by Karen Skidmore | 06,22 | Business Planning, Marketing Articles
There’s plenty to think through when deciding if your new product idea is going to be worth investing your time, energy and money in. Is it something that your clients *really* want? What price should you charge? How do you go about marketing it?
But there’s one question that gets forgotten … what job is this product going to have in your business?
Let me explain with a story from one of my clients last year. She had been running her marketing consultancy for some years, and although it was going OK, she was struggling to expand it and increase her revenue. No matter what she did, her business didn’t shift.
Then she was given the idea of creating a membership product. What’s not to love about a membership product? Regular, consistent income … a perfect passive income! She threw herself into developing the idea; went on a course, learnt all there was to know about setting up and running a membership product and launched it.
When we started working together, she had been running it for around six months. It became very clear that she was spending 80% of her time with the clients that were generating 20% of her income. Her membership product, although packed full of value, was running her ragged.
She told me the reason she wanted to create this product was because she wanted something to offer the people who couldn’t afford her consultancy fees.
At first glance, this may seem to be reasonable … why leave money on the table?
But her bigger vision was to scale up her consultancy business so she could outsource much of the delivery, and free up her time to start up a new business. What this membership product had done was to make her busier than ever, working more with the clients who weren’t going to help achieve her ambitions.
She’d created a down-sell product for people who realistically were never going to be worth more than a few hundred pounds a year, and yet ended up taking up most of her time and expertise.
In a very short period of time, she had closed down her membership product, which immediately freed up her time to focus on the right projects to move her towards her bigger vision, and four months later she had launched her new business alongside her current consultancy.
Of course, this isn’t about whether a membership product is a good idea or not. There are plenty of businesses who thrive having a membership product, serving hundreds of people every year, often as an up-sell or prospect product to their existing programmes and services.
The point is whether the job of your new product idea is going to help you achieve your bigger vision.
In the case of my client, it made strategic sense to NOT create a down-sell offer for the people who couldn’t afford her – because let’s be honest … it’s going to take a very long time before any of those people are going to be in a place to afford her consultancy fees (there are plenty of more effective and less time intensive ways of staying engaged with them if that’s what you want to do) – and instead focus her time and energy on what’s going to free up her time to allow her launch her new business.
So when you are pondering on your next new product or service idea, ask these three questions before your creative surge takes you too far down the launch path.
1. What is the job of the product?
Is it to give an easy, low risk way of acquiring new clients … will it be your core offering that you focus most of your time on … or to add value to your clients and increase their average spend … or is it a way of extending your client lifetime spend?
Know exactly what you want this new product to do for you and your business and keep this clear in your head as you set about the creation and launch process to ensure you don’t go off track.
2. Will it help you achieve your financial goals?
No matter how brilliant an idea it is, will it move you towards what you really want out of life and business … will it really increase your revenue and by when … or spread you too thin across too many products?
Set clear financial goals and quantify your expectations because there’s every chance you will also see you’ll need far less leads and sales to make this a success, especially in the early stages.
3. How can this product idea scale your expertise without you?
It may be that you are still very much your business, but if your ambition is to grow and scale, it’s never too early to start asking questions such as how much of your time is needed to create and deliver this product … what resources could help speed up the process and make it easier … and who can you ask for help?
One of the biggest shifts you can make to move from being a busy freelancer to having a profitable, scalable business is to change your questions from ‘How do I?” to what and who questions … it shifts you to not just being a business owner, but to being a CEO and opening up your growth potential.
For most people I speak to about growing a business, coming up with new ideas is never a problem. And it’s very easy to get caught up in all the fun, creative stuff in those early stages of a new idea. So before you get too far down the process of creating and launching a new product or programme, stop and think about it strategically.
It will save you months, if not years, of stress, worry and frustration.
Looking for your next step to take?
Let’s talk through your current product offerings and I can help you see where you could be running your business smarter – book a Next Level Business Strategy Session with me. There’s never any charge for our first call together. Click here to check out times available.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
by Karen Skidmore | 02,22 | Marketing Articles, Winning Business
“Send me a proposal”
When you’re ending a great sales call with your ideal client, these are the words you want to hear. You’re excited. They’re excited. You both just want to get started on working together.
