistently large volume clients is done through referral, and earning that business can be as much a game of politics as a game of skill. Here are a few ways you can leverage your current references to score the bigger clients, especially municipal clients – the ones who will take your revenue to a new level.
Research Your Current Client Base Using CRM. Before you start cold calling municipalities or working in circles, take a solid count of your current client base. Those people know people, and you need to know who they are. If you take this step seriously and mine your current contacts, you should not ever have to make a cold call to land a whale.
Use a solid CRM program to help your organize your thoughts in an efficient way. Keeping notes inside of a CRM platform keeps you from making embarrassing overlap calls. You also get the most out of each call, because your intended target can see that you have already done your research. They will focus on giving you new information and get you in touch with their contacts more quickly with a professionally-organized contact tree.

Testimonials and Reviews
There is nothing wrong with soliciting testimonials and reviews in the modern business landscape. As a matter of fact, since Yelp and Google created their partnership, reviews are now an essential component of to search engine optimization. Because 80 to 85 percent of new business is found online, it is best to shore up your opportunities here as you are making your direct sales calls.
Instead of cold calling, take the time to email or call the clients that you have already satisfied. Ask them to write a few sentences on your behalf, and let them know that you will be using it in your marketing efforts. Sometimes, people just need a bit of personal attention to give you a better review of your services than you could even write on your own.

Joint Events
People meet friends of friends at industry events. Instead of waiting on the next paving, sweeping or professional services event, create your own event. The advantage here is you have the ability to invite only the clients you feel are hot leads. You also give your current clientele a reason to invite the people from other companies and municipalities into your personal space so that you can make connections quickly.

Name Dropping
Although name dropping may be taboo in the traditional world, there is actually something very positive about name dropping, especially if you have put in the work to create great relationships with the people or the institutions that you are talking about. You should let people know who you know in your testimonials, your advertising and in any public speaking events that you do.

Creating a Follow Up System
If you want your current set of clients to continue recommending you to larger and larger clients, you have to keep up with them over time. This is a huge part of the reason that you want a CRM system from the very beginning – whatever KIT system you implement will be much easier to administrate using a digital UI.
Remaining visible to your client connections can be done in a number of ways: Sending relevant articles as an excuse to contact them every month or so is a great choice. You should also keep up with them on social media, especially Facebook. Facebook is the unofficial meeting place for many industry professionals who are looking for ways to hold niche conventions. You may even want to become a leader in the circle and start a group.
It is much easier to keep up with your client base when you are the one who is controlling the offense. Make it a point to step out in front of the knowledge curve on a regular basis. Hold industry events and gain a reputation for bringing new, cutting-edge information to the table.
You can also use holidays as an excuse keep in touch with your relevant customer base. Send holiday cards electronically to keep from spending money on expensive paper cards.

Endorsement Campaigns
One of the best ways to transfer the credibility you have with a current client to a prospect is through a direct endorsement campaign. If you can identify a municipal client that you want, perhaps one that is holding a direct bid for a large job, you can set yourself apart from the pack very easily using an endorsement campaign.
Write yourself a promotional letter. In that letter, detail all of the value that you have brought to a past customer. Have that past customer sign the endorsement letter on its letterhead and send it to the municipal prospect. This will immediately help your company to stand out, because you have a client speaking up for you instead of the more obvious technique of selling yourself.
Keep the above tactics in mind to continually expand your prospect list into the world of municipal and government contracts. Although this market can be difficult to break into, the effort is more than worth it when you consider the volume and the continuity of work that municipalities have to offer.

Story by Katherine Nolan

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