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attracting clients

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Boo! Serve, Surprise, and Delight

Growing a practice or a business is way easier than most professionals and service entrepreneurs make it out to be.

Their problem is that they’ve been taught that they need to be frantically and furiously networking, buying and then contacting members off of “hot lists”, writing press releases and making public appearances, and bombarding social media outlets to get their brands “out there”.

All of these practices may have some value, but the most powerful and too often overlooked way to grow a professional practice or service business is to focus first on the clients you already have.  You do this by serving them with all of your ability and in every way you can, and by surprising and delighting them along the way.

If you make your interactions with your past and existing clients as powerful as they can be, they will want to tell stories of their interactions with you to other people.  Fiercely loyal working relationships begin with providing unparalleled service.

SERVE

Great service starts with making “good lemonade”.  In his now-out-of-print 1998 children’s book, Good Lemonade, author Frank Asch tells the story of a boy who starts out with a busy lemonade stand because he offers a better price (with lots of discounts) than his competitor, the boy up the street.

The boy up the street is charging more for the lemonade at his stand.  As the summer days roll on, however, the higher-priced competitor is becoming busier and busier, and fewer people are coming to the less expensive stand.

In the end, our little boy visits his competitor’s stand and learns that the lemonade there is simply much better than his.

How’s your lemonade?  Are you giving your current and past clients enough personal contact?  Are you serving them in every way you can?  Are you doing your best job for them?  These are the minimum standards for great service.

SURPRISE AND DELIGHT

Clients tell stories about you when you do special things to show you care, such as:

~Calling them on their birthdays
~Knowing when their anniversaries are and surprising them with timely gifts
~Sending them articles or books that you know they’ll find interesting or helpful
~Bringing their kids face-painting kits on Halloween or pies on Thanksgiving
~Remembering their favorite flavors of ice cream
~Bringing chew toys for their pets
~Stopping by or calling for no reason at all—just to see how they’re doing.

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In my past life as a lawyer, I would arrive at a real estate closing with a bottle of champagne for my clients and present it to them when all the papers were signed and the money had finally changed hands.  Not only did I delight my clients—who came back to me again for other reasons and who referred their friends and associates to me—but sometimes I also delighted the people on the other side of the transaction, who would hire me the next time around.  Was it just so they could get a bottle of champagne at their closing, or had they seen how well I worked with my clients all along?

I remember one realtor saying, I should have thought of that!”  (And she should have.)

If going out of your way like this seems too much to fathom, remember that there’s a huge difference between doing things so that your clients will think you’re “a nice person”, and doing things to acknowledge and value your clients as human beings—to thank them for their continued relationship with you.

Make an effort not only to serve, but to surprise and delight your best clients, and they will tell stories about you to their friends and associates.  Those listeners may just want to have good stories to tell about their service provider, as well—and they’ll know where to find one the next time around.

Learn to send chills with your spookily-good service, and keep REACHING…

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Register for My Webinar Today!

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Take advantage of my 17 years of experience working with financial and insurance advisors at all levels by attending my webinar: How to Triple Your Qualified Leads in 30 Days

If you want more clients with less stress and without spending a lot of money, you’ll want to tune in NOW!

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And don’t forget to join us for our PowerMinutes Coffee Break!

TODAY, November 1st
And every Tuesday at 10 AM Eastern.

Get answers to your questions about prospecting, sales, marketing, time management, practice management and more.

Just grab your brew and come to http://sandyschussel.com/conference

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Want more info?  Email issues?  Please, contact me here!

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Put Referrals on Your Agenda

A few years ago, I presented a teleseminar for advisors throughout the U.S. on referrals.

During the live Q and A, Paul, an advisor in the Midwest, expressed frustration with his efforts to grow his practice by asking for introductions.

“I ask my clients about people they know who could use my help,” he told us, “But it feels awkward, and then my clients get all awkward and put me off.”

“Who gets awkward first?” I asked him.

“Well, I guess I do,” was his response, “But it’s because I know that they’re going to be uncomfortable.”

“Did it occur to you that maybe they get uncomfortable because you’re awkward, and your discomfort actually triggers theirs?” I asked.

