Want more ideal clients in 2014? If you do, you’ll need to get clear on who is ideal and who is NOT. And then be willing to say no to non-ideal clients to make space for the ideal ones. That is not an easy process. It took me years in my own business to make this shift! And… it is SO worth it. When you are in the flow of working with good-fit people, as I am when I work with smart, established business owners who want their lives back and want to run a better business at the same time, there is NOTHING more rewarding. Honestly.
I want that for you in 2014. So in this article, I am focusing on one piece of making that happen- the initial conversation you have with potential clients.
Whether you consider it a “sales conversation” or “enrollment conversation” or just an “initial chat”, that first conversation with new potential clients needs to be strategic. You want to have a general template that you follow. Here are the key features that I, and hundreds of my clients, have found helpful:
1) Start the conversation building rapport. Nobody wants to be sold to right away. Ever. Build rapport with genuine interest in the other person.
2) Ask a few questions to determine if they are “ideal”. Think about what differentiates ideal from non-ideal for your business. When you identify a non-ideal client, kindly refer them to someone else. For instance, for one of my designer clients, who is highly successful in her field, non-ideal is someone who wants to control the whole process of how she works. If they aren’t willing to give up that control and trust her, she refers to younger, less established designers who are more willing to share the control of the process. This one shift has made an enormous difference in both the profitability of her business and how happy she is in her business (and that latter shift is what I get most excited about!)
3) Ask a series of questions that pull out their struggles/challenges. What are their pain points? Use your experience and expertise to ASK about what is challenging for them in your their field.
For example, my entrepreneurial client who is a builder might ask, “Do you know the vision of what you want your house to look like?” And depending on the answer, he will go deeper into how clear or unclear that vision is, setting up the space to let the client know how he can help with that vision. My client who is a doctor for menopausal women may ask a series of questions to draw out their areas of frustration (mood swings? sleeplessness? weight gain?) And my stylist client asks “Do you have the time to shop for everything you need?” “Do you know your own signature style and know where to find pieces to reflect that?”
The point here is to ask more questions about their pain/challenges than they would even know to mention themselves. And you can do this because you are an expert in your field. You know more about the scope of their challenges than they do themselves so you are asking about that scope- allowing them to see the full level of their struggles.
4) Demonstrate how you can help them overcome their challenges. Walk them through how you can help them ease their pain or frustrations. The process of how you work is, ideally, linked to giving your ideal clients what they really want and need.
5) Prepare yourself with how you will overcome their resistance to your services. You know the core objections of your ideal clients. How can you overcome those in your conversation? For example, money is hot one. If they say “I don’t know if I can afford that”- remind them of the unique results they will get when they work with you, as well as what is likely to happen if they don’t work with you (more of the same, etc)
This is not a difficult process but it is a strategic one. Tweak these steps to fit you and your business and enjoy how you start filling your business with clients you truly love working with.