So why do so many of us grapple with writing a business proposal that will take us over the line and onto the sale?
Perhaps it’s the lack of ‘fun’ associated with pulling the proposal together. Perhaps it’s the ‘not knowing what to write’. Sometimes it’s the fact that you’re so busy, you don’t have the headspace to write one out and you’re in danger of losing the work because your client moves on to another supplier.
Regardless, this is simply the time for you to take the relationship to the next level, stand out from the crowd and signpost the way forward in a clear document that confirms everything that has been discussed.
And the sooner you get a standard process set up for writing and sending out a proposal, the easier it will be going forward for all your future proposals.
Back to basics: the purpose of a proposal
The proposal is created to bring together in one place all that has been discussed. It means it can be shared across the decision-making team (if there is one) and used to benchmark alongside other options.
It outlines who you are, gives your take on the issues facing the client-in-waiting, how you would address them and what the result could be.
On a practical level, it also outlines the cost, the timescale and the key deliverables.
It gathers it all together. And that’s a key point.
The proposal is not the time to introduce something new. There should be no shocks or surprises.
What you need to know before you start
Before you put pen to paper or finger to keyboard, make sure you actually want to submit a proposal.
Obvious, maybe – but don’t get sucked into proposal writing if there’s any doubt you don’t want the work, it doesn’t fit with you strategically, you can’t deliver within the budget or you think a decision has been already made and you’re simply making up the numbers.
Also, decide whether a full proposal is needed. It isn’t always. A simple follow-up email summarising the sales conversation and outlining the fee, the deliverables, and next steps with a contract with business terms may suffice.
If you do want to prepare a longer proposal, here’s a quick checklist of the information you need before you get started. Do you know:
- The issues the client is looking to address?
- The budget they have to spend?
- The timescales they are working to and when a decision will be made?
- Who is making the decision (if it’s not the person you’ve been talking to, you may need to add in more information)?
- The criteria they are using to assess the proposals they receive?
Keeping these questions in mind will help you structure your proposal in a logical way, explain your ideas with clarity and ensure that everything you include is relevant to the would-be client’s needs.
Some clients provide guidelines as to what to include – and then you need to stick to those. But some don’t. If you’re looking for a structure, here’s a solid outline to use.
First, start with the client situation
Don’t jump right in with the proposed solution. This isn’t about you – it’s about them.
Use this section to outline your understanding of the issues they’re facing, based on the discussions you’ve already had. Use the words and language they use.
Show that you understand the impact it’s having on them and the business (if it is a business) and the pain or stress it‘s causing them financially, operationally or personally.
Get them to imagine how things will be better from working with you. Have in mind their desired outcome – and what success will mean for them. In short – and unashamedly taking one of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – begin with the end in mind.
Remember to reinforce that you’re on the same page. Show that your approach to ways of working and values align – and sow the seeds of a valuable relationship built on trust.
Once you’ve done that, the next bit follows like night follows day.
Outline your solution
Now frame your business as a solution to the current situation or the desired place. Avoid the long list of features – and focus on the benefits and the difference they will make.
Clarity is important here. You need to avoid jargon, get the message across succinctly and articulate where they are heading.
It’s easy to avoid mentioning something that you don’t offer but is something they are wanting. Work out how you can address this rather than ignoring it.
Map out how they can do business with you
This is all about deliverables, timescales and process.
Take them through the steps to show how working with you will map out. Be clear on who does what and when, and what outcome they can expect.
This shows you’ve done the thinking, you’re straightforward to work with and you follow a clear framework.
Include a plan if you can but not avoid too much detail other than the next three to five steps. It’s key to make the client feel comfortable and confident about what happens next.
In your proposal, be clear on price – and what is and is not included – and, of course, frame it as an investment rather than a spend.
This hopefully won’t be the first time that you have talked about the price, but this can be a good opportunity to offer pricing options – probably no more than three – to help with negotiations if needed.
And, make it clear that your proposed fee is only valid for a limited time period. This is often missed and with it in place, it allows you to have a genuine follow up reason if they don’t come back to in the time frame you expect them to.
This section isn’t really about you, or the long and illustrious history of your business, how many you employ or who are the key team members. So, ditch the marketing messages.
Showcase what you have done for others via mini case studies and impactful quotes from grateful clients.
