As a consulting firm or independent contractor, it is important to be reminded that, although we are constantly boasting our services throughout our websites, blogs, social media accounts, and google campaigns, at the end of the day, customers are not only purchasing services alone, they are also buying you. Meaning, face-to-face networking, being social, authentic, and naturally brilliant at what you do, often times, will generate far more leads than any online marketing campaign could offer. Simply put, it is not enough to be an “armchair developer,” even when, ironically enough, most developers spend a significant chunk of their lives in an armchair, hunched over their sporadically moving fingers. Rather, we have to get our hands dirty if we want to see any real revenue. People, more often than not, will trust your services if they end up trusting you as a person. Plain and simple. However, albeit simple in theory, a majority of the time I see people taking the complacent approach, believing that it is enough to simply use impersonal, online approaches with the belief that their experience speaks for itself. Although, in theory, this would be ideal, it is human nature to trust an actual face over a well manicured digital storefront – at least for now, that is.
How to cultivate relationships with potential customers built on a solid foundation of trust? The most sound, reliable formula consists of something that would include the following: establishing credibility through authentic conversation, discussing services in an informal dialogue, and continuous follow-up, as it often requires more time than expected for someone to follow through with purchasing just about any product! Continuous contact through follow-up emails using a personable demeanor will help keep the relationship alive post-introduction.
After a customer has been given enough time to ruminate over your services, and seems interested enough, you can help get the ball rolling by offering a free consultation. The best way to help a client get clear on what they are seeking from your services prior to the initial meeting is to supply them with a list of 10 questions to fill out ahead of time. This way, that one-hour free session you are providing them can be fulfilling and effectively utilized.
However, remember, to be able to get to this point of the game, you really have to be willing to get your hands dirty first. Go to networking events, have lunch with local business owners, collect business cards whenever possible, and create a database with all the contacts you gather to send follow-up emails to each person you’ve met, commenting on how pleasant it was to have had an introduction and how you would also like to be of service to them, or their business, in the future.
This starts now, not Monday nor the following week. Take immediate action today to have a successful, thriving business.