The pain-free way to convert leads into clients

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You’ve worked hard for your skills, streamlined your packages and services, hustled your hiney off to get your name out there. Now you’re preparing for a discovery call with a new lead. YAY! Here it comes, the critical moment: How do you convince a potential client that your service is worthwhile?

Unfortunately, this is where a lot of us choke, lose focus, and have trouble sealing the deal. (Ask me how I know this… ) But talking to potential customers doesn’t have to be so hard.

Here's my super simple strategy for converting leads into paying clients:

1. Be relatable

It’s way too easy to get caught up in the allure of a well-known entrepreneur’s personality. They’re bigger than life and it seems like everyone wants to do business with them. “Can I ever be that popular?” you wonder. Remember: You can only do you.

Last year, I launched a course. NBD, but here’s the important part for you to know: I didn’t just launch according to Amy Porterfield, I launched like I WAS Amy Porterfield! Big mistake—as much as I would like to imagine myself sipping lattes in Carlsbad, CA with my BFFs Jeff Walker and Marie Forleo, that’s never going to be me.

There, I said it, I’m never going to be Amy Porterfield. (#allthetears) I spent tons on Facebook ads and did a big launch promo for the six (yes, SIX) webinars I hosted.

All in all, it wasn’t a total flop financially but emotionally it really, really sucked. And, I had no where near the results of one of Amy’s launches.

Most importantly, launching like Amy Porterfield, instead of launching like Christina Scalera, busted my sales because I wasn’t relatable to my audience. I wasn’t being me. Amy Porterfield doesn’t post a photo of the Stranger Things intro and write “I love this documentary,” on it, nor does she take a heaping bite of cookie dough while crying that she will never look like Jennifer Love Hewitt. She doesn’t dance around eating chips to the guacamole song or produce videos making fun of ridiculous claims of online success (“I was homeless yesterday but now I’m running a six-figure Ponzi scheme!).

During your discovery call, be yourself, let your personality shine through—whether you’re silly, adventurous, serious or organized, and take a little time to show how you’ve had similar experiences to what your client is dealing with. Ideally, you’ll be working with this person for a while, and it’s better to make sure your personalities mesh well from the start. And regardless of personality type, it’s much better to be friendly and engaging than it is to hide behind a stiff professional persona. Who wants to do business with a machine? Definitely not your clients!

2. Listen, then talk

Rather than jumping right in and talking about all the great services you have to offer, ask your client about what they need and where they’re struggling in their business. Using this strategy offers multiple benefits. First, you establish that you’re interested in actually solving your lead’s problems instead of offering a one-size-fits-all solution.

The power of just listening is SO underrated—no one listens to each other anymore! Refrain from doing all the talking and just let your lead rant at the beginning of the call. They’ll feel better and you’ll have a heaping pile of sales copy straight from the client’s mouth! When I sell high-end consulting services, my clients think I’m reading their mind. I’m just paying close attention to previous conversations and listening! Still working on my Jedi mind reading technique but the force is pretty lame in me.

When it’s your turn to talk, you’ll now be able to more easily highlight which of your services will be appropriate for them. Last, but not least, you’ll be able to assess whether you’ll have the skills, time, and passion needed for their problem. If you don’t, you’ll be able to maintain control of the conversation and address the issue upfront, instead of blathering on about how skilled you are, and then realizing after the fact that their problem will be too time consuming or is outside of your skill set.

Click here to learn how to protect yourself without scaring away potential clients.

3. Show, don’t tell

Once you’ve established what your client’s needs are, don’t just list off your services and rates and cross your fingers. Take the time to show your lead how your service or product is a solution for their problem. Talk about how your other clients have achieved results. Take the time to brainstorm a little with them. Explain how you would handle a particular situation they’re dealing with, or how your product could benefit them in multiple ways. Show your excitement about their project, their mission, and the work you’d be doing. Paint a picture of what life will look like after they start working with you.

Don’t be afraid to “give away” free knowledge. They’ll appreciate that you’re genuinely interested in helping them, and they likely need someone else (you!) to implement it. Plus, most importantly, how much can you really give away in a 15-20 minute consult call? Especially when you’re listening (see #2, above) for at least half of it?