“I never considered that,” he admitted.

We then went through 3 Steps Paul could use to take the discomfort out of the act of asking for referrals:

1. Start your client meetings by giving your clients (verbally or in writing) an agenda, that includes as the final item a discussion about friends, associates, and family members you might be able to help.  Don’t surprise a client with a sudden request at the end of an appointment to talk about this important subject.  If a client is going to be uncomfortable with this agenda item, let him or her tell you right at the beginning, and spend a few minutes either then or at the end discussing why this item makes him/her uncomfortable.

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…The last thing I’d like to talk about this morning is some of the people in your life who you would want to have my help.  I’d much rather be working with someone you want me to work with than someone whose name I took off a list somewhere.  We’ll talk about some of the people you have in mind, and, if we decide it makes sense, we’ll figure out the most comfortable way for us to get in contact…

2. Always ask about the value you’ve given them—either on that particular appointment, or in your professional relationship over time.  Ask him what he got out of your meeting, what he learned, and what he will get or has gotten out of his relationship with you.  Ask him to tell you something specific that he found particularly helpful.  Then utter the magic question: “What else?”  Keep getting feedback until he can’t think of anything else, and then direct him to the ideas that you wanted him to find helpful, and ask if he did.

Did you find our discussion this morning helpful?…Was there one specific idea that you found particularly useful?…What else?…What else?…How about when I explained…

3. Now, you can ask them about people they know who could be helped in the same way.  Remind her that this was one of your agenda items and ask who came to mind.

Mary, I’m glad you found the work we did here today so helpful.  The last thing I promised you we’d do this morning is discuss some of the people you care about who might want the same kind of help, and decide whether it would make sense to arrange an introduction—and how we would go about that.  Who is the first person who came to mind?

Speak with confidence, I told the group. If you don’t feel confident, act as if you do.  Paul admitted that part of his problem was that he had not practiced being firm, clear, and self-assured when he brought up the subject of referrals…and practice is essential.

If you want to attract more clients, put talking about the people in your clients’ lives on your appointment agenda and get it out into the open, right up front.  Act assuredly, and keep REACHING…

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SERVE, and Grow Rich

My friend and colleague, coach and author Steve Chandler, recently wrote this:

“Most people try to move toward wealth in embarrassing, clumsy ways.  They have cynicism programmed into them from an early age.  So they want a course called Manipulate and Grow Rich, or Network and Grow Rich or Win People Over and Grow Rich.”

“They see companies like Apple, Amazon, Nordstrom, Whole Foods, Southwest Airlines, and Google, and they think ‘I need a big, clever idea like that!’ or ‘I need diabolically opportunistic branding and positioning!’  When that doesn’t work, then they think it’s time to suck up to powerful people…polish some apples and lick some boots!  Why?  Because it’s Who You Know that makes you rich!”

Yet all the while, there is a spirit that runs through all radical wealth creation…and we’ll keep it simple by calling it service.  All the individuals and companies I have worked with in the past 30 years revealed to me this underlying truth: wealth comes from profound service.”

If you’re working on your Business Plan for 2014, make sure it includes serving your clients profoundly.  If it does, this will be a great year for you.

To get specific, here are a few of Steve’s (and my) tips:

1.  Stop Pleasing and Start ServingAs children, we are conditioned to please.  “Were you a good girl, today?” Daddy asked, and what he meant was: Were you sweet, passive, obedient and not too vocal about your opinions?  Never did we hear him ask: “Were you bold and powerful?”  Or, “Were you courageous?”

Adults were the people with the money and power.  If we pleased them, we’d get that ice cream or that allowance.  As a result, too many of us learned to default to pleasing.  We want our clients to think we’ve been a good little boy or girl, so if we think there will be resistance to what we believe serves them best, we choose what will please them instead of what we believe they should do or have.

If we served instead pleasing, we would astonish our clients, instead of simply being “a nice guy”.  We would be making a real difference in another person’s life.

2.  Create Agreements, Not Expectations.  We become anxious because a client or prospect hasn’t done what we think they “should have” done.  Expectations belong in the recycle bin, along with ideas like a “no” answer being a rejection.  To fully serve and grow rich, you don’t need those anymore.  In fact, they will slow you down and give you a life of disappointment—even causing nagging and persistent feelings of betrayal.

