Alan had one advantage when starting his business, in that he had already developed a business plan and marketing strategy during his time in the Australian Business Coaching Club, before he made the step out on his own.
Alan was staying in the same sector in which he was previously employed, but now had to move from being a technician to becoming an entrepreneur. As an employee he only had one client, his boss, and his focus now was to replace his boss with a series of clients.
His first step was to build a database of potential clients, and then started contact them. Although we developed a strategy to do this, it was basically cold calling. He also started networking. It was a lot harder than he imagined.
At times, he thought things were going nowhere. He found it was very difficult to contact people. Many people didn’t return calls. While he understood the theory of what he was doing should work, it was taking a lot longer than expected. As his mentor, my job was to give him encouragement to keep going, to celebrate small victories. He learned strategies to get past gatekeepers and what to say when he spoke to the decision maker.
Over time he built a database of over 70 contacts, and growing.
This is what he wrote to me:
1. Cold calling is a gruelling and time intensive exercise!
2. Cold calling requires a lot of effort to get to the few 'gems'
3. Emailing prospects first up doesn't work as well as sending hardcopy through the post
4. 95% of my time has been cold calling with some networking activities
5. A lot of people don't return messages!
6. I am learning that I am in the business of selling
7. My phone bill is higher than it has ever been
8. Gaining a strong appreciation of the effort/energy required to source Prospects
9. Need to continue to build my database with Prospects
10. I have rated my clients with a score from 1 to 10
11. I have a total of 56 prospects to date and I intend to follow up with phone calls every 6-8 weeks
12. I look forward to the day when people start ringing me instead of me them (a few years away I know)
13. I have found the networking process to be extremely effective and have established a number of contacts. It is the quickest way to get face to face with people which is probably the most important part.
Then, as if by magic, people asked him to submit proposals. “Sending out a fee proposal sounds easy, but there's a whole heap of 'stuff' that needs to be developed before a fee proposal can go out.”
Then he got his first client. An overnight success or a numbers game that pays out when you do the work?
In the next part of this series, I will let you know what happened next.
Find out how you can get the right start to your business. No-one wants to look like a start-up when they start-up as they know, no-one wants to be your first customer.
Over to You. What do You Think? Post Your Comments Below.
Dr Greg Chapman is the Director of Empower Business Solutions and The Australian Business Coaching Club and is Australia's Leading Advisor on Emerging Businesses and provides Coaching and Consulting advice to Australian Small Business Owners in Marketing & Business Strategies Planning & Systems. He is also the author of The Five Pillars of Guaranteed Business Success and Price: How You Can Increase Your Prices Without Losing Sales.
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