How do you get more clients? How or where do you find clients? How do you build your base and take your business from part-time to full-time income?
Searching for the answers to these questions can be a maddening, expensive process. These are the questions that seem to lead to the unpacking of dozens upon dozens of other questions. Trying to figure everything out can quickly lead to overwhelm.
I’m almost tempted to write, “Hey, thanks for reading,” and leaving it at that!
Another part of me is considering sharing a few sales formulas with you… but you can get those later (if you want to). For now, I think I’ll just go ahead and pull back the curtain a little bit and share with you from my personal experience in this area.
The First Sales Hurdles in My Own Journey
Back in the mid-1980s, I became friends with a traveling evangelist and his wife. He had a fascinating story. He was a fighter pilot in the Korean War. During a dogfight, he was facing certain death after parachuting from his plane, so he prayed. He said, “God, if you save me I follow you and spread your message for the rest of my life.”
Don’t quote me on the exact words, but that’s pretty close.
Then, the miraculous happened. He was saved from what he called certain death.
As an evangelist, he traveled all over the country. He had the opportunity to meet and befriend people from everywhere. Including me. One day he told me about a friend of his who owned one of those “As Seen on TV” infomercial products.
I thought, “Wow, I’d love to be a distributor of the product in this part of the country!” I think he read my mind because the next thing he said was, “I think you could do really well selling this product.” That was all the prompting I needed!
Long story short, introductions were made, and I had my own little distribution business a short time later.
I decided to sell the product in person and via mail order (direct marketing).
Honestly, the first few sales I made had an incredible impact on me. I felt like I’d won the lottery. My smile must have wrapped all the way around to the back of my head.
Then – nothing.
Queue the crickets.
Sales dried up and that was that.
It Was All About the Product
Looking back, it was all about the product, not the sales. What I mean is – all my initial focus was on acquiring the product. Then, it shifted to packaging the product so I could sell it through the mail. That’s what I mean when I said, “It was all about the product.”
On the flipside, I didn’t understand the market and had almost no idea how to reach it effectively.
I designed a brochure. It didn’t work too well. I talked to people one on one (like network marketers do). That didn’t work very well either.
So, like I said, that was that.
Life served up a raw portion of reality for me and I was eating it.
Looking back, this version of me would have had all kinds of advice for that version of me.
I did what I could with the knowledge I had at the time. I chose the market, but the market didn’t choose me back.
The Reality of Choosing a Niche
I was selling, but the market wasn’t buying. I chose a local market. I didn’t have the money to reach too far beyond it, so that’s what I had to work with. There wasn’t an Internet at the time, so that wasn’t an option.
I can admit it now, but it was tough to back then. I felt like a real loser. I felt like a puppy trying to run with the big dogs. I just couldn’t make things happen.
Add this to the fact that I’d burned through 17-jobs in my teen years (quitting one after another for various reasons) and I realized the picture I was painting wasn’t exactly a pretty one.
It was like a dam of negativity breaking and I was getting washed away by the flood.
Discovering the Missing Pieces
Over the course of the next few years, I made some interesting discoveries.
The first realization was that I didn’t understand marketing. Not at the level where I could do it and get results. Conceptually, it made sense but that’s where it ended.
If you don’t have a realistic way to reach people consistently, you may as well take your money to Vegas. All you’re really doing is gambling until you do.
Next, I realized I was coming across all wrong. I “looked” like an amateur.
People have expectations, and it was obvious that I wasn’t meeting them when I took a long, hard look at what I was doing.
The silver lining that ran through these early, pre-Internet experiences was that many of the things that needed to be changed were in my power to change.
I was ready to make the jump from amateur to professional in every area of life, even if the progress was slow-going at first.
So, What About the Clients?
Maybe you can relate a little bit to my story? Hope fuels your initial efforts, but you don’t get as many miles to the gallon with it that you thought you would? It’s like a roller-coaster ride with the ups and downs. What does all this have to do with getting clients?
Doubt, fear, uncertainty – whatever labels you want to slap on it, these things “infected” many of my earliest efforts in sales, marketing (and other things, too).
Each time I hit a wall, and I hit a lot of them, I took it personally. Next, I started doubting myself at every turn.
I kept trying though and found that slowly but surely, I got better at whatever I practiced. As my confidence grew, the people around me started responding accordingly.
I kept pushing myself to become more of a “people person.” I even started cold calling businesses. Once I got numb to rejection, the fear element subsided. Once I got out of my own way and stopped seconding guessing everything, I turned the page and that chapter in my life came to its conclusion.
Potential Clients are Everywhere
Let’s fast-forward to today. For most of us, potential clients are all around us. Between the offline businesses and the online ones, you’re surrounded by businesses of all shapes and sizes who probably buy the kind of services you sell.
They’ve bought these services in the past and they’ll buy them again in the future.
Do you think all these business owners and operators are happy with everything “as is?” Far from it.
