When I was a corporate decision maker, one of the highest-paid consultants I ever hired didn’t have a website. Let alone social media, YouTube videos, or a marketing funnel. Heck, he didn’t even have a logo.
All he had was a cheap black and white business card, an email address, cell phone number, and a LinkedIn profile.
I paid him hundreds of thousands of dollars out of my budget several years running. And our FORTUNE 500 corporation was just one out of his handful of big clients, all paying him similar bank.
I share this with you because it’s amazing how much online marketing gurus have complicated the idea of winning clients today. Especially for beginners.
In fact, right now you might be sitting at your desk with this long checklist of marketing items you feel you must get into place before you’re “ready” to win your first client.
But the truth is, you don’t need any of that. Particularly when you’re talking about “corporate” clients. As in…
- Global 2000
- Mid-market companies
- Larger small enterprises
- And more
It’s as simple as this. Clients can’t buy from you if they don’t know about you.” – Angelique Rewers
So where do you start? Here are 3 smart ways to win your first corporate client as a consultant, executive coach, trainer, speaker, expert services provider, or small business supplier.
1. Activate Your Personal Orbit
It might feel like your personal Rolodex is not aligned to your new business endeavor. But don’t be so hasty to overlook it.
For starters, you know a lot more people than you realize. Some years ago researchers found that the average American knows somewhere between 290 and 600 people.
Certainly if you’ve ever attended university, worked at a mid-size or above company, participated in a mastermind group, are active in your community, and/or have a large family, it’s pretty easy to hit that number.[bctt tweet=”It’s as simple as this. Clients can’t buy from you if they don’t know about you. @AngeliqueRewers” username=”AngeliqueRewers”]
The problem for a lot of folks starting their own small businesses; however, is that they don’t know how to leverage this network without feeling embarrassed, sales-y, or needy.
And listen, I get it. Surely, none of us want to come off like the newly minted, over-eager MLM representative shoving essential oils or skincare products down the throats of our friends and family.
The good news is that there is a professional way to activate your existing orbit — and do it from a place of service.
First, divide ALL the people you know into three categories:
- True Prospects: Actual decision makers who would be in a position to hire your firm. (This will likely be your smallest list.)
- Strategic Introducers: People who are likely to know someone — through their current or past employment or professional endeavors — who would be able to make a strategic introduction to a True Prospect. (This should be a sizeable list, unless you let your mindset get the better of you.)
- Everyone Else: The folks who may either wish you well, or make forehead-slapping comments when they hear you’ve caught the entrepreneur bug. Either way, many of them won’t “get” what you do, so we’ll just keep them in the “love and light” category. (This will be your biggest list, and that’s fine.)
Keep in mind as you build these lists, that you need to look in more than one place. Your contacts list in Outlook. Your cell phone. Your LinkedIn account. Your Facebook connections. Your Alumni networks. Even reviewing your own resume will remind you of people you know but had forgotten.
And before you ask: The answer is NO. You do NOT have to play “twinkle toes” under the table to warm up old relationships. People are busy. They don’t need you to go back and forth over email a few times before getting to the point. I promise.
Then, once you have everyone broken into categories, it’s time to do direct outreach in a way that respects the relationship, and doesn’t make you want to puke when you hit the send button on that email.
For Category A: See our FREE download of door-opening emails for how to connect with decision makers you already know know.
For Category B: Check back for our future blog post on how to do Strategic Introductions the right way, where everyone wins.
2. Speak at The Right Events
Cue: Eye roll.
I know. There’s a lot of hype around speaking. But in fairness, it’s well deserved.
Speaking is STILL the number one accelerator on getting to real decision makers inside of organizations.
We can share story after story of our BoldHaus Collective clients who went out to speak at a conference (sometimes begrudgingly… “Angelique, I’ve tried speaking before! It doesn’t work!”) …only to come back having landed a new client.
And when you think about it, it makes sense. There are no gatekeepers. The decision maker has “voted” with his/her/their feet to attend your session, and therefore has mentally invited you into his/her/their brain.
You’ll have somewhere between 45 and 90 minutes to build out the entire business case for why the problem you’re discussing needs to be urgently addressed. You also have all that time to show how knowledgeable and credible you are in helping to fix said problem.
And when you’re just getting started, that’s huge.
Because your first sit-down meeting with a prospect who’s heard you speak is completely different. You won’t feel like you have to convince them that you know what you’re doing. You’ve already done a lot in your presentation to show just how credible you are. In fact, they wouldn’t be meeting with you if they weren’t impressed by your presentation.
Now, here’s the caveat. There’s a right way and a wrong way to go about speaking if you want B2B clients, specifically. It starts with speaking at the right events that have real decision makers in the room. (Read: no local networking or mid-level HR events, please!)
You can read more about Speaking to Win Clients here.
3. Grow Where You’re Planted
I’m always fascinated by how we often think people behave is different than how they actually behave.
Here’s a case in point. You might think, with all of our digital and mobile connectivity today, where you are located vis-à-vis where a prospect is based makes no difference.
But interestingly enough, if a decision maker has never met you or heard of you before, they are much more likely to respond to your email, take your phone call, and/or consider taking a meeting with you if you are a “local” connection.
No doubt there is certainly a convenience factor involved for a company when an expert like you is located nearby.
However, having been in the business development world for 20+ years, I think this “local bias” goes deeper and is driven, at least in part, by the survival part of our brain that is still linked with the community in which we live.
Either way, it doesn’t matter. The fact is, you’re at an advantage in winning your first client if they are located in your backyard.
And the best way to connect with them — if not via speaking or a strategic introduction from someone you know — is to reach out directly via email and introduce yourself in a way that resonates with them and feels totally doable to you. (We’re aiming for butterflies here, not Tower of Terror.)
Better still, we’ve taken all the guesswork out of it for you with this FREE download of pre-written swipe emails. Feel free to edit or use as is.
I know it might feel overwhelming now. But we’ve guided thousands of experts in getting over this first hill. They aren’t the “chosen ones.” They merely enlisted strategies that are proven to work in any market, any field.
You can do it, too.
And remember — if you don’t want to go the route of trial and error, schedule a call with our team. We’ll help you grow your consulting, coaching, training, services, or other small business with corporate clients.
Excellent post on keeping business development simple!
Thanks Dr. Stacy! Glad you enjoyed the content 🙂
-The TCA Team
Great article! Couldn’t agree more with your points! Look forward to the upcoming posts 🙂
I love the insights you share on your blogs, interviews and trainings.
I always hear you tell the story about the highest-paid consultant with no logo, no website and no social media. I’m curious (and please understand that I’m asking this question with utmost respect), would this still be the case today? I mean, can an expert in this day and age still appeal to corporate decision-makers even without such brand visibility?