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3 Easy Steps for Keeping Your Client List Full (Without a Cold Sales Pitch)

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3 Easy Steps for Keeping Your Client List Full (Without a Cold Sales Pitch)

Do you have enough clients?

When I was new to Facebook Ad marketing, I never felt like I had enough. I didn’t have enough clients, I wasn’t making enough money, I wasn’t doing enough to really make it as a Facebook Ad Agency.

Some of my worry was just the result of being green, but many of my concerns were totally valid. If you don’t have enough clients, you won’t make it.

3 Easy Steps for Keeping Your Client List Full (Without a Cold Sales Pitch)

What a lot of new marketers don’t understand is that they need to have a pipeline in place to keep their client list full. If you don’t have a lot of business right now, it’s because you don’t have a plan of who you are going to contact, and when and how.

You can’t just sit around and wait for business to come to you.

You can’t be timid and afraid to pitch people.

You need to be confident, relentless and organized to make this whole thing work.

What clients need before they can agree to work with you:

You also need to have a fundamental understanding of what people need in order to work with you, and why it is that you are being told “no” when you pitch new clients.

Before a client will commit to working with you, three very basic things need to happen.

  1. They need to trust you
  2. They need to understand what you are offering them
  3. The timing has to be right for them

Today, I am going to teach you a ton of new tactics and objection busters – skills that will bring you new business and help you grow your client list. But, you need to remember something very important here.

All of these tactics require patience. Trying to shove objection busters down someone's throat is a good way to look desperate and burn bridges – this takes finesse.

Step 1: Prospecting for New Local Clients

Before you head out the door, you need to make sure you are ready to prospect and you are ready to go, mentally and physically. You need to be at your best before you walk into an office and hope to land a new client.

Any time you go in to meet a new prospective client, be that through an ice breaker or a donut drop or something else, you need to be completely okay with whatever happens. You don’t need a yes right away. It’s okay if they say no.

You want to be the person who shows up, who is kind and fun to be around and who doesn’t need the “yes.” A “no” is just a step in the right direction so you can start getting to know them better and teach them and build trust. No is not a scary thing. You do not want to come off as desperate . . . whatever happens is okay. Even if you are desperate to get new clients, you cannot come across that way.

Desperate people do not land new clients. They just don’t.

6 Easy Icebreakers to Find (& Warm Up) Prospective Clients

You don’t need to be sleazy or pushy to get to know people and get their business. The number one rule (and I’ll tell you this again and again) is to be nice, be likeable, and to play it cool. There are a million places to meet people locally, so you can start forming relationships and find new clients.

Most local marketing businesses fail because they only take time to talk to business owners when they have something to sell to them. They sit at home, behind their keyboards, and only come out into town when they want to land a new client. People like this tend to be super pushy, and conversations with them are one sided and awkward.

The key to becoming the local marketer everyone wants to work with is to become well-known and liked around town. If you do the things in this post, you are going to create multiple touch points with your prospective clients.

You’re always going to have something to chat about with them (that isn’t your business). They will like talking to you and spending time with you! Once you get to this point, spending money with you will be a no-brainer.

Icebreaker #1: Become a Chamber Ambassador  

Join the local Chamber of Commerce and then volunteer to be a “Chamber Ambassador.” If you do this, your job will be to show up and support other local businesses when they do ribbon cuttings. The Chamber loves to have a crowd when this happens, and the ambassadors are the people who always show up. This is a great way to get on someone’s radar without getting in their face.

These events are appropriate places for you to be talking about what you do, after all, everyone there will be talking about what they do. The number one question you will get is “what do you do for a living” – it just works. All you’ll need to do is sign up, pay your dues, and then show up. This is also a great way to get the Chamber of Commerce to like you – if you are helping them they are going to be helping you too.

Icebreaker #2: Charity Work  

At every single charity event you attend, people are going to ask you what you do for a living. Most of the people at the events don’t know each other, and you have to have something to talk about as you work! It’s really simple- you go to the event, you meet other people, you chat.

Ninety percent of the time, the other people volunteering and working there are going to be other business owners, or their employees. People who volunteer tend to be people who are trying to get their name out in their community and get to know other people. (And yes, they are trying to do good things for their community too.)

