Selling is totally misunderstood. Selling is not about pushing, forcing or manipulating someone to do business with you. But neither is selling totally passive, just waiting for a client to tell you they want to start working with you.
Marketing prepares the ground for selling. Marketing motivates a qualified prospect to want to speak with you about how you can help them solve their problems and produce results.
Selling is a receptive process. It is about listening, diagnosing, and sincere inquiry. It doesn't impose your ideas or prescribe anything until you know the prospect's situation, goals and challenges in great depth.
When you are ready to prescribe, you offer your suggestions with confidence but without arrogance. You suggest a course of action that will be accepted readily by your prospect. And you work out the details of how your services will be delivered. Selling creates a partnership, so it needs to be respectful and collaborative.
Selling is a joyful process as it initiates exciting new beginnings.
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Marketing is not selling. You are not trying to convince someone to do business with you now. That's violent. That pushes people away. It alienates them.
When you try to sell when should be marketing you are asking people to make decisions and take steps they are not ready to take. Marketing should be gentler than that.
Marketing is more about education, developing familiarity and trust. Successful marketing activities make prospects feel good about you and stimulate their interest in how you can help them.
Marketing says, "I understand your situation. I feel your pain. And here are some ideas that will help you understand your situation and pain even better and some ideas how you can alleviate that pain and get the results you are looking for."
Selling doesn't happen until a prospect says: "I've heard about you, I have read your web site, and know something about your services. You really seem to understand my situation and problems. Now can you tell me how you can help me?"
Tomorrow: Joyful Selling
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In this past year's Marketing Mastery Program we've been refining the steps in the selling process. One of our "best practices" has been offering an "initial proposal" before a final proposal. This approach tends to help close more business.
The step before a proposal is a "Strategy Session" where you discuss the situation, goals, and challenges of the prospect and then outline the services or programs you offer. Sometimes it's possible to close after this session and get a commitment from the prospect to work with you.
But with bigger companies, the next step is usually a proposal. What most people do is put a lot of time into the proposal, make the best guess as to what price to attach to it, then send it off and see what happens. I've never found this to be very effective, and the acceptance rate of proposals is not as high as it could be.
Instead, after the Strategy Session, I recommend saying something like this: "Based on everything we've discussed, I am confident we can help you. The next step I usually take is to prepare an initial proposal based on your objectives and the services we can provide. But I want to build this together with you. I'll send you a first draft and then set up a time to go over it with you. You can then add your input and ideas. This will take one to three drafts, depending, and then we'll deliver a final draft with a final price. How does that sound to you?"
Most people love this. You are involving them in developing their program or service. Even if your program is 80% standard, this still involves them in the process. And when you send the initial proposal, because it doesn't have a price on it, they are more likely to look at it closely. With a standard proposal, most prospects look at the price first and only skim the content of the proposal. Then they "think about it" forever.
Set a phone meeting for a week or so later to meet and go over the initial proposal. Develop this initial draft and send it the day before the meeting. In the meeting, literally go over it line-by-line and elicit suggestions and ideas as you go. Then let them know you'll have the next draft or a final draft in a few days. Set up another meeting to go over this.
Because they are building the proposal with you in partnership, they have more skin in the game and they will be more willing to meet. Don't send a proposal without a set meeting.
In the final meeting, answer any questions, discuss the price, if necessary, and close the deal. You'll find that although this process take a little more time, a higher percentage of closes will more than compensate you for your effort.
The difference between a want and a desire? A want is like a desire but without the passion or commitment.
We all want stuff. We want to make more money, attract more clients, and work fewer hours. But wanting is never enough to give you any of this. Built into a want is often the belief that we can't have what we want.
"I want, but..."
Wants lead to frustration, despair and failure.
Desire is something different. A want says, "I wish I could have this." A desire says, "I will find a way to have this, no matter what."
There's nothing wrong with your wants. But if they are going to be realized, you need a proven strategy to turn them into desires. Here are some things that work:
1. Turn the want into a specific goal. "Making more money," is vague and indefinite. "Increase business by $50,000 by the end of the year," is specific and measurable.
2. Flesh out the goal by writing down answers to the following questions: a)Why is this goal important to you? b) How will things change when you achieve this goal? c) Who else be impacted by achieving this goal? d) What are you willing to pay or sacrifice for this goal? c) What challenges will you need to overcome to achieve this goal?
3. Start working on a plan to achieve the goal. a) What is your main strategy going to be? b) What resources will you need? (time, money, knowledge) c) What assistance will you need?