4. Make it easy to work with you

Streamline your on-boarding process so that it feels easy and natural to take the next step with you. There are lots of client relationship management systems out there (my favorite system is HoneyBook, but there are plenty of others!), but they all boil down to this: Make it simple for your client to read your proposal, pay their deposit, sign a contract, and to get in touch with you. If taking the next step is simple and straightforward, they’re much less likely to procrastinate. And that means you’re one step closer to showing them just how awesome working with you can be.

Do you know how many service providers I’ve never gotten back to because they sent me a contract to print and sign? A LOT. I don’t even have a working printer y’all (totally about to got all Office Space on it, don’t even get me started). Score: Printer 1; Service I would have booked: 0.

5. Schedule a reminder to follow up

You made it through the call, listened hard, showed your client just how awesome things could be if they hired you, and now you sit back and wait, right? Right?

Wrong. Now is when you give them a few days or a week to mull it over—then follow up to answer any questions they might still have and to ease their fears about investing in you. Set a deadline on any proposal you send them: Let them know you can’t hold their spot forever, you have other clients waiting with baited breath! Schedule a reminder for yourself to email or call them before the proposal expires, reminding them you (politely) need an answer soon.

At the end of the day we’re all human, we all want to be understood, and we all want a helpful solution for our problems. Keep that at the forefront of your mind when you talk to your lead, and you’ll do great!

Do you find yourself booking lots of dead-end discovery calls? Join the free Client Mindset Workshop and learn how to convert those clients.

how to book clients #business #entrepreneur #clients

8 Steps to Building Trust that Turns Clients into Raving Fans

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Last year, I cleaned out my closet and found an expensive dress from Anthropologie that still had the tags attached. I purchased that dress nearly three years earlier.

Looking at it again, with three years of distance from the purchase, it was all wrong for me. I bought it when I was working full-time and had clearly thought it would be a good work outfit. Now that my working attire means donning a clean pair of yoga pants, I couldn’t think of a single occasion where I’d be excited to wear this to, which meant I had to get rid of it. Selling it would only bring in a fraction of the price paid, so I went back to Anthro to see if they would take it back. After all, their return policy doesn’t say anything about time limits as long as the tags are attached.

Without hesitation, they not only took it back, they also refunded my credit card. That’s right—they didn’t even give me store credit! So aside from the pretty paper and nice smells, I will forever shop at Anthropologie because if it doesn’t work out, I know they have my back, even three years later. I trust them wholeheartedly as a retailer.

As business owners, we can facilitate the same kind of kinship with our audience and clients. Even before making your next sale or booking your next client, trust in you as a service provider or retailer is really what determines who will invest their money in your business.

Aside from long-term trust building strategies like Anthro has in place, what can you do today to start earning the trust of your audience so they eventually become your clients, customers and biggest fans?

8 Ways to Build Trust with Your Clients

1. Set the tone for new clients by presenting yourself professionally.

You can build trust with a potential client well before you make contact through the way you present your business online. A professional website with a modern (read: mobile-friendly) design and up-to-date content goes a long way. Notice, I said professional, not perfect. Your social media profiles and your website should have some synergy, and the easiest way to do that is with cohesive photos and professional headshots, which can be taken care of in a day. Remember, if you don’t appear organized and polished online, you will lose business opportunities. Websites are ridiculously easy to build on platforms like Showit and Squarespace. What’s your excuse?

2. Share testimonials or product reviews.

Anything you say about your business will be magnified by 10x when your happy customers echo it. It’s the reason infomercials on TV have customer testimonials… how likely are you to believe the business owner vs. someone who is like you and tried the product? Every time you wrap up a job or sell a product, make a habit of asking for a testimonial or a review. Display them proudly on your website and share them on social media on occasion. Even the bad ones are worth sharing: show your audience how you’ve changed as a result of negative feedback from time to time.

3. Be responsive in your communication.

Make a stellar first impression by replying quickly to email and social media inquiries and continue to keep the lines of communication open throughout your working relationship. One of my biggest pet peeves is getting an autoresponder. It’s commonplace, and I understand why people have them, but an autoresponder to me says, “I don’t care enough about your experience to answer this quickly, or to even find someone to answer it for me.” I had an autoresponder for about five days, and I was nauseous and worried about it every second it was up. To solve this dilemma, Katie, my email assistant, came to the rescue and now vets everything that comes through my inbox so that clients, potential clients, customers and anyone else can get a personal response quickly.

