Chasing customers? What that really says about you.

By Rachel McDermott Analysis, How To

Are you a parking ticket? Cuz you got FINE written all over you.

Pass. Jo responded without looking up. She rolled her eyes and turned to whisper to her best friend Denise, her eyes wide, Who does that?

Denise just laughed. Weren’t you telling me 15 minutes ago about how tired you were of initiating? I believe your exact words were, Aren’t guys supposed to do the chasing?

Jo glanced over her shoulder to see if the guy was gone. But the cheesy pickup line? Really? I mean, I didn’t think guys actually try to use those!

Come on, you know it probably would have worked if he looked like Chris Hemsworth. Denise gave Jo a look.

We’ve all seen the memes. The cheesy pickup lines.

Do they ever work?

Maybe, if you’re already in the dance. Both of you know you’re interested, you’ve exchanged non-verbal cues. Then someone uses a line–hoping for a laugh, right? It can be an opening, to express intent but keep things light. Executed carefully, it can work.

But many times, the timing is off. Signals are misread or non-existent. Using a pickup line when conditions aren’t favorable is likely to end in awkward rejection. Showing interest is good, but the strong come on doesn’t usually work.

There’s a fine line between showing interest and coming on too strong

In the dance of human relationships we need some give and some take. If one person comes on too strong before getting a signal, a micro-yes, it can come off as creepy. What’s worse is, when you’ve given someone the message you’re not interested and they come on even stronger. Now they’re needy and desperate in your eyes. And needy and desperate is a huge turn-off.

Desperation in business is just as much of a turn-off

What makes someone desperate? Fear they won’t get what they want? Fear of losing what they have?

Your business needs customers to keep going. You have payroll, you have expenses. It’s understandable when you feel like you have to chase customers so you can meet the bills. If you’re ever in a situation where you find yourself chasing after business, you’re certainly not the first, nor will you be the last. Except for the part where people chase to get business even when they’re not desperate for cash flow.

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What makes businesses chase customers?

1. No uniqueness
2. No system
3. No leverage
4. Fear of loss
5. Seeking prestige

1 There’s nothing that makes them unique so they schmooze and suck up to get business

If there’s nothing much that separates you from your competitor, you’re likely to find yourself competing on price or having to wine and dine your customers in an effort to get them to work with you instead of going to the other guy.

Networking is a powerful tool in business, but if you’re constantly hungry for a new sale, people will pick up on that. Nobody wants needy. So network and build relationships with people for the sake of connection, not for the sake of taking their money.

2 They have no system in place to automate the leads they generate

Without a system you won’t know who to reach out to and who to leave alone. A good system will guide you to know what information to give your customers and when.

With a system you know whether the lead is unlikely to buy from you; so you can point them in the right direction or ignore them and move on. Without a system you waste time on people who don’t deserve your time and end up ignoring those who do.

When you have a system in place you’re able to lead your customers through the process. You know what they need and you have a solution to help them solve their problem.

3 Using consulting instead of leverage to get new customers

If you’re spending a lot of time doing free consultations with potential clients, you should ask yourself if you’re making the best use of your time. You spend a lot of time and energy talking to them, giving them helpful information and training. You hope they’ll want to do business with you. But if they choose to squeeze you for information then dump you when they’re finished, you’ve lost a lot of time. Sure, you’ve helped them out. You’ve given stuff you were happy to share. But taking the time 1-on-1 with each potential client is a major time killer.

On the other hand, if you’ve got some leverage in the form of an ebook, video or piece of content, you don’t have to be involved directly. You can point prospective customers to your content, letting them qualify or disqualify themselves.

With leverage, you move from chasing clients down and begging for business to customers pursuing you, eager for the chance to work together.

Let potential customers disqualify themselves with your content.

If it’s a product business have all your policies out there, share your FAQ, so customers can read and learn about you and how you work as they move through the sales process. Those who feel you’re a good fit will continue and those that aren’t will leave.

This is wonderful because customers sort themselves.

