In this blog post I’m going to show you how to find more clients for your marketing agency for free, for the long term, that you can use over and over
It’s worth noting up top, that I’m making a few assumptions and there is going to need to be some sacrifice and brave steps from you, in order to get these results.
No fast overnight success here
First, this is not a “clients overnight” strategy. You’re presumably reading this because you don’t have a massive marketing or advertising budget yourself. No problem at all. But if you’re looking for customers overnight, you need money. If you don’t have money, you’ll need time and/or audience.
Second, you are going to have to get out of your comfort zone. Nothing I can do about that I’m afraid. I’ll often hear businesses tell me that they aren’t afraid of hard work, but when we get to brass tacks, 95% of them aren’t willing to step outside of their comfort zone. You’re here because you want more clients, and I can get that for you. But you are going to have to make mistakes, look a little stupid and push your boundries. It’s OK though because a) I’m going to be with you every step and b) I’m going to show you what I did so you’ll only look a little stupid.
Here for the long time, not just a good time
Third and final this is a long term play. The strategy I’m sharing with you a long term plan designed to build solid relationships over time. You will see results quickly, but the long term success comes from sticking to this strategy and applying it over time.
Paint on stress
At Sell Your Service we have a saying called “paining on stress”. It means that every day you do something that paints another layer of “stress” onto the business. From day to day it might not look like a lot, but comparing month on month, or over quarter to quarter, the results grow and grow.
It becomes exponential the results you get because you’re committing to building one long term strategy. There are no “get rich quick” plays that work. Deep down you know that, but when a new strategy or tactic or tool comes into your view, you might find you jump onto it hoping it’s your fast track to glory.
There are no elevators, no fast tracks, no escalators to the top. Everyone has to take the stairs. I use the analogy of carving steps into the side of a mountain in my book, Five Figure Funnels, to show that the long term plan is the only sustainable one.
If you’re not willing to do something 1000 times, I wouldn’t bother doing it once. That’s the rule I use to decide a new growth or marketing strategy. Whenever I have had a crisis of confidence and panicked about where the business is going, I ask myself “have I done what I’ve been doing 1000 times yet?”
The answer is almost always no. I haven’t done 1000 YouTube videos. I haven’t written 1000 blog posts. I haven’t pitched or presented 1000 times. That’s the goal. Unless you’re willing to do something 1000 times, you aren’t going to see long term success.
I’m going to make some assumptions about you and your business if you’re reading this.
- You already have products and services that you can sell. I’m assuming that you need more clients and pipeline.
- It doesn’t matter what your experience is – portfolios aren’t needed here.
You’re hungry for new work and you’re willing to go against accepted wisdom in order to get that work
Find more marketing clients for your marketing agency without spending money
By the end of this blog post, you’re going to have a long term sustainable strategy for attracting new customers and clients to your marketing business. If you put into place every tactic I use and teach you here, you’re going to have a client acquisition process that cannot be beaten.
You’re also going to know day in, day out, what you need to focus on and do. Most people know what they need to do, they just decide not to do it.
- They don’t have the guts to follow it through and do it because they’re worried about what might happen
- They distract themselves with something else like a new tool or admin because [see point a]
You’re not going to be like that though because you’ve read this far and you know what it’s going to take. You know you’re looking for a long term plan. You know that you’re going to need to do this 1000 times to really get the hang of it.
The good news is that you’re already doing most of the work here. Or, you’ve already tried it. Think of it as learning to prepare a 3 course meal. You’ve probably cooked each of the meals by themselves before. You’ve probably cooked something similar. You’ve probably worked with most of the ingredients. We’re now just going to put it all together.
Finally, you’re going to grow your business faster than you can handle. At some point, this blog post will only serve part of your business. It will serve your sales process for years to come. I know this because I’ve used it for every business I’ve set up and it works. It just isn’t as flashy or “fast” as other methods, because it sacrifices short term sexiness for long term relationships.
But, your business will outgrow this blog post. You’ll need sales training, management, administration and more just to keep the machine going – that’s good. It’s not a sign of things breaking, it’s a sign of things working. This blog post will fix your client acquisition, but only your sales, not delivery or staff management.
No money, no audience, no leads
You’re here either because you’re not making the money you want, or you’re frustrated with the lack of process you seem to be making.
Both are common concerns and “make more sales” is probably the #1 problem for almost all businesses. It’s often the roadblock preventing those sales that differs from business to business.
If you’re a marketing agency, the initial thought might be “I can do this for clients, why can’t I do it for myself?” and that might be the first thing holding you back. The fact that you deliver results to the client yourself means you’re not able to focus more on sales and marketing for your own business.
Remember the excuses above, the reason people don’t market and promote their own business every day?
They don’t have the guts to follow it through and do it because they’re worried about what might happen
They distract themselves with something else like a new tool or admin because [see point a]
Far be it from me to say you don’t have guts, but if you’re distracted by delivering work to the client, it’s pulling you away from sales and client acquisition.
But Mike! I have loads of friends who generate leads on referral!
