How to get those First Few Paying Clients
When you first start out in business it can feel like there’s so much that you need to think about. You may feel that you need to be learning all these advanced strategies such as how to sell online programmes, grow a mailing list, run Facebook ads, or do joint ventures with “big names” in your industry.
In reality, when you are first starting out what you need to focus on is something a lot simpler than any of that.
It’s simply to prove that your business is actually going to work for you in the first place. And you do this by very simply enrolling those first few paying clients.
If getting those first few paying clients under your belt is something you’ve been struggling with, I’ve got five steps to help cut through the confusion.
Within my business membership, I teach my Business from the Heart Pathway. Today we’re looking at Stage 1 of that pathway.
Stage 1 – Talents into Money
This stage is exactly what it says on the tin because the aim of this first stage is to get going from a standing start through to having enrolled your first couple of paying clients – so that you are actually making money while helping others.
Importantly, in this stage it’s not about selling one-off single sessions or hour-by-hour work
That’s because if you want a sustainable business that doesn’t leave you permanently on the edge of (or in) burnout, you need to be bringing in what I like to call “chunky” money that will sustain you month in, month out.
This means you might sell a package, programme, retainer, or a contract where the potential client is not just buying you on a commodity basis — one session or one hour at a time — instead they’re actually committing to getting an end result, and are paying you up front for your support in achieving that result.
How to get that first couple of paying clients – in 5 Easy Steps
Here is my step-by-step system for getting your first two paying clients:
Step 1: Have a clear message that your clients will respond to
Step 2: Know what you are selling
Step 3: Decide on your “Call to Action” or next step
Step 4: Know how to conduct an effective sales conversation
Step 5: Put that message (Step 1) and call to action (Step 3) in front of your ideal client
Following these steps will generate clients interested in finding out more about working with you and now you can take them through your sales conversation, confidently offer what you are selling and enrol them into working with you.
Yes, it’s really that simple! Do those things, and keep repeating step 5 over and over again and those paying clients will soon follow.
Read on to learn more about each step in the process.
Step 1: Get Clear on your Message
Who do you help and how?
People need to be able to identify you as a potential solution for their problem. The reason it’s so important to have a clear message is that without a message it’s really hard for somebody to come across you for the first time and get this feeling of recognition: “Oh my goodness, that sounds like me! I want to know more”.
So often, when you’re starting out, it’s really tempting to go out into the world and tell everybody, “I’m a coach”, or “I’m a hypnotherapist”, or “I’m an energy healer”, or in my case “I’m a sales trainer”. This is all great – but it’s a description.
There are 2 downsides to introducing yourself like this:
1. The thing you do gets treated like a commodity. Somebody’s shopping around for coaching and they know that their friend had coaching, which was £50 an hour and they expect to pay the same for the same “commodity”
2. Most people are not seeking the tool itself. They’re seeking a solution or answer to their problem. And they typically don’t really care what the “tool” or process is, as as long as they get the end result they want.
To illustrate this, if I marketed myself as a “sales trainer” or “business coach” potential clients would not gravitate towards me in anything like the numbers who respond to my more results and values based message about helping heart-centred business owners get more clients saying “Yes please!” without being pushy or compromising their integrity.
Step 2: Know what you’re Selling
The reason this step is so important is because so many service-based businesses — particularly when they’re selling something that feels quite intangible — really struggle with knowing what to sell and how to package it up so that they are offering a genuine solution or end result to their clients.
For example, you’re not really selling one-by-one hypnotherapy sessions, you’re selling a life free of the constant craving to smoke and you’re not just a one-time web designer – you create beautiful websites that will help your client attract their perfect clients for years to come.
Also if you sell your services by the hour or by the session, it’s really hard to build a truly sustainable business that is financially rewarding without burning yourself out due to the constant need to enrol another client, and another, and another…
So I recommend you create a package, programme or some type of retainer depending on the work you do, that is designed to help your typical client get a great result from working with you.
