Everyone wants clients, but not everyone knows how to find clients.
Whether you’re a freelancer, a consultant, or a coach; I know that as a service provider you want to find people who understand how great your ideas are and pay you for them.
I have developed these seven distinct methods that will help you to find clients and customers who will pay for your service, love your work, and above all help you to grow your business.
These seven methods are something that I’ve been following and teaching for years; they are a sure-fire way to find clients no matter where you go.
1. Leveraging Your Existing Network
As service providers, we always want to find the low-hanging fruit and pluck that. Leveraging your existing network is the simplest and easiest way you can access new clients.
Everybody has a personal network that may benefit from your skills. You have a personal network of friends, family, colleagues, and other people who you have regular communication with who potentially need what you have to offer – and it’s your job to network and find out exactly who these people are.
It is simply a matter of asking the people in your network, “Who needs this? Because I can do it.”
Let’s say you’re a web developer looking for new clients. You can reach out to your existing network and say, “I’m developing websites now, is there anyone you know who may need a new website?”
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2. Warm Canvassing
I came up with this methodology when I was reflecting back on my time doing door-to-door sales. Door-to-door sales is essentially ‘cold canvassing’ — you’re knocking on doors and hoping that people will pay for your services or buy from you.
Warm canvassing is the opposite.
A little bit different from leveraging your existing network, it’s approaching other service providers who you already work with such as doctors, dentists, builders, coaches, or consultants.
The goal for you is to find people who you are already working with and say ‘where can my service compliment them?’ and ‘where can my service be an addition to them?’
When I first begun web development, I noticed that my chiropractor’s website was in dire need of a tune-up. As I I’d been seeing him for years because of a bad back, I already had this warm relationship with him so it was easy to begin the conversation on how my business could help his.
3. Lost Lead Approach
When you’re just starting off as a service provider, people won’t know who you are and it can be discouraging not knowing if people are going to pay to work with you.
Luckily, there is a simple way to overcome this: the lost lead approach. It’s a simple, fail-proof way to build your referral network.
Let’s say you’re a personal trainer. One easy way to get clients is to find a group of people who are in need of your help. The first thing you’ll do is offer to train them for free. In exchange for this free service, they have to send you 3-4 friends who could also use your great service.
Studies have found that people are much more likely to trust a referral by a friend over anything else.
In the beginning, you lose a little bit of time and money, but essentially what you will get in return is more leads. In exchange for great work, you’ll receive access to new potential clients.
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4. The Marsupial Method
As discussed in my book Rich20Something, the marsupial method comes from one simple realization: all businesses need other businesses to help them.
Why is it called the marsupial method? Marsupials raise their babies in a warm, safe pouch until the baby is big enough to walk on its own. The goal with this method is to find a bigger business that can take care of your business and nurture it until it’s big enough to walk on its own.
Find other businesses or service providers that have a complementary service, not necessarily a competing service, but a service that goes well with what you do (like peanut butter and jelly). I guarantee that partnering up with a bigger business and joining forces is one of the quickest ways to grow your business.
5. Online Job Boards
If you have been following me for a few years, you’ll know that my most viral article was ‘Hacking E-lance’.
E-lance doesn’t exist anymore, but it was a job board site where freelancers could create a profile, post jobs, and bid for work. Think along the lines of Fiverr, Freelancer.com, or 99Designs.
While there is a lot of competition on these job board websites, I would highly recommend using them for two reasons.
Firstly, you’ll get invaluable experience bidding and submitting on projects that will be relevant to the skills you’re building. And secondly, over time with a little consistency, you can book clients this way.
6. Advanced Referral Systems
What I’ve found through the years is that we’re often so afraid to ask for business because we think people are going to reject us. But the reality is that when you do great work your customers do want to refer you to others.
What you need to do is stop hoping that your clients refer you to others, and instead begin actively asking them for the referrals.
Next time you sign a new client, my challenge to you is to ask them directly that they refer you to people they know who would want to use your great service. It’s that simple.
In addition to asking them, you’re also going to actively help them by sitting down with them and curating a list. Sit beside them and read through their emails, phone book, contacts, and curate a list of people that may benefit from your services.
If you really want to up the ante, offering them a referral bonus will help to actively incentivize the process of providing referrals (and also helps to build a stronger relationship with your client). Never underestimate the power of referral to help a business gain more customers.
I highly recommend picking up a copy of Jay Abraham’s ‘Getting Everything You Can Out of All You’ve Got’ for an in-depth look into the advantages of the referral network.
7. Cold Traffic
So far, everything we’ve discussed has been based on developing and expanding on existing relationships. Contacting people you know, doing work for free in order to expand your client network, referral bonuses; all of this is dependant on existing relationships.
With cold traffic, there is always going to be a percentage of people who you don’t know that will find you through random means. Whether you’re using cold-emailing, Facebook ads, door-to-door, or even paid newspaper advertisements, cold traffic is a way in which people find you.
If you have great products, good service, and great recommendations, people will come through the door to find you. But, and this is the important part, if you have all the previous methods in place then you’ll have a much higher rate of success with securing these new clients.
Cold traffic allows new people to find you, but a strong network, great recommendations, and proven success in business is what will ensure that they become your next new client.
Method of Choice
So there they are, the seven methods every service provider needs to know to acquire new customers and clients.
Just by utilizing your existing networks, actively asking for opportunities and referrals, and partnering up with other businesses, you will see a sharp increase in clients and customers who want to support your business and love what you do.
What method has been the most successful for you, Foundr family? Let us know in the comment section below.