Your business is starving. You’re struggling to get the clients and projects you need to keep your business going. Sometimes, it feels like you’ll never be able to get enough clients.
You’re not like everyone else. You enjoy the freedom that comes with working for yourself. You love that you’re in control of your future. But if something doesn’t change, you’ll be forced to accept horrible work from a penny pinching client, or an oppressive job doing more of the work you hate.
What if there was a way to change that? To attract new eager-to-buy clients on demand?
Sounds like a fairy tale, right?
Not only is it possible, I’m going to show you how to do it. Do the work and you’ll start to attract a steady stream of new clients. Do an amazing job and eventually people will give you leads they’ve paid for, with some sending job offers your way.
Here’s the obvious question…
Why on earth would anyone else give you their leads, for free? The same leads they’ve worked so hard for? If we’re competing for the same customer how does that make any sense? Who does that?
I call these people complementary sources.
Complementary sources are people who serve the same customers you do, in a different, but complementary way:
- copywriters create content that tells a story and creates action;
- developers create the behind-the-scenes movement that makes everything work;
- designers create designs that communicate without speaking and guide without words;
- analysts use data to measure and improve performance incrementally.
These professionals complement each other. They need to depend on each other if they plan on serving and protecting their clients.
Each of these freelancers have their own set of leads and their own set of clients.
And it’s the same for every business
Have you ever heard the saying “No man is an island”? That saying applies here. If you’re in business, you’re surrounded by these complementary sources. And the best part? All of them need help.
These complementary sources are great at what they do. But there’s something all of them struggle with consistently: Marketing.
Maybe they’re okay at marketing and they’re generating leads but they struggle to turn that interest into money. Maybe they’re cherry picking the leads they want and tossing the rest.
Whatever the reason, they’re leaving a lot of money on the table. They’re losing leads, customers and sales, and they don’t even know it.
That’s your in. Fix that problem for them, earn their trust and they’ll gladly give you their leads.
“I hate marketing, how am I supposed to fix their problem?”
Simple. You stop marketing and you start teaching.
If you’re a designer, you teach your source’s clients about the buyer evaluation process, how buyers evaluate your clients in 1/20th of a second.
You educate them, explaining the who, what, why and how.
At this point, we’re overwhelmed. Where should we start? Who do we approach? What should we say?
First you take a few big, deep breaths, then you…
Step 1: Create a list of your complementary sources
Remember our definition for a complementary source? These professionals serve the same customers you do in a different, but complementary way.
Here’s a few more examples:
- game designer, game writers and game developers;
- realtors, mortgage brokers, and appraisers;
- ad agencies, web development shops and hosting companies.
See what I mean? They all serve the same people. Okay.
List 5 – 10 industries that complement yours. Got ’em down? Okay good. It’s time to…
Step 2: Choose one company from each industry to interview
You’re not looking to sell them on your product or service. You’re not trying to manipulate them into covertly buying anything.
You’re after information. You’re looking for holes. Places where you can fix a problem, add something valuable or help them achieve more.
Here’s how you ask:
My name is Andrew McDermott. I’m the co-founder of Zrro.net. Are you available for a research interview on January 28th, 2015?
Let me know,
This is just one approach out of many. But whatever you do, keep your request, short and sweet.
You’ll want to record this interview, so let them know/ask for permission upfront. You want to focus your attention on listening and asking questions. You don’t want to be focused on taking notes.
You’ll want your questions to cover four very specific areas:
- Desires: why do they want the things they want? What are they hoping to achieve?
- Goals: what specifically do they want to achieve? Goals are useful when they’re specific, measurable, etc.
- Fears: what are these complementary sources afraid of? You’re looking for personal and detailed examples like I’m afraid abc corp. will steal all my clients, afraid all my customers are gonna leave me, can’t get customers to stay, afraid I won’t find the answer, etc.
- Frustrations: what grinds their gears? Clients not signing up? Not paying on time? Offering to pay you with “equity” or “partnership” instead of real money? What?
You’ll need to customize your questions for interviewees in different industries but they should be the same for the most part. Remember, you’re not looking for two people from one industry. You’re looking for one person from each industry.
If you’re feeling aggressive and want a massive amount of leads quickly, do this for each of the industries you have in your list. If you prefer a more conservative approach, start with one or two industries and work from there. If you’ve done a good job you’re ready for…
Step 3: Outreach and pitch
Create a list of real businesses in each of the industries you’ve targeted. These companies should be at the same level you’re at or better.
If you’re a one person shop, it’s ideal to go after businesses with 1 to 25 employees.
Targeting a business that’s much larger than yours, say a fortune 500 company, isn’t a good idea. Any deal you’d create would be one-sided in your favor. That’s bad because you don’t have a whole lot to offer your partner, at this point.
Okay, you’re ready to pitch. What do you say?
Remember the interviews you did in step two? Now’s the time to use them. Simply feed the desires, goals, fears and frustrations back to prospects, in your pitch, like this:
I’ve been talking with Jan over at ABC corp. She mentioned she was having a tough time turning her leads into paying clients. I gave her a free plan that got her 6 new clients in the first month. I’d like to share that plan with you, no catch.
Here’s the beautiful part. We end our pitch with a closed-ended question. We make it super easy for complementary sources to simply respond with a Yes or No!
Okay, we’re ready to…
Step 4: Layout the plan
You’ve done your homework. Your interviews tell you complementary sources are struggling to convert the leads they have. These professionals pounce on the clients who are ready to buy, ignoring the rest.
But you know that’s a mistake.
You layout your plan:
- if they have dead leads, you create an irresistible offer to resurrect them;
- they want their customers to buy more? Show them how you can do that by teaching their customers;
- they want more customers to sign up for their monthly service? You’ll throw in a bonus (e.g. education, free service) to sweeten the deal.
You have a solid plan to give your sources what they want. And with the right material, they’ll get it without either of you breaking the bank. You reduce the risk they’re taking and they get what they want.
And how do their customers get what they want?
They come to you. They give you their name, email, phone number—anything you need to start a relationship. And viola, just like that you have a database of interested customers.
Put these customers in to your follow-up system of choice. Then send them ultra valuable and really helpful education. Alternate between helpful content, tools and resources and a sales pitch with an irresistible offer (e.g. free graphic design worth $500).
Get them used to working with you. Then, when the time is right, encourage these customers to make the switch—from a free to paid client.
Do this for yourself and your complementary source. Do this regularly and you’ll watch your sales grow from a trickle to a flood of new clients.
Do it well and you’ll find that your complementary source prefers that you handle more and more of their leads. Congrats, you’re now their secret weapon, their own personal money tree.
This won’t work for me because…
My business is different, or new or unique or something. This objection rears its ugly head whenever we share this strategy with others. But it’s a lie.
How do we know?
Aquatic Taekwondo. It’s a business we’ve just made up. And that business has complementary sources:
- traditional Taekwondo dojos;
- self defense websites, journals and blogs;
- martial arts apparel manufacturers.
And there’s actually more. I could go on but I think you see the point. We’re all surrounded by people who can help us.
And they will, if we know how to ask.
Your business doesn’t have to starve
If you’re struggling to get the clients and projects you need you’re not alone. But you have a way out.
What would it be like to have a waiting list of eager and excited clients? Money in hand and begging for a chance to work with you? It feels like a dream but it can be a reality for you. If you do the work.
Follow the steps I’ve outlined and you’ll have an unlimited, never ending supply of clients and sales. Money, opportunity, freedom—whenever you need it.
Start now and it’s yours for the taking. You can do it.
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