How to get those First Few Paying Clients
When you first start out in business it can feel like there’s so much going on that you need to think about — people are teaching you how to launch online programmes and how to run Facebook ads and all of these advanced strategies — sometimes the issue at hand is not how to run a big launch, create a membership, or do a joint venture. It’s actually about proving that this business is working for you in the first place 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 you get going.
Within my business membership, I teach my Business from the Heart Pathway and within it the Five Stages of Business. Today, we’re getting to know Stage One, so grab a cuppa tea and get comfy.
What is Stage One of the Business from the Heart Pathway?
Stage One of my pathway is called Talents into Money, and it’s exactly what it says on the tin. The aim of the first stage is going from a standing start through to having enrolled your first couple of paying clients.
Very importantly, not into single sessions or hour-by-hour work. You want to enrol your first two paying clients into the types of offers that are going to make your business actually sustainable, where you’re not going to burn out running a business spending all the hours working and not seeing enough money to show for it. So by that I mean selling your services in ways that bring in what I like call ‘chunky money’.
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 a job done, or getting an end result.
How to get those first couple of paying clients – in 5 Easy Steps
Here is my step-by-step system for getting your first two paying clients in five clear steps:
Step 1: Have a clear message
Step 2: Get clear on what you’re selling
Step 3: Decide on your call to action
Step 4: Know how to conduct a sales conversation
Step 5: Put your message and call to action in front of your ideal clients
Let’s jump right in and unpack the above-mentioned five steps to getting your first paying clients…
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, “Oh, I think this person could help me!”.
So often, when 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 a crystal healer”. 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 solution 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 based message about getting more clients saying “Yes please!” without being pushy or compromising your integrity.
Step 2: Get Clear on what you’re Selling
The reason I say getting clear on what you’re selling is important is because too many service-based businesses — particularly when they’re selling something quite intangible and results oriented — really struggle with knowing what to sell – 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 smoking cravings. Or you’re a web designer who’s selling the end result of a beautiful website that’s going to help you get clients.
Also if you sell your services by the hour or by the session, then it’s really hard to build a truly sustainable business that is financially rewarding and will not burn you out because of the constant need to enrol another client, and another client, and another client…
And even if you’ve already enrolled a client, then you have one session and you’ve got to sell them on the idea of having the next session. It is such hard work and it is extremely difficult to actually help anybody achieve results, which leads to you getting into a spiral of a lack of confidence
So I recommend that you follow my process and get clear what you’re selling.
The other really important piece here is that it you get clear on your price. I’ve had so many people say over to me over the years, “Catherine, I’m not going networking yet“. Or “Catherine, I’m not going on social media yet because I haven’t figured out my pricing”.
You simply cannot afford to put your business on hold while you figure out your pricing in a vacuum. So pick your price and get going….1 I’ve written some great blogs about pricing on my website that I suggest you read if pricing is a pain point for you.
Step 3: Decide on your “Next Step”
In this step you are simply deciding what the action is 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 attend your workshop. 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 just need to be having conversations with people. It’s that simple. Even if you have really unstructured, unfocused conversations, 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 in your business some of the options for having these conversation are, listed in order of the likelihood of them ending in a new paying client:
- Exploratory coffee meetings (could be on zoom!)
- Research calls
- High Value Free Sessions (where you offer to help with something tangible for free)
- Sales calls or Consultations
Your “Next Step” 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 the truth is if you lack confidence or feel nervous, self-conscious or on the back foot when it comes to sales then naturally you are 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 33 minutes to watch the videos, get familar with the process and feel a lot more confident about knowing how to guide someone through one of these conversations. Sign up for ‘The 7 Steps to Yes!’ here.
If you’re in the early days of your business and you need clients right now I highly, highly recommend you start by learning how to sell in a 1-2-1 conversation first because it’s vastly easier 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. What I’m talking about here is client attraction, aka marketing. In other words that point at which someone goes from never having heard of you before and not knowing what you do, to now knowing who you are and what you do.
You might decide to do this by posting on social media. However, contrary to popular belief, social media is not the only way to do it! At this early stage of your business don’t try to be Tesco! (in the US, read “Costco”). Tesco can afford to be doing every single marketing strategy on every single platform 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 and go do it really well – and that might not involve social media at all.
Instead, you want 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, who if they only knew about your new business would actually send you customers or want to work with you themselves). Or it might be social media!
Now you have everything you need to put you on the winning track. You have a clear message, know exactly what you’re selling, an invitation to take that next step, you know how to conduct an effective sales conversation without feeling completely terrified, and some quick and easy ways to start calling in your ideal clients.
Join the Business from the Heart Membership
If you’d like more in depth help moving along the Business from the Heart Pathway, ticking off your Stage 1 milestones (like enrolling those first few paying clients) and moving into Stage 2 – Good to Grow (Hurrah!) then I’d love you to join me inside the Business from the Heart Membership. Our next official enrolment is May, but there is going to be a special early invitation coming up very soon. If you’d like to put yourself in the loop to learn more simply click here to be notified.
OR learn more about the Stages of Business for Free:
To learn more about the 5 Stages of Business you can sign up for Create a Business You Love free PDF guide. It will help you understand the key elements you need to be thinking about to create a business you truly love to run – including marketing that feels in flow, business models, and how to attract clients with a lot less effort than you might be putting in right now. As well as an overview of the Business from the Heart Pathway and those stages of business.
Click here for the Create a Business you can Fall in Love – and Stay in Love with Guide.
With Love & Gratitude,