Landing Your First Client: The 24-Hour Challenge

You have a great marketing skill that can really help businesses. You’re good at what you do, you may even have some experience doing it as a day job for a larger company. However, now you are interested in working for yourself. You want to start your own business where all the profits are going to you, not to your employers. You benefit from all that hard work you do. There is only one major problem: you don’t have any clients.

Getting your first client can seem like a very daunting task, especially if you don’t already have any experience in sales. Maybe you don’t like when you’re approached by sales people, so the idea of going out there and approaching others like this makes you feel weird. Even if you were more comfortable approaching people, what do you even say to them that convinces them to pay your high service fees?

This guide is going help you. It’s going to help you overcome the things that are currently holding you back so far, and then it’s going to give you a blueprint on how to get your first client.

All of this is going to start with a challenge.

The 24-Hour Challenge

You are going to get your first paying client in a 24-hours period. Not try to, you will. That’s the mindset you’re going to adopt from this point on, understand?

The reason you’re doing a 24-hour challenge is because it’s easy to keep putting things off. It’s easy to do other things that make you feel productive. It’s easy to listen to that little voice in your head that makes you doubt yourself.

But, what if for 24 hours you ignored that voice? What if you spent 24 hours taking massive action towards the one thing that is actually important when starting your service-based business: landing your first client.

In this 24-hour challenge, you’re going to do everything you can to get paid by a client for your marketing services. Whether you’re a copywriter, an advertising expert, a web designer, or something else, this will be your only focus for a full day.

Don’t say you’re going to do this next week, next month, or after you’ve finished building your website. Commit to this. Choose a day this week, clear your schedule, and decide right now that this is the day you’re going to crush the 24-hour challenge.

Take Massive Action

The point of this 24-hour challenge is because the most important thing you can do when you are first starting is to take massive action. No amount of studying, no amount of practice, no amount of planning, will be as effective as simply putting yourself out there and doing what you know you need to do to make this business work.

Taking massive action breaks all the holding patterns we get stuck in when it comes to self-doubt or over-analyzing. Over-analyzing can be the biggest enemy out there, especially when you’re smart. In situations like this, your intelligence and strategic nature is actually getting in the way.

So get out of your head, and decide to take massive action.

Fixing Your Mindset

Taking on such a challenge will often give people some internal conflict. These are some mindset issues that we all deal with. Usually, we aren’t even aware when we have a mindset that isn’t useful. We don’t understand how it can actually be holding us back.

This isn’t necessarily about being positive instead of being negative, even though being positive often helps. It’s about adopting a mindset that is useful to your goals. What mindset will most help you get from A to B?

Think of people who have qualities that you admire that relate to your business. Who has achieved what you want to achieve? What mindset did they adopt to get there? How do they choose to see things? What do they choose to believe?

Limiting Beliefs

When it comes to mindset, the thing we all tend to struggle with are limiting beliefs. These are little beliefs we have that limit our ability to do the kinds of things we want to do and achieve the kinds of things we want to achieve. These limiting beliefs often form at an early age.

If you grew up hearing that money is the root of all evil, this is a limiting belief that could cause you issues without you even realizing it, especially when you’re starting a business. So, when you realize you have these limiting beliefs that aren’t useful, you need to correct them. For this specific one, you can remind yourself that while some evil people have given money a bad name, money is just what our society uses to assign value to goods and services. That’s it. There is nothing wrong with wanting to make more by trading your valuable service, because this allows you to provide yourself and your family with food, shelter, security, and entertainment.

What other limiting beliefs can you think of that might be holding you back? Talk to yourself about it. Why is that limiting belief not useful and not really based in reality? What empowering belief can you replace it with?

Do You Hate Being Sold To?

For many who don’t have a sales background, their uneasiness about starting to sell yourself to potential clients stems from the fact that they themselves hate being sold to. We feel like we are just bothering people and interrupting their lives when we try to pitch out services.

Unfortunately, this is just another common limiting belief. You need to remember that you are not your prospective client. They likely see things differently than you are seeing them. You might be surprised that many of them are eager to hear about how you can help them if it means they will eventually make more money.

