Understanding how to get clients is what every first-time entrepreneur wants to know. After over a decade of entrepreneurialism, I have a simple answer to that question. Show concrete results and take credit. Sounds simple? It is. So, why don’t entrepreneurs do it?
Advice on how to get clients is all over the place.
I remember struggling to figure out how to get clients. I did what everyone said I should do. I hustled, bought lunches, paid for coffees, did pitches, jumped into the networking thing, guest spoke, joined chambers of commerce, became active in young professional groups, and other time wasters. The result? I was a well-connected entrepreneur with no money.
It wasn’t for lack of opportunities coming my way. I was served up plenty but I squandered those opportunities. I mistakingly believed clients care about strategy, methods, and targeted processes. They don’t. They care about the results that came from your actions. Period. Nothing else matters. Maybe you think your new innovative approach holds some value when attracting new clients? No, it doesn’t.
“But, Justin, I have a new way of doing things.” you may be saying, or “But, Justin, I’ve done the research, I know I can kick the crap out of the current status quo.” Truthfully, you’re probably right. History is littered with the carcasses of great ideas. (Wait, you still think good business ideas succeed?) Good ideas don’t matter though. When you ask how to get clients, the answer is show results and take credit. If you aren’t clear on both you lose.
How To Get Clients, In 2 Parts
Most entrepreneurs, like myself, get caught up in the process. We are excited by past success, but we fully acknowledge past results are from unrelated projects.
We know not all projects and companies are created equally; therefore, in an effort to be truthful and transparent entrepreneurs dial back specific talk of outcomes. But because of this, executives and company leaders hear theories, research, and good intentions. No matter how insightful it may be, they don’t care.
How to get clients is about showing concrete results they can imagine getting for themselves. Just do two things:
1. Show Concrete Results And Numbers
How to get clients is about showing concrete results. Clients just want some metric that you’ve succeeded before. That’s seriously it. That’s the secret. But how do you get clients if you don’t have any to begin with? Is it a catch twenty-two? Nope!
The fastest way to get results to show is to go find beggars who can’t be choosers. Non-profits. Many non-profits are happy to get your help no matter your experience. But be warned: you must be extremely clear you want to track results and get their buy-in on this.
Many non-profits (sadly) are remarkably poor at time management. Be warned. They are willing to take time risks on free work, but their disorganization also means they aren’t likely to track any results of your work. That’s on you. Make sure you have tools in place to track success. And make this non-negotiable.
If you hustle, depending on the industry you should build up some successful metrics to show in about 6 months or less. But even if you have results, you can still squander opportunities. The 2nd revelation in how to get clients is taking credit.
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2. Claim Responsibility For Your Results
Humility is a good character trait but can ruin your prospects. When I pitched clients for my first business, I wouldn’t clearly claim responsibility for my results. After all, there were multiple parties involved, and I couldn’t possibly take all the credit. So I would pitch my process. No deals. Results came when I backed off the humility.
Tired and maybe a little ticked off, I finally showed a tad bit of my arrogant side to a client. I was clear on the fact that not only had I done this before, I told them concrete results I had pulled off for previous clients. I claimed all responsibility and spoke in terms of “I.” It felt wrong, but I closed the deal quickly.
I know this can be hard for some of you, but you have to realize if you can’t claim responsibility for your success, no one will hire you. Why would they? To this day, I’m fairly certain this is why I flubbed an interview with Tesla many years ago. I took zero responsibility for anything on my resume, giving credit to everyone who helped me. Dumb move, bro.
Taking full credit doesn’t mean not being humble at all. Just speak in terms of data and you’ll be fine. And for cryin’ out loud, if you’re good at something, SAY SO! Please, for the love of Pete (as Grandma used to say) SAY YOU’RE GOOD AT WHAT YOU DO!
How To Get Clients… THAT PAY
One last question in your mind may be the cost conversation. After all, you want to know how to get paying clients. So, how do you have the cost conversation with new clients that are actually paying money? There’s a trick to it.
…oh, wait. There isn’t! Just kidding. No one cares!
Remember, new clients only care about results, and they don’t care for 5 seconds what previous clients paid. In the rare chance they ask, simply tell them each project is different, but you’ll be happy to give them a fair quote before any work is done. And by the look of it, you’re going to have a lot of quotes to send out soon. Get to it!