Any business, even an independent consultant or solopreneur, needs a sales pipeline to stay afloat. Living project to project and having to start and restart your sales strategy from scratch at the end of each engagement is a hard way to build a customer base. It creates the dreaded roller coaster income effect where you have a client engagement and your cash flow is high and then the project ends, and you have no income until you sell the next engagement. You’ve heard that you need to be finding your next client while you are still working with the existing one, but how do you find the time?
As a solopreneur, bringing on sales staff isn’t always in the plan, or the budget. So you have to learn to accept your role as head of sales, and you have to use your time wisely. That’s where referrals and networking are crucial.
If you build and maintain an effective referral system, you can literally create an army of advocates for your services, who are happy to spread the word on your behalf.
You know people who know you and trust you. Let them sell for you. That’s right, “let,” not “make.” People love to make referrals. But in order for them to be effective, your network of organic salespeople need to be able to describe exactly what you do, and they need to recognize when they are talking to someone who is an ideal client for you.
When your friends and colleagues are out in the world interacting with their friends and colleagues, you want them to think of you when they hear certain keywords or pain points. So make sure they recognize them when they hear them.
An elevator pitch isn’t just for a potential client. When you tell your personal network about what you do, craft a description that’s easy to remember, even if they’re completely unfamiliar with the field you’re in. “Digital Marketing” or “Creative Services” are pretty broad terms for someone who never uses such a firm, but “I make videos, the kind you see when you scroll through Facebook that get people to click and show interest” is pretty relatable to most folks (they’ll hear “Facebook Videos”). And there’s a good chance they’ll make that connection if they’re ever talking to a CMO at a cocktail party who mentions they’re looking for some outside content creation for a social media campaign. That’s just one example of course.
You can always benefit from crafting and recrafting your message, but take some time to craft one for the many people who may not hire you, but may talk to someone who would.
At Your Deal Source, we are positioned to be a big part of that organic network, by using our algorithm to let our friends and colleagues (Our Business Owner Members) know who you are and what you do.