Where you can, choose case studies of clients with similar challenges, or sectors, or need. And, as a side point, when you first write and get approval of your case studies, write several versions focusing on different themes or angles so you get as much from the story as possible. Use well-tailored bios of those working on the proposed project.
Social proof carries a lot of weight with decision-makers and helps them imagine what it would be like to work with you.
The call to action
Round off your proposal – with more than a thank you.
Your call to action (CTA) should be a trigger to accept or decline the proposal along with details of what will happen once they accept.
One suggestion is to make this simple with auto-signature software (Adobe Acrobat Sign, DocuSign or HelloSign). But be careful to test this with your audience – this ‘hands off’ automated approach may not work for some types of business.
But as long as there is an active CTA, you have several options:
- Add a deadline: remind them that the price is only valid for X days (bearing in mind this may fall on stony ground with corporate clients who will work to their own timeline, it still gives you a valid reason for following up if contact goes cold)
- Reiterate the benefits (for example, “We’re looking forward to helping drive your business growth. Let’s get started.”)
- Let them know you will contact them within X days to arrange a time to discuss the proposal (between 3 and 5 working days keeps momentum whilst still allowing your prospect the space to reflect and review their options.)
Whatever you do, make it easy for them: make your email address a live link; make sure your phone number is clearly visible.
Include your terms and conditions
Always, always, always include your business terms and conditions within the proposal, either at the back or as an addendum.
Again, this is missed by too many people and can create potentially difficult conversations if work is postponed or cancelled after the proposal has been accepted.
Give them a shortcut
Ideally your proposal will always be read in its entirety. But life isn’t always like that.
Think about including a one-page summary which includes the key points over and above the price, time, milestone, resources, and deliverables in case the client decides to pull out the key facts and to benchmark you against competitive proposals. It means your key arguments will remain intact.
Make it look like you
Proposals are about substance. But they need to be presented well and look good. Develop a ‘look’ for your proposals that reflects your own brand. It’s not about making it look like a sales brochure: too much ‘design’ can put people off. However, a plain Word document in 10pt Arial will seem like you can’t be bothered.
Does it need to be a Word document? Many proposals now are created as a PowerPoint slide deck.
Depending on what you’re selling, design will have greater or less importance but make sure that there’s a connection between your design and the words you use to talk about your business. If you can, invest in some key graphics or design elements in your brand colours and brand style. Once you have a template that works for you, this investment will pay dividends in the future.
It’s a good idea to build up a library of texts, images, statistics, boilerplate words, photos, bios, product and service descriptions to make for easier proposal writing. But never just cut and paste into different proposals without some tweaking. That’s the fast route to a vanilla proposal.
The final check
Before you hit ‘Send’, do a final check:
- You’ve followed their template or structure – and included everything they’ve asked for (not just what you think is needed).
- What you’ve included addresses their needs and proposes a solution that’s clear to understand and easy to read.
- You’ve broken up long sentences and included headings and short paragraphs to make the proposal easier on the eye.
- You’ve used positive language: talking less about their ‘problem’ or ‘challenge’ and more about their desired endpoint to imagine a better future.
- Names of people, businesses, places, products and services are correctly spelled.
- There are no typos or errors. Use in-built spell checkers and run software extensions like Grammarly to help, but nothing beats printing it off for a good read through with human eyes. Check the headers and footers as well as the body copy.
- There are no rogue company names in the ‘properties’ tab of the document or in the footer. It happens when you use a previous proposal for a different client as a template for the next. I have seen this – and it’s embarrassing!
You’re ready to send
Quite simply, the cover email or letter is a must. It needs to be brief, personal and authentic and introduce what they are about to read: outlining their situation, your solution and the next steps to take.
They need to know you’ve listened, understood, and that you have a solution.
How to send
Proposal software (e.g. Panda Doc or Better Proposals) may be something you think of getting hold of. Easy to use, it can create a beautiful journey for the client. It lets you know when the reader opens, works through and shares the proposal – and you can track how the reader reads and pauses through the document. It also provides a simple way to get started by enabling a signature acceptance of the proposal.
But such systems are not for everyone.
It’s usually fee-based and doesn’t always fit comfortably within the buying process of a client, or your onboarding process.