Part of this process is getting clear on your pricing. I’ve had so many people say to me over the years,
“Catherine, I’m not networking or going on social media yet because I haven’t figured out my pricing”.
But you really can’t afford to put your business on hold while you figure out your pricing in a vacuum. So my advice is just set your price (any price!) and get going…
If you start out a little too low… or a little too high.. you’ll soon find out and you can adjust it.
I’ve written some great blogs about pricing if pricing is a pain point for you.
Step 3: Decide on your “Next Step”
In this step you are simply deciding what action you want someone to take after they come across you and want to find out more about working with you.
Now remember, we’re talking about how to get your first two paying clients from an absolute standing start, so this is not about how to get people to sign up for your free giveaway, come to your webinar, or join your online course (though the principles are exactly the same). It might well be all of those things further down the line, but right now you just need a client.
And to do that, you quite simply need to be having conversations with people.
It’s that simple. Even if you have really unstructured, conversations that lack focus, you are going to get clients if you have enough of them! So your “Next Step” will be an invitation to a 1-2-1 conversation.
If you’re in the very early stages of your business, some of the options for having these conversations are, listed in order of the likelihood of them ending in a new paying client:
- Exploratory coffee meetings (including on zoom)
- Research calls
- Discovery Sessions
- High Value Free Sessions (where you offer to help with something tangible for free)
- Sales calls or Consultations
Your “Next Step” (also known in marketing terms as a “Call to Action”) will simply be an invitation to one of those 4 Conversations.
Step 4: Know how to have a Sales Conversation
Knowing that you are able to conduct an effective sales conversation is an all-important part of this process because if you lack confidence or feel nervous, self-conscious or on the back foot when it comes to sales, then you are naturally not going to feel comfortable issuing the invitation or “call to action” I talked about in Step 3.
In my programmes, I teach a process called the ‘The 7 Steps to Yes!’ for authentic and values-led sales conversations.
It will take you about 35 minutes to watch the videos, get familiar with the process and feel a lot more confident about knowing how to guide someone through one of these conversations.
If you’re in the early days of your business and you need clients right now, I highly recommend you start by learning how to sell in a 1-2-1 conversation first because it’s vastly easier to do than the more advanced strategies like selling from webinars or from a sales page. And everything you learn from selling 1-2-1 will help make your one-to-many sales even more effective when the time comes.
Step 5: Put Your Message and “Next Step” in front of your Ideal Client
Now that you’ve got all those pieces in place it’s time to put 1. (your message) and 3. (your invitation to take that “Next Step”) in front of the people who could be interested in working with you. This is what we call “marketing” – how you reach people to let them know what you do and how you help people.
Now a word of warning, at this early stage of your business don’t try to be Tesco and follow every possible marketing approach all at once and be on every online platform. Tesco can do that because they’ve got hundreds of people doing it. You’re one person, and if you want clients quickly, you need to pick just one thing to start with and go do it really well.
So where do you start?
I recommend you to start with your “low hanging fruit”. In other words, what is the quickest and easiest way to get new clients from a standing start, right now, for YOU? That might be referrals from previous clients, or introductions from your wider “warm network” (the people who already know you and hold you in high regard). It might be networking (online or offline), or it might be social media. The secret is to pick something you think you’ll enjoy and that has the best chance of working quickly – because the more you enjoy it and the more quickly you see results, the more likely you are to do it every day!
So you see, the principle is simple! By following this process you’ll have clear message designed to attract your ideal clients, know exactly what you’re selling, have a clear invitation to take that next step, feel confident about conducting an effective sales conversation without feeling completely terrified, and some quick and easy ways to start calling in your ideal clients.
I’m hoping that the process of enrolling those first few paying clients feels much clearer now, and you can see how well it works when you’ve got all those pieces in place
“7 Steps to Yes” FREE video series
You can also sign up for my FREE video series “The 7 Steps To Yes” which gives you a really simple and clear sales process to guide a potential client through a sales conversation that feels authentic and comfortable for both parties.
Sign up to for the “7 Steps to Yes” video series here.