As you probably already know, setting up a business is hardly where the difficulty lies. Winning in high-quality clients, however, is the real challenge and it becomes a torture if you are unable to generate any revenue.
No client equals no profit. Do you know that feeling you get after fighting against all odds to come up with an exceptional business idea,
raise the required capital and succeed in launching the business but 3 months have gone by and you are yet to hold any tangible project – 6 months, cricket sounds.
A year later, still no sign and now, you are having second thoughts – perhaps, your idea wasn't solid enough.
Maybe you actually did some marketing, creating awareness and a lot of people now know of your services but still, you are not getting the number of clients you anticipated and you are probably wondering what went wrong.
Well, no need to panic as I've also been in your shoes especially when I started my offline freelancing career as a web designer.
In fact, I remember spending several months trying to land a single client but none came forth.
It was like a battleground and it seemed everyone was out to crush me. No one showed any practical interest in my services.
In a country like Nigeria where the average person thinks websites are for top corporations, getting a paying client is nothing short of being a conqueror.
Most potential clients needed more convincing and the ones that needed my services had several options so, getting them to hire me was no mean feat.
The low standard of living was another factor that affected my sales. Most people would normally want my services but they lack the funds.
Some do come up with a ridiculous budget that can't cover the level of effort was putting in the project and others who were less-enlightened simply thought owning a website was similar to being a rocket scientist.
Thankfully, more people are embracing technology these days. Every single thing was frowning at me and an average person would probably feel cornered but that was not me.
I am a go-getter so, I kept pushing. I was going to find a way out but I worked smart as opposed to working hard.
Overall, my salesmanship was quite faulty. Being a student of history, I figured I could share my tips with you.
After reading my brief story, you may end up thinking I developed an award-winning strategy to trap every entity that crossed my path to be my client but that is a false assumption.
There was no magical power behind the table I turned around.
In fact, you only need to improve on being better at your current promotion techniques, build a better list of prospects and approach them through a different angle.
Most service-based businesses, freelancers and other self-employed individuals are struggling today due to lack of paying-clients but fortunately, there's a solution.
In the next few minutes, we will briefly tackle the easiest cost-effective ways you can quickly build your clientele and drastically reduce the load on your marketing efforts.
Learn to be a better salesperson.
This is certainly the first hindrance to achieving higher conversion rate in your bid to gain new clients.
Most of the world's top profitable brands aren't even backed by new concepts. They just have great sales gurus!
A good salesman can literally market the worst possible product that no one wants. It all boils down to the power of words.
No, they aren't gifted per se. They just studied the obvious human psychology and learned how to utilize it when writing their sales copy and when pitching their services to prospects.
In turn, these powerful sales copies and pitches can turn an average passer-by into a loyal client.
Not knowing the right words and strategy to use when pitching was my major disadvantage during my days of hunting for clients.
In fact, I did some marketing and was quite able to get the attention of some prospects but failed to convert them into paying customers due to my limited salesmanship – I lacked the basic sales skills.
I didn't know the first thing about being a good salesperson. I thought to drive in customers, all I need was to get my services to the public but I learned the right approach the hard way.
The worst part? We all have what it takes to sell services to our clients. We just haven't realized how easy it is yet.
Being a better salesperson is all about knowing the key points to throw when pitching your services. It's about being able to convince your prospect to buy your goods.
The 101 of selling is all about letting your customers know the value of your goods and what they stand to gain from buying it.
When writing your sales letter, you should focus on your target customers by outlining the major problem but making them know how your product will address the issue and why it's the best solution, is certainly the end game.
Sometimes you could close a complex sale just by appealing to your clients at the emotional level.
However, it's not always so great to do a straight pitch. For instance, when I was visiting companies in hopes of building them a website, I didn't just walk in and say; hey guys, I'm a web designer and I want to build you a website.
I started by saying something they can't resist. I used an angle. Sometimes, I would do a brief research on their competitor and use it in my opening line as thus:
"Sir, did you know that company-X generated 50% more profits last month through their website? Research has proven that quality websites tend to increase business revenues by 50% due to the largely untapped international market available on the internet."
The statement above will certainly grab the attention of the less-tech enlightened business owners, giving me an opening to throw in more captivating sales lines and I do make sure each sentence gives them one more reason to pay for my services.
The aim of every business is to generate enough profits so the moment I'm able to prove that a website will do that for them, I'm hired!
This is what you should do too. People only want what will make them money, save them money, save their time, keep them healthy etc. and if your business is not beneficial to them, they opt out.
Even if your business doesn't give them any of the above, you could still make a connection as to how your services will bring them closer to getting it. Learn to capitalize on the human need.
Prepare a solid proposal
Once you are better at selling, you ought to get yourself a solid business proposal.