4. Make a definite commitment. This isn't something you do once, but something you have to renew over and over. If such a goal was easy to achieve, you wouldn't have to do any of the above, but if it's something you've never done before, you need to think differently, feel differently and act differently.
All of these steps tend to increase your desire and pull you towards your goal, making success almost inevitable. Avoid these steps and you'll be left what you started with - a want.
A religious belief is something we adhere to without evidence, but with faith.
If we have a belief, "I can never succeed with this," it is no less our religion. There is scant evident and lots of faith.
The more important question is whether or not this belief serves you. If that belief prevents you from succeeding at anything, it's hard to argue that it's serving you.
What belief, what religion, are you adhering to that is preventing you from doing great things in your life?
My recommendation is to start a new, private, religion: "I can always succeed with this."
Randomness is the enemy of marketing. It's going in any and all directions with no definite purpose or goal.
Planning is the friend of marketing. It's laying out a plan of action towards a definite, achievable goal.
Randomness is when you sit down at your desk on Monday and think about how you're going to market your business. You get an idea, make a call, write an email and then move on to something else. The next day it's the same. Nothing builds on anything else. You have no momentum, no clear target, no list, no nothing. It's a hard truth to accept, but randomness is the operating principle when it comes to marketing for almost all Independent Professionals.
Planning is when you sit down at your desk on Monday and you have a prioritized list of marketing activities that are all action items from very organized plans. You write your eZine, develop a proposal, and respond to an inquiry all based on well-thought-out plans. The next day is the same. Everything builds on everything else. You have momentum, a clear target, a list, everything you need to attract all the clients you'll ever need. And you're never putting out fires.
This situation is rare for most Independent Professionals but it is quite possible. Work through the Fast Track to More Clients Program step-by-step and you'll get there.
Frustrated by follow-up? Putting out the word, getting attention, generating interest, even eliciting a response to your marketing is easy in comparison to the art of following up and getting an appointment.
When doing follow-up, remember that your prospects are on a different time scale than you are. A month to you seems like a few days to them. And just because a prospective client is on your radar doesn't mean you are on their radar.
Let's say you meet a good potential prospect through a networking meeting. You have a good conversation. You use your Audio Logo. You tell a few client stories. They show interest. You offer to send an article. They say they are interested and would be happy to receive the article and talk fourther. You send an email the next day with the article attached.
And you hear nothing. Two days later you're bummed out. You KNOW they are not interested and that you might as well give up. After awhile you give up on networking, sending articles and following up.
However, the truth is that you have no idea what this prospect is thinking. Most likely they are busy and haven't gotten to the article yet. Or they just went on vacation. Who knows?
As Napoleon Hill say, "It's always your next move." Don't wait, be proactive.
You might call a few days later or the following week. You might send an email. You keep networking and bump into them again at a meeting. When you finally connect, you may discover that they are interested or perhaps not interested.
The point is not to give up in your follow-up until you know one way or the other.
Those who don't give up on follow-up are those who will get clients others miss. It's not because of their great persuasive skills; it's not because they are better coaches or consultants; it's not because they are lucky. It's because they practice the art of friendly persistence.
The biggest mistake you can make in marketing is marketing to strangers instead of those you are already affiliated with.
It's not that strangers wouldn't ultimately make good clients, it's just that they are very hard to approach. It's hard to get their attention and interest, because there is no "Know-Like-Trust" factor.
You want to market to inpiduals and businesses that you have some degree of affiliation with. This can be members of an organization, community, interest group, family, or any other group that you have some kind of connection with.
When I started my business I joined the local Chamber of Commerce, a business brainstorming group, a leads group (like BNI) and a professional association (IMC -Institute of Management Consultants).
That was a lot of affiliations in a very short period of time. Then I worked to develop relationships through group and inpidual meetings, mailings and invitations to introductory workshops. Pretty soon, a lot of people knew me, liked me and trusted me and business started coming my way.
Who can you start affiliating with?
Persistence comes from a firm belief that you can not only win, but that the rewards of winning are worth a thousand times more than the blood sweat and tears that it takes to win.
Winning doesn't mean closing every prospect every time. It means turning enough prospects into ideal clients that you'll have a blast working with.
Too many people try to get their marketing perfect. But if you think of it, perfection is an impossibility. If you were a "perfect marketer" every person you communicated with about your services would buy your services. If you know anybody who can do that, I'd like to meet them!
More important to be a consistent marketer who puts together the best services, messages, marketing materials, and action plans possible and then takes one-step-at-a-time to implement.
