How can I possibly get clients with no prior case studies or experience in a field?
I often get asked this question by first-time entrepreneurs or entrepreneurs that are entering a brand new industry. It’s fare to say that we’ve all at some point had to start from scratch; I mean, I too at one time had no case studies, right?
Really think about that. In 2008, my team and I started building Facebook Apps and we worked with companies such as Levi’s, LG, and Activision. We were 23-year olds working for companies way out of our experience level. But we somehow managed to do it.
Don’t start with a disadvantage
If you approach a client with no case studies and no references, you’re pretty much begging them to take a chance on you.
Please take a chance on me because I am not proven. I have never done this before but I promise you wer’re going to be successful together.
I’ll admit I’ve closed deals using this approach, but if I could do it all over again, I could save myself a lot of pain and suffering. If you position them as the prize, then they control when they hire you, what work you do for them, and how much money they’re going to pay you. This is a HUGE disadvantage in sales and not a place you want to be.
Instead, I developed a strategy very early on that has allowed me to enter a brand new industry with no prior experience and close big client deals. This is how I do it.
Manufacture Case Studies
The first principle is to manufacture case studies.
To accomplish this, I reach out to my close friends who own their own companies. Yu-kai and Mike are good friends of mine that own their own companies and who I’ve worked for for free in order to use them as case studies.
To manufacture case studies in the most effective way possible, follow these steps:
- Give your friend a call and let them know what new service/product that you’re selling
- Give them the full pitch and how much it costs
- Offer them a stripped down, simplified version for free
- Make it clear that you’re doing this in return to use them as a case study, testimonial, and reference
They’ll agree because they’re your friends and they would love to get a service for free that will benefit their business.
Get the retail price in writing
It’s important that they know the retail value of your service. To make sure that they know the value that they’re getting, I get my friends to sign a contract that clearly states the retail price.
This partnership agreement is super important because it determines the value of your service. If there’s no determined value, then they’re going to take the service for granted.
Putting a monetary value on your service means they’re going to appreciate it more and will be more likely to refer you to other clients.
Take your new case studies to acquire new clients
Once you’ve established your partnerships, you can approach new potential clients outside of your network with confidence. You are now armed with case studies and references, which will give you a leg up on the competition.
Remember to add your references to your proposals as this will give your potential client extra assurance that your work is quality.
Set a High Price Point
The second principle is to create the perception that you are the best in the industry — price creates a perception.
If you price yourself low, then you are seen as the cheaper option; if you price yourself high, then you are seen as the premium option. This is just the way the world works.
The benefits of a high price point
A high price point not only gives the impression that you’re the best, but a high-price point coupled with excellent case studies and references shows that you’re worth every penny. It’s a position that says: sure you can go with the cheaper option, but you’re going to waste money and worst of all time. If you go with me, you do it right from the beginning and you’ll ultimately save money and make more money in the long run.
This is powerful; this positions you as the prize and compels the potential client to work with you.
All clients want to negotiate
In addition to the perceived value, pricing high gives you room to negotiate. There are several ways to negotiate:
1. Negotiate the price down
Not my favorite, but it often happens when there’s push back from the potential client. I always leave myself a good cushion of 20% to negotiate down. If they push me lower than that and won’t come back up, then I won’t work for the client.
2. Add on services to keep the price the same
This is my favorite form of negotiating. Instead of bringing down the price, I add an extra service that increases the value of the contract. If we’re working with a client to build their online reputation, then I’ll throw in engagement on Quora or additional infographs per month. In this way, we keep our price point and add extra services that will ultimately help our campaign with the client.
There are no excuses. If you have no cases studies, then you have to manufacture case studies; there are even techniques to sell with no product.
As a business-minded entrepreneur, it’s your duty to bring in the revenue. Don’t let anything stop you.