Loads of businesses, especially marketing agencies and funnel builders, claim to get all their work via referral. Yet, I have never seen a marketing agency happy with the number of clients they have.
They’re stuck waiting for their clients to hand over referrals at their whim. It’s not something you can control (not true but we’ll get to that). Or I should say it’s not something that the marketing agency DOES take control over.
Referrals are a wonderful and beautiful method for generating sales. Arguably the best. But you will need to fill those gaps with greenfield leads (new clients outside your audience). Plus, I have repeatedly found that the more I work on new audience and lead generations, the faster and stronger the referrals come in.
God helps those that help themselves. In my book Universe Fuel, I say how eventually the Universe will deliver more to you in one go than you can handle. But only after you’ve put in the work.
But Mike, I HAVE to deliver work to the client. Otherwise what’s the point in making the sale!
Again, sounds like common sense. Of course someone has to do the work, right? Otherwise you’re just making sales and never delivering! Then people will say you’re a con-artist, just stealing from them!
Calm down. No one said anything about not delivering work to the client. The accepted wisdom is that a) clients will want to work with you (not true) and b) only you can deliver results.
The unshakable truth is that anyone can be a technician, delivering work to the client. It’s a skill that you can learn over time. But, you and only you will ever care so much about your business as to need to see it survive, thrive and dominate. You are the only person who truly cares about the success and the success of your business will come from your sales and marketing. History is rife with businesses and entrepreneurs that are the best in their field but never make any money.
It’s a sad fact, but a fact nonetheless, that the world’s best products do not make the world’s best business. Sales and marketing needs to be your #1 priority as the owner and entrepreneur behind a business.
Leads and sales comes from one of these three things.
I’m assuming that you don’t have a massive amount of money to throw that this problem right now. It’s why you’re here and not on another blog learning how to hire salespeople or a marketing director.
If you have $100,000 to spend then you can start finding clients much faster. I’ve often joked that I can give you a $1,000,000 customer you just need to spend $1,000,000.
The other fast track to sales comes from audience. This is also something you can build for free over time. The more people who know who you are, the easier it is to generate new leads. Let’s say you’ve spend 5 years building an audience up on YouTube and you have 10,000 subscribers. If you launched a new service to that audience, you’d generate sales.
However if you’re starting from scratch and you don’t have an audience, you’ll need to build one up. Thus we have to revert to the final resource, time. It will take time to build new leads and sales unless you already have an audience or money to throw at the problem.
No fast tracks, no elevators. Everyone has to take the stairs.
The problem is where do you spend your time? What is the best use of your time in order to generate leads and sales that you need, TODAY?
I’ll refer back to my earlier comments on painting on stress. We paint a new layer onto your business every single day. The good news is I’m going to show you what to do. But I can only show you the steps, I can’t take them for you (unless you have $100,000).
Ready to get rejected?
You are going to have to make some tough calls. You’re going to face rejection and people ignoring you.
I’ve got a single solid piece of advice that if you ONLY read and ingest one thing is this – people saying no and ignoring you isn’t a sign that things aren’t working, it’s a sign that you’re getting closer.
Video games are a perfect example of this. You know you’re heading in the right direction the more bad guys you come across. The more aliens, demons and terrorists you face, the more certain you are going in the right directions. You need to start collecting no’s and rejections and ignored emails like looking for baddies in a video game.
How to generate more leads and sales for your marketing funnel business
Here’s what we’re going to be covering off.
- Deciding what kinds of leads and sales you want
- Figuring out what you’re giving to people
- Discovering where those clients are
- Using the audience you have already
- Increasing your chances of a sale
- Stop asking for things from people if you want something
- Making a commitment to other people
- The easiest selling method I know
- Getting people to buy from you
- Getting paid faster
Do I need to be confident to sell?
This is a common misconception about making more sales and selling lots. Yes, you absolutely need to be confident in order to sell. NO – confidence is not measured in your ability to talk non-stop and have clever answers for everything.
Good salespeople aren’t good talkers, they’re good stalkers. They listen, take notes, research and ask questions.
The fastest way to appear and grow your confidence is to be sure of the outcome. The best way to be sure of the outcome is to be sure of the method. I am super confident when it comes to cooking an omelette or writing a book, because I have a method that I follow.
If I follow the method, it makes me look smarter than I really am and gives the impression of great confidence. Follow the method and you will BE confident.
Identify who you want to target
You’re about to learn the devastating truth behind killer sales results and explosive lead growth. Preparation.
Preparation prevents piss-poor performance.
A few weeks ago I decided to redecorate my office. It was looking a little shabby and over the years I had drilled holes and nailed things to the walls. We had wallpapered a few years earlier but it was time to redecorate and move things around.
It took 3 days of ripping down wallpaper, scraping, sanding, filling, more sanding, more scraping, sealing and priming before I could even start to paint. But how quickly did I paint? Took about one day to do two solid coats.
The time and effort that I placed upfront in order to give the paint the best chance it could, came from the work I was willing to do before I even got to paint.
The exact same is with sales.
You will not, and cannot find leads to grow your business, unless you have a crystal clear idea on who you want to work with.
This takes the form of three exercises.
