Joshua Gordon has been a friend for a long time and for the past year or so, also one of the most fun clients I’ve ever worked with. In that time he’s quit his job to become self-employed and had to figure out how to make money on his own.
He started by charging a few hundred dollars per client to jumping right into a $12,000 sale! Lately he’s almost had too much business coming in with almost $30,000 forecasted over the next three to four months. Read on to see how he’s doing it. Oh, and notice how he uses his hair and his 2-year old to help. Something other marketing people won’t tell you or even do themselves. This is personal.
How to Get Clients
Recently, I closed a $12,000 deal – the biggest of my freelance marketing career. I currently have 2 more deals in the works, with another 3 or 4 prospects circling. By my estimation, I have a shot of closing $30,000 worth of business in the next 3-4 months. The impact this would have on my family and our financial goals would be huge. Needless to say, I’m excited.
For me, success moving forward hinges on three things:
- Knowing the value I have to offer.
- Knowing what kind of person I’m naturally drawn to.
- Genuinely wanting the best for my (potential) clients.
I’ve developed an informal ‘sales process’ around these 3 tenets. By using this 30 day ‘track’, local business owners have gone from ‘I sort of remember that marketing kid’s name’ to paying clients eager and excited to work with me. This is what I do:
Step 1: Pick your targets.
I picked 4 owners based off of four stores that Sarah and I really like. We go there regularly, I honestly want these places to succeed, and I know each store’s owner is involved in the day to day operations.
Step 2: Visit each in biz 4 times
I’d check out their store once a week for a month – paying for something each time. Over the course of the four potential interactions w/the business owner, I make sure a few things happen:
- They remember me. This isn’t too hard, since I have longer curly-ish hair, and (especially during the first couple conversations I take my CRAZY cute 2 year old with me). I also ask their name, and use it in conversation.
- They figure out that I work in marketing. They figure it out, I don’t tell them. A pretty typical question to be asked is ‘how is your day going?’ right? I often answer something like “Awesome! I just had a meeting with a client that I’m doing some marketing for, and I’m really excited!”
- They tell me what their biggest challenge is. This usually happens by conversation #3. I go in (without my kid), make a purchase, and ask how business is going. I then ask a more pointed question – often something like ‘So, do you tend to rely a lot on foot traffic for your business?” or “So, I’m curious… where does most of your business come from?”. I NEVER offer solutions during this conversation. That comes next.
Step 3: Initiate a 30 minute conversation
We sit down to discuss a specific challenge they’re facing – and suggest some solutions. The initiation usually takes place on 2-3 days after visit #3. I stop in at the business again, and say ‘Hi _____, I was thinking about what you said last time we talked. And I’ve got some ideas that could help with that issue.” From there, we set up a 1/2 hour conversation (I usually take them out for coffee) to discuss specifics, and give some ideas on potential solutions.
If it’s obvious that they’re interested in hiring me, we’ll start talking about a contract. If not, I move to Step 4…
Step 4: Follow-Up
Two days after having coffee with them, I’ll email or call to follow-up. I’ll often send them a summary of our conversation, along with any specific action points they need to take. I also make sure I visit the store a couple times over the next few weeks as well – just to make casual conversation. I can’t emphasize enough how much this entire structure is based on genuinely wanting to help the biz owner – even if that means not getting the job.
At the end of the day, a small business owner doesn’t hire you because of what you can do for them. They hire you because they know you, they like you, and they trust you – and building those things take time and intention.
Am I missing anything? What would you do differently?
Joshua Gordon gets excited about marketing because he loves spreading the word about cool people doing awesome things. He’d love to connect with you on his slowly-being-built-out website. He’s also talks about cool things on Facebook and hangs out with amazing people on twitter. Join the conversation!