And How a Little Experiment Turned into a Multi-Million Dollar Enterprise
Sure, pushing papers for the Big Boss mortifies us. But every freelancer knows that calling our own shots isn’t pure bliss either. I don’t know about you, but on at least two occasions, I’ve nervously looked “bankruptcy” in the face and by pure luck or karma, bypassed it by mere centimeters.
In my more cautious years, I’ve learned to develop systems, test them, then expand them. Yes, this even applies to freelancing.
How? Because turning a prospect into a client is a process-based on a system. Identifying deliverables and executing campaigns for a client is a series of tasks based on a system.
Create the right system and you can almost flawlessly guarantee success and satisfaction every time.
It was in the spirit of such experimentation that I stumbled upon the singular system largely responsible for turning my struggling personal consultancy into a multi-million dollar venture that is scheduled to land and manage over 100 projects every month and has won clients like the NFL, BlogTalkRadio, and best selling authors like Christine Comaford-Lynch.
The Challenge, My Nearly Nervous Breakdown, and the Results
Then I’ll spill the beans about my experiment…
About a year and a half ago, I transitioned from being a freelancer to running a marketing firm that managed 25-50 freelance internet marketers and web professionals. In December 2007, I decided I was going to take this one leap further and build a program that would allow me and my team to coach hundreds of freelancers and pair them up with paying clients.
This presented an enormous challenge that, for three months I could not solve (and it almost cost me my business, my financial wellbeing and my sanity). How could I design a system that would:
1. Train and coach hundreds of people in the skills of marketing and web development?
2. Guarantee hundreds of new projects coming in each month?
I tested one system with a test group of 30 freelancers. It failed. I revamped the system based on results and feedback and we improved considerably. This second system was highly scalable and accounted for Challenge A. My business was now able to easily and successfully train hundreds of people -- or even thousands, if the situation called for it.
But Challenge B remained a stopgap. I could not risk scaling to 100 freelancers or more for fear that I’d have no work for them.
Now this is where you’ll want to pay attention…
I had to create a system that would allow anyone, with or without knowledge of the marketing skills we were offering, with or without sales ability, to land as many clients as humanly possible.
The resultant system I’m about to share with you (and don’t worry, it’s dirt simple) worked so well, it has a 100% success rate so far (meaning every single person who has accepted the offer I’m going to share with you has turned into a client). I’m sure we’ll lose the occasional prospect, but this system will work for:
- Warm Leads
- Cold Leads (cold calling)
- Professionals you work with (your dentist, doctor, gardener, etc.)
- Anyone else you can dream up
The worth of the clients this system lands is mind-boggling. My original prospecting method had a nearly 100% success rate as well, but that was because I was dealing with referrals. And that system couldn't be duplicated. It was based on me, my exact experience and accomplishments, and my sales capabilities.
But this new system now easily guarantees my company over 100 new projects per month and, best of all, these projects are in the range of $10,000 - $50,000 monthly recurring income per project. And I don’t have to do the selling myself.
Bottom Line: This system will allow you to land the big boys, compete with the top vendors in your industry, and anyone can do it. It’s dirt simple.
How to Land Your Client, Every Time
Here’s the magical phrase: “Competitive Analysis”
I found that when calling on companies that didn’t ask for my advice or help, they didn’t care to receive a proposal, or hear about how I could revolutionize their website or make them tons of money…
The only thing even cold prospects responded to, nearly every time, was this single sentence:
“I have reverse engineered your top competitors’ sites, [COMPETITOR ONE] and [COMPETITOR TWO], and can tell you exactly how they’re able to beat you in the amount of traffic and sales they get online, PLUS where their weaknesses are and how you can exploit them to pull ahead.”
Then I offered to conduct a free Competitive Analysis on their website and their top competitor’s website.
That’s it. Dirt simple.
You won’t even have to ask for the sale when you’re done. They’ll be begging you to help them.
It just happens to be an infallible truth that people are more motivated by what they stand to lose (and who they stand to conquer) than by what they can gain. By leveraging the success of their competitor against their fear of losing business to someone else, you’ll easily persuade them to want to work with you and they’ll think it was their idea to ask you!
How to Create a Competitive Analysis
Because my industry is online marketing and web development, I’m going to explain how to create an analysis for a website’s presence and traffic.
You can modify this process to address anything though. If you build websites, create a Website Requirements Assessment for your prospects to fill out so you can discuss the results. If you’re a copywriter, create a document asking key questions that gets your prospect thinking about what they need and excited about what you can do.
So, for this analysis, you need only three free websites to gain dizzying amounts of information on your prospect and their competitor. When you share this information with them, you’ll hear time and again, “This is the most in-depth, informative consultation we’ve ever had!”
Add these websites to your Favorites List:
Between these three sites, you can discover just about anything, including:
- # of monthly unique visitors
- Budget spent on sponsored listings (Adwords)
- Clicks per day from sponsored listings
- Cost per click
- # of organic listings
- Demographics, including age, income and ethnicity range of visitors
- And tons more
Imagine telling your prospect that you know their top competitor spends $18,000 on sponsored listings per day and that they receive 5000 unique visitors per day…
But you know you can help your prospect beat them and eclipse a lot of their traffic, because you can also see that the competitor website’s incoming links are old and no new site optimization has been done. These stats justify you asking for $5000 to $10,000 per month to get them ahead of their competitor who is spending even more and has weaknesses you can clearly see and exploit.
Do you see how this completely alters the nature of the consultation and the sale? You never have to ask if they want to do business with you. Instead, you’re dangling a very attractive carrot in front of them backed by hard evidence, fact, and quantifiable numbers.
As long as you’re confident you can deliver the goods you promise, it’s a done deal. I’ve even landed clients with this method without them ever asking to see past results, client references, a portfolio, or anything else. They were so shocked and jazzed by the analysis that they said, “Name your price. We’ll take it. We want to beat the pants of such-and-such competitor!”
“What If The Client Wants Something I Can’t Do?”
Perhaps you want to use this exact analysis example and land clients for web development and traffic generation. What if you don’t know how to deliver these services?
You have a wonderful resource right here at Freelance Switch. Here’s what you do:
Once you deliver the competitive analysis and go over it with the prospect, the next step will be to develop a detailed proposal outlining what you’ll do and the price you’ll charge. Tell them that you’ll want to put your best expert on the project and you need to check availability. You’ll get back to them in a couple days.
Then post the project here on the FreelanceSwitch job boards and find an appropriate expert. Work with them to develop the proposal and agree on the fees they want to charge.
Increase those fees by an appropriate amount to pay yourself for landing the deal and perhaps project managing and then bid that to the prospect.
Client landed. It doesn’t get much easier than that!