- Making lists
- More research
People in a hurry to look for leads and sales want to skip this step. They want to get straight to the sexy gritty part, the calls, the emails, the marketing. They want to skip sanding down the walls and scraping back layers of old paint and wallpaper.
This is where growth is made. Leads are made in the research, not the marketing. If you want to generate leads quickly, start doing your research.
But Mike! I don’t know where to even start looking!
That’s why it’s called research, not refind. You’re going to need to search for it. Dig around, go down blind alleys and dead ends, find hidden groups and forums. Just because you haven’t really looked, doesn’t mean it’s not really there.
I’m staggered at the number of people who tell me that they can’t find more information on clients and customers, who are DESPERATE for leads and sales, but who won’t spend a day doing research on Google, Facebook and YouTube.
At this point, if you don’t have a niche, keep reading. I believe that having a niche is the #1 most important asset your business can have. I’ve got dozens of resources on defining a niche for your business below, which you can read over and watch.
However if you’re still unsure on what type of niche to commit to, keep reading. Because this process might shed some light on who you want to work with and you might think of a type of customer to target after following this method.
Make a list of customers that you’d want to work with.
It’s really two lists because one is going to be “literal ideal customers who exist and I know their name” and the other is going to be “types of customers I think would be awesome to work with.”
Click here to get a simple Google Doc worksheet (no optin) that shows you what I mean PLUS has some examples of businesses that I want to work with.
In list one, the target client list, write out 20 businesses that you want to work with. It’s that simple. Just write out 20 businesses that you think would be very cool to have as clients. Don’t worry about whether you can serve them or even how you’ll get in front of them, just write them down.
Any excuse you make right now as to why you can’t think of 20 ideal customers, is going to be exacerbated 100 fold when it comes to getting on the phone and closing those customers.
I can’t think of any. I don’t know where they are. I have no idea.
Just WRITE. Just get 20 ideas on paper. Write one company down and say “I’d like to work with them”. Even if it’s just ONE – get it down on paper and then ask yourself:
- What type of business is that?
- Who else is that type of business?
I, for example, would LOVE to work with Mike Michalowicz. I’d love to get on a call with his sales team and motivate them in a 20 minute phone call to close more deals. That would be sick.
Even if you have no idea what you’d offer or even sell them – write them down. Get a list of 20 customers you want to work with.
Roadblock #1: I can’t find any ideal customers
Then you’re not digging deep enough. I don’t care how niche or specialist or small your market is, there are thousands of potential customers just waiting for you. This is what separates great businesses from mediocre ones. When they can’t find anything, they stop searching.
That’s why it’s called re-search, not re-find. Keep SEARCHING.
Have you spent an hour searching on:
- Facebook groups
- Facebook pages
- Facebook business audience insights
- Business directories
- Google News
- Local networking events (their websites often tell you who attends – you don’t have to go)
- Live networking events
- Google ads keyword tool
- Amazon (books, Kindle and products)
- Podcast hosts like Spotify, Anchor and Podbean
You are looking for traces of businesses that you think you might want to work with. Think about previous customers you enjoyed working with. Think about people you look up to and follow. Think about who your customers follow.
If you’re literally starting from scratch, who got you into all this stuff? Who do you already know about? Tug at the thinnest of threads and start digging.
Mike Michalowicz is a speaker, author, coach, entrepreneur, podcaster and tech business owner. So do I want to work with authors? Entrepreneurs? Podcast hosts? Influencers? Men? Women? I have no idea at this point but I am going to research and dig and get a list of 20 people.
You ARE going to write down some names that will never work out. You’re going to make some mistakes, you’re going to go down some dead-ends. No big deal.
Write down names that make your stomach flip. Names of people or businesses that right now you think “no effin’ way would they work with me.” You might just surprise yourself.
They also don’t HAVE to be massive players in the market. If you’re looking to work with engineering businesses, or content creators, or women over 35, then do it. But you gotta do the research. You’ll have to dig deep and discover who is in that market.
Real life example:
Mark, my business partner, and I both wrote a list of 20 ideal customers who we thought we could help. We wrote out 20 names each (40 in total) of businesses that we thought would be cool to work with.
- Car manufacturers
- Local training business
- Global health and safety training businesses
- Investment banks
We had a list of people that we wanted to work with. We essentially had a list of goals. Some were big global brands, others were names that we came across from research. It turns out that one of them worked 2 miles from my office and another worked in the same town as Mark.
What type of business is that?
Look at your list of businesses and write out what they do. What are some of their traits. Training? Products? Global? Authors? Large audiences? What kind of characteristics do they have?
If you want to work with 3M, what is it about them that makes you want to work with them? Their products? How old they are? Just their energy and “vibe” (also commonly referred to as a brand).
You’re now getting a list of types of businesses that you’d want to work with. A list of “things” that customers need to have for you to want to target them. This is gold dust – you want to collect a list of these traits and make them extremely apparent in everything you do.
Now you’re going to start on list 2: Business types and traits that you think would be cool to work with.
