When you need to find new clients, what’s the absolute first thing you should do? What else do the professional rainmakers do? And what should you never do?
Here are some helpful tips on finding new clients that work across all industries. You’d be surprised how prospective customers can become paying clients if you adhere to this advice.
1) Build a website with SEO keywords – The first priority for finding new clients is to create a website of at least five pages. With a professionally designed and written website in place, potential customers can actually find you through specific keyword search terms like “San Francisco freelance copywriter,” “New York City business coach,” or whatever industry and location you’re in.
Use one page to tell prospects about yourself and your background. Use another page to list your services. Use testimonials to show potential clients what your current and past clients have said. And add a contact page that makes it easy for people to tell you about their needs.
2) Broadcast your successes in social media – Write a brief monthly e-newsletter with a recent case study, then link it to a one-sentence summary on your Facebook Wall, on LinkedIn, on Twitter, and on any other social media network that you use. This kind of social media marketing has resulted in ongoing projects for me from current customers, as well as an occasional new client.
3) Ask your current clients for introductions – About 10 years ago, I had a great relationship with a client who was the national marketing manager of a large accounting firm. After I asked him to introduce me to his colleagues, he referred me to seven different regional managers. Each became a client of mine for about five years!
4) Network through word-of-mouth referrals – Ask trusted colleagues for word-of-mouth referrals to people you want to meet in certain industries or companies. The more specific you are, the better your referrals will be. Networking has become a huge part of my business success in finding new clients.
5) Prospect for an hour or two a day – When I first started freelancing, I spent a few hours a day prospecting for full-time jobs and freelance projects, and the rest of the day writing the projects that I received. That seemed to be a good balance. Never prospect all day long – you can only accept so much rejection per day. By the way, Frank Furness, an internationally known speaker and marketer, recommends using 10 to 17 different methods of prospecting, including cold calling, emails, list purchases, direct mail, and referrals.
6) Create a great “infomercial” – Everyone needs an elevator speech to use when people ask, “What do you do?” Make it 20 to 30 seconds long and make it interesting so they’ll ask you for a business card or for more information.
7) Track your prospecting leads – Use a customer relationship database to track your prospecting leads, such as Salesforce.com, Goldmine, or Act. You should update notes about who you contacted, when, and what their answer was so you can follow up in the future.
8) Create a script for cold calling – Just about everyone dislikes making cold calls, so you create a script for it that works. Here’s one I like from Geoffrey James, who calls himself the Sales Machine.
9) Form strategic “power partnerships” – Maybe you’re great at what you do but you’re not a rainmaker or an account manager. Try forming a partnership with someone who is so you can work together on a client’s business without the pressure of being the person who has to hold the client’s hand every day.
10) Advertise – If you own a retail or service business and you want to reach more people at once, run an ad in your local newspaper. Be specific about your offer and make sure the call to action includes your phone, website address, and (if you’re offering a promotional discount) an offer end date that’s two to four weeks in the future.
Got a tip to share about finding new clients? Leave a comment below.