Keep this information to yourself and you end up with more calls and less time as you find yourself having to sort through the good and bad customers yourself.

4 Fear of losing the business, a take what I can get mindset

When you’re operating under stiff competition or business is slow, it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you should take whatever you can get. If you let fear take control in your life you can very easily fall into desperation mode and end up doing things which in hindsight, you’ll likely regret.

Drastically lowering your prices, making special concessions on your agreements or promising unrealistic deadlines are all things which leave you with the potential for future problems. Fear can lead you to compromise sound business practices. And most customers are all too happy to take advantage of your desperation.

5 Want prestige – to be able to say “I worked with…”

People chase for more than money. Sometimes the chase is all about the social influence and credibility that’s acquired after working with a prominent business or person. It’s a valid desire. And the strategy of borrowing prestige and trust actually makes a difference to consumers. It can have the same effect as a referral from a friend. Wow, so-and-so worked with them! And suddenly you’re more desirable to work with than someone with little experience nobody has heard of.

The problem with chasing after prestigious clients is, you’re unlikely to win them over if they sense and understand you’re desperate to work with them. Your desperation will work against you and you’ll turn them off.

Even if your chasing efforts pay off and they work with you, your neediness puts you in a one-down position. They can end up feeling like they’re doing you a favor instead of a business relationship built on mutual respect.

Because chasing after customers comes with consequences.

Chasing means you’re more likely to be used. You could end up being a means to an end. They may see you as easy-come easy-go. They either suck you dry or they might allow you to court them only to use you as leverage against another offer, and you never get the job.

If you do get the job the client doesn’t respect you, which makes everything difficult. They end up questioning every decision. They don’t trust you or your recommendations. This makes working together difficult; doing an awesome job is suddenly impossible.

If you chase and then allow someone to take advantage of you, you’re sending the message that you’re disposable. Right from the start, failure is almost guaranteed.

The desperate chase sends the message: I’m not worth it

If you believe you have to beg, plead and suck up to get business, you’re sending the message you don’t think you’re worth it. It shows desperation and you’ll find yourself agreeing to whatever concessions the client demands, just so you can close the sale. If there’s really nothing unique about you, you’ll end up competing on price or who got to them first.

don't be needy

Nobody wants to be seen as needy.

And yet, we all have needs.

How do we balance our life so we’re not in a state of emotional desperation? What makes people feel or act desperate?

Everyone seems to be able to recognize the needy person, and it’s NOT the person we want to be. (We don’t tell ourselves, When I grow up I’m gonna be needy!) And, if someone tells you you’re being needy or clingy, it hurts. It’s embarrassing because our culture and society tells us it is shameful to be a needy person.

So, if nobody wants to be needy, why does this happen?

It happens when we get stuck in a scarcity mindset. If you believe what you want or need is scarce and hard to get, you’re going to start behaving desperately in your attempt to get it.

Scarcity mindset

Viewing life as having only so much. Believing there’s not enough and viewing your world and things around you from a place of scarcity, there’s never enough. Someone has to lose in order for me to win.

So, scarcity thinking can lead to desperation. But if you’ve struggled with this you’re going to need to learn how to think differently so you can approach your business in a more effective way.

Reaching out is not the same as chasing

It’s all about intent.

If you’re confident in what you’re offering they will sense a difference. When your intent is to genuinely help others, and you’re confident in your ability to offer something that improves people’s lives, it’s easier to put yourself out there. You don’t take it personally when someone doesn’t want to work with you.

How can you attract more people that want to work with you?

1 Put yourself out there so people will know what you can offer

Unasked for advice usually makes people feel defensive. “I didn’t ask for your help buddy!

It’s different when someone knows you and comes to you for help. The conversation starts with mutual respect. They know enough about you and your business to feel comfortable coming to you for your advice and expertise. At that point, you don’t have to waste time trying to impress them or convince them about yourself, so you can get started talking about what they need and how you can help. If you do things right, they will see the uniqueness of your product or service and they’ll want to buy from you.