To succeed with marketing and the Fast Track Program, that's all you have to do. Start now and complete what you start.
Last week in More Clients I offered a "simple plan" to double your business in 2011. But ultimately, no plans are simple. They are always more complex than they seem.
And after all, as one blog commenter remarked, "How many consultants can actually HANDLE 17 to 19 new clients a year? I certainly can't." Quite right. Then that's not the plan for you.
The bigger question is "What do I really want and how can I create a plan that works for me?" And just as importantly, "How can I create goals and plans that I'll actually implement?"
These days, I'm reading a lot of Napoleon Hill. I read a chapter each day of "Think and Grow Rich" and have also dipped into his magnum opus: "The Law of Success."
Hill, who is the father of every success and motivation book or program since the 1920's, with few exceptions, comes back to the idea of goals and plans over and over in his writing. These ideas are mentioned in virtually every chapter and are at the very core of his teachings.
Beyond the Formula
Most of us think we know how to set goals. My observation is that virtually nobody knows how. Perhaps you're familiar with the S.M.A.R.T. goal-setting formula. Goals should be:
Specific - Measurable - Achievable - Realistic and Time Specific
This formula is useful, but not much. Yes, you need all of these elements but you need more, a lot more, and that's what few understand. This formula doesn't propel you towards your goals.
Making Your Goals Real
For a goal to be real, it needs to become a deep desire, a passion, almost an obsession. It needs to be something you think about all the time, work on a little bit every day, and something that is in total alignment with your larger purpose and values.
So when people say they'd like to double their income, the goals may fit the S.M.A.R.T. formula, but they're as about exciting as a dead fish. The question is, how to you magnify your desire and passion for a goal?
There's no such thing as a perfect formula for achieving big goals, but I will share some of the things I've done that really make a difference.
1. First of all, your goals must be authentic. You must have a genuine reason behind every goal. If you want to make more money what do you want to do with it? You need to be in touch with your values, your passions, what is essential at your very core. What do you want to accomplish before you die and why? If there is little emotion to your goals they will never catch fire.
2. I notice the only goals that really motivate me are big, almost impossible goals. Several years ago I had the goal to make $25K per month. And at the time, in the mid 90's, I think I was making less than $5K/mo. These day's I'm surprised when I don't make $25K each month.
The goal was big, scary, impossible. But I really wanted it. Now that doesn't mean I didn't have interim goals and benchmarks. And it took me quite some time to figure out how to do it, but I never lost sight of that goal.
3. I think about the goal from every side, from every angle. And I write a lot. I've filled notebooks with ideas related to my goals. And the more I write, the clearer the goal becomes and the plans to achieve that goal start to pop into my head. You're going to have more inspirations if you are actively engaged in the goal.
4. Of course, the biggest impediment to goals are the thoughts that say we can't achieve them. Before I'd think of a big goal and then shoot it down immediately. Once I started using Byron Katie's work several years ago and applied her process to my limiting thoughts and beliefs, big goals came more naturally. Now I think about a goal and get excited about the possibilities much faster with less struggle and resistance.
5. I talk to others who are most likely to support me achieve my goals. It's a big mistake sharing your big goals with people who will poke holes in them or react indifferently. Goals need to be cultivated and nurtured. Another big idea of Hill's is to work with a mastermind group who can give you support, encouragement, ideas and resources to achieve your goals. I've been in many mastermind groups and they make a huge difference.
6. I read and absorb the ideas of others who have achieved similar goals. I read a lot of books and articles, attend workshops and sometimes get professional support. There is a vast library of success literature but nothing better, in my opinion, than Hill's body of work. I find these ideas get me thinking in new and exciting directions.
Setting goals is much more than a mechanical process. That's the barest of foundations. If you want to achieve big goals, you need to get your mind vibrating at the level necessary to actively and enthusiastically take the actions towards those goals.
The More Clients Bottom Line: For the most part, big things get done by people with a big purpose, big vision and big goals. And these all need to be constantly nurtured. You need to create the conditions, the atmosphere, the support structures, and the mindset where big goals are embraced fully. Only then do you have a chance of making these goals real.
What's your big goal for 2011? Please share on the More Clients Blog by clicking on the Comments link below.
|Robert Middleton, the owner of Action Plan Marketing, has for 30 years, been helping Self-Employed Professionals attract more of their ideal clients. He offers the online membership site, The More Clients Club, and individual coaching and consulting through his Marketing Action Coaching. If this is your first visit to the More Clients blog, make sure to get a copy of the Marketing Plan Workbook and join the Marketing Club Forum for free.|