If you want a client to do something, create an agreement.  Agreements serve because they are creative collaborations that honor both people.  They are like a co-written song.  Expectations, on the other hand, live and grow in us like cancer.  Nothing good can come from them.

3.  Don’t tell a client she’s wrong.  Proving that your client’s or prospect’s view or understanding about the world is wrong—no matter how ridiculous her opinion might be—is not serving.

Listen for the value in what she is saying before you respond.  Recognize the merit, and acknowledge that you see it.  Agree with the “objection” rather than trying to overcome it with a humiliating argument.  Instead, agree with her, and find a way to “reframe” how she’s seeing it.

“I understand that you don’t believe in life insurance, and if I saw it the way you’ve explained you do, I wouldn’t believe in it either.  What I do believe in is making sure my family has money at the most critical time that I won’t be able to help.  If we didn’t call it ‘life insurance’, wouldn’t that be something you’d want your family to have?”

Make 2014 the year of profound service, and it’s bound to be your best.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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A TALE OF TWO ADVISORS

A favorite hypothetical of mine:

Let’s imagine two professionals in the same field.  We’ll call them Advisor A and Advisor B.

We’ll give them the same educational background, the same training, the same resources and connections, and even similar personalities and work ethic.

But when we put them out in the field, I can promise you that one—let’s say, Advisor A—will do better than the other—our unfortunate Advisor B.

If we made them practically identical in every aspect, the only factor that could account for the difference in their performances is that Advisor A would be taking more of the kind of action he needs to take than Advisor B is taking.

But if their work ethic were the same, how could their actions be any different?

The simplest explanation is that for each, the way his world is occurring to him will be different: the way he views his work, the way he views the people he interacts with, and, of course, the way he views himself.

Advisor A might see his work as being important to the people he works with—something they need in their lives.

He might see the world as a safe and friendly place where what he has to offer is welcome.

He might see clients and prospective clients as open and interested in doing what they need to do for their families.  And he might see the people he works with as good people, who are there to support him.

Advisor B—the less successful advisor—might have a different view of his world:

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Maybe it’s a difficult, unfriendly place, where you have to struggle to succeed.

Maybe he sees himself as a “salesperson”, who “bothers” people.

Perhaps he sees clients and prospects as closed and deceitful, and he sees the people he works with as being there to make his life difficult.

When Advisor B feels he is not succeeding, he tries to imitate what Advisor A is doing, or he enrolls in yet another course to learn another way to do what he already knows how to do.  He experiments with the latest and most advanced strategies and language nuances, and finds that none of it works for him.

Of course it doesn’t.  All of his effort is like trying to take the apples off of someone else’s tree and tape them to his own, withering tree stump.  It’s not the same, and it won’t yield any new, ripe fruit.

If you identify with Advisor B in this hypothetical, you should understand that it is a mistake to try to solve your work performance problems with more information.  You already know enough to succeed.  What you need is a transformation—an alteration in how your world is occurring for you.  Your “inner game” needs fixing, not your “outer game”.

Strategies and language nuances may help a little, but until you view the world as a place where taking action is easy and fun, you will continue to struggle.

If you’re not taking enough action because you are uncomfortable or overwhelmed, don’t spend your time, energy, and money on another course to learn new ways of doing the same thing.  Instead, get to work on your view of your world.

How different would your practice be if you believed that finding new prospects is easy?  That people are grateful for the help you offer?  That it’s OK to tell them what you believe, even if it might upset them?  That you bring value to everyone you speak with?

Change your inner game and you automatically change your results—but only always.

I always believe in game-changers, so contact me if you’re in need of one.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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The GREAT Little Marketing Secret: Send a Note Card.

Thank clients for their business.  Thank them for referrals.  Remind them about their appointments.  And do each of these…with a handwritten note.  Find an excuse to send a note card to people you meet, people who provide services to you, and people who you serve.

We have all become so accustomed to communicating by email, text, and other electronic and social-media means that the lowly note card—handwritten, hand-addressed, hand-stamped, and delivered by “snail mail”—has actually become an item of immediate interest and delight when someone is shuffling through her junk mail or bills.