2 Develop your uniqueness

Don’t confuse value attributes with uniqueness. Being in business for X amount of years is not unique. It’s nice to show your knowledge and your experience, but don’t confuse that with being unique. Lots of businesses can say they have years of experience.

Caring about your customers and guaranteeing their satisfaction doesn’t make you unique either. Loads of businesses make those promises. Its tripe and consumers gloss over such claims.
Uniqueness is specific. Branded right, it becomes the one thing people remember and say about you and only you. If people can say the same thing about another business it’s not unique and neither are you.

3 Know your target

You need to know what you want. Not everyone will be a good fit, trying to speak to everyone waters down your message. At that point it’s unappealing to pretty much everyone. On the other hand if your target profile is Maggie, she has a specific set of problems, emotions and words.

Focus on her and suddenly all the ‘Maggie’s’ of the world are drawn to your message.
Which means all of them can relate to and empathize with what you’re saying.

Your offer acts as an attractor. When your message resonates with them it increases the likelihood that everyone will get what they want.

Once that happens, it’s easier to become an ‘expert’ and to earn their trust. Why? You’ve focused on a single person and the specific problem they have – the one you can fix.

4 Give and you’ll receive

Your customers have specific problems. What can you do to solve those problems? Give customers a solution to a few of their problems and you have their attention.

A prospective client reached out to us a while back. They were interested in working with us and they were looking at a few other competitors. If our agency won the project we’d be expected to redesign their site. During negotiations, they sent us a username and password so we’d have a good idea of what we’d be dealing with.

We were instantly bombarded with alerts.

Our anti-virus software found out their network was filled with computer viruses. Things were so bad we weren’t even able to test their system properly.

So we showed them the problem and removed their viruses, free of charge.

That unexpected problem gave us the opening we needed to give. We gave without expectation, saving our clients from disaster.

We won the project afterwards.

Give and you’ll receive. Educate and provide valuable, useful information to your customer base. In sharing, you have the opportunity to build relationships and win business.

But, I need to chase customers to keep my business going

Desperate times call for desperate measures when you’re focused on keeping your doors open. Sometimes you’re in a position where you have to chase after customers, and that’s understandable.

If you find yourself in a tough spot where you feel the need to chase customers, make sure you set firm limits on how much you’re willing to give. That way you’re not getting taken advantage of simply because you need the business. Remember, even if you don’t say anything, a customer will sense when they’re able to push you and negotiate you down. If you desperately need the cash flow it will be hard to say no.

When your customer senses you need the money, they’ll begin pushing for a better deal or for things to be tipped in their favor. Offering concessions is fine as long as both sides are making them. If you’re offering a discount, set an expiration date. If they want a month-to-month agreement, get a larger down payment. Whatever the scenario, concessions need to be mutual. If you give, they give. You need to keep things balanced in order to maintain mutual respect.

Everyone in our industry chases customers

When everyone in an industry chases customers it’s usually a race to the bottom. If that’s an issue there’s probably a deeper problem. It could be an industry that has to deal with strict regulations. Maybe your product is a commodity. For one reason or another, customers are hesitant to buy.

In this kind of situation, when everybody else is chasing, you have an opportunity to carve out your uniqueness. The one thing you’re offering that nobody else has and customers can’t get anywhere else.

Chasing customers, cheesy pick-up lines, they both end the same way.

Cheesy pick-up lines? Hilarious. Chasing after customers? Not so much. Chasing sends the wrong message. It screams I’m not an equal. It comes from a place of neediness, fear and desperation which typically ends in rejection. Want customers to treat you as an equal? Reach out to help them, don’t chase.

What about you? Have you been chased? How do you feel when you’re on the receiving end of a cold-call?

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  • I’m glad I stumbled onto this blog. I’m loving the hooks you use to start every article. So many great tips and advice in the content too!

    • Thanks Steven, I’m glad you found some useful things in our post.

  • Bob Mack

    Great post. Thanks.

  • iqbbalahmed

    Nice articles about prospects chasing.