Summary: Want to grow your business-to-business small business without chasing after new clients? Expand with new value-added services that complement your existing offering. Find out how.
If you have a business-to-business small business, some of your clients inevitably will go out of business, get bought out, undergo management shake-ups, or just get seduced by a new vendor. You have to grow your business just to stay in business. But how?
Undertake costly and time-consuming marketing and networking projects to get new clients to make up for the inevitable attrition.
Ask your existing clients to refer new clients. This is always a good idea, but it”s not the fastest or most reliable way to get new business. You could wait months to see results.
Don”t get new clients at all. Instead, expand your offerings to your existing clients.
Choosing Your New B2B Small Business Offering: What to Look for
Expanding your B2B offering might sound like a bit of a headache and that is a possibility. You have to select your expanded offering carefully. Here”s what to look for:
Complements existing offering
In case you”re tempted to branch out too far, keep these factors in mind:
Market. If your expanded offering complements your existing offering, your existing clients will provide a ready market.
Credibility. “Jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none:” it”s a clich?, but people instinctively believe it. Which would you trust more: a shoemaker who also sells wristwatches or a shoemaker who also sells socks?
Skills. You will inevitably need new skills for your new offering. This includes the softer skills of selling and servicing the offering. The fewer skills you have to acquire, the smoother your rollout will be.
Modest investment to start
The only guaranteed way of minimizing your risk is to minimize your investment. Remember: investment doesn”t just mean money, but also your time and energy. Choose an expanded offering that won”t be all-consuming.
Strong existing demand
Face it: your small business already has its hands full with its existing business. You can”t afford to break ground on something the world doesn”t know about yet. Look for an unfulfilled demand on the part of your existing client base.
Hypothetical Case Study: B2B Service Expansion
Lisa is a virtual assistant who has expanded from data entry to helping her clients organize their internal records. But offshore companies are taking away record-keeping clients just as they did with data entry. Getting new record-keeping clients would be an uphill battle against offshoring.
What does Lisa do?
1. Lisa gets into a few long telephone calls with her favorite clients. One client mentions his secretary is tired of handling payroll. Another says he is fed up with being put on hold with his current big-name payroll processing company.
2. Lisa researches payroll processing outsourcing. She finds it”s a business where offshore companies have not made great inroads. Domestic businesses have not glutted the market, either. Traditionally, the technology needed to run a payroll process business was so expensive that only a few large firms could compete. The new software that allows any small business to offer payroll processing services has only been on the market a short time. Meanwhile, the cost of startup is only the cost of the software, plus a portion of her sales. Best of all, the only training she needs is to read up on a few payroll manuals, and do a test run with one or two of her most supportive clients.
3. Lisa gets a few of her clients on the phone and asks them point-blank if they would be interested in outsourcing their payroll processing to her. They sound interested.
4. Lisa finds a reputable payroll processing software company founded by someone with extensive experience in the field. She calls the company up and confirms that they have not sold a franchise in her area yet.
5. Within six months, Lisa has taken over the payroll processing of about one-fifth of her existing clients. Though she has lost two large clients to offshore virtual assistant services, her business income has grown by fifteen percent, since she has gotten more work without having to invest in marketing.
Of course, Lisa”s success took hard work. But she was able to maximize her effort by choosing an offering she could expand her business into easily. Payroll processing is one example of a value-added service that many B2B small businesses can transition into smoothly. But whatever new offering you go with, just make sure to choose your new offering carefully.