This post may contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase, I'll receive a commission. Disclosure.
I know a lot of freelancers and consultants think that in order to win new clients, it’s their job to go out into the world and convince people they need whatever it is they’re selling.
My answer to the question, “How do I convince people they need my services?” is… you can’t. Or at least, you shouldn’t waste much of your time trying.
Today, I’m going attempt to make my case for why I think this is a losing strategy and what to do instead.
I recently had a conversation with a client who told me a story I think most of us can relate to:
“I met someone who seemed like the perfect candidate for my services. I invited him to have a coffee and as we talked about the problems he’s having, I gave him loads of ideas for things we could do to fix them. He seemed excited and told me he’d be in touch, but then he ghosted me. This happens a lot, actually. How can I better convince people they would benefit from my services?“
Why attempting to convince people they need what you offer fails…
Most of the time, it’s not you, it’s that it’s still too early in their decision-making process. They’re just not ready – they may not (yet) know that what you sell is what they need.
YOU know they need it. 100% absolutely positive and you can’t wait to roll up your sleeves and help them!
But if they don’t know they need it, they ain’t buyin’.
I know how exciting it is to meet someone willing to let you pitch your services to.
But the reality is, when you’re “looking for clients” (at networking events, in Facebook groups, etc.) with the goal of getting them on a sales call with you to “convince them” — many of those people aren’t going to be far enough along in their decision-making process to be ready to take the next steps.
With this approach, you may luck out and get a percentage of clients who are ready to move forward, but many of them will be thankful you’ve given them a bunch of stuff to think about and leave you hanging.
In other words: expect some ghosting and some “thanks but no thanks” responses.
The question I have for you is: is this a good use of your time? How much time are you spending schmoozing potential clients in calls and coffee dates and back-and-forth emails that leads absolutely nowhere?
Start keeping track. Tally up all the time you spend doing these activities and find out what it’s actually costing you (it’s usually a LOT more than people realise).
Then, think about whether your time would be better spent creating evergreen 1-many marketing assets.
Sometimes people reach out to you and ask for a meeting when they’re nowhere near ready to take the next steps. I call them tire kickers.
Tire kickers aren’t bad people, they don’t mean to waste your precious time… it’s just that they’re in the information-gathering stage of their journey and if you offer to get on a free call so they can pick your brain, you bet your bottom dollar they’ll take you up on it.
The problem is, you’re making the assumption they’re in the decision or evaluation phase of their journey (which they must be in in order to buy). but they’re just not there yet.
Let’s take a look at the process:
Every buyer goes through this process — how long it takes them to go from awareness to evaluation varies, but there’s no shortcutting it.
When you’re a solo professional especially, you want to be VERY careful when it comes to spending 1-1 time with potential clients unless you know they’re far enough along in that process.
Create a different strategy for each phase of their journey to “meet them where they are”
For the awareness, research, and consideration phases — you want to take a 1-many approach to let people in the world know what problem you solve, for whom, and the benefits of choosing you.
This means sharing valuable content, being active on social media, and creating discoverable (seo-optimized) content.
The idea is, rather than going out to “get clients” you focus your energy on attracting the right people to you. When it comes time to take those next steps, you’re the one to turn to.
I’m a huge proponent of creating a value ladder for your services because it relates naturally to your customer’s decision-making process.
Here’s an example of what I mean…
Your first two offers are for the people who are still in the awareness, research, and consideration phases. Think of your initial offers as part of your marketing program — you’re earning trust and educating them.
These are not people who are ready to buy into your premium programs, so you want to offer them something smaller instead. A free 1-1 consultation is the go-to first offer for most service-providers but it’s the one with the largest cost. (Your cost.)
Qualify people before you spend time 1-1
This is KEY for solo service-based professionals because you won’t have the time to create your free and intro offers if you’re wasting your precious time in sales calls and meetings.
When service providers complain about never having time to market their business, it usually has a lot to do with having an inefficient sales process.
Now, there are a couple of ways to qualify people…
The most obvious way is to ask them to fill out a questionnaire or application or just answer a few questions before you schedule the meeting.
The problem with that is you’re asking people to take their time and if they’re not a good candidate — then what? Telling them you won’t meet with them is … awkward.
Have a script or document ready to go that goes into the specific ways you can work together.
Then, invite them for a 15-minute call. (NOT a free consultation.)
The purpose of this call to answer sales questions only. (NOT to give away advice, ideas, strategy or even to chit chat about their problems.)
It isn’t a “pick your brain” session but to make sure it’s a good fit for them to move forward and hire you.
Now, once you get on that call — if you think they’re a good candidate for moving forward, you can spend a bit more time if you want to!
But a certain percentage of the people you educate about your offers BEFORE the first meeting will ghost you or say no — and that’s EXACTLY what you want.
They were never going to hire you (just pick your brain) and you’ll have invested a lot less time getting to the “no.” (Again, that’s what you want.)
My favorite approach is to create a lead service.
Looking again at the value ladder, this is where you’re able to monetise your sales process.
A lead service is essentially those first steps you take when working with a client turned into an initial service rather than a free consultation.
You could either charge for the first consultation and apply it to any service they buy going forward (thus eliminating all tire kickers!).
Or, you could create a service that has standalone value whether they take those next steps or not (my preferred method).
To learn more, see How to Monetise Your Sales Process with a Lead Service
It’s much more effective to build your brand so when people are ready and they know they need your help, they’ll come to you.
It’s much much MUCH easier to sell something to someone who already knows they have a problem and based on all they’ve seen thus far, you seem to be the best candidate to solve it.
This is the art of client attraction and bottom line: it’s just a more efficient way to sell things.
If you’re ready to streamline your sales process to a short conversation and use a value ladder to build brand awareness and earn trust, I created a free masterclass to help! Click the link below and you’ll be able to watch it instantly.👉How to create a client attraction system 👈
Taughnee Stone is an award-winning designer, brand strategist, and location-independent business owner for over 15 years. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she now lives in Croatia with her husband, energetic Samoyed, and three bossy cats.