I love this story about one of my students.
If you’ve ever tried to sell your services (freelance writer, consultant, artist, even dog walker), tell me if you’ve heard this before:
- “I’ll get back to you soon”
- “This sounds great, but I just want to do a little shopping around”
- “You’re great, and I really want to do this, but right now I just don’t have time”
Small-business owners use these excuses when your service isn’t the right fit. Excuses are more comfortable than just saying no. And because they don’t say a point-blank “no,” we keep obsessing over when they’ll call us back.
It’s a common trap to spend too much time chasing down leads that never materialize.
That’s why I teach qualification theory in my Earn1K course — one of the most powerful strategies you can employ. (I also use qualification strategies on my site every single day in over 5 different ways. See if you can spot them.)
By qualifying people — whether in your freelance business, your blog, your workplace, even relationships — you can focus your time on the ones most likely to say “yes”…instead of indiscriminately chasing people who will always have another excuse.
So when people say, “Ramit, I want to learn how to earn more, but I just don’t have time,” it’s amusing. Most of us try to reach EVERYONE, never understanding that you can actually get BETTER results with LESS time if you focus on qualified people. This is the 80/20 rule at work.
Today, I want to share a case study of one of my students, Kentaro. What’s interesting is he combined qualification theory with scaling. As he grew, he hired other people, something I don’t talk about very often on IWT. Kentaro went from his first $800-per-month retainer to a four-employee company earning $150,000 in less than 2 years. Now his online marketing business is on track to make $250,000 in 2012.
Here’s how he did it.
Tired and bored with no freedom
Back when he was an employee at the real estate firm, Kentaro had tried finding work on his own. “It was a contract every now and then. Maybe one project every few months. Nothing active or consistent.”
So he stayed in one place. Tired, bored and knowing that he needed a change. “I needed to jump off the path I was going on, 9-5 working at a small company, with very little freedom to do what I actually enjoy.”
But he didn’t know how to transition to working for himself.
“Then I found I Will Teach You To Be Rich. I liked the info on there, signed up for the newsletter, and started getting emails for the very first Earn1K class.”
“It sounded like exactly what I needed”, remembers Kentaro, “but it was a big investment.” After careful consideration, he signed up. “It was the 30-day money-back guarantee”, he said, “like if you don’t like the material you can get a refund, it’s hard to go wrong with that, the only programs that can offer that are the ones confident in their ability to provide value.” (NOTE FROM RAMIT: Since then, I’ve extended the guarantee period to 60 days, just because I thought it was the right thing to do.)
Earn1K helped Kentaro refine his business idea. “I understood real estate really well because I worked in it for a couple years”, he said, “so it was a good niche, and not a lot of companies were offering web marketing in the real estate industry.”
Soon after, Kentaro found the lesson that propelled his business to earn its first $150,000.
I just got too busy and had to hire more people.
Kentaro wanted to earn more, but he was wasting time pursuing prospects that didn’t convert. “It’s very easy to get carried away with someone that seems interested”, he says, “then a few days or weeks later I’d realize they couldn’t afford my services or they wouldn’t benefit from them.”
That’s when he completed the Earn1K lesson on how to identify your best leads by sending a short email pitch. “I haven’t studied sales, so the prospecting and qualifying modules from Earn1K were very important for where I was at.”
“Because I was in real estate I was able to access databases with all of the realtors in my area, and I could sort them by gross sales volume.” He prepared an email script, “and began emailing prospects who were grossing over $200,000 a year to be sure they could afford my services…. Emails worked better for me than making phone calls.”
Kentaro’s email was simple and to the point. “I’d identify the need, offer the benefit and say, “hey look, let’s schedule a quick meeting and I’ll show you how I can solve this problem for you”.
Soon he’d landed his first first contract, an $800-per-month retainer for web marketing.
“This was my system”, he said, “the first conversion was to get a response for the email, and the next step was to get a five minute phone call and find out if they had hired on these services before, try to figure out if we would be a good fit or if they could afford my services.” When working with local clients, he’d drive out to qualify them in person.
With a working system in place, Kentaro continued qualifying leads and sending out emails. Six months after starting, he had so many clients that he had to hire his first employee. “I found her on Craigslist”, he laughed, “I got lucky, and she’s still with us today.”
In the last few months Kentaro web design + seo has been featured in the media, “so we’ve been getting unsolicited leads coming in via calls and email. The more leads you have the more qualifying becomes important because you just can’t afford to waste your time on someone who won’t be a good fit for you.”
Now with three full time employees and one intern, Kentaro is still using Earn1K principles to build his business. “I taught my employees to use scripts”, he said, “and showed them the classes for fundamentals on how to present yourself to a prospect, how to identify their problems, and how to present solutions to them without being intruding.”
The result? Kentaro’s company grossed $150,000 in 2011.
I’m more of a manager, and I do a lot of the strategy for our web marketing clients.
“Money makes things easier”, said Kentaro, “once we had cash flow I had the option to continue freelancing or hire employees, I believe Ramit’s idea of “quick wins” should move an individual closer to generating cash flow so that these options open up for them too.”
Kentaro’s team now includes an account manager, a VP of development who pursues larger clients, a web developer, and an intern from his university. That leaves him more time to do the work he loves, crafting marketing strategies for clients.
Kentaro’s business is also giving back to the community. “I’ve gotten a lot of benefit from the university”, he said, “so we’ve funded a scholarship for the Cyber Security program, and have an internship program in place.”
Kentaro’s business is on track to earn revenues of $250,000 in 2012. That’s 781% of what he was earning at the dreaded 9 to 5.
“I’m enjoying every bit of it”, he added.