How did getting new clients get so hard?
When you started it was easier: You had people to talk with and maybe even some existing client relationships that followed you, but now you aren’t getting the “Yeses” you used to.
What happened? Did you get bad at selling? Do you need to change your pricing? Is your business model all wrong?
If you’ve asked yourself these questions, you’re not alone.
So, let me shed some light on the situation with the 3 hidden traps you don’t know you may have fallen into.
Trap 1 for getting new clients:
You didn’t realize you had to sell
At first you had low hanging fruit with people who already knew you or were directly referred to you by someone who did.
This referral or prospect was pre-sold. You probably didn’t have to sell…you just had to not blow the opportunity.
Now that you’re meeting prospects who are more removed from you, that’s when selling is needed.
Not the hard, aggressive selling tactics where you ask leading questions and don’t let them leave the conversation until they’ve said “Yes.”
I’m referring to the selling where you work with that prospect to guide them through their decision-making process from beginning to end.
A guide to help others make decisions is much more palatable than a “salesman” isn’t it? And that’s what the most successful professionals understand.
Selling isn’t forcing anyone to do something against their will. Good selling isn’t manipulative, self-serving, or sleazy.
Nope. Selling is simply earning trust, demonstrating expertise, and guiding the prospect through their buying process to the next step in the sale — because it is the buyer’s buying process that will always win.
Effective selling creates a big winner’s circle for you, the buyer, and your company.
Of course, marketers may tell you that if you do your marketing right, selling isn’t ever necessary, that you can easily get leads from your website, your name on association listings, and ads and that sales will magically follow.
Oh, if that were the case. Unfortunately, it isn’t. Those fabulous marketing efforts do provide leads…but leads aren’t clients and leads don’t pay the bills.
You do have to sell.
Trap 2 for getting new clients:
You’ve told yourself “I’m not in sales”
Let’s face it. Selling and salespeople still get a bad rap.
This past weekend when my friend introduced me to 15 of her cousins at an event, she told them I was “in sales.” She might have said I also regularly beat small children from the looks I got. It’s not typically a good social introduction is it?
Most people didn’t go to college for sales or set their sights on a career in sales. It’s not high on any list of respectable professions.
Yet, if you are in a role where you help people do something, where you need to gain agreement on decisions or move people forward, you are in sales.
Selling is simply working with your buyer to help them
DO or DECIDE something.
It’s guiding them through their buying process conversation by conversation to confidently make a decision or take action.
Your success in getting new clients begins with belief that you, what you offer, and the role you have are valuable to your clients. It’s a mindset that your selling efforts help people get something they need or want. If you don’t help them, they are left worse off.
If you can embrace you are selling in all your prospect, client, and networking interactions you’ll be more effective in attracting and converting the right prospects.
Trap 3 for getting new clients:
You haven’t put effort into building the necessary skills
Selling is a skill. The “born salesman” is a unicorn. When people say someone is a born salesman, they are typically referring to a verbally fluent, direct, and very social person.
Yet did you know that the people who are really good at the selling described in Trap #2 are better listeners than talkers?
Did you know the best salespeople don’t need to be the center of attention and instead are great problem solvers?
Like any skill, you can learn how to sell well. You can learn how to lead productive conversations with your prospects and not lose your soul in the process.
You can build from the skills you have in working with people and use your technical expertise in your selling efforts to sell well!
Here are the key skills needed to sell well — as you read through them, you’ll notice they aren’t magical or unattainable. They are the same skills that make you a good planner, advisor, and solutions provider.
Preparing for sales conversations productively increases your chance of achieving the desired outcome by 17-25%.
Not many people disagree that preparation is important. What they haven’t figured out is how to prepare well.
Preparation for sales conversations should focus on these specifics:
- Identify the objective – from your viewpoint and theirs.
- Research your prospects. With the internet, there isn’t much you can’t find. In today’s digital world. As long as you aren’t creepy about what you’ve learned, “Hey, I loved the shirt you wore in your photo last week.” You aren’t risking being a stalker. Use the information you find as context to how you start the conversation and set up your questions.
- Outline the conversation from start to finish…the key here is to outline each component with a focus on What’s in it for Them.
- Before the conversation, prepare your mind by breaking preoccupation so you can focus on them from the first moments of contact.
There are several aspects to communication skills important in your selling efforts.
- Listening. Not just to hear, but to understand, clarify, and show the buyer they are important.
- Asking relevant questions. Yes, you need to collect data, but don’t forget to learn the context to the data, the real story to their problems, opportunities, wants, and needs.
- Working through objections. This is problem solving at its core. What’s the root cause of the objection or concern? Clarify and then share relevant information.
- Asking for decisions. Is this a communication skill? Yes! Learn how to identify the clues your buyer is ready, and then summarize the value they will receive by taking the next step, and asking them for a decision or commitment.
3. Demonstrating Empathy and Care
The communication and preparation skills already noted are crucial to this skillset. Yet there is more to it: the ability to focus on your buyer and dig into the emotional factors surrounding their situation and desired outcomes.
4. Problem Solving Skills
The bigger the problem you solve, the more value you give. You can increase your skills in problem solving by…solving more problems! You can solve more problems for your prospects when you ask better questions that determine not only the “problem” but that also gather information that allows you to present opportunities to do something better.
Each of these selling skills can be developed. What seems to stop many professionals from developing these skills is that they don’t believe or are uncomfortable with the fact they sell, so they haven’t embraced training that will help them build the skills and habits necessary for success.
One more trap that’s killing your sales growth…
And now that these 3 hidden traps that you might not know are hurting your sales growth are described…here’s one more:
There are so many “activities” that seem like a good idea when you’re seeking new business. Yet, thinking about selling, evaluating options for what you should do, talking with dozens of people to see what they are doing, and so many other ways of using your time and effort are less productive than you think.
I’ve seen people without a lot of skill gain a lot of new business. I’ve seen people with less technical knowledge than others blow their sales goals out of the water. I’ve seen people with a solution that isn’t as strong as others earn a lot of income.
Why? They are out there selling. They get themselves talking with enough people and they convert them. They realize they can’t help people with what they offer if they aren’t guiding people through their decision-making process to decide to work with them.
To summarize, is getting new clients hard? Not really. Is it hard work? Yes…at first. Then as you develop the right skills, make better connections, serve your clients well, and become more comfortable it becomes easier and easier to take the action you need.
Free Training Workshop
The Winning Formula: How to Win Clients with Conversations that Convert
OCTOBER 29 @ 2 p.m. CENTRAL
There's been a lot of buzz lately about the need for conversations versus sales pitches...it's about high time! I've seen this trend for a decade and am tired of being talked “at” from well-meaning, yet unproductive, professional service providers.
Join Sales Pro Insider CEO and Top Sales Book Author, Nancy Bleeke for a brand new webinar .