This not only makes my client and customer experience much smoother, it also boosts my clients’ confidence that when they need me, I’ll be there. If an assistant isn’t within your budget, instead of putting up that impersonal autoresponder, try to answer emails within 24 hours. Clear your inbox out with tools like Unroll.Me and block off time once or twice a day just for email. Instead of sending late night emails, schedule them for the next morning with a tool like Boomerang (bonus points for looking super productive before the birds even wake up).

4. Put others first, always.

The golden rule applies to business too. Don’t try to squeeze every little penny out of a client. If you quoted a price that’s too low and the client booked, or you said there was a discount and didn’t mean to, honor it.

When a client or customer senses that you aren’t being consistent, they’re going to feel defensive. Show that you have their best interests in mind and can prioritize their needs without them having to ask, go above and beyond (even if it means totally eating the cost or time on this one) and learn your lesson for next time.

Click here to get more tips like these in your inbox.

5. Do what you say you’ll do.

And then some. If you say you’re going to do something, do it! (And do it well.) Never miss a deadline, and never deliver anything less than exactly what you promised. Follow through is key to establishing trust with your clients. It’s the classic cliche: underpromise and overdeliver. If you need to, outsource this so it’s sure to get done. For example, send a client gift when they’re not expecting it.

6. Ask for feedback and listen to the response.

Everyone likes to be heard. Asking your clients for feedback over the course of working together allows you time to adjust so that you can meet their expectations (or, if they are totally out of line with your expectations, it gives you a footing to discuss and clarify). After you’ve finished your work, follow up with a personal email or an automated email survey to make sure your clients were satisfied, or what you can improve upon for next time.

7. Tiny tokens.

It doesn’t have to be something physical, but a little bonus here and there goes a long way. Deliver early on a big project or add a little extra to your services. Wrapping up your work by sending a pretty handwritten card also leaves a great impression. Figure out when your clients’ birthdays and anniversaries (and their kids’ birthdays) are, then surprise them with a card (e-cards are free).

8. Think outside your business.

Volunteer with organizations, donate to charities, or sponsor an event. It’s a great way to show your passion for your business, meet new people, and show your commitment to serving others even though you don’t have to.

What are some things you have tried to gain a client’s trust? Have you ever lost a client or customer due to lack of trust? What happened? Feel free to share and get feedback below!

 

The Top 10 Ways to Create an Amazing Client Experience

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Creating an amazing client experience is important whether you’re a lawyer in Atlanta, a photographer in Dallas or a big, fake wedding planner nationwide. Your client experience is what sets you apart from others in your location and industry, so it’s important to be consistent and always provide the highest quality of experience for your client. But how do you do this? What if you don’t even know what a client experience should look like?

Here are 10 ways to create an exceptional client experience, no matter your industry.

1. Create a website that works.

If you’re running a reputable business in this century, your clients are going to expect you to have a website, even if (especially if!) you’re a one-woman photographer boss lady. The one thing that’s possibly worse than not having any website is having a terrible one.

Your website needs to do two things at a minimum:

  1. Give your clients a way to get in touch with you, and
  2. Convey your service in a clean, user-friendly manner

If you don’t have your own website yet, finish reading this article, and then get to it! You can have one in an hour with Squarespace.

2. Set your policies in a visible area.

One thing that will ruin your customer’s experience before they even get to work with you is your failure to have clear-cut policies in place about your services. You must have things like a cancellation policy, an inclement weather policy, and a no-show policy. These are essential to avoid hurt feelings and frustration (on both ends) later in the relationship.

Oh yeah, and a privacy policy on your bright, new, shiny website.

But having policies is only half the battle—your clients must be aware of your policies. The best way to do this is by integrating them into your client contract so your client knows right from the get-go what to expect when working with you.

3. Spend some time crafting your signature elements.

What will your clients remember about their experience with you? What will they tell their friends and business BFFs when they need a coach, wedding planner, photographer, or other service professional? Will they recommend you first? Give you a raving review and mention something crazy above-and-beyond that you did for them? 

