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How do I build a client base? Any ideas?

By juscelinoacevedo ·
Hello All,

To make a long story short, I currenty have a decent job that pays okay with a nice title of Assistant Director, which has taken me 5 years to reach. However, due to the fact that the company I work for is not great when it comes to compensation I decided to start my own business (http://www.jma-tech.com).

Here's the problem, I have no clue as to what to do to build a client base. Another fact that does not help is that I really do not have much money to put towards the business because we all have bills to pay at home. As you can safely assume, noone know about my company and would probably not believe that I can actually help them, because I have no references.

Can anyone suggest ANYTHING that would be helpful in letting small businesses in my target area know that I know what I'm doing and can help them without spending money that I do not have? I know it sounds like I'm being cheap, but it's just the reality of my situation. Thanks in advance...

(Sorry, I thought it was going to be a short story...)

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Well, pretend...

by Matthew Moran In reply to I accept your "challenge" ...

I'm not a salesperson either. But I am very excited and enthusiastic about the solutions I can bring my clients.

As I stated, develop an article/case-study.

Walk into a door.

"Hi, I'm ______. I provide business solutions using computer technology for small businesses. I am working on expanding my business in this area. I have an article that discusses some of the benefits of customized technology solutions. Could you give this to the CFO/Controller/Owner?

"Sure. but we don't have any need. We have someone. We are happy., etc, etc."

"That's okay. Maybe he or she will think it is interesting. I'm just getting my side-work kicked off. Can I follow up to get his or her feedback on my article?"

Here is my promise: You will mess it up, trip over your words, feel like an idiot, and - if you stick to it - you will get better. It's that simple.

Numbers make up for ineptitude.

However, here is a warning. If you wish to be an entrepreneur, of any sort, you will have to become effective at selling what you do. Eventually, you may be able to hire someone to sell the services - but you will still need to sell them on your vision. And that vision is created by defining what you do. And being out there, beating the streets, is a good way to define what you do.

Mostly, you need to learn to love the hunt. If you believe that you provide value, that is what you focus on.

I have the attitude that I can bring value. If they do not recognize it or perceive the need now or in the future, it is not a reflection on me. The one's who don't hire me, don't pay my bills - therefore I cannot spend a lot of time worrying about them.

Have Fun!!!!!

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by FirstPeter In reply to Well, pretend...

Just two things I would add:

"Here is my promise: You will mess it up, trip over your words, feel like an idiot, and - if you stick to it - you will get better. It's that simple."

1. You can cut down that "ineptitude curve" by practicing. Don't go in cold-turkey; practice (OUT LOUD) beforehand. You'll find that some things sound wrong on paper but right when you say them (and vice versa).

2. Take and learn from cues. If people seem confused by what you said or how you said it take that as a cue to review it and find a different, more effective way to say it. Remember that, as a consultant, communication has to be something you're good at. If you can't communicate up-front it's going to be really hard to get to that next step.

GOOD LUCK!

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I am

by Oz_Media In reply to I accept your "challenge" ...

I have been in sales and sales management all of my life.

One thing that you will NEVER learn, "How you can introduce yourself without being hung up on or walked out of the door". People have defense mechanisms, they will automatically shut you down before even understanding what your reason for calling is. Get used to it, learn when to push and probe, when to hang up and not waste your time. Probing and qualification will come in time, for now, just call as many people as you possibly can dial in a day, 50, 100, 150 even more if you can. Out of every 20 or 30 calls, don't expect 10 happy prospects, HOPE for 1 or 2. Let people hang up, let people say no for now, just don't call your key target companies until you get good at keeping them on the phone.


There are a lot of ways I used to work around this, some I wouldn't expect other people to try as they are a LITTLE forward but for the most part, if you take a consultative approach, don't talk fast, LISTEN TO THEM, only offer relevant information that gets your point across etc you should be okay.

START on the phone, this way you can actually write out what you want to say (VERY important) as while everything is IN your head, it will become a nightmare when you are on the phone, if you are not used to it.

So be just like a telmarketer with a sales script. IF you can't get past a certain point in your script before being told NO, then you know where you need to change things up.

After a while you will get comfortable with it and start talking to C-Level employees like they were friends and laughing with clients you cold call, that's when it stops being work and you know you are comfy.

Get some meetings, get some people to accept seeing you and looking at what you have to offer, FACE TO FACE, as a result of your calls, that's the key.

But start with a simple introduction:
Hi this is BOB calling from ABC company, can you tell me who's in charge of decision ragarding your computer hardware support there?

(She can't say 'we're not interested, because you haven't offered anything yet or even explained WHY your callling, just asking for a contact).

Get the name and ask if they are available?
If NO, "Is there a better time to call or is it really just hit or miss? I just wanted to quickly introduce myself and see if you can benefit from our service, THEN I can send the appropriate info along to you."

If the secretary says the most common cop-out, 'You can just send me whatever you have'. Explain that you have pages and pages of info, that's why you want to speak with BOB first, to see if anything would actually be of benefit to the company first. But say thanks and you'll call back when it's more convenient.

ONE KEY TO THIS, (sounds dumb but believe me it works) place a small mirror in front of you and SMILE the whole time you are talking, people CAN hear your smile in your tone and will respond to it with the same, just don't get too giggly.

When you call back for BOB, it's a simple. "HI it's JOE from..., is Bob in today?" "No? thanks Marie, I'll try him later, do you expect him back in?"

Now it's casual conversation, you are no longer a salesman and you will make contact.

Keep it up, buy some sales books, and as I said, a great investment especially in your case, is to invest in a sales course or even public speaking course (even while you start out) such as the first Dale Carnegie course. It will prove invaluable to you. DON'T start calling the biggest fish first, work the kinks out of your pitch on the little guys.

God it just goes on and on, there's so much to learn in sales, it certainly isn't the silver tongued BS party some people think it is, it is a learned skill. Bt one you will develop naturally if you practice and pay attenrtion to responses.

But you can do it easily, if you want it bad enough.

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Sow, Sow, Sow...and eventually you will be able to reap....

by help In reply to How do I build a client b ...

I sent out a friends and family news letter when I first got started, explaining what I was doing, what my target market was, and my hours and rates. Problem is, most of my friends and family work for larger national companies that employ full time IT staff. I needed to target friends with knowledge of local companies and opportunities.

I have been in business now since March of this year. 90% of my clients have come from referrals from customers I already had before I made the leap to start my own company full time...word of mouth advertising!

I have recently joined a business referral 'club' that meets for breakfast once a week and brings tips and leads for one another. It is too soon to see how that will play out, but has good potential. You can find these organizations in your local paper or through your Chamber of Commerce.

One more word of advice.. carefully consider your rate you will charge.. by the time you take out taxes, pay your own health care, car expenses to get to the clients, business phone/cell phone, etc.. there goes at least 30% of your rate. Also know that you can't be billable 40 hours a week if you expect to have a life. It's just not possible to service clients, bill your work, chase down new work, pay your own bills, etc. So figure you will be billable 20 hours a week, add on the costs of taxes and what not mentioned above and then determine your rate and compare to what others in your market charge..

Hope it works out well for you!

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