While there is a cost-factor, and a small amount of labor in selecting stationery, buying stamps, writing, and posting the card—not to mention tossing an occasional mistake into the trash—the potential rewards are great.

One of my clients—Peter, a financial advisor—was telling me a story about how he thought his light gray suit was ruined when someone spilled red wine in his lap at a networking event.  He was amazed that the Dry Cleaner was able to get the stain out entirely, leaving the suit as good as new.

“Send him a note, thanking him for getting the wine out,” I told him.

Peter protested that a handwritten note was overkill.  He had thanked the owner personally when he picked up the suit.

I explained to him that the owner probably received dozens of complaint letters each year—people sending letters to complain about damaged shirts and demanding reimbursement.  The seemingly outdated “Thank You” note, I told him, would surprise and flatter the owner and, in the long-term, help Peter’s business.  Peter was skeptical, but he sent the Thank You note, with one of his business cards enclosed.

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A week later, Peter called me, unable to hide the excitement in his voice.

“When I walked in with my shirts yesterday,” he started, “My note and the business card I enclosed were taped up on the wall near the counter.  The owner thanked me for my note and asked me about my business—something he’d never done in the three years I’ve been bringing my clothes to him.”

“But wait!” he exclaimed, “It gets better.  I told him what I did, using the audio billboard you helped me to develop, and he asked me if I’d be willing to talk with him about his situation.  And all because I sent him that note!”

Peter eventually started working with the Dry Cleaner, who turned out to have other businesses, and a significant amount of assets.

“It won’t always work like that,” I warned him during one of our later sessions, “But it will open doors for you if you keep doing it.”

Make it a point to write three note cards a week—to anyone you can think of, and for any reason.  Enclose a business card, and don’t be afraid to follow up when the opportunity arises by asking if your note was received.

You don’t need a note card to contact me for help.  However you go about it, reach out, and keep REACHING…

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P.S.  Peter sent me a handwritten note to thank me for helping him land this new client.  I was thrilled to receive it, and would be just as thrilled to refer him to anyone who needed his brand of help.

Small Talk, BIG SALES: Lessons from a Master Moneymaker

Mehdi Fakharzadeh is one of the most successful insurance sales agents in history.  At 92, he is still taking on and servicing clients.

Mehdi achieved his success despite starting out with a severely limited grasp of the English language and American customs.  Now, at the top of his industry, he is famous throughout the world—with a following in over forty countries.  A Chinese admirer changed his own first name to Mehdi, and at least one other inspired insurance agent gave that name to his son.

Individual Coaching

At an Insurance Pro Shop seminar a few years ago, I had the honor of being asked to speak alongside Mehdi and the renowned publicist Wally Cato.  Here are some of the Lessons I learned from Master Mehdi that day:

1. Doing the right thing for your clients results in more business and referrals.  Mehdi does not attribute his success to any skill of his own—he believes it is his karmic reward for giving what he can to everyone he comes into contact with.  His belief in this regard, and how it humbles him, shines through him as he speaks.

2. Love what you doMehdi told his audience that selling insurance is his hobby.  He is up at 4 a.m. eager to start his day and doesn’t stop until his wife calls him to tell him to come home for dinner.

3. Be prepared to give them what they ask for, but always show them what you believe they should have.  Mehdi talked about how he increases the size of his sales, and helps clients at the same time, by presenting insurance policies at signing time for amounts greater than what he had previously discussed with them.

“They always try to buy less than they should,” he told his audience. “I present to them what they really should have, and often, they agree when they see it.”

4. Make them clients first.  What do you do when a client doesn’t want what you believe is right for him?” a workshop attendee asked.  “I give him what he does want, of course,” was Mehdi’s reply.  But he continued:

“I wait two or three years [until we have a good relationship and my client trusts me],” he explained, “And then I show him a chart that has on the left side what he bought, and on the right side, what I believed was right for him.  I ask him which plan looks better now…and he always points to the one on the right.”

None of this can happen, Mehdi told his audience, unless the person in question becomes a client first.

