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