You need to understand that you aren’t bothering any of these businesses or prospective clients. You are helping them. You are doing them a favor by getting in touch with them. You are great at what you do and they will benefit and get massive value from what you are offering. They are going to make more money with their business as a result of the services you are providing.

Stop Being A Perfectionist

It’s easy to get caught up with trying to make everything perfect. The truth is, this is often just a very self-deceptive type of procrastination. It makes you feel productive, but you’re usually not actually producing anything that valuable.

When you don’t have any clients, that is your only priority. Perfectionism will be the death of your efforts. Instead, take imperfect action now. You can always improve upon things longer, especially after you have real data, feedback, and results to draw from.

Trying to make everything just right before you even begin is actually making things worse. Without the imperfect action and the real-world feedback, you have nothing real to analyze, so you don’t even know how good anything is. Your idea of perfect is just an idea. It’s based on what you imagine will help your business succeed, not necessarily the reality of what will help.

Feeling Like An Imposter?

When first starting out, it’s easy to feel like an imposter. You don’t have any clients, you haven’t really helped anyone yet, and you might doubt that you’re good enough to charge what you’re charging. These are just more limiting beliefs that hold us back from actually landing clients. Either it can make us put off even attempting to get clients, or it can mess with our mindset so that we aren’t as confident in our sales pitch. Some people even feel like an imposter after they have paying clients, even though they shouldn’t feel that way.

You’re not an imposter. You’re good at what you do. You’re worth the price you’re charging. It’s very probable that you should be charging a lot more. Clients are happy they have you to rely on.

You’ve got this.

Remember Who Has Succeeded Before You

There are others out there that aren’t nearly as talented as you, that aren’t nearly as intelligent, that honestly don’t even care about actually helping clients as much as you do. People like this already have clients. Some of them are rich simply because they tried and worked hard.

If they can do it, you certainly can. If these kinds of less talented people can do so well for themselves, imagine how successful somebody like you can be. All you need to do is get out of your own way and start landing clients. That’s it.

The Plan

Now that your mindset is starting to shift and become much more useful, it’s time to come up with your plan. Of course, for the 24-hour challenge, you can’t actually approach clients for 24 hours straight. You need to sleep and they aren’t likely to be open 24/7, just during normal business hours. So you can begin your 24-hour challenge the evening before by working out your game plan and doing your prep work.

First, you need to decide how you’re going to approach clients. Your two best bets here are to walk into businesses that you want to pitch, or cold call. It depends mostly if you’re working locally or if your potential clients are all over. Email, messaging, or any other ways to softly contact prospective clients isn’t an option here. This is the 24-hour challenge, not the sit and wait a week for a response challenge.

Now you need to make a list of all of your prospective clients. A big list. Much more than you think you could realistically pitch within a day. After you’ve made a thorough list of possible clients, sort them depending on how likely they are to pay for your services. Rate them one to three. One being likely to purchase, three being unlikely. This sorting can be based on size of the company, location, your specific knowledge about the company, or other factors. For now, ignore all of the threes. Out of the ones and twos, make sure you still have more prospective clients than you think you can realistically pitch in a day. This number is going to be much higher for cold calling than for walking into local businesses due to speed and the higher rate of rejection over phone.

You should try to find out the name of the owner or decision maker for each these businesses so you know who you want to talk to when you approach them.

If you’re pitching in person, make sure you get together any resources you might need. A simple, one-sheet brochure or something similar that covers the core benefits of your service will work.

Get Past Gatekeepers

Frequently when cold calling and often when walking into businesses, you meet gatekeepers. These are assistants, secretaries, customer service reps or whoever else you speak with before you’re actually talking to the owner or designated decision maker.

Sometimes, the gatekeepers will try to get rid of you right away or have you make an appointment for a date in the future. Your goal is to talk to the decision maker today, not make an appointment. One strategy to get past gatekeepers is after asking to speak with the owner, if they ask what the purpose of the call or visit is, keep the reason a bit vague. Remain friendly and professional, but state that it’s urgent that you speak with the owner and it is a time sensitive matter. By giving a sense of urgency like this, the gatekeeper is much more likely to put you in touch with the owner. They don’t want to lose their job if it’s something serious and they caused a problem for their boss.

