#002: One Simple Strategy to Land Work This Month!

Summary: How to approach old leads and dormant clients effectively and authentically — and how these simple ideas can often lead to paying work almost immediately

I'm really excited about today's episode, because even though it's short, you're going to walk away with five simple ideas you can implement TODAY to generate new business.

Specifically, we're going to be talking about how to approach old leads and dormant clients effectively and authentically — and how these simple ideas can often lead to paying work almost immediately.

My guest is no stranger to International Freelancers Academy: Coach Jenn Lee. Jenn works with entrepreneurs and solo professionals to turn their passion in to profit through smart marketing and selling strategies. She appears regularly on TV and radio, and she's a sought-after speaker around the country.

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes or Stitcher to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

What’s the best way to start this process?

Hopefully you have a database of some kind, even if it’s just a pile of business cards. These are people you’ve had conversations with or connected with in some way. From this database, put together a list of the top 50 dormant clients or prospects you’d like to do business with.

Once you have this list, Coach Jenn has four strategies to reconnect with these people.

Strategy #1: Send an email that benefits them

Send each person on the list an email and include something of interest to them, such as a blog post or article. For example: "I thought of you when I saw this blog post and thought it would be useful for your biz. Let me know what you think of it!"

Find authentic reasons to send “I’m still thinking of you” emails. You can also send via snail mail and include a handwritten note.

Make the emails personal. Show that you understand their business.

Strategy #2: Introduce them to somebody

Think of two people who should know each other, then call them or introduce them via email. The people you’ve introduced will say, “Hey, thanks for the introduction. So what’s going on with you? How’s your business?” It restarts the conversation.

So many people don’t follow up on leads. If you do, people will think of you first.

For more on building relationships, see Ed’s interview with Jenn Lee: Captain Collaborator: A Fun and Authentic Way to Build Relationships and Land More Clients.

Strategy #3: Write an article about them

Write an article about them, put it on your blog and let them know about it. You can even interview them. They’ll cross promote the article for you.

The article shows you’re thinking about them and know their business. It also shows other prospects that you care about your clients.

Others may call and ask to be interviewed too.

All of these strategies are a way of continuing a conversation that’s stalled. But don’t try these strategies just once. Make them a habit.

Strategy #4: Come clean

When all else fails, come clean. People are forgiving when you’re authentic and honest. Write an email or pick up the phone and say, "I dropped the ball a few months ago. It doesn't mean you're not important. I wanted to reach back out to see if I can still help you with XYZ or if you’re still searching for ABC."

By being proactive and getting in front of people, your phone will start ringing. It’s about putting it out there and being consistent. It gets you excited. It warms you up for the next cold call, and protects you from peaks and valleys in your work and income.

Bonus strategy: Give them an idea

Tell your prospect or dormant client about something you did with a similar client (or a client in a similar situation) that worked well. Tell them why you think it would work well for them too.

Similarly, if you’re a writer, read industry publications and come up with content ideas. Tell them about your ideas.

Even if they don’t use your ideas, it shows you’re thinking about them and care enough to bring ideas to the table.

If you apply just one of these strategies, you’ll get more conversations.

Where can we learn more about you?

Jenn’s website is coachjennlee.com. She coaches individuals and businesses on sales and marketing.

Jenn is touring this year with Tory Johnson’s Spark and Hustle, doing mini-intensives focused on marketing.

She also has a new initiative to help product developers get their products on retail shelves through smarter sales and marketing. Learn more at The Nutshell Project.

  • Robyn Short

    This was a really great interview and very timely for me because I struggle with a lot of dormant leads, or contacts that I was very proactive with when I first met them, but eventually just abandoned the conversation because I felt they weren't serious, and my time would be better spent finding someone else who was. I recognize that this isn't always the case, and sometimes people really do get busy with other things (after all, they're business owners too), and now I have some great tips to keep in touch without "checking in."

    I have a question for you Ed: How do you handle those prospects who seemed so "gung-ho" and excited and had an "OMG I need your service right now!!!" attitude when you first met, but then for some reason everything just goes DEAD after that. You call and email and follow up as much as you can, you can't get a meeting with them, you can't get on the phone with them, you can't get them to respond to an email, they refer you to their assistant who turns out to be worse than they are. You schedule calls with them and they don't show up, you leave voicemails and send follow-ups to reschedule or call to reschedule, they never call you back. Is it because that initial spark really wasn't genuine, or is it something else? Do you keep trying to close that deal, or just let it go and move on to someone else?

    I ask this question because I wonder if sometimes I give up on leads too quickly, assuming they aren't responding because they just aren't serious about working with me. Or, if the leads I abandon really are time-wasters and I'm doing the right thing by walking away. Just doing a little self-evaluation here. What are your thoughts?

    • edgandia

      Great questions. Why some prospects do that, who knows? Rather than spend too much energy trying to figure that out, I would instead:

      1) Qualify prospects better. Ask better questions up front about their need, timing, budget, etc.

      2) Move on after 4 or 5 follow-up attempts. At that point, added persistence is not going to get you the result you want.

      3) Nurture the qualified leads who are unresponsive with relevant, value-added info. I have a whole chapter about this in my book, The Wealthy Freelancer. You can download that chapter free at http://www.thewealthyfreelancer.com or grab the whole book at Amazon.

      Thanks for checking out the podcast!

