When I first started Peppercorn Creative back in 2012, I had a bitch of a time trying to land clients and make sales.
I didn’t know what I was doing or how to go about finding clients, approaching clients, or talking money with clients.
It wasn’t pretty. It was uncomfortable. And I was stressed out AF.
I had just quit my day job, had no savings, butt-loads of credit card debt, and zero contacts. Seriously. I had no plan B. So I had to figure it out. Sink or swim, as they say. And the last thing I could afford to do was drown in my own bad decisions.
So I clocked in 14 hour days, experimented with cheap whiskey, and tried a lot of sales tactics that made me feel downright sleazy. Used car salesmen would be proud. I, however, was not.
But dudes… Years later I’ve streamlined my process and have developed a strategy that not only works, but also feels damn good. For both myself and my clients.
This article is the specific strategy I now use to land clients and make sales, and details how you can use it to increase your income as a freelancer, entrepreneur or small business.
You don’t have a lot of time to waste, so let’s get to it, shall we?
Step 1: It’s a match!
Short of determining who your target client is, this is one of the most important exercises I work through with coaching clients. Basically, if this was the eco-system that is Tinder, and you want to land clients and make more sales, you want your audience to swipe right.
I call it The Client + Value Match Stabilization.
In essence, you need to make sure potential clients match with the value of what you’re offering them.
This is two tiered: The actual product or service, and the cost of that product/service.
A. The actual product/service
What you offer must have value or some kind of importance for your target clients. Meaning it must solve a problem and be useful, funny, or entertaining.
For example, I build premium, user-targeted brand identities and websites for entrepreneurs, small businesses and organizations because much of their business is conducted online. A solid brand presence is vital to them building awareness about what they do and as a result, how they find new customers and increase their income.
I could offer laundry folding, flower pendents or cocktail service, but those things don’t have value to my target clients. None of those solve their core problem by helping them grow their business.
Well, maybe the cocktail service…
B. The cost of that product/service
So you know what you offer your customers has value for them. Now you have to identify if they can afford it.
For example, when I started growing substantially and moved beyond basic blog design, choosing to focus more on results oriented, higher-caliber projects, I quickly realized the lone-blogger who DIYs most of her own stuff couldn’t afford me anymore. I kept marketing to her, but when it came down to investment, she wasn’t able to meet me at that higher price point.
The same goes for my current clients. I primarily work with entrepreneurs and small businesses now, and I set my prices accordingly. Most of them can’t afford a $100K branding project. Most however, who value the results I deliver, can budget for something at a mid-range price.
When I shifted what it was I was delivering, I could keep banging up against resistance, trying to sell a premium product to someone who didn’t care about the solution, or I could pivot.
I chose to pivot.
I evaluated my strategy, created a new marketing plan to reach my target customer, and adjusted my offerings.
And now, they match!
***Always charge what you’re worth and never undermine your talent, skills, training or experience.
2. Take up space
Once you know what you have to offer has value for your target client and they can afford it, it’s time to deck the halls, holly jolly style!
Your website, social accounts and newsletter are your store front. You want to make sure they’re properly branded, speak directly to your customer’s pain points and highlight the value you offer them.
In that, branding should be authentic to you and your vision, but more importantly, be authentic and resonate for your target market.
This includes things like:
- Ensuring the colours, fonts, and messaging in your logo, business cards, and brand materials appeal to them.
- Giving customers ample opportunity on your website to book in with you, buy your product and sign up for your newsletter.
- Strategically designing the layout of your website and newsletter to most effectively grab their attention and enhance their experience.
- Identifying which social media platforms are most useful in your goals; not everyone should be on every platform!
- Optimizing your CTAs and social profiles so they’re on-brand and effective.
- Creating a content plan o’action that targets and generates trust.
3. Broadcast your value
Once you get your client-value-space poop in a group, it’s time to get out there and do the leg work of helping others find you.
Because it doesn’t matter if your product/service has a shit ton of value and your customers can afford it, if they don’t know it exists.
The major difference between a small business that that’s able to land clients and make sales is whether or not they broadcast their value.Broadcast your value if you want to land clients and make sales #SmallBiz #BrandChat Click To Tweet
Customers aren’t dumb. They’re spry AF. And clever to boot. So you can auto-schedule your social media until the cows come home (moo!), but if you don’t actually SHOW UP and engage with them, respond to their updates, listen to their problems, offer solutions in real time, and do the leg work of writing blog posts that help them, send newsletters that give added value, develop your services to serve them better, and adapt to the market and their needs, they can tell. And they’ll call bullshit.
Invest in them, and they’ll invest in you!
These tools are how you broadcast your value – so turn up the volume and let them know how you help them!
4. Pick up the damn phone
I know, I know.
But seriously, one of the single most influential ways I’ve grown Peppercorn Creative, is by picking up the damn phone and actually talking to prospective clients.
Because relationships always win.Relationships always win #Marketing #SmallBiz Click To Tweet
When you give customers 30 minutes to get to know you, you’re generating a level of trust – and connection – that simply doesn’t exist through a screen. Online, the humanness is taken out of our interactions.
But when you add authenticity – voice, tone, IRL reactions, spontaneity – back into the conversation (literally), you land clients and make sales.
Once you get over the initial “oh-dear-god-I-have-to-talk-on-the-phone” reaction from yourself, you’ll find it’s actually pretty enjoyable.
You’ll also serve your customers better because they aren’t just words on a screen – they’re real, live people.
5. Most importantly: ASK for the sale!!!
When I first started Peppercorn Creative I struggled to find clients and make sales because I didn’t want to talk about money. And I wasted so much time, work, and sleep over not wanting to just be upfront about how much I had, how much I wanted, and how much it cost to work with me.
I wasn’t asking for the sale, I was beating around it.
The world belongs to those who ask.The world belongs to those who ask #SmallBiz #BrandChat #SalesChat Click To Tweet
Think how easier life would be – how much more efficient and lucrative business would be – if we all just got over our assumptions about money and had an open dialogue about it. No shadiness, no shame, no gloating. Just talked about it as a tool. Like a hammer. Or a drill. Or a vibrator.
Your candour and straight shooting will not only win you clients, but you’ll save time, frustration, and resources. You’ll also very quickly weed out the people who you don’t want to work with or who aren’t willing to invest in your offerings.
No games. No icky feelings. No apologies.
To ask for the sale:
- State your value – the benefits and solutions you offer and how it helps your potential client.
- Price the deliverables – tell them the investment cost.
- Prompt – ask them directly if they’d like to get started.
It really is that easy. People won’t buy if you don’t give them the opportunity to say yes. So, give them the opportunity!
Your turn: Do you struggle landing clients and making sales? What’s the hardest part for you? What’s worked for you? Do you “ask for the sale?” Leave a comment below or please shoot me an email and tell me directly. It makes me oh so happy to hear from you!