Fear can be one of the biggest obstacles standing between you and your success. Reaching out to prospective clients can open up a long list of insecurities and anxiety. Recognizing your fears, understanding them, and taking on a new perspective can help you overcome them.
What do you say to yourself when you’re having difficulty reaching out to potential clients? Is there something you need to overcome or is it an excuse you allow yourself to believe so you don’t have to do the work? Recognizing this distinction can be one of the greatest steps toward winning the business you want.
Below are some common fears creators face when getting in touch with clients. Which one hits home for you?
I’m Bothering Them
Do you feel you are bothering or possibly upsetting clients by getting in touch? If so:
Do Your Research
Look into the client’s business to see if your creative is in line with what they need. Check out their website and social media; is your style of illustration, photography, or design often used? Does it look like they outsource this work? Who can you ask to find out?
Remember Clients Need Suppliers
If the client uses your style of work, they are likely looking for ongoing partnerships. Help them source new suppliers by contacting them.
Be Brief, Friendly, and to the Point
Over email or on the phone, let the client know within the first sentence or two who you are and why you’re getting in touch. If there is a specific project you are best suited for, let them know. Don’t be afraid to directly ask if they commission work. If they’re not the right person, ask who you should speak to. Most people are more than happy to point you in the right direction.
I Don’t Know Who to Approach
Do you feel like you don’t know who to get in touch with to win the jobs you want?
Ask Peers or the Pros
Don’t be afraid to reach out to peers or veterans in the industry when you don’t know what next step to take. We all started somewhere and many are happy to share knowledge with those walking in the footsteps they once took. People love to share their opinions! It might surprise you how much they’re willing to help.
LinkedIn is one of the best tools to see who is working closest to the project you are interested in and it’s a great way to make a soft introduction. Make sure your profile is complete, up to date, and features your work. You can add a link to you portfolio, reel, links and include artwork in your header.
When in doubt, ask the gatekeepers at the business you are interested in. They often know who the best person is to get in touch with and the process to follow. If they don’t, they can suggest who might be able to share this information with you.
I’m Not Good at Selling Myself
Do you feel you are terrible at selling your business and services?
Remember You’re Not Selling Yourself, You’re Selling Your Style of Work
A small shift in perspective can give you and your ego a big break. You’re getting in touch to see if your style is a good fit for a client. The more you focus on selling your work—not yourself—the more comfortable it will make both you and the client feel. It’s much easier for a client to give you constructive feedback when they don’t feel at risk of offending you personally. This feedback can help you find the right people or let you know what to work on professionally.
Get Clear on What You Can Offer
Get clear on what solution you’re providing your clients. Make sure your intent is clear when getting in touch. Write out the key points you want the client to know before you pick up the phone.
Practice, Practice, Practice
The more often you do it, the more comfortable you’ll be. Start out slow, maybe a few calls or emails a day. Doing a small amount every day can build into a habit. Can you imagine what it would be like to have the habit of making sales for yourself?
Find Something that Calms Your Nerves
Find some strategies that could put you at ease. Is there something you’ve done in the past that relaxes you before making a difficult phone call or sending an email? Many salespeople have tricks they use to combat nervous energy. I’m a pacer. I throw my headphones in and make calls while walking up and down the hallway. It allows me to focus on what I and the client are saying and not worry if anyone is around to overhear. What has worked for you in the past?
What if They Don’t Like the Work?
Do you worry they won’t like your work, or worse, say something negative about it?
What if They Say ‘No’?
They just saved you time. You are trying to find the right fit for your work. The ‘no’s’ make way for the right people. Don’t be afraid to ask people who love your work who else they recommend you get in touch with.
They Should Have Said ‘Yes’
If the potential client declined but you think they should have said yes, it’s an indication that something is not aligned. Perhaps you didn’t clearly share your offering or fully understand the need of the client. Don’t be afraid to ask for feedback; is there one piece of advice they could share to improve your work? What are they looking for when considering a supplier? Again, make it about the work, not you personally.
I Hate Sales
Does the idea of sales make your skin crawl?
It Feels Disingenuous
It’s true that no one likes to be sold to—so don’t sell. If you have done your research and have an idea of the solution you can provide, all you are doing is offering your help. No need to be salesy about it.
Get Someone Else to Do It
If for some other reason you just can’t bring yourself to make sales calls, find someone who will. You can hire a freelancer to make your calls, find an agent, or use other methods to get in touch with potential clients. Here’s the thing: nothing will make a bigger impact on your business than building a direct relationship with your clients. And if that doesn’t make you think twice about picking up the phone, maybe reflect on what story you’re telling yourself about why you don’t want to get your work out there.
Jessie Corney has provided sales, marketing and creative guidance to photographers, directors, CGI, animation and digital studios for over 10 years. Find her at www.jessiecorney.com.