NEWBIES: How to get clients without a track record

14 replies
This question comes up a lot....for good reason..its a challenge for newbies. And the most common advice is "just deceive your prospects into thinking you have clients even if you don't".

My recommendation is to become an expert (at least in the prospect's eyes) at what you do and impress them that way. Forget about the "just go out and sell" advice UNTIL you become an expert. Then you can sell them on your honesty and willingness to do what it takes to get their business. Also, ask them about when they first started in business and didn't have any clients and how they did it.

Take the time to build relationships and trust. This strategy will take more time and effort but will pay off.

If you use "I've got confidentiality agreements with my clients" or any of those other deceptive "strategies", what are you going to do when they say, "I understand, you don't need to give me names but tell me what you are doing/have done for them? And when did you start working with them?" You will have to continue the lies and will probably be found out.

Word gets around fast so you run the risk of ruining your reputation. Plus this is no way to build trust and start a relationship

I'll be closing a deal shortly (hopefully today) with my first new car dealer and guess what? They never asked me for references, about my experience or any of that. Why? Because I'm an expert...at least in their eyes.

Plus with my strategy you'll be able to sleep better. Take the high road and good luck!
#clients #newbies #record #track
  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Where have you been getting that advice (deceive them) from?

    Nearly all of the trouble newbies have is caused by themselves. Worries and fears and limiting beliefs in their own heads.

    I don't recommend fooling anyone. But there's no reason to bring up every detail of your situation.


    The quality of the questions you ask will determine the credibility you have.
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    • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
      Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

      Where have you been getting that advice (deceive them) from?
      Hi Jason,

      I've heard it recommended several times in different forums. As a matter of fact, this just came up in a thread on Thursday.

      It goes like this: "What do I do if I don't have any clients and the prospect wants references?" And the response: "Just tell them you have an NDA with your clients."

      Let me make sure I understand how you would advise a newbie. If they don't have any clients and are asked for references, you would recommend one possible response to say "my clients want to remain anonymous". Is that right or am I missing something?
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      • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
        Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

        Hi Jason,

        I've heard it recommended several times in different forums. As a matter of fact, this just came up in a thread on Thursday.

        It goes like this: "What do I do if I don't have any clients and the prospect wants references?" And the response: "Just tell them you have an NDA with your clients."

        Let me make sure I understand how you would advise a newbie. If they don't have any clients and are asked for references, you would recommend one possible response to say "my clients want to remain anonymous". Is that right or am I missing something?
        No, Paul, I'm saying it's mostly in your head, and if you don't bring up or worry about not having clients yet, your prospects aren't as likely to ask about it.

        As I said below my video, the quality of the questions you ask will determine your credibility in the eyes of the prospect. You still believe you need to demonstrate everything you know to the prospect to prove to them you know what you're doing. You don't. You have to show them you understand their situation. If you do that well, they will never think to ask you about other clients.
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        • Profile picture of the author PaulintheSticks
          Jason,

          I agree with your statement to a large extent as I just closed a big deal today and none of those questions were brought up but there are many times the questions come up very early in the conversation.

          But you didn't answer the question. So again, what would you advise a newbie to say if they are asked for references but don't have any?

          Oh yea, I almost forgot. Woohooo!!!!



          Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

          No, Paul, I'm saying it's mostly in your head, and if you don't bring up or worry about not having clients yet, your prospects aren't as likely to ask about it.

          As I said below my video, the quality of the questions you ask will determine your credibility in the eyes of the prospect. You still believe you need to demonstrate everything you know to the prospect to prove to them you know what you're doing. You don't. You have to show them you understand their situation. If you do that well, they will never think to ask you about other clients.
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          • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
            Originally Posted by PaulintheSticks View Post

            Jason,

            I agree with your statement to a large extent as I just closed a big deal today and none of those questions were brought up but there are many times the questions come up very early in the conversation.

            But you didn't answer the question. So again, what would you advise a newbie to say if they are asked for references but don't have any?

            Oh yea, I almost forgot. Woohooo!!!!
            "I'd be happy to share that with you, but first can I ask you a question?" (Sure) "What about that is important to you? How will it help you make a decision?"

