Your Complete Prospecting Guide (Part II) – How To Get ‘Warm’ Customers into Your Sales Process

Define Your Market

As we talked about in Part One of our prospecting guide, the process of finding prospects for your business has four main steps:

  1. Identify your ideal client
  2. Define your marketplace (where you’ll find those clients)
  3. Create a system to qualify leads
  4. Design an infrastructure to get leads coming to you (inbound marketing)

This week we’re going to work on defining your market.

In the not so far off past, a market was always a physical thing. A place where vendors came together to meet buyers.

You had to decide how much inventory to bring, how to present your wares and yourself, how big your sign would be, and what it would say.

The most important part of selling in a physical market is to choose the right one.

Trying to sell high-quality lamb sausage in a vegetable market is not going to be a productive venture.

Today the concept of one’s market has been completely upended by the web. Many freelancers and small business owners have gotten the message that all they need to do is put up a website. People will find them.

But the concept of a market hasn’t changed in one key way: you still need to flaunt your wares where your potential customers are.

Places That Are 100% Not Your Marketplace

With the ease of posting gigs and looking for work online, many self-employed women today confine the places they look for work to third-party platforms:

  • Craigslist
  • Elance
  • Odesk
  • Facebook
  • Google (ads)
  • industry specific job boards
  • LinkedIn
  • physical message boards
  • word of mouth
  • existing networks

While none of these are necessarily bad places to look for prospects, they aren’t your market.

Many of these, namely sites like Craigslist and Elance, are the local discount grocery store chain. People go there when they’re looking to have a lot of options and compare prices. There’s a wide variety of products because people don’t go there looking for just one thing.

Industry-specific job boards and groups in LinkedIn are more specialized, for sure, but they’re like a bookstore. All they sell are books (okay, and magazines and book-reading accoutrements), but you’re competing against most every other book out there.

Your existing network—friends, former colleagues, people you’ve met at a conference—are a welcome source of work. Prospects that come through this network are usually far more prepared to work with you than prospects you reach out to cold. But though this is a place you can find great prospects, it is still not a place where are your ideal clients are.

Your market is not necessarily a single, easily identified place—online or in-person—but more of a well-defined category of where your ideal clients hang out.

Locate Your Personal Market through Role Playing

Imagine you are your ideal client.

No, really.

Walk through a day in your ideal client’s life—beyond just business.

Imagine what you would choose to spend your money on if you had the needs your clients have, what websites they visit throughout the day, what other activities they engage in.

In our recent call with Stacy Spensley, founder of Center Stage Wellness, a coaching firm that helps clients meet their specific health goals, Stacy talked about her ideal client. It is important to her that her clients are not the type of people who buy a gym membership so they’ll go to them, but don’t end up going and consequently never lose weight.

Act like that ideal client is you (and for moms, this has probably been all of us at some point, so it’s not that hard).

Where would you hang out?

How would you show your interest in working on your health goals?

As Stacy said, “It’s great that you say you want to eat salad every day, but are you actually going to eat salad everyday? If I could come and cook and eat your food for you, I would. But I can’t.”

She needs clients that are serious about addressing their health goals, preferably those who have already demonstrated some movement in that area, but need additional coaching.

If that is you, you might join an online food tracking website like SparkPeople and diligently record and analyze what you’re eating. Maybe you would grab some girlfriends and take a Zumba series together. Or maybe you would use a local food delivery service to get healthy pre-portioned meals delivered.

Since it is important to Stacy that her future clients are dedicated to their goals enough to follow through, her ideal clients are spending time in entry-level tasks that allow them to address their health needs.  That’s where you find them.

When you know what that market is, you reap a host of benefits:

  • you save time prospecting by ignoring potential leads that likely won’t pan out
  • your conversion rate increases
  • you quickly know to turn down potential clients who approach you but aren’t the right fit

But first, you need to know how to qualify the leads that you get. We’ll cover that next week in Part III of the FreelanceMom prospecting guide.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Lisa Stein owns, is a college business professor and a mom to Gabriela and Elle. Lisa is dedicated to playing a part in helping women and moms run a business they love, help support themselves and their family and create a flexible lifestyle. You can find her online on Facebook and Twitter or at home burning something in the kitchen.