What happens next?
Always follow up – without fail.
Get in touch within a few days to check that they have received the proposal and to check if there are any questions. Don’t be one of those companies that doesn’t follow up proposals and just sends them into an empty void.
If it’s a ‘yes’ – congratulations! And, if it’s a ‘no’, book a review call and learn why you didn’t win the business.
A final thought
However you design and write your new business proposals, there’s one overriding principle: it’s all about the client.
Focus on making the connection for them between what you offer and what they need, get the deliverables and the price right, and show them you know what you’re doing.
In short, make it easy for them to say yes.
This weeks’ article has been written by Lois Dabrowski. Lois is a specialist B2B marketer working with companies who sell into HR, talent and L&D leaders.
Get in touch and get help to create business proposals that will win you work by dropping her an email [email protected] or connecting with her on LinkedIn.
by Karen Skidmore | 02,21 | Marketing Articles
Do you believe referrals are good for business?
I’m guessing that that the majority of answers to this are going to be a big, fat yes. It’s always lovely to have new clients come to you because you’ve been recommended.
Speaking to these people makes the whole selling process just easier, doesn’t it?
But here’s a slightly bigger question to ask you; have you ever stopped to consider whether your referrals today are the right clients for your future growth?
Here’s the thing about referrals; referrals often come to you based on what an existing or previous client has told them.
And as so many of you have morphed, and even possibly reinvented your business over the past few months, adapting to our new virtual way of working, many of your potential referrals may not be the right client for you going forward.
When someone comes recommended to you, you are being recommended based on your present or past performance, rather than what you’re capable of delivering in the future. Unless you are consciously aware of this, saying yes to every referral can keep you and your work in the past.
Let me give you an example.
One of Momentum members came to us last year having built up a solid marketing consultancy. She was doing well, working with several clients managing their Facebook ads. On one hand it was good money, but on the other hand she was working too many hours, always switched on and admitted to responding to messages from some clients 24/7.
Her work boundaries were non-existent and, for the quality of work she was able to deliver, she was hugely undercharging.
So guess what; any referrals were coming from her existing clients who loved her ‘always on’ service and good value pricing, and she was saying yes to work that was keeping her so busy, she didn’t have time to think about where she was heading.
Another member who has joined us this month, had a similar situation with her training company. She is booked solid for the next four months, which on one hand is amazing (especially considering how many training companies are struggling to adapt well to remote working), but on the other hand, has made her feel she’s lost some of the direction of where she’s headed.
She had pivoted her business to deliver everything remotely and although she was getting plenty of work, she realised she was falling into the trap of ‘order taking’; giving the client what they wanted and how they wanted it, rather than spending the time to develop her commercial opportunities to grow and scale.
Of course, I am not suggesting that you don’t take work from referrals. A good referral marketing strategy is GOLD! But most business owners take referrals passively, rather than thinking through a process to have it as a strategy for growth.
Order taking is great if you are a freelancer and you are happy to do what ever work comes your way. But working as a freelancer can keep you working hard, without having any say in the direction you want to take your business.
So here are some things for you to consider to ensure your referrals are a marketing strategy, and help avoid unconscious ‘order taking’.
1) Be thankful for your referrals, but be careful not to be overly grateful.
It can be humbling to have someone tell you how wonderful they’ve heard you are. But if you are overly grateful (AKA you tell yourself how lucky you are to get this work rather than appreciate the fact that it was your expertise and results that made it easy for someone to recommend you), it’s easy to let your boundaries slip, especially around the price and time they want from you.
You want to be of service to your clients, not a servant.
2) Know that’s OK to say NO to a referral.
If the person isn’t right for you going forward, then know that it’s OK not to accept the work. I know we want to be nice people, but taking on work for the only reason that you don’t want to miss out any income opportunity, can lead you to working hard for little profit.
3) Do your present and past clients know who it is you want to work with going forward?
When was the last time you asked them for an introduction to a specific kind of person? Or let them know about the direction you are headed this year?
Remember, your past clients will know you for who you were ‘back then’, so if you’ve morphed your business over the past year, then let them know the work that you want this year and ask them if they know of anyone.
(BTW Asking for referrals is something very few people do and yet can be the easiest way to find yourself more of the right clients … so yes, ask!)