5. Never give up!  A consistent theme in everything Mehdi spoke about was his persistence“Whenever there is a problem,” he told his audience, “I sit down and create a solution.  There’s always a solution.”

6. Talk “Nonsense”.  That’s what Mehdi calls his delightful way of engaging people in conversation.

“If I’m going up in an elevator and I push ‘4’, and the other man pushes ‘8’, I say, ‘You must be twice as good as me’.  When he asks me why I say that, I tell him that 8 is twice as good as 4.”

Mehdi reminded his audience that day that it makes people feel good when you’re having fun.  As further proof that Mehdi walks his talk, he invited me to spend an afternoon with him at his office to pick his brain, and bought us lunch at his favorite Chinese restaurant—asking nothing in return.

Give first, talk small, and think big—and contact me for help with doing the right thing.  Love what you do, and keep REACHING…

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Client Retention: They Changed Their Minds!!!

After two visits—a total of six hours—advisor Marianne had gotten an enthusiastic “thumbs up” from her new “almost clients”—a young professional couple with small children—to prepare a financial plan for them.  The plan would specifically include some much-needed life insurance.  There was no doubt the mission was going forward!

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But a few days later, just before Marianne’s scheduled return with her specific proposal, the couple called to tell her they had decided to hold off on doing anything.

“I needed that sale,” Marianne complained to me during our coaching session.

“And that’s probably why you lost it,” I responded.

Our need is the ugliest thing we can show prospective clients.  If they believe that your need to make money is more important than your delivery of the service they would be hiring you to do, they’ll back away.  Retaining you or buying what you have to offer has to be their idea, not yours.

Even when—especially when—you need the “yes”, make sure that your prospective clients sense only your devotion to bringing them the best and most appropriate service.

Blake, an attorney in Michigan, wrote me last week about his problem in getting prospective clients to engage his services.

“I find out what their situation is,” he writes, “and then I explain very carefully what I’ll be doing for them.”

“Then they ask about price.  I tell them my hourly rate, which is competitive, but they say they want to think about it…and then, I don’t hear from them again.”

Professionals like Blake often don’t spend enough time developing a relationship with their clients, customers, or patients.  They know their work.  They know how to diagnose problems, and they know what the most likely solutions are.  But they don’t know what their prospective clients really need: someone to hear them out; sympathy, empathy, and validation.

Here are some suggestions that might help you “close” more clients:

1. Ask more and better questions.  “Situational” questions are essential for you in order to enable you to do your work, but they have relatively low value to a prospective client who already knows his or her own situation.

How does the situation make him or her feel?  Why does he/she feel that way?  What result would this person like to get from working with you?  How will that make him/her feel better?

These kinds of questions don’t necessarily add any information to your business stats, but they help you to create a bond with your new client.

2. Find out if they’re committed to change before you talk about fees.  Ask if she’s receiving value from the discussion and if she has any questions for you.  Ask if she’d be interested in working with someone who could alter her status quo.

3. Find out what is causing them to hesitate.  If he says, “Let me think about it,” find out what he agrees with and narrow down what his concerns are.  Does he have reservations about your abilities?  Is he looking for a better price?  It’s okay—and important—to ask these questions.

If you want more clients to say “yes” and stick to it, start by making sure you spend the time to ask compelling questions, and base the solution you offer directly on their answers.  Whether it’s in asking for the sale or asking for introductions, make it about themnot about your need.

If you want help learning better ways to ensure that prospective clients become actual clients, contact me.  In the meantime, let them change their minds, and just keep REACHING…

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Holiday Sales are Easy as Pie

For most advisors, the Fourth Quarter means a year-end blitz to improve their production numbers, hours billed, and company or office standings.  Realistically, there are only a few ways to do this:

1) Find more clients
2) Find more ways to serve existing clients
3) Make more sales
4) Make bigger sales

The majority will focus on the first of these, squeezing in as many cold calls, workshops, and client-appreciation events as they can.  They’ll rush around, becoming exhausted and frazzled—but not necessarily maneuvering themselves into a better position—by the time the holidays hit.