No matter how you handle getting past gatekeepers, don’t waste time pitching to them. They aren’t the ones that can make a decision to pay for your services or not. Save your pitch for the decision makers.

Making The Pitch

When making your pitch, never lead with your price. It’s a common rookie mistake and it usually comes off like the only thing of value you have to offer is a cheap price.

First, clearly talk about what you can do for them. Keep in mind, while yes, you are selling yourself, you do this by mostly talking about them and what you can do for their business. Don’t talk about yourself the entire time. How will they benefit from the services you provide? Will they get more leads through your Facebook advertising services and get more paying customers? Will the website you can build them help them make more money? How? Will the copy you write them increase their conversion rates? Will your branding services give them an advantage over their competitors?

Make sure you are talking about benefits, not features. It should always be more of a focus on what the service can do for them, not details on how you do it, unless they ask.

Once you have sufficiently explained how you help clients and answer any questions they have, you can talk about price and try to close the sale. Don’t have one price. Instead, have two or more tiers of service with different prices. Talk about what comes in each package. After explaining these, don’t ask “Are you interested?” Instead, ask “Which option are you interested in going with?” This removes the yes/no choice from the conversation and assumes the sale. Instead of focusing on yes or no, they are more likely to be weighing which one will be a better fit for them.

After you ask which option they are interested in, it’s important to remain silent. Wait for them to answer, even if there is an awkward silence. If you quickly try to explain further after you asked without letting them answer you first, it comes off as less confident and may cost you the sale.

Handling Objections

If they seem like they are having some concerns, reservations, or other objections, you should do your best to ease their concerns and explain why that is something they shouldn’t be worried about.

If their concern is that you don’t have any previous clients and you’re too new, you can offer a money-back guarantee if they aren’t happy with your service.

If they still aren’t clear how they will benefit from your service, ask them which part they are unclear about and communicate the benefits better until you’re sure that they understand.

If they ask why they should go with you instead of a larger marketing agency, mention how agencies tend to spread their resources thin and put most of the focus on their biggest client. Explain how you’re taking on a limited number of clients so you can give each and every client the personal attention that they deserve.

If their concern is the price, you can always offer a discount on a trial basis so they can make sure they are happy with what you do for them. However, don’t offer a discount unless they actually mention price being a concern. Offering a cheaper price because you think that’s the problem when it isn’t, is just throwing away money.

Whatever their concern is, try to understand it and fix it for them.

Lastly, if you ask a prospect to buy, don’t settle for a maybe right away. When you hear maybe, that usually means no. Be upfront with them. Tell them that usually when a client says maybe they are really just being nice and they mean no. Ask them what is their main concern? What is holding them back? They likely still have objections but just aren’t stating them clearly out of politeness. It’s important to confront them head on so you can figure out their objections and overcome them.

By overcoming their objections, you’re only helping them in the long run since they are going to significantly benefit from your service.

When To Move On

Don’t quickly end the pitch after the initial blow-off line. It’s normal for business owners to first react this way. Just ignore the blow-off line. However, once you have gone through your entire pitch and they still aren’t buying, it’s okay to move on to the next prospective client. The general rule here is you want to hear three nos before you move on. Persistence is important, but once you’ve heard three nos feel free to thank them for their time and then go on to the next business owner.

Since this is a 24-hour challenge, speed is very important. You want to completely go through the pitch properly and attempt to overcome objections, but when it seems futile to continue and you’ve exhausted all of your strategies, move on.

What If You Don’t Land Your Client During The Challenge?

Don’t ask that question. Tell yourself that you are going to land your client. This is the useful mindset you should adopt.

That being said, if you don’t land your first client during the challenge, it’s okay. It’s not a loss. You now have experience selling and taking massive action. You’re learning and have started to improve your pitch. You can still follow up with anyone that showed any interest. You can go back to their business, give them a follow-up call, or at the very least, connect with them online.

You can always take the 24-hour challenge again. Just commit fully each time and if you’re serious about your business, every day should be treated like a 24-hour challenge until you’ve landed your first client.

Once you get your first client, getting more clients becomes easier. Stay focused on getting that client, even when it’s difficult, and remember that every successful business once also started from zero.