One of the research areas of BillingTree’s 2016 Collection Agency Operations and Technology Survey was business strategies for the coming year; what the agencies saw as opportunities and risks. When asked to rate the importance of a variety of factors to achieving business growth and profitability on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest), agencies cited client expansion as the second most important factor. Gaining new clients is always an important part of generating new business, so here are three ideas for developing new business.
- Expand business within current clients.
Expand the Current Opportunities. Begin by seeking to expand the work that a current client has to offer. Situations and opportunities change within all businesses; managers change departments, departments change roles, new methods of doing business are implemented. There are times when your client has taken on new accounts receivable responsibilities but has not mentioned it to you because they do not know that you can help them. Having in-depth follow-up contact with current clients, such as taking them to lunch every now and then, can result in expanded opportunities for you.
Secure Internal Referrals. Many business’s internal structuring means that individual departments operate in “silos”; they are their own operating entity and have no idea what the other departments are doing. This presents opportunities for expanding your client base by asking for internal referrals.
Internal referrals are referrals that happen within one business. For example, your current buyer, who is a client, could refer you to another executive, employee or department at his business who could also become a client. If they have no referrals then offer educational programs such as lunch-and-learn gatherings. By doing so you can develop an organizational chart for that particular client-business and map out the people, department or divisions you want to be introduced to.
- Expand into new areas of growth
As was shown in the 2016 Collection Agency Operations and Technology Survey, several areas of collections have grown significantly over the past year. The biggest change was in utilities and telecom; that category jumped more than 40%. Uncollected utility bills jumped from sixth position in 2015 to second position in 2016 as unpaid utility bills are growing.
Utilities and telecom are followed closely by commercial collections at 30.34% growth and bank cards & credit cards at almost 20% growth. So there are plenty of opportunities for collection within certain industries and those industries are growing. How do you reach into these markets? Begin by talking with current clients. They may know people within the target industries. Getting involved with their trade organizations as well as reading their trade periodicals can uncover businesses that are expanding and people who are being promoted into new positions.
- Ask for External Referrals
External referrals are referrals that are obtained outside of your current client’s organization. One of the most effective ways to secure an external referral is to call your current client and ask “I will be calling on Company X. Do you know anyone who works there that you can give a referral for me?”
You can also ask your client base directly for introductions to expand your network of potential clients. The key is to always know to whom you want to be introduced. Try: “I would like to meet Bob Smith at Company X. Can you help me with an introduction?”
Hold Client Conferences or Golf Tournaments. Client conferences or events, where you bring together key prospects, current clients, partners and vendors, are the perfect environment for solidifying relationships and opening new opportunities. When buyers and prospects talk to each other, network and get together, they create tight networks that help you grow your client base. Bringing clients together for a live event also increases loyalty toward you because these meetings create a sense of community. Referrals are given to businesses that people are familiar with and are trusted. By bringing these people together and improving their business, they will refer you to their friends and clients.
By taking the initiative and looking for opportunities both within your current clients as well as areas that are growing, a collection agency can expand their client base and revenue stream with less effort than it takes to gather new clients completely cold.