Many top producers, however, will slowly and meticulously examine their top clients’ files to see if there are more ways they can serve them, planning out their referral discussions, and looking for ways to surprise and delight them enough that these advocates will tell their friends and family members about the magical experiences they are having.  More business from existing clients and more quality referrals—without the frazzle and exhaustion.  Their Strategy is Simple:

1. Serve them.  Set appointments with your best clients.  Review their files first to see if there’s any way you can help them that you aren’t already—whether it will produce immediate income for you or not.  If they need an introduction to an accountant or a good podiatrist, serve them by being the source.

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Nightmare Before Xmas (’93)

2. Use the holidays as an excuse to surprise and delight them.  Fortunately, while the upcoming season may feel like crunch time, it also presents some great opportunities to get your clients talking about you.  The first of these opportunities is actually Halloween.  Just think of all the ghoulish possibilities!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do your best clients have children who will be dressing up?  How about investing in the Klutz Face Painting Book?  It comes with easy-to-remove face paints and detailed instructions for creating characters.  Or, pick up and deliver some great pumpkins and bring them to their homes.

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Courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel

For Thanksgiving, find out if your best clients will be traveling and, if not, order them a wonderful pumpkin or apple pie from a local bakery or pie company.  Hand-deliver it a day or two before the Holiday—or on Thanksgiving morning.

Two years ago, my coaching client, Don, was invited in to meet his financial client’s family when he showed up at the door with pie.  In the presence of her relatives, his grateful client announced how much she enjoyed doing business with her advisor—how much they had accomplished and how much more they would have to do.  A few days later, one of her guests contacted Don about starting to work together.

If pies aren’t your thing, be creative.  It’s about astonishing your clients in a way that gets them smiling about their relationship with you and raving about you to the people they know.  Brainstorm with your team.  Is there something unique and special you can do to show them how important they are to you?

3. Talk about helping their families and friends.  With another financial year coming to a close, do your clients have friends or family members who might need your services?  If you can specifically identify someone in their circles, ask about him or her.  If not, ask them if they know someone who might need your help before the quarter’s done.

You can still go ahead and make those cold calls, book those workshops and events, but put your emphasis on existing clients—the people who already do business with you and will be joyous to rave about you to those they love.  If you need more tips on serving up the right surprises, contact me. Either way, keep delivering what you do best, and keep REACHING…

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GIVE SOMEONE THE GIFT OF SELF/SALES HELP

Send someone a thoughtful and thought-provoking gift this season:

Autographed copies of my books, The High Diving Board and Become a Client Magnet.  I’ll even include a personal note that you can customize.  There’s no extra charge for the signing, nor for holiday gift-wrapping.  Simply click here to order the 2-book package, and make sure to edit the Gift Options and/or Add a Comment or Request to let me know your needs.

STOP SELLING!

Are you aggressively selling your services and finding that few prospective clients—even those who are clearly in your target market—are buying?

Or, maybe you’re struggling to find new clients because you’re afraid that if you reach out to people you’ll appear to be selling—something you just can’t bring yourself to do?

STOP IT!

“What is selling?” I ask at the beginning of many of my programs.

This question elicits a variety of answers that provide a window into the thinking of the professionals and entrepreneurs in attendance:

“Trying to convince someone to buy what you offer,” says one.

“Saying things that persuade someone to agree to buy your services,” says another.

Manipulating someone into feeling he or she has to have what you offer,” a third might say.

“If your view of ‘selling’ your services is something along these lines, it’s no wonder that you can’t fill your practice or find enough clients for your businesses,” I tell them.

“STOP SELLING YOUR SERVICES!”

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Courtesy of www.Entrepreneur.com

After pausing for effect, I explain, “If by ‘selling’ you mean some kind of noisy, pushy, aggressive ‘hawking’ of your services, you’ve already either sensed or discovered that ‘selling’, as you’ve defined it, doesn’t work.”

“But what if you had a different view of selling?” I ask them.  “What if selling was asking appropriate questions so that your prospective clients understand that they need what you offer?

“Stop selling,” I tell them.  Start attracting business instead.