Though not all businesses need to take this approach especially if you are in the retailing sector but your proposal could actually be converted into a sales copy or a converting product description.
All I'm saying is for you to learn how to present your goods and services using convincing words.
This is because, depending on your industry, you will need to send emails or hardcopy proposals to your prospects and whether they will buy from you or not, depends on the content of the proposal.
If your business deals on services rather than goods, then, a quality proposal is all you need to win in more clients.
The goal of the proposal is to highlight your major strengths and how well they can utilize it. Are you already sending out email marketing campaigns? Consider using ConvertKit for your next one.
Backed by a solid proposal, ConvertKit can really make your email marketing efforts very effective.
Whatever channel you make use of when marketing your services, you certainly need a quality sales letter to do the first pitching for you. And please, don't go writing a two-foot-tall proposal!
Leave those long pages for oil firm contractors. If anything, your proposal should be brief and concise.
State what their challenge is, how your services can address the issue, what they stand to gain from doing business with you, your recent projects/happy customer reviews and how they can get in touch with you.
Also, making sure it's not vague is a top priority. Be unique and present yourself as someone trustworthy (or are you not?) to buy from.
If possible, make them see you as a saviour. Everything you learned as a salesman should also be put to good use on your proposal.
If you can't, get a professional copywriter to draft one for you. I could even do it for you!
Build a list of prospects.
Proposals and sales copies are useless without a market to read them and this makes building a list your third step.
There are several ways to build a list of potential customers. Lets' start with the obvious, an email list!
If you have a website (if you don't have one, let Lati Codes build a quality website for your business right away.
Or you could do it yourself using my complete Joomla! website setup guide. It's a blueprint on how to build a profitable membership website), simply add an email subscription box on it.
Well, not everyone will be quick to give you their email even when they fancy your business and this is why you ought to add a little bit of persuasion.
Offering them something free in exchange for their email has proven to be very effective.
Nevertheless, building your list shouldn't end on your website as there are endlessly interested entities out there whom may never find your website or simply won't search because they don't know they need your services.
At this point, it's your duty to find other ways of reaching them. I once spent two good weeks on LinkedIn, messaging several professionals of different calibres in a bid to gain more clients.
Remember all those business directories you've come across within your internet surfing life?
I bet your business is on one of them (if not, consider adding it!) but whatever the case, your job now is to browse through the categories, sort out the businesses within your scope of services and get their contact information (email and phone).
As a web designer then, every business needed my services but I didn't just go copying all the emails.
I made sure I took the contact information of those that needed it most while ensuring that they didn't have my product already.
It won't make any sense to attempt selling to a printer to someone who has 10 printers already. Focus on those that are more likely going to hire you.
Even when offline, use every opportunity to network with potential customers and build your connection with those at the helm of power that are capable of throwing you paying customers with their recommendations.
Some people are so influential that a single shout-out to your business on their Twitter account can get you thousands of clients. Get in touch with people like this!
Start by attending events of high-profile individuals within your vicinity. It pays well when you use the opportunities effectively.
Contact potential customers.
All roads lead here. It is at this point that your previous efforts will come to fruition but then again, there's still work to be done.
Start contacting your prospects one after the other with a personalized proposal. Never generalize as that will lit the fuse before you even get the chance to let them know who you are.
Believe me, almost everyone can spot an advert from afar these days. Don't make your campaigns appear like one!
If you are contacting your prospects by email, it's only logical to sound genuine as a business trying to offer a service.
How do you approach your prospects? Do you sound like you are there to advertise your services?
Yes, you may be advertising your services but making it too obvious will irritate your prospects.
Always ensure you grab their attention by saying what they want to hear! Offer the solution to their problems and they will give you all their money.
Understand what your market needs and work on better ways to present it to them without sounding too direct. Remember that your first sentence alone determines if the prospect will be interested or not.
The title of your messages speaks volume. Your heading has to give them a reason to open your mail.
A great way will be to brew curiosity in them. That is, your heading should say something that would make them want to find out more.
While there are several ways to sound legitimate in your emails, there's no particular formula and as such, you alone are in the best position to determine what approach will work best for your business.
Consider setting different variations of the same message to know which one converts more.
The easiest way to know the email subjects that looks spammy is to take a look at your inbox and identify those emails,
you never opened and your reasons for doing so. Then, apply the same principles to yours to increase your open rate.
Remember cold calling? It's still very effective. In fact, I received a call a few days back from a new driver outsourcing company trying to get me to hire a driver from them.
While I didn't exactly hire a driver instantly, I now know of the company's existence and I can easily refer anyone who needs such services to them.