4) Give yourself space to know where it is you are headed with your business this year.
Being busy with client work is obviously good for the money flow, but if you aren’t giving yourself time to reflect, review and connect with your bigger vision on how you want your business to work for you, it’s easy to keep on taking orders and working harder and harder.
This is one of the big reasons why many come to work with me. They are at a pivotable moment in their business; doing OK but, like the proverbial swan, when I dig into how their business is running (the systems, team, processes and revenue model), they are working way too hard, often with the wrong clients.
If you know you need help in finding the space (and then what you actually do when you get in that space!), get in touch. I’d love to see if I can help.
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
by Karen Skidmore | 05,20 | Business Planning, Marketing Articles
I’ve always run my business from my diary. If a meeting or call with a prospect goes into my diary, it happens. Simple.
It’s the same with my important ‘get done’ tasks. If they go into the diary, I treat them as I would a meeting or call with a prospect. I show up and they get done.
And it’s why whenever I plan out a marketing campaign, either for myself or one of my clients, I look for the opportunity of where the live events are. Not stuff like ‘launch date’ or ‘decide on the price’. I mean a live event where you have to show up in person.
For many marketing campaigns, there’s often an event; a workshop, masterclass, webinar or Facebook Live. You can discuss the pros and cons of running these events at different times and days of the week. But until the date is fixed, it difficult to get any real implementation energy behind the campaign.
The real traction starts from the moment when you get a date in your diary … and then start telling people.
Even if your next new product is an online one and you are not intending to be there ‘in person’ with your customers, always create the opportunity to run one, either in the building awareness stage of your marketing or in the selling and conversion part.
Yes, there are plenty of good marketing reasons to do this, including creating higher levels of engagements, but the truth is until a date for a live event where you have to show up is put in your diary, it’s really easy for a project like this to stay in the ‘I’d love to do’ stage.
Let me give you an example.
Yesterday I ran the first round of Pod calls for our new 90 Day Planning Cycle in Momentum. Two of the members were both in the same situation of discussing a new product they are launching in the next 90 Days.
One was a 12 week mastermind programme. The other was opening up a new membership community. There were a lot of details still to be worked out; the product names, onboarding logistics, price, payment plans, etc, etc. Both of them could spend the next 4 weeks working through all this … but we all knew that stuff was going to get in the way if there wasn’t a real ‘I’m showing up’ date in the diary to work towards.
Both of them had young children at home. Yup, not only are they both running a busy business but also home schooling two children each. The reality was that there was always going to be more pressing things that could potentially distract them, making it easy for them both to push milestones back.
Start from where you are and don’t try to work out all the details BEFORE you begin taking real action.
And, in both of these cases, the ignition needed to kick start both these projects was getting dates in the diary of when to run the live support sessions. Not think about doing a survey and asking their list when would be a good time to. But making a decision for what’s right for them, based on their current commitments.
If you are short on time, there are always things to distract you that feel far more urgent and important at the time than your new marketing campaign for your new programme, membership community or product.
If there’s no commitment from anyone else to show up on that day, then there’s a very good chance you’ll let yourself off the hook. And this is one of the BIG reasons why so many new product projects just don’t happen in so many businesses.
They stay in the ‘I’d love to do’ stage.
Once the dates are in the diary, making decisions about product names, pricing, processes … well, they are going to happen. The energy will HAVE to flow towards this project of yours. You’ll have to no choice but to be committed to the dates you’ve put in your diary to show at an event.
So I’d love to know what date you are going to put in your diary.
If you’ve got a marketing campaign or new product idea that’s been stalling over the past weeks, what event can you decide to run to ignite you into action?
Until next time, do less, be more and play bigger.
by Karen Skidmore | 03,20 | Marketing Articles, True Profit
We are about to go through one of the most intensely disruptive phases of how we do business. As I write this, countries across the globe have shut their borders and here in the UK, we are realistic about what’s going to happen over the coming days.
With the prospect of no longer being able to travel, many of my clients who deliver in-person training, coaching, therapy and support are being faced with cancellations and postponements of work with no real idea on when and how it’s going to happen. I have my own in-person training day coming up soon so I’m not so glib to know we simply shrug our shoulders and wait patiently for the bookings to return. This health crisis we are faced with is going to affect our businesses and some more than others.