For the rest of the seminar, we usually discuss the distinction.  Among the points I ask them to consider are these:

a) How to develop an “attraction” mindset.  What you offer is something valuable—something that people want or need.  If you have any clients at all, you’ve already proven that.  People ought to know about your practice or business.  You should be proud to tell them about it.  But you don’t have to “push” it on them.

b) How to resist the urge to “sell” and ask great questions instead.  The “selling” that doesn’t work usually involves identifying a potential client and then trying to “close” him or her on a meeting with you or on the purchase of your services.

Tell a prospective client what you do and then ask his permission to explore his situation.  The conversation might end right there, but since people do like to buy—and you’re not selling—he’s likely to agree to let you explore.  Once you have permission, ask questions designed to unearth some specific need or desire.

c) How to address the specific need or desire.  Then, instead of talking about generic features and advantages of your services, discuss how what you do meets the specific need or desire uncovered by your questions.

To learn how to stop selling and start connecting with clients, contact me.  In the meantime, keep REACHING…

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BE the Red Crayon (NOT the “SALESMAN”!)

As a coach, I work with all kinds of already successful people looking for help to bring their careers—and lives—to the next level.  Most are selling professional services of one kind or another, and much of the time, they are doing so as part of an independent business or practice.  Their next level is getting more clients, getting better clients, or simply turning the clients they have already into fiercely loyal advocates who will keep working with them for years to come.

Many of my clients come to me with an idea—a paradigm—that the only way they can grow is to do something they dread: marketing, prospecting, or (horror of horrors): “selling”.

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Danny DeVito in Matilda (1996)

“But I’m an advisor,” my client Bob protested a few years ago, not a SALESMAN.”

The picture Bob had in his mind of someone who “sells” is the pushy salesman on the used car lot with the loud plaid sports jacket, the phony smile, and the bad toupee.  Who wants to be that guy?

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Like most professionals who are not precisely where they want to be, Bob couldn’t fill his day working with quality clients for two reasons:

1. He didn’t know how to attract more business; and
2. He was apprehensive about cold calling, making presentations, and other “salesy” things he was sure I’d be making him do.

“What if instead of worrying about marketing, prospecting, and selling, you just positioned yourself to attract the clients you want?” I asked Bob.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he responded, “but that sounds a lot better than selling.”

If you’re just another financial advisor, insurance producer, or attorney, you’re faced with competition from dozens—or hundreds—of people doing the same work that you are.  You’re just another “white crayon”.  You will get business, but your ability to get more and better clients will be limited.  Sending out mailings and refrigerator magnets, making cold calls and other marketing and sales activities might pull in the occasional new client, but what will work faster and better is having a way to distinguish yourself from all of the other white crayons.

Instead of struggling to sell your services, position yourself as a provider who can fulfill a specific need for a specific type of client.

Every day, I speak with people who are telling their prospects they are brokers, or consultants, or coaches, entrepreneurs or service providers, without differentiating themselves from all of the other people who do “the same thing”.  Each of them is just one more white crayon in a box filled with white crayons.

The point they’re missing is that clients are more attracted to experts and specialists—to someone unique—than to general practitioners who look like all the other general practitioners in any field.  Your prospective clients are looking for the Red Crayon.  Start attracting them by giving them what they’re looking for.

Red Crayon

When I explained this to Bob, he protested that he couldn’t be a Red Crayon.  He was “just another financial advisor”.  When I connected with him on social media, however, I found several posts he had written about putting four of his kids through college.

His expertise on this subject was already a way he could attract clients.  But as we spoke, he mentioned how he had put himself through college, because his own parents couldn’t afford to help him.

These were two powerful personal stories that made Bob a Red Crayon, which would, if properly displayed, comfortably attract many more new clients than any “sales” effort ever could.

Why wasn’t his practice already as full as he would have liked it to be?  Until now, Bob had always chosen to be “just another financial advisor”.  Like many of us, on some level, he was afraid to be an individual in order to have the kind of success he deserved.

If you recognize that what holds you back is fear, try my book, THE HIGH DIVING BOARD: How to Overcome Your Fears and Live Your Dreams.  If you know your hang up is not wanting to be a “pushy salesman“, look out for my upcoming workshop on MASTERING CLIENT REFERRALS without even having to ask for them, or contact me to find out more.

In the meantime, be your own Red Crayon, and keep REACHING…

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