Icebreaker #3: Join Business Networking International (BNI)

BNI is a really cool organization to join because they only allow one person for each business type to join each group. This means in your group there will be only one digital marketer, one mortgage officer, one relator . . . one type of person from each business. At each meeting, you’ll be able to give a 30 second elevator pitch. You’ll share who you are, what you do, and your specific target audience.

BNI is a great way to network and connect with people. The business owners who attend your group may not be your target clients, but they’ll get to know you, learn to like you, and then they’ll be able to help connect you with people you may not know who will want to work with you.

Icebreaker #4: Attend Community Events

You need to attend all of the important events happening in your community. This is especially true if you are trying to start a local marketing business in a small town. At most of these events, what you do for a living will come up naturally, and you’ll be able to talk about yourself as you get to know other people.

Icebreaker #5: Be a regular at “the spot”

Do you know where the business owners in your town tend to hang out and unwind? In every town there is a restaurant, karaoke bar. . . somewhere where people are hanging out. Go to this place on the regular. Pick one night each week and show up. You don’t have to talk business to break the ice.

Make sure you know who your target clients are. If there is a dentist in town you’d love to work with, make sure you take the time to learn something about them (Facebook stalking, anyone?) and then when you run into them, stop and ask “how are things going?” When you do this, will will become familiar and safe. You’ll start to build trust. If someone starts to talk business with you, put them in your pipeline.

Icebreaker #6: Share your talents and skills

Look for teaching opportunities around town. If the Chamber or another local group offers “Lunch and Learn” classes, volunteer to teach one and share Facebook page best practices (or some other valuable information).

When you give high quality information away for free, business owners will be able to see for themselves just how smart you are, and they are going to wonder what kind of results you can offer them. Don’t worry about teaching yourself out of a business – no successful local business is going to want to do all of their marketing for themselves (and expect to be good at it).

How to Handle Your First Meeting After the Icebreaker

Assuming all goes well with your icebreakers, you should easily be able to score a meet up or coffee with your potential prospect, to casually pitch your service. (Remember: these prospects are not cold leads. They’ve seen you around, they’ve hung out with you and they have an idea “what it is you do.”

If they agree to meet with you or see you outside of the previous circumstance (a chamber meeting for example), there is a good chance they are open to, or expecting to talk about your service.

When you go into your first meeting, remember that it’s likely that you are going to be told “no.” There is power in this. You already know what to expect, and you will have a plan in place with how to deal with that “no” to get it to a “yes.” Go into the conversation knowing that you are going to be playing the long game

You don’t want to come on too strong and push too hard with that first pitch (even though they are not a “cold” prospect.) If you come on too strong, you’ll end up looking desperate and then no one will want to do business with you. Play it cool.

If you go into that first meeting, and you get a “yes” then go home and celebrate and knock their socks off with results.

8 Reasons Clients Say No… and What You Need to Do to Get a Yes

Reason #1: The value of what you can do for them isn’t clear.

These people just don’t get it yet. They say something like “we’ve already tried Facebook ads” or “we hired an SEO guy already’’ and it didn’t work for them. They default to saying “we already have a guy for that” way before you get a chance to dig into what you do. They may be super dismissive of you, or ask for a written summary of what you do.

We call these bucket #1 people (I’ll explain this more later.) They are going to blow you off because they don’t understand what you do or why they need you yet. You need to slowly give them more information and educate them on your value. This is going to take you 1-3 months to do.  

You can do this by creating a one-page document that shows how you are different from everyone else. You are doing something completely new that their Facebook and SEO guy never did. You can also create a two-minute video of what you do and walk them through it. Or, you could put a case study in front of them via a Facebook ad and target just them so they can see what you do and how you do it.

If you are going to share a video or a document, deliver these over coffee or lunch. You can close far more business over lunch or coffee than you ever will in someone’s conference room.

You need to make friends with these people so they will do this with you. Get to know them better, and teach them as you go along.

Reason #2: They don’t trust you yet.

If you go to pitch a business owner, and they ask you for evidence of who you are and what you do, you’ve got a trust problem on your hands. They may ask you for a business card, ask to see your work, ask who else you work with or ask to see your website.