YouTube content creators with over 100,000 subscribers. Authors with two books. Businesses with over 1000 staff. Products sold all over the world. Promote a healthy lifestyle. Focused on free training. Daily emails.
Write out a list of types of traits that you want to work with. If they’re an industry, great. If they use email marketing, great. Doesn’t matter what it is that you like, just write it down.
The hard part is understanding WHY you like that trait. Why do you like the fact that the company sends daily emails? Why do you like that they promote a healthy lifestyle? Write out why you like that trait and if you can, an example of a business with that trait.
Type: content creator
Example: Daniel Priestley, Mike Michalowicz, Molly Pittman
Why? I like to turn content into leads and sales. People who create a lot of content are fun to work with.
What we are doing here is a) creating a list of characteristics that in future we can identify and target within our niche and b) digging deeper into why we like to help people at all.
This process is very exploratory and iterative. You are going to find traits you enjoy working with Angela understand why you like to work with them, and then you’ll find traits you hadn’t thought about that are related to the reasons you like to help people. For example if you like to help businesses with no board members, because you like to work directly with the founder, another traits you might like to work with is businesses who have never taken on investor funding.
Many funnel businesses don’t like this stage, because it requires slow methodical research. It’s not exciting and the results don’t come immediately. If you are after a quick fix, you won’t find it here. But you will find a longer more sustainable strategy.
- Access the free worksheets to list out the businesses you want to work with
- list out businesses that you know of and what type of business they are
- list out the traits and types of businesses you want to work with
- do the research and don’t get put off by a lack of immediate search results
Create an irresistible offer
next up we need to create a truly irresistible offer. An offer which is truly irresistible has three main characteristics.
- You have a product or service you can offer to the client
- the customer has a specific problem that you can solve with that service or product
- you clearly articulate how you can solve that problem
very simply this means that if you sell marketing funds to customers, that’s the product or service. That’s ultimately what you are delivering to the client when they buy. The offer however is the combination of their problem, your understanding of the problem and the call to action to the product.
So many businesses rely on just selling the product, assuming that the customer can figure out how it will benefit them. Your irresistible offer needs to make it explicitly clear that you not only understand what their problem is, but that you care about it more than anyone else. Plus, you have an intricate knowledge of how to solve that problem. It just so happens to be the marketing funnel service or product which you provide.
For example, let’s say that I sell lead generation funnels. I installed blog post Optins, install a few optin forms, and create a few squeeze pages. This means that my clients can turn traffic into email subscribers and leads.
Many funnel builders believe that this definition is enough to generate sales, and it’s not. What you have there is a product, not an offer.
An irresistible offer would look something like the below:
“if you’re sick of generating leads from tradeshows, costing you thousands of pounds a year just to set up, we might be able to help you save money and generate more leads for your business. Many coaching companies feel they have to go to tradeshow events, and giveaway prize in order to collect leads via reform or an iPad. What we do is convert people who are already interested in your business, and convert them into email addresses for a fraction of the price of attending an event every single quarter.”
Can you see how this clearly states the problems which the customer is facing. Spending lots of money on tradeshows, manually collecting email leads, having to give away a prize. And what we’ve done is present them with an opportunity through our understanding of their situation and our solution. We’ve told them how we can already generate leads for a fraction of the price, as well as generate leads from people who are already demonstrating an interest in their service.
Now this core overall intriguing and irresistible offer, might be your core service. For example it might be your core marketing funnel offering. But if we want to generate leads we need to create something which we can give away exchange for that lead information.
What would be one of the first things that you could offer a coaching company who is interested in that offer? Maybe you could give them a pricing calculator on something like outgrow.co where they can work out the difference in pricing between tradeshows and your service.
Maybe you could give a workflow example, or funnel flow example of how the lead generation system could work for their website.
Maybe you could give an example of five different types of lead magnets that coaches can give away to generate leads from their website.
The irresistible offer needs to be just that “irresistible”. It needs to be so obviously high value that they would feel stupid not for taking you up on it. Reduce the risk of embarrassment and overinvestment on their behalf by only asking for an email address and name. Make it extremely clear the problem you are solving with the free giveaway.
This might sound counterintuitive, but don’t overload them with content. Instead, people want to fix their problem in the next 12:45 hour. If you can make the irresistible offer clear that it will fix a problem in the next hour, they are more likely to sign up.
We have tested offering the exact same resource with two different offers and one of them outperformed the other 10 to 1.
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the reality is that offer a just sounds easier. It’s literally the same content, but it sounds like less time investment from the lead. An irresistible offer means they want to take it from you.
This follows one of the principles we have at Sell Your Service, which is “the problem is exclusive of the solution”. This means that the problem that the customer experiences has got nothing to do with the solution that you provide, in their mind. They experience and have that problem long before you approach them with a solution therefore what they are looking for is something that eliminates or fixes the problem, they are not looking for your solution.
Expanding this out into a full-blown, larger offer. Such as your core offer or product, you can begin to see what we need to go to market with. I believe one of the core reasons that funnel builders struggle to attract more clients, is because they go to market telling people what they do, rather than what problems they solve.