            And then, if the prospect was one of those "social proof" guys who needs to know other people have taken the plunge first, I'd either say we're not a fit OR I'd give examples of other companies I know used similar services from other firms--or my outsourcer company if I was subbing the work out.

            Knowing WHY they are asking the question helps you a lot with your answer. In the DISC profile, the Ds will hit you with something like this as a credibility test. They do this right away. They may not care whether you have experience or not; they're just testing your toughness. If you're a wallflower and you fold, they know you suck and they won't do business with you. But that has nothing to do with your actual technical competence, does it.

            Believe it: many people out there don't care two hoots what their neighbors are doing. I'm one of those guys. I could care a less if this has infiltrated the market or not. In fact, I'd like it better if it hadn't and I was the only one using it. I could care a less what my competition is doing...because I don't really have any. Positioning and better questions take care of these problems. I hate case studies. They aren't relevant to MY business. I don't need to keep up with the Joneses. And there are plenty of prospects out there like me.

            "New To Me" isn't scary. I have sold copywriting, article writing, sales training, power generation and control equipment, metal fabrication services, railway track casting repair, and gosh knows what else For The First Time For Me...and never had a problem. If someone NEEDS social proof, and you can't provide any, walk away. And six months later, when they come back to you for help because you're established now, make sure they know your price has doubled or tripled or more since your expertise is so "proven" now.

            So much of this is "mind reading" if you don't ask for clarification on why details about your past work is important to them. People are always falling into these traps. The reason they asked the question is not necessarily the reason YOU think they asked it; and so your answer may be the wrong one. This kind of teaching is beyond what I can give away for free on a public forum. I already feel I have given away too much. It reminds me of my math teacher, a Doctor of Mathematics, who said in answer to a question, "You don't know what you're asking! There are so many assumptions you've made in there!"

            But most people won't read this, won't remember it, and won't use it. So that's fine. They'll keep on trying to sell with cobbled-together features and benefits and wondering why their prospects don't react positively. You need a consistent sales process to know where you are.

            There are always two kinds of people.

            Either they believe you can do it, or they don't.

            Find out which it is, as soon as possible.

            And another hint to apply to this situation:

            If they say it, it's true. If you say it, you have to defend it.
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            • Profile picture of the author ronr
              Assuming that you know what you are doing but don't have any actual clients yet. If you come across like you know what you are doing, the prospect won't ask 95% of the time so don't volunteer it.

              Other things you can do

              1) do one for a friend or business in return for their testimonial

              2) if selling advertising or something it's true that no one wants to be the first one but no reason to stretch the truth. Just offer a few spots for free or for no money upfront but a percentage of sales it generates to a friend in business or any business (with the agreement that they will be bumped if you sell the spot)

              Ron
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            • Profile picture of the author jamesfreddyc
              Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

              This kind of teaching is beyond what I can give away for free on a public forum. I already feel I have given away too much.
              I'm still looking for a way to attach an RSS feed to all your online activity that'll alert me of the little gold flakes that fall everywhere you go
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    • Profile picture of the author Daniel LaRusso
      Jason, for someone who is experienced in IM but not with offline, what service do you recommend to master and sell/lead with?

      I'm suffering from too much noise and not sure what to focus on.

      I am willing to cold call.

      Originally Posted by Jason Kanigan View Post

      Where have you been getting that advice (deceive them) from?

      Nearly all of the trouble newbies have is caused by themselves. Worries and fears and limiting beliefs in their own heads.

      I don't recommend fooling anyone. But there's no reason to bring up every detail of your situation.

      What to do when Your Credentials or Experience are Questioned - YouTube

      The quality of the questions you ask will determine the credibility you have.
      Signature

      It is unwise to trust all you read on the internet.
      - Benjamin Franklin

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  • Profile picture of the author midasman09
    Banned
    Whenever I begin a new Ad project that usually involves 10 to 20 advertisers (even breaking into a new niche with "Lead Gen Videos") I will put in 2 or 3 participants. These participants don't know they've been put into my program. I use these as "examples", if anyone asks. (No one has asked in over 30yrs of doing this)

    I discovered Loooong ago that, "Nobody wants to be first!" Participants don't want to be first in a program because they don't know if the "Train" will start up or what the "Train" looks like once it's running.

