This is a trial chapter for a project to model business success.
Getting Clients a Guide
I have met many people who dream of running their own business. To make
a successful and viable business, no matter how great the ideas, products or
services, clients are essential. Getting clients is not just an issue for start-up
businesses. It is an activity that needs to occur at all stages of their life cycle.
Forget about it and a business will stagnate. For a business to realise its full
potential and take off to the next level it needs to continually grow its customer
Failing to get enough clients to launch a business or enable it to breakthrough
to the next level and make real money is where many fall down. This is often
not through lack of effort, and even with a determination to succeed many
business people feel in the dark about the best strategies to use. This article
describes successful strategies for getting clients that I learnt from meeting
and modelling experts within business that can be applied by anyone, even
Before we get started, let me introduce modelling to you. Modelling is
accelerated learning. Modelling provides a way to access knowledge that
traditional learning tools do not. The technique enables the full behaviour of
an expert to be replicated by looking not only at the things you see and hear
them do but also into the hidden things that happen inside their head. The
hidden elements can be our most powerful motivators. The things we say to
ourselves or the images we create in our heads are often what drive us to
achieve our goals. However, if we are not aware of how to use our self-talk or
imagery, it is all too easy to allow our inner self to say things or conjure up
images that hinder us and prevent us from achieving. Imagine then if instead
of the limiting thoughts you currently store in your head, you could learn and
apply the self talk, the motivational images and beliefs that drive a successful
business person to achieve. Consider, how much more successful you could
When modelling others, it is important to model people who are experts and
learn from the best; otherwise it’s possible to install behaviour that is sub
optimal. When I first discussed the concept of learning more about getting
clients, a number of business people were referred to me that were seen by
others as experts in getting clients. These business people came from
different industries and had different personalities. Yet, what I found really
remarkable was how similar their strategies were in getting clients and
remember; these guys are really good at it. Their values, beliefs and
strategies were so comparable that I am sure their knowledge captured within
this article will be a great foundation for people like you and me to use.The
first step is to elicit the values and beliefs of the experts.
Who we are and what we hold dear help to define both our personal values
and personal beliefs. There are distinct differences between the two although
values and beliefs are often so tightly interwoven I will take a step back to
define what I mean by values and beliefs and hopefully add some
understanding of the differences between these ideas.
Personal beliefs are statements, principles or doctrines that individuals
choose to accept as true. While others may argue their credibility or if they
are real, if an individual genuinely believes in a cause or a feeling, they will act
as such and this can be credited as a personal belief.
Personal values are more of a measurable discipline. They have relatively
little to do with outside influences. While personal values are definitely woven
into personal beliefs, values are personal choices that are never really
argued, because they simply define who we are as individuals. Personal
values, in a sense, define the worth of our being and set out the importance of
our personal beliefs.
Values are a set of concepts or rules that are important, and frequently
provide our intrinsic motivation They can be considered a framework or a
collection of principles that can guide behaviour toward goals. They can be
• “a collection of guiding, usually, positive principles; what one
deems to be correct and desirable in life, especially regarding
personal conduct” The Wiktionary
• “the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which
the people of the group have an affective regard. These values
may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or
negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.” Thedictionary.com
The expert’s key values
• Financial reward and the importance of gaining control of your life and
achieving financial freedom.
• Relationships. Relationships are about building strongly for the future.
The term networking was described as too superficial, too short term
and possibly too mercenary and was discounted by the experts.
• Personal integrity, credibility and a strong personal reputation. There is
strength in knowing who you really are and being confident to steer
your own direction.
• Serving others to make a difference. By responding positively to the
needs of others reward will follow.
• Continual development and growth in yourself and others.
• Having fun. (I am particularly glad to see this one!)
From the interviews, a range of beliefs shared by the experts around getting
clients became evident. As I have suggested, a belief is something that
someone knows is real or true based on how they interpret the world around
them. We create these rule of thumb ideas about situations, people and their
thoughts or even our abilities or competences and use them to help us make
decisions and handle situations. Sometimes we create unhelpful beliefs that
stop us doing things or lead us to handle a situation ineffectively. Fortunately,
we can change our beliefs, rules and generalisations we make in our lives.
The following beliefs may not be your beliefs. These are the beliefs shared by
experts in successfully getting clients. However, if they are your beliefs, this
may be an important discovery.
In the following paragraphs, I have kept to the language used by the experts
as closely as possible in an attempt to give the best insight into their world.