It’s a little bit like your car breaking down and the roadside assistance truck pulling up, and showing you how brilliant his van is. It’s like him going over all of his tools and how clever and expensive they are, as well as what they do, rather than asking you what your problem is and fixing your car.
So many funnel businesses are focused on showing off or telling people what their product is, rather than focusing on the problems of the customer.
“The problem is exclusive of the solution.”
An irresistible offer needs to be something that a customer wants to look at not forced to make a choice about. Your customers will be approached 24/7 by marketing agencies, consultants and social media businesses. Many of them feel they are forced to make a decision between them.
If you come onto the market and stop talking about your marketing solutions, and start talking about their problems, he will stand out above and beyond the competition. You need to be able to answer the question “what do you do?” In an interesting and compelling manner.
We build marketing funnel is. We deliver marketing solutions. For a marketing consultancy agency. All of those are boring as shit.
Instead if you tell people that you “eliminate the need for coaches to attend networking events to generate leads and instead help them create leads on automation from their website.” That sounds a million times more interesting and compelling.
But Mike, that sounds a bit hypey to me…
I completely understand your reservation of really leaning into the more interesting and intriguing parts of telling people what you do.
And you’re not wrong, it certainly straddles the line between Borchert hype marketing and language.
But the truth is that your customers have heard the same dull as shit pictures over and over and over. But instead of hyping up your products and services (which I agree is wrong), you are leaning into and getting excited about the customer’s problem.
Trust me, your customers are dying for a marketer like you to approach them, understand their problem, have a solution and focus all the communication around them and their problem.
In an un-ending sea of mediocrity, your clear enthusiasm around the customer’s problem will stand you out better than anything else. You need an irresistible offer for your traffic in the form of free content. You need an irresistible offer in the form of a lead magnet for your potential leads. And most importantly you need an irresistible offer in terms of your core solution you deliver when someone buys.
- Identify the core problem is that your customers have
- change your focus to work on those problems rather than promoting your solution
- create an offer that so clear and concise they’d be a fool not to buy from you
Start looking in the right places
I used to use the analogy of hunting when referring to finding customers and leads. Instead of hunting animals let’s think of animal conservation instead. Because honestly, apart from legitimate hunters who hunt for food, who the fuck is impressed by some wanker managing to shoot a defenceless animal with a 50-calibre rifle.
When we are in animal conservation mode, and we want to start nurturing and taking care of those endangered animals, we can develop a relationship by forcing them into our truck. Or we can develop a relationship with them by gaining their trust and getting them used to our presence.
If you’re looking to conserve animals, you’ve got to decide what you’re conserving. It’s not enough to just decide that you’re going to help some animals and whatever comes along will be good enough. You need to know where to track, what time to go out, what tools you’ve got to capture the animal and what call sound to make.
Now that we’ve got our irresistible offer, and a list of customers we want to work with, we need to start looking at where those customers hang out. Again, this is one of the least sexy parts of customer acquisition, but the hours that Mark and I spent on the phone just listing out and researching where customers might hang out, were some of the most productive (and looking back on it enjoyable), moments of running and starting a business.
We need to know where our targets hang out. If you’ve ever done a safari or a wild tour, you’ll know just how impressive your guide can be when they understand what you’re looking for and where to look. It seems so obvious to look in certain locations when you know the habits of your target.
I’m going to make this abundantly clear upfront, when you find where your customers hang out, you’re going to spend a lot of time giving value. You are not going to ask the pitches, meetings, phone calls, “quick chats” or anything else where you are asking something from the customer.
Your sole purpose if you want generate more clients for your business is to give value. Again think about animal conservation and how the vets and workers gain the trust of the animals. Some of the bonds created are so strong that years later, lions, elephants, rhinos and apes will bring their offspring back to the conservationists to show them. These are deep roots that we’re building.
Lists are your friends here. You need to write out lists of where your audience hang out. Simple as that. So simple that I’m not going to offer a worksheet because you can either do it as bullet points or pen and paper.
Use magazine sites like magazine.co.uk, magazinesdirect.com and newsstand.co.uk to check DATA. Yes, the magazines themselves might give some indication as to what your customers are interested in. But they also have things called “media kits” which are essentially massive market research collections that you can access for FREE.
Let’s say that your ideal customer is a outdoor pursuit stores. Big money there, so head over to one of the websites above and select a load of magazines that fit that category. Make a LIST of all the magazines who might serve your client. For example I’ve found “Outdoor Fitness Magazine” which has just rebranded to Outdoor Radar or some shit.
Head to the website for that magazine and scroll down to the “advertise with us” section. We’re after something called a Media Kit. Basically research and data for advertisers who might want to buy an ad with that company. Sometimes the media kit is a free PDF download, sometimes you have to ask for it. Just shoot them an email and ask for a copy.
Inside that media kit will be data on those readers. For free. Take this media kit from Outside Buyers Guide Magazine. This tells me that their readers have an average household income of $100,000+. If your target is an outdoors business owner, you’re beginning to build a profile of who they are.
More importantly, you’ll also be shown events, key influencers, podcasts, social channels, other print publications, digital groups and more. Your problem is NOT “I don’t know where to look”, your problem is that you haven’t looked hard enough.
