How to Find Clients

John Tabita
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Last week, I told you how to make a living in the web industry. In a hypothetical scenario, I said if you need to earn $50,000 a year and your average project is $2,000, you must land a minimum of two clients a month.

To which someone commented:

Really interesting, but please help us find clients!

Hypothetical scenarios aside, isn’t that what we all want to know? Where do I find those two clients a month? Is there a place potential web design clients all hang out where I could show up?

Those were the questions I asked when first starting out. I knew that people who needed a plumber looked in the Yellow Pages. Where do people in need of a web designer look?

I figured it probably wasn’t the Yellow Pages. Google, maybe? (I’m sure getting on Page One shouldn’t be much of a problem.) A few years later, during a client meeting, I asked my prospect if he was considering anyone else besides me. He replied, “Not really. We don’t know where to find someone like you.”

This particular organization had needed a website for a long time but they’d done nothing about it. I’m quite sure my potential client had heard of the Internet. Yet it seems he never bothered to use it to find “someone like me.” The only reason I was sitting in his office was because I took the initiative to contact them.

Please Help Us Find Clients!

In that classic scene from A Few Good Men, Jack Nicholson’s character, Col. Nathan Jessup, is being cross-examined on the witness stand by Lt. Daniel Kaffee, played by Tom Cruise:

Jessep: You want answers?

Kaffee: I want the truth!

Jessep: You can’t handle the truth!

Here’s the hard truth. Despite the claims of inbound marketing proponents and social media experts, you must prospect for new business.

If you’re just starting out, you must prospect for new business. If you need to earn more than a part-time income, you must prospect for new business. If you want to grow or take your company to “the next level,” you must prospect for new business. Prospecting for new business is how you find clients.

Hunter-Style Prospecting

The Space Shuttle’s pair of solid rockets boosters are only used during its first two minutes of flight; yet they provide 83 percent of liftoff thrust necessary to propel it 26 miles into space. Once in orbit, gravity more or less takes over.

Likewise, hunter-style prospecting supplies the thrust you need to propel your business into the position where marketing gravity can “more or less” take over. It will take longer than two minutes, however.

To land those two clients a month, you must speak with a sufficient number of people in order to “fill” your sales funnel. But you’ll need more than just two prospects in your funnel each month. Cold-calling and cold-canvassing are two ways to fill your funnel with enough viable prospects so that a few will drop out the other end and into your “new client bucket.”

But Cold-Calling Doesn’t Work!

The company I work for sells a mix of print, Internet, and mobile advertising. Our client base is similar to yours—small to medium-sized businesses. We have thousands of clients, all of whom we’ve obtained through cold-calling and cold-canvassing. For the past five years, I’ve trained hundreds of sales reps and dozens of lead generators to do both.

When I hear people say, “it doesn’t work,” often what they mean is, “it’s too much work.” One of my best lead generators sets an average of 23 appointments a month, three of which turn into a sale. She spends 20 hours a week making around 600 phone calls every month to get those three sales. If you think that’s “it’s too much work,” and you have an easier way to land three clients a month, then by all means, do so.

But there’s more to landing clients than hunter-style prospecting. Lions only catch a small percentage of what they hunt, and often go hungry for days. Relying strictly on hunting means you’ll constantly be looking for your next meal. The other side of the marketing equation is being found when clients are looking for you.

Next week: how to make it easy for clients to find you.

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Feeling lost and out-of-control when meeting with potential clients? Asking the right questions can put you back in the driver’s seat. Get my free guide, 27.5 Must-Ask Questions for Consultative Selling. Just follow me on Twitter and I’ll send you a link.

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  • http://www.franboud.com Francis Boudreau

    Thank you for this great article. I can’t wait to read the next one next week!

  • http://enlogica.com Neal

    Good article. A word of qualification however – cold calling works best for lower priced commodity solutions. Not surprising that it works well for SMB media buying solutions. If you are working on higher priced, longer term, or mission critical projects – this prospecting technique likely won’t work as well.

    • http://smallbusinessmarketingsucks.com/ John Tabita

      And I’ve heard people claim cold-calling doesn’t work for lower-priced commodity solutions, due to the time involved.

      In reality, it works for both. I’ve read several authors who’ve written books on selling high-dollar, long-term solutions with a sales cycle of six months and longer who advocate cold-calling. One of those authors (whom I personally know) has a client he worked with who closed a $1 million dollar service agreement with a senior executive of a $3 billion dollar company. The initial appointment was set by a cold-call.