Firstly, the desire for financial reward and self-worth underpin our need for our
business to succeed and for that to happen we know we need to develop a
relationships to get clients and develop a customer base . Are the people you
mix with decision makers able to make commitments that can be honoured
Beliefs around why getting clients is worthwhile
At the root of getting clients is the idea that meeting new people is exciting
and fascinating. Meeting people and turning them into clients is the most
satisfying part of business because it adds variety, the potential for learning
and the possibility of demonstrating personal worth by making a difference to
the client and their world. It is a chance to get out there and get a different
Building firm foundations
Central to getting clients is developing and building a relationship. A good
relationship will result in positive developments, future work, new leads or
To build a relationship it is important to understand where the client comes
from. Breaking this down a bit, this means knowing and understanding their
culture, traditions, rituals and behaviours.
When meeting a client, focus is vital. Focus on the client and show a genuine
interest in the client beyond just business. There is a need to engage fully in
them and see, hear and feel how they interpret the world. By treating them as
important individuals, beyond simply the work context, it is possible to build a
long term, valuable relationship. Potential clients are more than just a
commodity and they need to see that you truly believe they are too.
Conversation therefore should cover areas such as their purpose (at work and
in life), people important to them (family, friends and colleagues), passions
(things that can really fire up someone and get them going) and pleasure (life,
hobbies, work and dreams). This is not idle, directionless chit chat however.
Building a relationship is more than being sociable, you need to be focussed
on an outcome and have a clear picture of where you are going and where
you are taking your business.
Credibility is important in gaining respect from the client. Respect provides
the firm foundation from which a potential relationship can be built. One way
to be seen as credible is to be introduced from another business person or
intermediate. Respect and credibility are also built by being open and honest,
by straight talking and being reliable and consistent. Talk with clarity and be
open and honest about your strategic direction and your big picture. You will
get respect when you speak of your future with confidence and passion.
Remember building a relationship is not about blagging or being a cowboy
and it is not about sales.
In any strong relationship, partners want success for each other. You need to
really want your partners to succeed and when they do achieve; celebrate and
congratulate their successes.
Firmly believe the client is coming to you for your expertise, knowledge and
your ability to solve their problems. Have a self belief in your knowledge and
abilities. Believe that you are the best placed to unlock new possibilities for
your client and their business to really make a difference.
Understand your client’s world
Finding out about their business is fun and provides an opportunity for both
you and your client to learn, develop and grow. To get into the problem firstly,
you have to get into the client’s world to understand their business and the
issues and barriers they hear, see, and feel. Initially, stick at a high level
clarifying and understanding their key concepts and frameworks. In the
discussion listening keenly is vital. Ensure you interact with the client, even
interrupt and add and build on the conversation to make sure you understand
their world from a number of different perspectives.
Add value into your client’s world
Pulling out the root cause of the client’s problems is like being a detective
driven by curiosity. The intention should focus on how best to serve the
clients needs. It’s like a puzzle to search out the best approach, hunt for the
key issues and see the fruit or goal to aim for and harvest. In the detective
role, use your senses to see, hear and feel the clues.
The really meaty, contentious or difficult issues are the most fun to go for and
address. Possibility focussed discussions are exciting. There is a real buzz
to be had in looking for the doors of possibility to open and working out where
and when to drop in a seed of an idea and then watch how that seed grows
within the conversation. Working together to iteratively build upon an idea
together really engages the client. Involving others is more enjoyable than
lone thinking and the results are also better when different views and
perspectives are brought together to produce a more fulsome debate and
richer ideas. There is excitement and a thrill in doing something that has not
been done before, trying to do new things and stretching ourselves beyond
our comfort zone.
In these discussions you bring your knowledge, skills and attitude and provide
Nail an outcome
Getting to the nub of the problem is a thrill. It is important to get to the point of
agreement about it and move forwards. In the negotiation be assertive and in
control to get to the outcome that benefits both parties.
After the meeting, follow up is essential. Not too intently but with a sense of
space. Perhaps catch up over a good coffee or a meal.
Meta programs are the specific filters we use to interact with the world. They
edit and shape what we allow to come in from the outside world. They also
mould how we communicate with others and how we behave in the world.
During the process, I made an assessment of the meta programs centred
around how the experts motivated themselves, and their working traits.
Although this study does not provide empirical evidence, there were a range
of commonalities between the experts’ meta programs that are at least,
interesting. The consistent ones included having:
• A proactive nature; an approach that grabs the initiative and get things
started, unconsciously. An approach that shuns sitting back waiting for
something to happen.