There’s also Facebook Audience Insights. A totally free tool that tells you massive amounts of data for Facebook users. Head to business.facebook.com and set up an account if you don’t have one already. Look for a tool called Audience Insights and start looking at interests. Change the location (i.e. country, city etc.) depending on your target and start playing around with interest searches.
These interest searches will show you brands, businesses, pages, groups, influencers, hobbies, websites, books, and much more. You can go down some deep rabbit holes looking at the different things people are connected to. Again, this is all about figuring out where your targets hang out. If you’ve got the names of brands and influencers, you’ve got groups and forums.
This is a deep research stage and the reason it’s so critical is two fold. First of all, it shows whether you’re serious about finding these customers. If you really, really care about finding more clients and all you have is time, the amount of effort you pour into research will directly reflect what you learn. Simple as that. Secondly, it will show you just how little you know about your audience (or how much). You’ll delve into their life and their environment.
Who might know someone you want to know?
Coming out of research mode, we now want to look at your network. This will be divided into “people you know” and “people you know of”.
People you know is your network. Personal connections and colleagues, friends, family and customers. People who you could send a message to and have a conversation with, without an introduction.
People you know of, are the influencers, leaders and people in your extended network. These are often the people you follow on YouTube, or the people that your customers follow. They’re authors, speakers, creators, business owners and teachers. While they don’t know you, you know them and could eventually have a conversation with them.
The end goal is to get to your ideal target client and sell to them. At the moment, most of them will be in the “don’t know” category. Your job at this point is to make it extremely clear WHO you want to work with and tell people in your network.
How many people in your network, on LinkedIn or Facebook or real life, know WHO your ideal client is? You probably spend most of your time telling people what you do, when really you need to make it clear who you work with.
“Hey Mum, I just wanted to say that I work with outdoor pursuit businesses. Do you know anyone who runs that kind of business?”
“Hey Dave, I’m looking to work with businesses with over 10,000 email addresses in their database. Do you know anyone who fits that criteria?”
“Sarah, recently I’ve been focusing my efforts and have started targeting business leaders who sell in multiple languages. Do you know anyone like that?”
Doors are going to open much faster if you start telling people who you work with.
Rule #1 of selling marketing funnels: Who you work with matters more than what you do.
The “people you know of” might also either be potential customers or lead you to potential customers. Let’s say you’re focused on businesses who sell outdoor pursuit gear. You know that Bob runs a massive event for outdoor businesses. He has clients like Yeti, Gerber and Vango.
First, have you asked anyone in your network if they know Bob? For all you know, your auntie plays tennis with him. Secondly, if you figure out where Bob hangs out you can also start going there and building a relationship.
DO NOT ASK FOR THINGS – I’ll repeat this a lot in the next sections. But I cannot stress this enough. If you have JUST discovered where Bob hangs out, and you want to use his contacts and network to sell your services to, do not ask Bob for a call.
Run the long play and give value to him. We’ll talk about that later. Start doing outreach to your network and asking questions. Again, it’s research, not refind. You won’t get masses of data back, but you will start to open doors. It’s a grind, it’s long work, but it is sustainable and free.
Build your attention collateral
Ultimately you’re here to sell, so sell you shall. By the seashore.
The measure of how serious someone is about selling a product, is seen in how much collateral they build. I.e. if you think your product is SIIIIICK, you’ll have a couple of sales pages, sales letters, product pages, a printed brochure (yes), YouTube videos, testimonials and blog content.
If you’re serious about getting attention in the marketplace, you need…collateral. Attention collateral is free giveaways, reports, PDFs, case studies, useful content, blog posts, videos, training materials, worksheets etc.
Let’s say you manage to get in front of a potential lead in a LinkedIn group. You mention something about lead generation and they bite, asking if you’ve got more information. The LAST thing they want right now is a pitch. A call might work. But what works 100x better is free, easy to access and zero-obligation content that they can consume. That will position you as a thought leader AND someone who clearly does this a lot. Surely if you’ve got content on a subject, it means you’re doing this a lot. And therefor, are a pretty safe bet.
There are a lot of bridges in Budapest and I’ve got the goal of being known as “the guy who throws rocks off one of the bridges, into the river.” My goal is essentially to be seen as and known for, picking up a rock from a particular bridge and throwing it into the Danube River.
What the fuck are you talking about?
Stick with me.
If I want to be known as “the guy who throws rocks off one of the bridges, into the river” how often do you think I’d have to do it? 100 times? 1000? 10,000?
It would take me years to build up the reputation of being known as “the guy who throws rocks off one of the bridges, into the river.” I’d also have to do it every day, preferably at the same time. Over and over and over.
I could NOT cheat and skip it for 5 days and throw 5 rocks into the river. The sum total is the same, but the consistency is not. I also could not just dump 1000 rocks into the river at once. If I spent all day doing that, I would gather attention from a small number of people, who might see me as “the guy who throws rocks off one of the bridges, into the river” for a short time, but it wouldn’t be a long term reputation.