Cold calling is certainly worth trying especially as a great salesman. Not everyone will read your proposals in your email but chances of them picking a call from you are at the maximum.
This is to say you should probably get your phone book of prospects and start dialling those numbers right away.
While cold-calling, remember that most people are reluctant to listen to salesmen so you ought to make your first 10 seconds count.
Be polite and once again, never be direct with your pitches. For instance, while trying to sell a warehouse (by the way, here's my ultimate real estate business guide) back then,
I walked into a rigging company and requested an audience with the Manager of the equipment maintenance department.
Then, I went ahead to pitch to the manager as though I was doing them a favour. At least I think my first set of sentences were along the lines as thus:
"Sir, while checking out your company a few days back, I observed that your company has lost over $200k due to your expensive hardware which is poorly stored outside.
Did you know that equipment-X lasts five years less when kept unsheltered? Aside from expenses,
the stress of getting new equipment every two years could also hinder your company's operations and cost you some profits.
The benefits of properly storing your hardware are endless. I recommend you get a good warehouse nearby and I'm here to help."
While the above statement is not exactly top-notch, it's certainly going to draw the attention of anyone within the hearing space.
Your goal is to sound like you have identified a problem that is costing them, telling them they need to tackle it and in turn offer to help them solve it. They will be grateful.
Whether through emails, calls or physical approach, you should project the same confidence and appear as a brand that has got the solution to a problem they have been struggling with even without knowing.
Bonus tips on how to gain more clients.
- Request for referrals.
Most times, the easiest way to gain more clients is to politely ask for referrals from your current clients.
Yes, after your cold calling, you have successfully landed a few more clients on your hands but you probably still need more – who wouldn't?
While you can repeat the same process all over again, you could simply request to be recommended by your clients and if you did a quality job, I don't see why they won't oblige effortlessly.
I do it all the time. Most times, I do refer clients to certain businesses even without knowing it – especially if they did a great job for me.
For the ones that seem reluctant, you could offer a little discount in exchange of a tweet from them – especially if they have a large following.
Otherwise, just do a good job and once you are done, briefly encourage your client to leave a review, share your website or tweet about your business/service.
Just remember to make it easier by installing a share button directly on the page or giving them a link to the review section.
This is very effective because people are more likely going to buy a product when real people who have used it, testify to its greatness. That little positive feedback could rake in more customers in record time.
- Make business deals.
You can't be a lone wolf in business and expect to last long as your success depends on your relationship with your customers, competitors and the industry at large.
If you intend to grow your business, then forming mutually beneficial alliances with other businesses in your industry may very well be the way forward.
For starters, consider joining hands with businesses that offer related services within your niche. No, I'm not even talking about the regular business partnerships!
I mean making a deal that allows other businesses/entities to refer every customer in need of your services to you while you return the favour.
For instance, if I had a hosting company, I would make a deal with a web design company to refer all their customers or clients looking for a good host for my brand,
and after each purchase of a hosting package from my company, I would refer my customers directly to the web design company to help them build their website.
It's a win-win situation. Every web design company would consider such deals with a hosting company and vice versa.
Just figure out what business will be most welcoming to your deal, which of them will bring in more sales and strike a deal with them at your earliest convenience.
- Leave your signature behind.
Have you ever wondered why every WordPress theme developer doesn't fail to add a powered-by X&X at the footer of the their themes?
Well, it's the same reason your shopping mall will never fail to brand your package with their logo and website address at every given opportunity.
They are not only proving ownership but also creating more awareness for their business. Now virtually anyone who visits that website will know the developer behind the theme and this should also be your goal.
You should always leave your signature behind! That is; a way for them to recognize your work.
The right possible option is to leave your contact details (a web address is the singular best option). Don't just do the work and break the engagement.
First, you should keep your client close for future upsells but the most important aspect lies within the signature of your products and services.
Whatever it is, make sure you make it trace back to you. Anyone who sees it should be able to reach you.
That little effort alone will bring you more clients in the near future assuming you did a great job hence, always do your best job!
For instance, I recently hired a good photographer online, not through his website, through a friend or advert but through his signature on one of the pictures he took.
In the end, gaining more clients all boils down to your ability to sell and the quality of exposure you can create for your services.
Once you are able to lay out a better business plan that includes a good marketing strategy, you will be one step closer to getting clients but your salesmanship is the driver behind the wheel.
Remember that while you can hire professionals to do it for you, it's of utmost importance that you, as the entrepreneur is able to sell your concept because not being able to do so only demonstrates your lack of vision for the business.
Sooner than later you will need to get more funding from one of the various business funding opportunities available and it will be a shame if you can't convince investors on why they should consider your business idea.
Being able to sell your idea portrays confidence (and passion) which is one major quality you ought to project to your employees.