Marketing and selling… getting clients… seems to be the bane of existence for most coaches and consultants. For most of us, we’d rather be working with clients every day than out selling our services. For others… they’d rather be getting a root canal. Maybe that’s you.
The problem is that if we are not successful in selling our services, we won’t be doing what we love… delivering them!
But marketing and selling don’t have to be like a painful trip to the dentist. In fact, it can be downright fun (or at least bearable) when we’re getting great results. But, how do we get there?
It requires a change of mindset…
To begin this transformation, let’s go up to the 100,000-foot level and look at this business from a big picture perspective. Looking down from that height, we’ll see a marketing pathway that splits into two very separate paths. One is the wide path of self-promotion and the other is the narrow path of natural attraction.
The wider path of self-promotion is well-trafficked and will result in some amount of business. Most professionals begin here, (I did) working hard to call attention to themselves and generate awareness about their practice. Here we find brochures, referral marketing, websites, postcards, blogs, trade associations, networking, workshops, mailers, newsletters, advertising and the like.
For the most part, there’s nothing horribly wrong with these activities, but here is the unvarnished truth… Focusing on them alone simply means you’re adding more noise to the constant barrage of promotional messages your prospects endure every day.
Self-promotional efforts alone will never lead to the big breakthrough that you are looking for. This path will rarely (if ever) set you apart enough in the mind of your target market to get you to the level of financial success that you deserve.
Let me be really direct here for a minute. It is because the methods listed above will do little to address the real reasons why clients will or will not engage your services. Worse yet, in the mind of potential clients, self-promoters are often seen as just another vendor or a commodity to be utilized at the lowest possible price. To overcome that and to start making serious money, we must embrace the opposite and narrower path… that of natural attraction.
How you actually do that is what I am going to share with you here. This will work no matter what type of coach or consultant you are. It will work regardless of your area of expertise. It will work if you are 25 years old or 70 years young. Most of all, it will work for you because I KNOW that most of your competitors are NOT doing these things.
So, what does this path of natural attraction look like?
Actually, we can’t see it, because it exists only in the minds of our prospective clients. But, we can describe it like this…
When members of your target market come to know and understand that you are someone who is a trusted advisor… a person who has both authority and influence and who can improve their current condition… they will be naturally attracted to you and give you their enduring loyalty as a client… They will start calling you!
Knowing What Clients Want
In my research, I’ve learned what clients want from their coaches and consultants. The list is simple:
- They want someone who they can trust.
- They want someone who understands their vision and is committed to helping them achieve it.
- They want someone who possesses different or complimentary skills.
- They want someone who will collaborate and help them think things through instead of force-fitting specific, one size fits all solutions.
Is your marketing addressing those things? Clients all have fears, struggles, and frustrations. What they want is for someone to listen to them without immediately proposing a solution. They want their issues to be validated. In other words, they want to be reassured that their concerns are real and worthy of consideration.
One of the worst things we can experience is being taken advantage of by someone who we go to for help. This is equally true for Fortune 500 executives as it is for someone who is trying to get their first résumé written. In fact, the higher a person is in an organization, the more they will need someone to vent with or talk to.
How do we get to that point?
Activity Based vs. Relationship Based Marketing
Highly successful coaches and consultants focus on the narrower path of natural attraction as opposed to the typical activity based self-promotional style of marketing we mentioned earlier in this post. How?
- By demonstrating competence in advance
- By building relationships first before selling anything
Demonstrating Competence in Advance
The standard for doing this is speaking and writing about your deep subject matter expertise. If you’ve been a regular reader, you have heard that from me before. But, I want to go deeper today. I want to give you the tools you need to earn a six-figure income.
What I am about to share with you is quite unconventional. Most coaches and consultants don’t or won’t do it. It’s about what you do next AFTER your speaking and writing get you an initial meeting with a prospective client.
One way to display competence in advance is by preparing provocative questions before meeting with a prospective client so you can concentrate on listening and note-taking. (By the way… clients love it when you take notes. They see it as you caring enough to record their thoughts to ensure your understanding.) Ask clarifying questions and repeat their words back for confirmation.
Provocative questions are questions that the client hadn’t ever thought about before and/or that their employees would never ask them. You’ll get a head start on building authority, influence, and trust by asking such questions to help determine the true nature of their situation. This is equally true if you are helping them design a chemical plant, creating a leadership program or fixing their computer. It’s all the same.
We demonstrate the depth of our understanding not by what we say, but by what we ask. Ever been approached by a professional who “shows up and throws up”, trying to impress you with their intelligence and how fantastic their services are?
Well-conceived questions engage the prospect/client in the process of discovery as a partner… critical to determining whether or not we can help them. This is true regardless of your field. We gain insight into the client/customer’s situation by asking questions, not by making presentations.
Think about going to the hospital emergency room for a minute. Did they give you a presentation about their qualifications or the benefits of using their services the last time you or a family member were there? No… they asked diagnostic type questions and then listened to determine how they could best help you.
Are you asking the right questions… those questions that the client hadn’t ever thought about before? Doing that elevates the discussion from a sales pitch to one that helps the client see you as an advisor, not just another expert. It helps develop that all-important relationship first. For some examples of such questions, take a look at my recent post… Finding New Clients: Why Conventional Wisdom Can Be Dead Wrong! http://wp.me/p3n06G-gK
Clients become reassured that you are listening and care when you use empathic statements like:
I am beginning to understand where you’re coming from…
I can see why you may be frustrated…
You appear to be feeling __________________?
It seems that you are not happy with the ways things are? Am I correct?
Before you dismiss me as being all touchy-feely or off my rocker… remember how you want to be treated when you are the customer or client. Start there. Your marketing and selling efforts will become easier and less painful when you demonstrate your competency in advance and establish an increased level of intimacy and relationship with your potential clients before you try to sell them anything.