Mike, you have literally gone insane.
If you chose the same time, every day, to do the same action over and over and over, that’s what you’d become known for. It’s not the volume or the sum total, it’s DOING it every day repeatedly.
You’re going to have to create lots of attention collateral, lots of the time, and spend a lot of time repeatedly talking about the same things over and over and over. It’s not glamourous and it is the exact opposite of what lots of internet marketers are teaching.
There are no hacks, there are no elevators or escalators. Everyone has to make the climb the old fashioned way. There are no short cuts or quick wins. You’re going to have to focus and do the same thing over and over and over.
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” I totally agree with this, and you’re going to have to lean into the insanity. Because the thing with insanity is, at least you’re known for being insane about something.
Give, give, give
Building long term relationships on confidence and trust is a long term play. It’s not quick. It has taken me literal years to build relationships with group owners, community managers and business owners. It’s been little and often, over a long period of time. No bullshit tactics like sharing blog posts of mine under the guise of “I think it’ll help”. No promotion, no messaging, no hidden agenda. I’ve simply engaged with lots of their conversations and offered advice and help, for free, where I can.
The crazy thing to me is that this is FREE. It literally doesn’t cost you a penny to join a couple of groups and LISTEN – LISTEN to people’s questions and problems. The reason that people don’t like marketers is because most marketers can’t help but offer advice where it’s not asked for (or needed) and insist on sharing the same bland advice over and over.
I’ve even seen marketers get defensive and preachy about questions that a new person might ask. “Hey everyone, I’m thinking of using MailChimp/WordPress/Envato etc.” and the responses from so many marketers is condescending, unwarranted and even aggressive. Telling them how wrong they are.
Your goal is to build relationships, not show off how smart or experienced you are. Be fucking normal. I don’t know why this is such a foreign concept to people. Don’t be a dick.
You’re also going to have to GIVE before you can ask. Gary Vaynerchuck calls this jab,jab,jab, right hook. Give give give, ask. In fact, you’re going to have to jab for a lot longer. You’re going to have to give and give and give and give some more. That’s the nature of the market right now. You can either accept that and build your business around it, or pine for a time when you could just advertise your way out of a problem.
You don’t have money, you don’t have an audience, you only have time. And what’s crazy to me is that it doesn’t even take that much time! Within months you could be asked to moderate a group if you’re in there every day answering questions and replying to comments.
It takes a few constructive and focused minutes a day to be seen and be active. There are businesses that I recommend to others, having never used them, purely because they’re active in my feed and groups and comments.
Turning up every day, being seen and contributing to the conversation (without monopolising it) will get you much much further in the long run. It doesn’t take a lot of time and is no different to proper networking. You’ll have to provide your own shit coffee and pastries though.
Get people on a call
ABS stands for “anything but sales” and is the scourge of the modern marketer. You’re not above sales, you’re not above closing and turning objections. If you want to start finding more clients, and you don’t have a huge budget or an audience, you’re going to have to get people on a call.
This doesn’t mean giving free consultation or free advice – quite the opposite. It means getting in the habit of booking calls with people. The goal is NOT to sell on these calls or treat them as the only sales action you’ll need.
The goal is to get you comfortable with speaking over Zoom meetings/calls and get you comfortable asking for the call. If you can ask someone to get on a call, you can close a $25,000 deal. It’s the same basic question.
“If you want, I could help out? We could get on a call? When’s good for you?”
“If you want, I could help out? We could work together and build a marketing plan. What’s your budget?”
Getting people on a call and asking them questions is critical. You’re going to get answers straight from the horses mouth, so to speak. First hand research is sorely missed by many businesses, despite being a free and easy option to discover what people want to buy.
On the call, if you use a script like the below, you’ll discover SO MUCH about your potential market and clients. You’ll also build your value in their eyes, because you’re asking questions NOT because you’re giving advice.
Get Calendly and have a regular time that you know you can book calls in. For me, it’s Tuesday and Wednesday after 3pm. Through my networking, calls and content, if I think I can either help someone or even convert them into a client, I’ll ask them if they’d like me to jump on a call. I’m not going to pitch, I’m not going to sell, I’m just going to ask questions.
Usually people consider themselves lucky to be on a call with me, simply because I have created so much value and good will already.
Ask them about their business and life
On the call, I don’t pitch or sell. I ask.
Killer sales people are stalkers, not talkers. I want to know everything and anything about their business and their life. How many leads do they generate? How many sales? What kind of products do they sell? What are they struggling with? What are their goals?
I have a list of questions that I ask people. Mainly to keep the conversation on track, but also to qualify them. It can become apparent pretty quickly whether someone is worth your time. If they seem like a good fit, you can always move onto the next stage. If not, just tell them that you can’t think of anything that would help but you’ll ask around.
Get into detail about their business. Ask ask ask. The more you ask and the more they talk, the more they’ll like you. You’ll also be able to help them faster.
“But what if they don’t want to talk about their business? What if they’re vague or say ‘I don’t want to disclose that kind of information’?”
