Your business pipeline
"How many opportunities/proposals/emails have you sent this week allowing a customer to say yes?"
This is Arthur Goldstuck’s response to people who say they’re struggling to generate business. He shared some practical advice with Safreans, which he calls The Pipeline.
"It’s not rocket science, but it is arithmetic,” says Arthur.
The Pipeline idea is this:
- You contact up to five prospects a day, with a carefully crafted and individualised message that offers something they may need.
- Keep track in a spreadsheet, note what and when responses are received, and be sure to respond to positive follow-ups immediately.
- By the end of each month, you would have made contact with 100 potential work prospects.
- If you've done your homework, and offered something that meets the needs of others (see below), at least 1 in 10 of the contacts you make should result in work.
- In a full month of following the strategy, you should have up to 10 potential jobs.
It's very simplistic, and there are many excuses one can make to avoid doing it. For example, "Why should I waste time on nine prospects that don't respond?" Well, you never know which nine it is going to be.
But it has never failed to work for the people I advise in using it. There is a further trick/technique/twist, however. It's called Homework, and no one has ever loved homework. That is one of two absurdly simple reasons everyone isn't using this strategy (the other is that no one ever told them!).
The homework comprises researching your potential target market, such as publications, publishers, institutions and businesses that might use your kind of services. Then find out who the relevant contact people are in those establishments. You may find the detail through Google, in LinkedIn (You're not on LinkedIn? Seriously?), on a website, in a publication, in a printed directory, or you may have to pick up the phone. Then get the contact email address. Same sources, but the phone is often the most effective.
Now you craft your sales pitch, but in a way that it sounds more like you have something they may need, rather than why you need work.
Everyone will have their own special edge that can push business their way instead of to someone else; but they need to articulate it concisely and in a way that is appealing rather than demanding or arrogant. In business sales, they call it a unique selling proposition, or a value proposition. Every freelancer needs one or more of those.
Don't use slogans, capital letters or threats of going elsewhere. Give specifics, rather than a vague offer of availability. Run the message by friends or colleagues to test its effect. And personalise it. Every. Single. Time.
It's hard work, but it gets work.
Final thought. A wonderful postscript was added to this advice by SAFREA member Gugu Manana, who reminded us of the Zulu saying, "kubamb' ezingelayo", translated as: "Only the one that goes on a hunt catches prey".
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