If they are very polite (and don’t trust you), then you may also get the brush off from these people. They are going to be “too busy” to stop and sit down to talk with you and will want you to leave a card instead. They won’t be calling you.

So what do you do in this case? You get to know them better and earn their trust! Find out what these business owners do for fun, or participate in around town, and then show up at the same events and places they attend.

Reason #3: You aren’t giving them enough opportunities.

Some businesses are just going to need to be asked, again and again, before they commit to working with you. If a business owner is kind to you but hasn’t agreed to work with you yet, make sure you are paying attention to what is happening with them.

You will notice that they are struggling to keep up, and their waiting room isn’t often full. You’ll see them trying different kinds of marketing, and they may even be doing innovative stuff online. Keep going into their office and keep checking on them. Get to know them better and invite them to lunch. Keep showing up – they need you, they just need more chances to get to know you better!

Reason #4: They don’t have the money to spend yet.

These people give you the genuine feeling that they are interested in what you are doing and understand what you are offering. They just can’t pull the trigger yet, and they’ll tell you the money just isn’t there. They are super open to meeting with you and will often bend over backwards to meet with them. The “no” may catch you off guard. You can feel the deal coming when you talk to them and things just fall apart when you mention your price.

If they tell you to “come back in two weeks” know they are not blowing you off. They mean it, and you need to make sure you follow up with them. It takes time to tweak budgets and find room for new marketing.

You can tell they really do just need to work out the funding if they are super nice to you. People who use money as an excuse to not work with you because they don’t want to are not going to be nice about it. People who really do just need time to find the money are often going to feel guilty about not having their finances lined up and will go out of their way to be kind to you. Be able to spot the difference.

Every Time you show up to meet them, make sure you educate them more. You need to show them your worth. This is going to be a long game.

Reason #5: They don’t have the authority to buy from you yet.

If they give you the genuine feeling that they are interested in what you are doing and totally get it, but then say they need to talk to someone else about working with you (their boss, their wife or their husband) . . . for goodness sakes, play it cool.

I know that you would never do this, but some people hear this and assume it’s an excuse. Or worse, they give the person a hard time about it. It isn’t a bad thing for business owners to want to talk to their loved ones before committing to work with a new person.

It’s a good thing for them to have support and buy-in from their families. Do not ever make someone feel guilty because they want to check with someone else before signing up with you. They are not going to like you if you do this.

Ask them when it would be a good time for you to call them back to check on a decision. Offer to come back and present your offer to the other party. If they are super excited about what you have to offer, they are going to be excited to share it with the other person.

If they need to check with their boss, send a thank you note directly to that person. This makes everyone super happy. The second you get home send something to their boss with a note that says:

I just wanted to compliment you on the amazing person you have running your office. I met with them the other day to discuss some Facebook marketing ideas I had for your office and they were a pleasure to sit down with! I hope you treat them well so I don’t have to steal them away!”

Reason #6: There is a personal politics problem.

Once excuse you may hear from business owners is that they can’t work with you because “so and so does their Facebook stuff” or “I told my brother I would hire him to do this” . . . then you have a personal politics problem.

These people will often seem genuinely disappointed because they want to work with you and like what you have to offer them but they are loyal to someone else.

This is also going to be a long game deal, but it’s worth it to stick with them. You need more face-time with this person. Support their causes, go to chamber meetings and be where they are. When you meet them, educate them on what you do. They need to understand that their (brother/cousin/friend/neighbor) aren’t actually offering the same thing you are.

You are more than a “Facebook Guy.” You are offering smart marketing, and with time, they will be able to work with you despite their sense of loyalty to this other person because what you do is totally different (and, they will have time to give the other person a chance and realize they aren’t effective).

Reason #7: It’s a bad time.

Sometimes, it really is a bad time to start a new marketing campaign. These people often seem overworked and rushed (but not because they have too much business). They probably are struggling with organization, administration issues, or have struggles in their personal life. They may have family issues that seem to randomly come up, and may cancel appointments with you or get interrupted when you are talking.