Spend some time crafting the experience that you want clients to have. If you don’t know where to start, think about the experience YOU wish you had with a yoga teacher, photographer, event planner, florist, etc. Get out there and see what other people in your industry are doing well and what they are doing poorly. Then improve on all of it with your unique touch.

4. Define your signature offering.

Speaking of signature elements, what will be your signature offering? What is the one service clients will keep coming back for each week, month or year? You don’t have to get it perfect, you just have to start. Start with an offering and see what your clients like about it, and what they don’t. Keep improving your clients’ experience by getting feedback from them, either at the end of your session (not the best way) or by surveying them 1-2x per year via your newsletter.

5. Look to your community.

I am part of the Rising Tide Society, and agree with their founding premise that when we support each other, we accomplish a lot more than if we were to be in constant competition with each other. There are certainly enough clients to go around for everyone who truly wants them in your industry, and new clients are being created every day by innovative providers in all of our fields.

Just think back to 1995—had you ever heard of boudoir photography? Senior portraits? Even engagement sessions? All of these are relatively new additions to the photography industry and all of these categories have created a deluge of new clients for all photographers—not just the few in the beginning who thought outside the box.

Click here to get more tips like these in your inbox.

6. Take a step back.

Every once in awhile, take a step back from your business and look at it through the lens of the client. Where are your shortcomings? Are you always pushing back scheduled meetings to later times? Or taking days or even weeks to respond to emails? Are you always consistently 10 minutes early? 

Only you can answer these questions. These are merely a teaser list to get you started. It doesn’t matter if you think of everything, but at the end of a 30 minute brainstorming session taking a look back at your business, you should be able to come up with 2-3 things you can cut out of your business or improve for your clients.

7. Look for ways to delight your clients.

Zappos is a favorite case study of business schools for a good reason. There’s a lot they get right when it comes to customer service. For example, they are constantly looking for ways to delight their clients, er, customers.

One way they do this is by expediting shipping on certain orders, or their famous billion dollar loss party, where all items on 6pm.com were listed at less than $50 (even some items that retail for $2000+). Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh made the unconventional decision to let it go, and shipped all orders as scheduled—even the $2,000+ goods that had been purchased for $49.

I’m not advocating you throw money away on clients—there are lots of great ways to delight your clients. For example, when I was a yoga instructor for a hot minute, one of my students was 41 weeks pregnant. She got a foot rub in savasana. Did everyone? No. But if you’re 41 weeks pregnant and making the effort to do a yoga practice, you are going to get a ton of extra attention from me.

These days, I'm all about writing random note of encouragement—in addition to the standard thank you note. Born out of my stationery obsession, this is a great way to surprise someone at a low cost and with just a little bit of time invested.

8. Use your friends.

Use your friends to be the all-seeing eye for your business. Give them a private coaching session or shoot a family photo session and see what they have to say about working with you. Even if they’re friends with you, if they have never worked with you before, there will be a palpable shift in the dynamic at some point if both parties are taking it seriously.

You can also use your friends to find out what their experience is on your website. Give them some simple tasks to do, like email you, book a session with you, or find out more information about your services and see how long and complicated it is for them to do so. Ask them what they like and don’t like about their website and try to make improvements from there.

9. Consistency is key.

Clients will expect you to be you, to be you, to be you, all the way through and through. If you teach a nice serene yoga class and then they run into you in the grocery store, where you’re rude and in a hurry, how do you think they will feel the next time they come to your class? Will they even come back to your class? It’s unlikely, and it’s why being consistent is so essential. The key is not to mold who you are to fit your business persona, the key is to fit your business persona to fit you. 

10. Own your mistakes.

If you are doing something, the chances that you'll make a mistake increases proportionally. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something we have to understand and accept. If you make a mistake like forgetting to send them an important document, apologize, then own the mistake instead of blaming it on traffic, your printer, your dog, etc. It is much more professional and it’s okay to be human. Your client will make mistakes too and leave you hanging sometimes—it just happens and it is a reminder to forgive others when they err.

Join the free Client Mindset Workshop to learn more ways to delight your clients.