I’m pretty blunt and tell them, politely, that I’m not interested in their business, I’m interested in how I can help. Unless I know certain things, I can’t help. I asked them if they wanted a call. If they don’t want to tell the doctor what their symptoms are, I can’t help.
If they continue to refuse, I end the call. “OK, I’m sorry you don’t know your numbers about your business. Not much I can recommend without knowing more about your business. I’ll ask around if anyone I know can help.”
Any business owner worth their salt is open about revenue, sales and leads. If they don’t want to disclose that information (which by the way is freely available to look up online), it’s because they don’t know it.
Ask about what’s broken, what works and what they’re aiming for. The more you know about them, the easier it is to get a deal.
Offer to help them
After you’ve asked everything you can, repeat back the priority goals and restate the problem, then ask if they’d like some help.
“So you’re generating 1.5m a year but need it to be 3m. But right now your leads have dried up and you don’t know how to kick start the new lead process?”
“Would you like some help with that?”
“Great, let’s jump on a proper call and I’ll take you step by step through what you need to do. It’s $997 for the call and I’ll demonstrate exactly what you need to do. Would you like to pay by card?”
Offer to help. Ask them if they want help. Face the massive glaring fear of rejection and offense staring you in the face and embrace it.
“WOAH! THAT’S CRAZY MONEY?! WHAT THE FGUCK?! Are you insane? We’re not paying $1000 for a call?!”
If that’s their answer, do you really think you could have sold them a $25,000 project? Probably not. Besides, in your questions you should have asked them “what kind of budget do you have to solve this problem?”
Chances are they’ll leap at the chance to get this fixed. You’ve demonstrated value, been giving and giving for months maybe even years. If anything they’ll be the ones who are worried about offending you.
Present proposals live
Finally, if you’re serious about generating more sales for your funnel business and doing it faster, start presenting your proposals in person and closing them there and then.
The data literally does not lie. Presentations are more likely to result in a sale AND the customer is most likely to buy after seeing a proposal. After that, their enthusiasm dies down over time. Literally, they are MOST likely to buy on the call.
The accepted wisdom for proposals is to send them, for the customer to read at their leisure. Some customers will also tell you that they like to read over it. They’re lying.
Imagine breaking your leg and a doctor explaining all the work they’ll need to do. Set the bone, give you painkillers, hydrate you, clean the wound, plaster cast, physio. All that work but you know it’s what you need to do. Then imagine that instead of getting on with it, the doctor stands up and says “great, ok well thank you for your time. I’ll leave you to think about that. Let me know if you have any questions.”
What. The. Fuck.
Get back here and fix my leg.
Yes, the customer will be feeling hesitant to jump in. That’s normal. It’s a change and a commitment, of course they’ll be hesitant. Yes, they’ll even give an objection like “it’s a lot of money” or “we need to think about it”. These are to be expected and part of the process.
But you can’t give in to that. You need to close there and then at the end of the call. The reality is that you have done an outstanding job agitating their problems and presenting a solution. They don’t need time, they don’t want to read it at their leisure. They’re stalling.
“I don’t like being pressured into buying.” The customer says. No, that’s not quite true, you don’t like to feel like you’re being pressured. Of course you’re being pressured. The problems you’re experiencing, the stress you’re facing and the troubles you’re dealing with are causing you to take action – that is called pressure.
Just because I as a salesperson am in a hurry to help, does not mean I’m pressuring you. The pressure is coming from your goals and your problems. If anything I am the relief valve to that pressure. I want to help you, we’re on the same team.
Presenting live and in person gives you the best possible chance to close the customer and get the deal. It goes against everything we’re taught, and everything we’re comfortable with, but that’s the reality.
- Identify who you want to target
- Define the types of customer that you WANT to work with
- Don’t fuck around with non-specifics, start writing lists
- Do the research
- Create an irresistible offer
- What are you helping to solve?
- Make sure that you are framing it from the customer’s perspective
- Forget the product/solution, focus on the offer
- Start looking in the right places
- Research where your customers hang out
- Write lists – write more lists
- Use media kits and Facebook Audience Insights
- Who might know someone you want to know?
- Start telling people who you work with
- Slowly build relationships
- Make lists of who you know and who you want to know
- Build your attention collateral
- Create more helpful stuff for people
- Give your products credibility with sales pages
- If you feel you deserve attention, start proving it
- Give, give, give
- Turn up, be consistent and actually help people
- Do not try to hack or fast track your relationships
- Prove you’re helpful by being helpful
- Get people on a call
- Get used to asking for a call
- Have a set regular time to accept calls
- Follow a call format
- Ask them about their business and life
- Ask people questions
- Treat calls as research and qualification
- LISTEN to what people are telling you
- Offer to help them
- No need to hard sell or pitch there and then
- Ask if they want help
- Get them to value your help
- Present proposals live
- Close people live on a call
- Offer to run through the proposal with them
- Capitalise on their excitement
Seven more sales strategies
If you’re serious about growing your leads and discovering more customers, make sure to download our 7 Sales Strategies for funnel builders below.
It outlines the 7 best tactics for building $25,000 sales and the 7 best sales strategies we used to find more clients.