If it’s really clear that they need your help, take the time to support them. Be consistent with them and keep showing up to chat with them. Show them how you’ll be able to save them time and energy and make their life easier in the long run. Don’t just wait these people out, help them out while you wait.

Reason #8: They think they don’t need you.

If a business owner tells you that they have all the business they need or that they are “good” at the moment, then understand you have a complacency issue.

You can’t beat this right away. If they don’t think they need you and that they are rock stars on their own, let it be. You cannot talk people out of complacency. Instead, you need to play to their competitive side by finding the business in town that they see as their biggest rival, and sign them up to work with you.

Here is what you do:

First, congratulate them on being awesome and having all the business they want, and then say something like this: “I spoke to you first, but I have your competitor on the line and wanted to give you another chance before I sign them on as a client.”

They may wish you well, in which case you need to move on and do an awesome job for the other people around them. Don’t waste your time chasing them. When they see the results you are getting for their competition, they are going to come begging you to work with them.

What to Do After Your First Meeting:

After each first meeting, I like to document my first impressions of the client and the meeting on my “Post Meeting Client Mindreader Sheet.” Take this sheet with you when you go to talk to someone new – I leave mine in the car so I always have one on hand when I need one. When you get back into the car after your meeting, immediately fill this out.

Write down the name of the business, and the name of the person you spoke to. Write down what they said about why they won’t work with you and your gut reaction on why they aren’t going to do business with you right away.

Use this information to sort your potential clients into “buckets” and get a sense of the timeline and what you need to do in order to get them to say “yes.” (We will talk about these buckets soon.)

What excuse did they give you? What bucket are they in? You can check more than one excuse (they may have given many). If you have more than one excuse marked, then put them in the deepest bucket . . . they are going to need extra work.

You should also detail who you spoke to and what you learned about them. When you are getting to know someone new, it’s always nice to learn something about them so you can connect with them on a personal level the next time you talk.

Be a detective. Maybe you saw they had a bobblehead from a local sports team on their desk. Next time you see them, ask them if they caught the last game they played. Maybe they mentioned having a sick child or grandmother. Ask if they are feeling better.

These connection points can help build trust between you and your contact and get you one step closer to sealing the deal.

What to Do if the Prospective Client Says “No”

Remember that “no” is just the start of the work you need to do. “No” is an opportunity.

Many times, leads will give you excuses and share objections that you can work with. If a lead lists of a ton of reasons why they cannot work with you, make sure you are listening very carefully to what they are saying (and what they may not be saying). You need to figure out which reason is the big issue at play.

Many times, these issues will be masquerading as something else, but I break all of my leads down as to having one of these three issues: trust issues, education issues and timing issues. (We will dig into this more later.)

Step 2: Client Bucketing (How to Know When a Prospect is Likely to Buy)

Even the most confident, suave, polished marketer is going to be told no. When you go and pitch your services to prospective clients, you are going to hear “no” more often than not.

No does not always mean no . . .in this context. In the marketing world, no means you need to figure out your next steps. Rejection is rarely a permanent thing. It’s only permanent when you decide the relationship is over.

More often than not, “no” means “I don’t have everything that I need to do business with you yet.” Business is like dating. Prospective clients need a chance to get to know you better. The timing has to be right. They have to understand who you are and what you offer. And, they have to be ready to work with you.

Remember those “buckets” I mentioned earlier? They are the way I classify prospects by when they are most likely to buy from me, which lets me know how I need to follow up. This saves me time, by giving me a concrete system for following up with them.

The Client Bucketing System

When a prospective client tells me “no” I place them in one of the following “buckets” while I determine my next steps.

Bucket 1: My most promising prospective clients.

Clients who go in this bucket already know me and like me. They have a true need for my services and they are ready and willing to try something new. They have the money to pay me. They trust me, they just don’t really understand what I am selling yet. These people need to be educated on what I am doing, but they are likely to sign up to work with me within the next 1-3 months.

Bucket 2: They could come around!

Clients who go into this bucket have a need for my services, they can afford to pay for them, and they are ready and willing to try something new. The biggest problem is that while they may like me, they don’t really trust me yet . . . and they don’t really understand what I am offering them.