• Motivation mainly toward an objective and toward a goal. Towards
people motivated to have a go, to get, achieve and attain.
• An external reference point to assess performance, how well you are
doing and to make judgements on progress. These experts used
visual feedback (body language) cues from clients, from conversation
and understood that repeat business is a positive external feedback
• A view framed in opportunities and possibilities. Doing things in a
different way not constrained by or contained within process, thinking
outside the box. They are people who prefer development and set up,
they dislike routine work, and will bend or break rules. They will
commit to new projects and are always looking for next fresh market
because this is more interesting.
• A desire that looks for improvements, ways to get better and do things
differently. This isn’t about throwing the baby out with the bathwater
and it isn’t about flogging the same approach. This is about effectively
managing risks and building toward a future that is more controlled,
relaxed and financially secure.
• An ability to engage people and to show emotion and be animated. It
is about knowing how well communication is going both consciously
and based on unconscious signals. They do not come across as cold
• A cool persona under pressure, being able to focus on the issues in
hand and handle the quantitative and qualitative information, yet still
keeping an awareness of emotions and an ability to show empathy to
• A people focussed manner that recognises people have needs and
understands we are humans first and not automatons.
• Sight of the big picture first. They are able to prioritise actions that
keep moving toward the vision. They are good at getting things up and
running ahead of what they would consider wasting time to perfect all
Strategies are a sequence of external experiences and internal
representations used to plan methodologies that can consistently produce
specific results. We have strategies for everything we do; strategies for love,
learning, decisions, health, wealth, relaxation, boredom to name but some.
What strategies do you currently use in getting clients? You may struggle to
answer that question right now. However, by reading through the process
used by my experts, you might get an insight into how you currently go about
handling clients. The strategies described here are not the only approach.
But they do work. Why not try these, see how they fit for you. You can then
polish and improve them or maybe remove idiosyncrasies to design strategies
that fit you best and give you the most excellent results.
Motivation strategy in preparation for the meeting
Before meeting clients, build your confidence and energy by creating a picture
in your mind of the client as you would expect them to be when everything is
going well and you’re really getting along. See that everyone is relaxed and
the body language is being unconsciously matched and mirrored. See the
movements associated with an animated discussion (In the diagram this is Vc
or visually create an image).
When the picture looks right, imagine all the sounds that indicate that the
meeting is going well and agreements are coming. (In the diagram this is
indicated by Ac or Auditory created).
As you notice the right positive picture and sounds, say to yourself “I am
ready” or “let’s go” and perhaps “I can get a business relationship going”
(Indicated as Ad auditory digital or logical self talk).
Once this stage is complete this should inspire a feeling (K for Kinesthetic) of
Diagram of the motivation strategy
by you and the
Hear the laughing
and the discussion.
Hear it building.
excitement in the
Say to yourself, I
am ready to build a
see if they are
up from the
the tingling of
Guilt is absent
Strategy for the building a relationship
During the meeting, the following strategy is run and run as a loop. The
strategy is there to give feedback on progress in the building of a relationship.
If the information at each stage is not there, the strategy cannot complete.
This gives a clear indication that the approach needs to be changed. When
the strategy is able to complete, the strategy builds and strengthens the
positive emotions in a feed forward loop.
Diagram for the strategy to build a relationship
Ad Auditory digital K Kinesthetic
relaxed, they are
look like me
They sound right “There is value
A feeling of
The conversation is
is congruent, there
is the sound of
“This is going well”
“How can I help
A feeling of
The values, beliefs and strategies described here give an insight into the
mindset and thought processes used by businessmen well versed in getting
clients. I hope they provide a guide or an inspiration to your world and help
you climb up a key step in business success.
I would like to thank the business men who were recommended to me and
gave up their time freely to be a part of this article.
Matt is a business consultant who has recently set up Quest, an employee
engagement agency. He left Lancaster University in 1999 with a degree in
politics and international relations and worked for Norwich Union until 2005
when as a coach and communications consultant he worked for companies
like Aviva, RSA Insurance, E.ON and the Housing Association Home. In 2005
Matt also helped establish Global, a faith-based charity that works in the heart
of communities providing activities to help reduce levels of crime and
Anthony Main founded Web DynamiX more than 7 years ago driven by his
passion for the internet. He could clearly see then the potential the web could
offer businesses as a marketing and sales tool. Anthony has led Web
DynamiX to be a company that takes customers requirements from initial
design through to finished product and, using the latest technologies, delivers
customer centred web tools and services.