  • Terra

    Sorry to be so late in posting my thanks for this great webinar, Ed.

    I especially loved the part about what I call The Law of Positive Energy. I can't tell you the number of times I've reached out in one direction trying to land new business or a new client and fallen flat on my face -- or so I thought! Then, a day or three later, some new contact or piece of business falls in my lap from some totally unexpected source. Then I began to realize it was the ENERGY that I sent out that first time coming back to me.

    Remember in high school physics? Energy and mass can neither be created or destroyed, only transformed one into the other. It's absolutely true.

    Now, when my bank account gets low, I start "spending energy" the way you and Jenn talked about. Then I look over my shoulder in the opposite direction for the results. And, I do one more thing. I make a donation to a charity I respect and believe in, creating "money flow" in my life. It always, always, comes back to me in the form of new business.

    Thanks again for these great ideas.


    • edgandia

      This is fantastic, Terra! What a great outlook and attitude. I couldn't agree more. This approach will serve you well.

      Glad to hear this was informative and inspirational. Thanks for letting us know!

  • Mary Rose

    Ed, I just can't thank you enough for all your podcasts and then the replies you make to the comments afterward. Lots of down-to-earth, practical stuff here!

    This podcast was especially helpful for me. I hadn't heard Jenn Lee before and I loved her attitude and suggestions. As you mentioned on the podcast, you two really work well together!

    • edgandia

      Thanks so much, Mary Rose! Great to hear you're enjoying the podcast and getting value from the ideas.

      Isn't Jenn awesome? Check out her website. She puts out great info and she delivers it in a very fun and authentic way.

      We keep joking around that we're going to start a morning TV show. LOL! 😉

  • Ed, I enjoyed the podcast. That's about it. I cannot use it at this time. You will see me in B2B Launcher Bootcamp. Please, address people that are changing careers and need clients. I've been around internet since 2008, but was torn between affiliate marketing and writing. I finally made the decision to get deeply involved in writing. I have 2 small e-books published. I am putting big hopes on the Bootcamp. I am going again through my AWAI's "The Accelerated Program for Six-Figure Copywriting". I hope that AWAI's course together with the Bootcamp and my firm decision to go ahead with writing will do the trick for me. I am a big fan of your podcasts. Thank you.

    • edgandia

      Alla -- Thanks for checking out the podcast. To answer your question, I publish a ton of detailed content that's specifically for freelancers who are starting out and need to land clients. In fact, I would say that's by far the most common topic I write and speak about. And most of the content I publish in this area is 100% FREE.

      Here's a link to my training archive in the "Get Clients" category:

      Take some time to go through that material. There are dozens of practical ideas you can start implementing today.

      Having said that, there's simply no substitute for action and tenacity. You have to approach this business with an action-taking mindset and with confident expectation. If you approach it with a "this better work or else" mindset, it won't work. That's true of any challenging but worthwhile endeavor.

  • Maria N.

    “Hopefully you have a database of
    some kind...” Gee, why doesn't anyone tackle this issue first:
    “How do I get that list of clients in the first place?”

    When I was building my website, which wasn't very long ago, there was
    a promise in the air (articulated in many places) that if you worked
    hard on your website and thought smartly about keywords and SEO, you
    would have a chance of getting traffic, which is the name of the
    game. While one might not necessarily be able to count on a huge
    amount, nonetheless, because the Internet is so huge, you'd be sure
    to get some.


    I'd like someone to explain in depth why not. And nobody need say to
    me that the Internet has changed. I know it's changed, and not for
    the better, especially not for the solopreneur.

    • edgandia

      Hi Maria -- Thanks for checking out the podcast and for your question. I can definitely relate to your frustration. I spent a lot of time and energy trying to optimize my site during the first couple of year in business. It was frustrating and yielded minimal results.

      I recently did a podcast with a good friend and colleague: Dianna Huff. Dianna is a real pro at SEO, and she shared some very specific reasons why so many freelancers struggle to get good, qualified traffic to their websites. Here's a link to that show: http://b2blauncher.com/episode30

      Personally, I would spend a minimal amount of time and effort on SEO and instead prospect for clients proactively -- especially during your first 3 years of business. Once you get enough clients and are a bit more established, the tide starts turning and word of mouth marketing starts taking hold. That's when you can step off the prospecting accelerator a bit and reap the benefits of the goodwill and great work you've delivered.

      There's just NO substitute for active (weekly and even daily) prospecting. Not today.

    • Robyn Short

      If I can add to this…Ed you are right about proactive prospecting. I have learned that if you really want to grow your business, you have to get off the computer. Over the past 5 months I have switched gears toward more face-to-face prospecting through events and meetups. After just two events, I had a list of a hundred people that I could follow up with, and actually landed small projects with some of those people. Now, I'm able to keep in touch with them through my email newsletter and social media, and some of them are referring me to their colleagues. People trust a warm body that they were able to shake hands with and validate for themselves.

      This sounds crazy in 2014, but you cannot rely on your website to bring you prospects, no matter how well optimized it is, especially if you are a new business. Once you have real people who are familiar with your business sharing and referring other people to your website, and generating dialogue through your blog or your other content marketing tactics, then that traffic will begin to grow. Yes, it's time consuming to go to events and meetups, but I've discovered that it's the fastest way to build your list with people who would actually hire you, and it converts MANY MORE leads than anything you do online, so the return on time invested is greater.

      That's just my two cents 🙂