Not only do I need to educate them on what I am trying to do for their business, I need to spend time getting to know them better so they will trust me enough to hire me. If I can do this, they’re likely to sign up to work with me within the next 3-6 months.

Bucket 3: They need a lot of work.

Clients go into this bucket when they give me a detailed reason as to why they can’t work me – reasons like they don’t have the money right now, they’re too swamped right now, they can’t take on more work right now. These people have a real timing issue – it’s not me, it’s them (and they aren’t BS’ing me either).

They also probably need more education on what I am doing (after all, what I am doing will bring in more money, which often helps solve the timing issue) and they need to trust me more in order to want to work with me. These people can often come around and work with me, but it’s likely to take me 6-12 months to get to the “yes.”

Bucket 4: The trash can

Okay, so there are going to be some businesses who say “no” to me that I am not going to pursue. Some people just are not going to be a good fit to work with me, or their “no” was clear and combative. These people don’t need to take up any more of my time or attention. They aren’t my people. I just let them go.

The difference between a marketer who can rock a Facebook Ad agency, and the marketer who never seems to have enough clients is that the successful marketer does not take “no” for an answer.

Step 3: How to Follow Up with Prospects (And Keep the Line Open)

We’ve already said this, but we are going to keep saying this. You have got to play it cool in person. It doesn’t matter how smooth your follow up game is, you won’t get anywhere if you don’t play it cool when you first hear the word “no.”

You cannot allow yourself to get flustered or overwhelmed when you don’t get the answer you want. Always thank your contact for their time, and as soon as you get home (or in the car) document everything they said and start planning your next steps.

The Immediate Follow Up

You want to send a thank you note to someone – either to your contact, or to their boss. Get this in the mail right away. You can send a simple card, or send something bigger, like flowers, if you have a meeting on the books or some other larger commitment from your lead.

The Long Term Follow Up

Write down when you want to follow up with them next and where you can plan on connect with them. Start looking for community events where you can run into your potential clients and decide how you can start or improve your relationship with them. Commit to the long game and show up again and again for your leads.

How to Track Prospective Clients Through Your Pipeline

Now that you know what to look for when people tell you “no,” and you know how to classify them, you need to build your pipeline so you are constantly moving towards your goal of converting people from leads to clients.

Every single “no” you get is a lead that you need to be tracking. Know why they told you no, and have a plan on how to follow up with them and work on their objections so they will say yes to you in the future.

I like to track all of my leads in a program called PipeDrive.

You can put your contacts into this program and it will help you stay on top of your pipeline. Once you have someone as a contact (you’ve already spoken to them once and you’re on their radar) you can put in their contact person’s name, and write down how much that deal is worth for you, and an expected close date.

You can track every contact you meet, take notes about your interactions, schedule follow up times on your calendar so you remember to check back in . . . all of that.  

In your notes, write down what bucket they are in and what they need from you. Do you need to educate them, build trust, or is it a timing issue? Do this for everyone that you are planning on meeting or have already casually met. This way, you can keep up with what needs to happen next and with who.

Moving them through the Pipeline

It’s not enough to just write down where people are in your pipeline, you need to keep up with them and keep them moving through the system. Keep in touch with every single lead on your list. Have a routine so you know when you are supposed to be checking in with them, and pay attention to what they are saying so you know where they are and how close they are to a deal.

Consistency is key here. You have to stay on people’s radar. The more you see them around town and interact with them, the quicker they will get to “yes” and sign a deal with you.

Make sure you are listening to everything your lead says and you are paying attention to all the things they are not saying. Trust your gut. Someone may not tell you they don’t trust you or that they are overwhelmed and it’s a bad time, but if you keep your eyes open, you are going to see their situation and know what to do about it.

Keep the leads coming

You cannot slack off here. The key to having a successful client pipeline is to keep working it, and to keep adding people to it. You should be checking your pipeline once a week to make sure you are following up with everyone and are working on getting new clients.

You will never run low on clients or find yourself wishing you had more business if you are always focused on building relationships with other local business owners.

If you’d like to learn more about running a Facebook Ad Agency locally, make sure you join AdLab. You’ll find a community of marketing professionals who can help you work on setting up your pipeline and help you get the results you want!

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