• Alex de Jong

3 steps to winning your first client

Updated: Jun 14, 2019

How to build your business, grow your network and win loyal customers.

Being brutally honest: Starting a business, without having any business... sucks.

Plain and simple, it sucks. You have a cool idea but no income, no clients and frankly no real business.

Imagine a less stylish man with more beard, beer, and tears. You're now imagining: Me, 2 years ago.

No point sitting at your desk propped up with an elbow.

Here's 3 ways to get off your seat, out the door and into the loving arms of your first client!

1) Be in their space NOT their face

One sunny, spring Sunday in Bristol three years ago; Mike, Alex, Chuck, Andy, Mack and myself decided to hike from Nailsea to Clevedon, stopping over in Portishead for a pint in a seaside pub.

11 hours, 3 pints and some Fish & Chips later; it had dawned on all six of us, that we wouldn't be making it to Clevedon.

To be fair we're slow drinkers and doctors recommend 2 hours rest after eating Fish & Chips

We had brought everything we needed, except a map.

If you want to make it to your client on time without any unnecessary delays, you need a map to find them.

A map will pinpoint you to them exactly.

Some new business owners, with the best of intentions, wander around aimlessly getting in as many people's faces thinking that they'll sell.

#newflash: If you try selling everything to everyone, you'll push away your prospects and sell nothing to no one.

Instead ask yourself these 3 power questions to pinpoint your target on the map:

“Where is your client? Where is their space? What places are they in?”

These spaces can be online (blogs, LinkedIn, forums) or offline (Meetups, networking events, clubs, companies).

Therefore: Get as specific as possible.

Business Meetup = Nowhere!

Young Entrepreneurs Pitching Event at the American Embassy of Austria in Vienna = Somewhere!

Define your target market to such a narrow point that you know exactly where their space is. Next step: Go there!

2) Shhhhhh!

You're at the American Embassy of Austria in Vienna looking for young entrepreneurs who need to pitch to investors, bankers and potential partners.

You're in a room full of them, excellent!

How do you talk them into buying your beautifully packaged product/service?

This friendly Austrian-American young entrepreneur is giving you a hint.

Before you even walk through the door (virtual or in-person), make this your mantra:

"Silence wins clients"

Shut up your mind and stay silent in your head.

Notice that I didn't say shut up your mouth and silent with your tongue. #Mind and #Head

A sociological study I conducted showed that 97% of people at networking meetings can't wait to talk about themselves.

Whenever somebody is speaking to you about their business, there will come a point (usually mid-way through their sentence) when your mind will pipe up and say something like:

"That's similar to what happened to you four months ago... Tell them about it #rapport"

"She needs a web designer... I'm a web designer! Where's my business card and my portfolio #distracted"

"This guy is lame, I don't care about robotics... What's the best excuse I can muster up? #walksaway"

Understand: there is a world of difference between waiting to respond vs. being completely present during a conversation.

When you're completely #present, you aren't even thinking of what to say next whilst they're speaking. You're in a state where that mental chatter stops.

You are now inhabiting somebody else's space. Every single thing they say and do (right down to their gestures, facial expression and the color of their shirt) translates into useful information for the next important P after being present.

3) Let them P all over you

You've given your greatest gift. Your biggest present is being present in someone else's presence.

In return, the person you've identified as a potential target will start giving you some presents.

Whilst you've been using your mental energy to stay silent instead of thinking of witty responses, the person in front of you will typically begin telling you about their:

















In March, at the American Embassy in Vienna, Faris started sharing his passion with me for robotics and mobile app development. He said he was most productive when fixing things and the way he was speaking said a lot about his personality.

Whilst listening it became clear that Faris had a problem explaining his business concisely in an engaging way, not only that, but he said: "Alex, it's a pain to write a business plan that no one will ever read and then I panic if I have to explain this to a bunch of investors or micro-financiers."

"However, I want to get better at building my business. That's why I've partnered with a start up incubator on a project to help me launch."

7 minutes or so later, Faris finally asked me: "What do you do?"

"I help you connect with the people you're pitching to."


"By coaching start-ups in speaking. I look at their business plans, slides and help them present so that when they get in front of investors for the first time...:"

"OMG! You're a pitching expert... I need a pitching coach. Where's my business card?"

Three months, two coffees and one phone call later, I was delivering my first paid B2B training session under my own brand at the start up incubator that was helping Faris launch his business.

I also learnt that you should always take a training selfie away from the projector.

Win all over again

Winning your first client is fun.

It's not about the money they're paying.

It's about validation for your business.

You have proved to yourself that you have a powerful idea, product or service that people recognise.

Whatever you're doing, you're helping someone solve a problem and make their lives better.

With that validation, you won't be sitting at a desk, elbow propped up any longer.

You'll be out there winning your second client, your hundredth client or selling more to your existing clients.

Would you like more help winning your next client and catapulting your communication skills to the next level?

Then let us know at speakwith@alex-dejong.com and we can draw your map, help you stay silent and make your next proposition pitch perfect.