    Paticipants want to "Get On Board A Train That's Moving"!

    I just finished another "Pizza Box Flyer" program in a town of 3,000 with 2 pizzerias. I put in 3 participants, using biz cards I got off a board in a coffee shop. I then proceeded to sell the other 9 spots. I then removed the 3 "examples" and went to them and showed them my piece with 9 participants and....they also joined as "paying" clients.

    I learned long ago, if I showed my "Demo" piece with NO spaces filled, NO participants....the standard objection was, "Come see me WHEN you have others participating!"

    So...I went to a coffee shop, grabbed some biz cards, went home and plopped them into my piece.

    Works for me. And, again, potential clients don't ask if the 2 or 3 participants have "paid"! If they did, I'd simply tell them the truth, "No! I put them is an Examples!"

    Don Alm
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    • Profile picture of the author MagneticKopy
      Originally Posted by midasman09 View Post

      Whenever I begin a new Ad project that usually involves 10 to 20 advertisers (even breaking into a new niche with "Lead Gen Videos") I will put in 2 or 3 participants. These participants don't know they've been put into my program. I use these as "examples", if anyone asks. (No one has asked in over 30yrs of doing this)

      I discovered Loooong ago that, "Nobody wants to be first!" Participants don't want to be first in a program because they don't know if the "Train" will start up or what the "Train" looks like once it's running.

      Paticipants want to "Get On Board A Train That's Moving"!

      I just finished another "Pizza Box Flyer" program in a town of 3,000 with 2 pizzerias. I put in 3 participants, using biz cards I got off a board in a coffee shop. I then proceeded to sell the other 9 spots. I then removed the 3 "examples" and went to them and showed them my piece with 9 participants and....they also joined as "paying" clients.

      I learned long ago, if I showed my "Demo" piece with NO spaces filled, NO participants....the standard objection was, "Come see me WHEN you have others participating!"

      So...I went to a coffee shop, grabbed some biz cards, went home and plopped them into my piece.

      Works for me. And, again, potential clients don't ask if the 2 or 3 participants have "paid"! If they did, I'd simply tell them the truth, "No! I put them is an Examples!"

      Don Alm
      That's actually a great Idea. Great job!

      Do you usually drop-in cold or do you make
      calls to the businesses first?
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  • Hi Don Alm,

    We hope none of your clients or their customers are members of this forum? If they are and inform your clients that you lied and decieved them, we are sure they would cancel any contract you have with them and possibly inform others in their line of work about how you decieved them?

    Would you like to do business with someone employing such tactics? I didn't think so. Honesty is always the best policy if you want your business and reputation to be one others respect and to last?

    As to being told to come back when you have clients, simply tell them truthfully that you are starting out and somebody has to be the first? Tell them you are sure that their competitors will join you and ask them if they want them to get all the benefits they are passing on?

    That is how we would do it if our business was local.

    Regards,

    Stephen & Jennifer.
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  • Profile picture of the author schs777
    The thing is you have build your list with quality leads. The list does not have to massive but you have to focus on your target audience. I personally would suggest if you struggle with leads and tracking your client is to find a mentor or some one who has great skills set in this. My suggestions is find meetup groups in your local area or online here is great places where I started from Find Meetup Groups near you - Meetup or http://tinyurl.com/pwgsjpj Find a strategy that works for you master it then move on to the next.

    I personally think this is better advice for any newbie.

    Kind regards
    Shaun


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  • Profile picture of the author Matt Lee
    This is where case studies can really come in handy. Sometimes its best to work pro bono (or dramatically discounted rate) Keep in mind, they are taking the risk ON YOU. This way, you can develop & fine tune your strategy and not put the risk on paying clients.

    Once you've ranked your initial case studies, now you have a solid reference to use when pitching other prospects.

    But lying and deception is not the way to do it, this market is saturated with those types of people and separating yourself from their practices is the best way to stand out.

    Also, don't forget - it's JUST as important to RETAIN current clients as it is to gain new ones. I'd say MORE important actually. Set up a referral program, and pay your current clients for every new sale they send your way. Having your clients be your sales staff is a kick ass way to do business.
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