There’s a problem with the picture, however, that you have to deal with. If no one knows who you are, do you think they’re just going to trust doing business with you, out of the blue, the next time they need YOUR KIND of service?
Probably not. You’ll have to do a LOT of selling. But, what if you started the “campaigning process” well before election time? You made yourself know… you started removing the question marks.
If there’s an outer-circle to the sales process, it’s simply introducing yourself to people. Even if it ends there, you’ve made progress.
Don’t be invisible. Let people know who you are.
If you want to look at the old “know-like-trust” concept, awareness would be the outer perimeter you’d cross through before getting to “know-like-trust.”
After he or she knows your name and are aware of the kind of business you have, you’re no longer a complete unknown, right?
Who Do You Trust with Your Money?
Ask yourself the question, “Who do you trust with your money?” If you’re buying an online service, you’re most likely spending hundreds to thousands of dollars on the transaction.
It’s a little bit different than, going to the store and picking up a few things. It’s a little bit different than going out for a night of entertainment.
For the average person, a lot more thought goes into spending $1,000 + than it does $100+.
I don’t know about you, but I’m more likely to spend that money ($1,000+) hiring someone I know or someone I’ve heard of. Aren’t you? Consider the alternative. So, whether you choose blogging, videos, podcasts, social media, newsletters, local seminars, online – evergreen webinars, or some combination of all the above, being invisible isn’t an option.
Not if you want to enjoy doing business with other successful business people. Successful people are attracted to successful people.
Okay, let me share a little bit of “how-to” with you…
How I Use Unlisted YouTube Videos
I’ve been using YouTube Videos as one of my primary “getting to know you” tools for a long time. From introductions, to project overviews, the sharing of insights, etc., video has been my go-to client communication tool for the last decade.
When I share information like this, I know a million different questions run through people’s minds.
Questions like, “What do I say? What software should I use? How long should the videos be?”
Let me sum it up by saying, “It’s a tool for communication.”
If the person on the receiving ends needs a five-minute explanation, that’s what they get. If I need to show them something that takes under a minute, again – that’s how long the video is.
In other words, I do my best to get to the point. I discovered from testing, business owners don’t want to listen to videos that take too long to get to the point (even if it’s about their own business).
An Argument for Video
With video, I can talk to an entire board of directors without ever leaving my desk or scheduling a conference call or meeting. People can watch or listen at their own convenience.
Services like Netflix has changed the way the world consumes content. The content bends to our schedule, not the other way around. Most of my videos are simple screen shares. If the person doesn’t have to visually follow along, I let them know that at the beginning of the video.
One day I client emailed me and said, “I’m so sorry, I’ve been so busy I haven’t had time to sit down and watch your video.” When I told her, “You don’t have to watch, you can just turn up the volume and listen while you’re doing something else,” she had a breakthrough!
You might say, “Why not just record an audio, then?”
Because I have a simple system set up that connects seamlessly to YouTube that doesn’t cost a dime for me to maintain. If I start alternating file formats and upload locations – it’s not as fast or as simple anymore. Makes sense, right? Less moving parts.
I use Camtasia Studio, but there are so many other tools out there now (including free ones), you can do a search, read reviews, and choose whatever one you want.
Greater Visibility to Potential Clients Through SEO
When a potential client is considering doing business with you, one of the first things they’ll do is look up your name and check out whatever’s out there on you. From recruiters and departments heads all the way down to your local pizza shop owners, this is the norm.
That’s why I like to focus on personal branding using simple SEO methods. When someone looks up “Jim Galiano” they can’t miss me. You can do the same for yourself with your own name. There are probably thousands of free SEO videos that can help you with this.
When people discover you have an above average online presence, with multiple sites and pages mentioning your name, it can give you a significant advantage in your market.
None of this is rocket science. I’ll go as far as saying – thinking about doing it is probably harder and more stressful than actually doing it.
Connecting with Your Business Community
When I was a kid, my dad told me not to be a “wall-flower” in public. That’s an old saying for people who blend in with wall in public.
I wasn’t a people person – plain and simple. It didn’t take long before I realized it would be difficult for me to compete against those who were. So, that changed. It changed so drastically that I went from talking in a whisper to public speaking. Was it easy? Facing your fears, doubts or uncertainties is never easy at first. But afterward, it’s completely liberating to be free from fear.
There are so many ways you can put yourself out there, in the public. If you’re willing to try and put in the effort, I guarantee a giant monster won’t show up and eat you. The only way to overcome fear is to face it. The sooner you get started, the sooner you’ll enjoy the benefits of being fearless in public.
So, go ahead and get started. At a certain point, everything grows like the snowball rolling downhill. The more people you meet, the more clients you secure. Keep fighting the fear of failure until you beat it for good. Another world is waiting for you on the other side of it.
Thank you for reading. Feel free to share your thought, comments or insights below.