Andrew Crawford led a group of entrepreneurs in a workshop on building their business and their client base.


I attended Andrew Crawford’s workshop, Techniques for Successful Selling: a new approach to selling to direct clients, on September 28, 2012. Early on, Crawford directed us to define our positioning statement. “First you are brief, telling your client what you do; then you are compelling, describing how you do it; and then you throw the hook, why it has value to your client.” Sounds easy, non?

Crawford’s workshop was not only educational but also engaging and fun at the same time. He had us all working alongside him throughout the day; luckily, we had the chance to debrief at the NCTA Happy Hour after the workshop.

Crawford’s three Cs
Now, let me share some of Mr. Crawford’s insights:

  • Build trust and a relationship with the client.
  • Be pro-active and listen to the client.
  • Use professional insights and partner with your client.

He also offered a few dos and don’ts. For example, do be honest, ask questions, and focus on the client’s success. Do not use tricks, techniques, or manipulation. Do not put yourself first by bragging, don’t be too aggressive to win the client (i.e. through price cutting), and do not give something for nothing (if you do lower the price, lower something else, too, such as time spent).

Often clients confuse what they want with what they need. For instance, the client may demand a presentation from you, at which point you should ask what they are hoping to achieve.  If the client requests a proposal, be sure to ask for specifics regarding their expectations and how the proposal will be used.

By asking questions, the first C – compatibility – will quickly surface, and the benefits of entering into a business relationship will be obvious, or not.  The second C – confidence – is how to get the client to invest in you.  At this point it is appropriate to talk about the third C – capability – and your expertise and knowledge will cement the deal.  Remember you are a service provider, and you will benefit more from investing in long-term business relationships than in short-term jobs.

Then, who is your ideal client?  As a group, we agreed on the following description: fun, smart, to the point, personable, responsive, friendly, professional, proactive, and available.  How do we find this client?  The obvious way is to brand yourself and your business through social media, networking, conferences, and online presence (i.e. website, blogging, etc.). But the best and most profitable way is through referrals. Ask a current ideal client to refer you to someone similar to him/her, and voila, now you have two ideal clients.  If you do not have any ideal clients to ask, go to peers, friends, or family for referrals. Referrals are cheap, productive, and they work long term.

An ideal partnership
So, now you may have a new client and are eager to do business with this person.  Start off with a few questions to nail down budget expectations, share information, and determine expectations. If you can, be visual (in person, through Skype) or at least vocal (phone), rather than merely verbal (email).  The three V’s – visual, vocal, verbal – account for different success rates in your dealings with clients:  55% visual, 35% vocal, and a mere 10% verbal.

As an ideal Language Service Provider, you must be proactive and responsive, in addition to providing good value and high quality work. It is important to define these attributes, talk about their value and importance, and finally, how you will deliver. ES