How to Turn Small New Leads into Big Opportunities Jonathan Herrick You already know you should hunt for big quarry if you want to grow your business. Having a few high-spending, repeat customers can make it a lot easier to pay the bills. But it’s easy to take that thinking too far. By blowing off those smaller new leads to jobs that don’t look quite as financially exciting at the outset, you may be missing out on projects that could lead to bigger and better things. Here are some tips on how to make the most of small leads to grow your business. Look for leads that have the “exponential advantage.” In his bestselling book Exponential Organizations, Salim Ismael celebrates companies that are 10x faster, smarter and cheaper than their rivals. Look at the new leads that you get at your business through a similar “exponential” lens. If a small lead has the potential to grow into projects worth 10x as much, it could give your business an unbeatable advantage. How do you identify new leads that could grow into “10x” the business? First, consider what type of potential customer you’re dealing with. If it’s a big company, chances are it vets new contractors and suppliers very carefully and only trusts them with small jobs until they prove themselves reliable. Your only way to win big projects may be to do a series of small ones. That takes patience but the payoff can be huge. So how do you make such clients comfortable enough to give you a significant-sized project? The key is to deliver white glove service at every touch point. Whether you are performing the actual work you’re being hired to do, participating in an unplanned conference call or submitting an invoice to an administrative assistant, you need to bring your “A” game. That means not just doing your best work but treating everyone you interact with as if they are your number one priority—which they should be if you want more business. Big companies will be evaluating your ability to work smoothly with a large team as much as your ability to get the job done on time and on budget. Sharpen your listening skills. Some customers may not know what type of help they actually need when they approach you, because they don’t have expertise in your field. Listen to potential customers and make the most of opportunities to educate these clients, helping turn small jobs into bigger ones. When someone wants to hire you for a specific product or service, ask detailed questions about exactly what help they need to makes sure they are correct. Some small business owners develop an intake form to make sure they and their team members don’t miss any important questions to determine the scope of services to suggest. You can also ask important qualifying questions on your web form, so you know just where to take the conversation on your follow-up call. As clients share their situations, listen carefully to see if they have any untapped needs in others areas that you may be able to help them to address. Let’s say you are an accountant. A small business owner who hires you to do his quarterly business taxes may also need year-round personal tax planning advice for which you can charge a retainer fee. Don’t try to sell all of your services at once or you may overwhelm a new prospect. When you’ve completed the first project to the client’s satisfaction, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to mention other services you offer. You may not even have to mention what else you can do at that point. A happy client is likely to come back to you with some ideas on how you can work together more. Consider a client’s connections. Before you turn down a new lead because it seems insignificant, do a search of Google or Bing to find out more about a potential prospect. An influential prospect who approaches you with a small job could be a conduit to lots of other business—as long as you make a great impression. Clients don’t have to be rich and famous to help your business in this way. Let’s say you sell a product or service to families. Taking on a small job from a parent who is active in the parent-teacher organization at a local school or who coaches a children’s sports team could later lead to valuable referrals to other families. Similarly, a new B2B client whose business serves your ideal customers in a different way than yours may be willing to make valuable introductions later. For instance, if you run a marketing firm that specializes in a medical practices, a law firm that also serves these practices could be a good customer for you to take on–even if it’s for a tiny job. You may each be able to refer each other to new business. Just don’t get ahead of yourself in asking for introductions. Knock it out of the park on every small job you take on and you’ll find that new opportunities flow to you naturally.