However, this is also a huge opportunity to stretch your thinking and evaluate how you may still deliver your programmes and services, despite not being in the room with them.
When I first started up my coaching business back in 2004, it was a mix of phone coaching and face to face. At first, I believed that face to face was more powerful and I would charge less for phone call coaching. My thinking was that because I wasn’t ‘there’ for them, being on the phone somehow diminished my impact and expertise in being able to help them. I was, of course, challenged by my coach at the time (because that’s what a good coach does, yes?!) and I was able to see that the choice of delivery should never be an excuse for reducing prices. And, in fact, virtual can often be seen as a premium option.
When I teach my principles of True Profit™ Business, I actively encourage my clients to create and design a business model that fuels them. So often the need for in-person work comes up high for many spiritual, intuitive and introverted coaches, therapists and trainers. But I also see a lot of people use their fear of using technology as an excuse not to explore virtual work; especially when their industry norms are to be in the same room as their clients. Professionals such as nutritional therapists, counsellors and image consultants often tell me that their clients would expect to come and see them in person, so doing virtual sessions just wouldn’t work. But is that really the case? Or because everyone else does it this way, so you should too?
I get that for some of you who physically treat your clients, that virtual work will be far more challenging, if not impossible. But for many of you, these next few weeks could be a great opportunity to challenge your norm and explore the work that you do with your clients via platforms such as Zoom.
And just because webinars are now seen as something free to offer as a lead generation marketing tool, this does not mean you can’t charge for them. But only if you do the thinking and create the value through the experience, support and your expertise.
Going virtual doesn’t mean you need to drop your prices.
And here’s why.
- Your expertise does not diminish because of a change of platform. Just because you are not in the room with them, you don’t suddenly know less or lose a qualification.
- The experience changes but not the value. If a one day training workshop is reduced to a 90 minute webinar, yes I get that your client may expect a discount because they may be thinking about the time it takes you to deliver. Now it’s less, then they pay less. So it’s up to you to really think about the support before and after the virtual session. What can you offer to make the session more experiential? Printed workbooks sent out in the post before the event or prep work to be done before people show up to the session are two great add-ons that can be adapted from your in-person agenda. So you may charge less than a one day training but not proportionally so.
- Adding value through on-going support. Your clients need help implementing after your session so you have groups available on Facebook and LinkedIn as well as platforms such as Mighty Networks and Slack. For intimate, small groups it could even be a simple WhatsApp group as long as everyone is OK with sharing their mobile phone numbers.
- Recordings and playback. One of the huge benefits of virtual training and support is being able to record and provide your clients with the audio or video file after the event. Keep it simple to begin with. You don’t need to overcomplicate the process by signing up for big digital course platforms; share files on Dropbox or upload onto a private video hosting sites such as Vimeo.
- The convenience of availability. Don’t let the fact that you no longer have to pay for venue or catering costs reduce your pricing. The convenience to your clients means that they no longer have to travel and they have more time back in their day so that is a huge value to them. Never assume your clients are going to see this so it is up to you to highlight this in your proposition.
We are going to be experiencing some dramatic and chaotic times over the coming weeks and months and this is your opportunity to disrupt your current thinking and explore how you may continue to serve your clients, and avoid a high level of cancellations.
Yes, delivering your services and programmes virtually will need you to learn new skills and adapt your style. But for those of you who do this and learn how to deliver powerful virtual training, you are going to be in high demand in the very near future, especially so for those of you who support your clients’ health, mental and spiritual well being.
Now is the time that your clients need you more than ever.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.
by Karen Skidmore | 03,20 | Marketing Articles
Why is it that some people seem to just love picking up the phone. They relish the thought of speaking to people. They get excited by the prospect of prospecting. But, if you like most people who run their own business, making sales calls, reaching out to potential clients and following up on your proposals is usually NOT something you like to do. Yes, you know on a logical level that this is important, but you’ll do anything to avoid the action of doing it.
And it doesn’t matter how many templates, scripts or systems you download or try out, even with the seemingly right tools to get on with prospecting, why do you avoid doing the work?
Empty the dishwasher. Iron your socks. There are so many other important jobs that conveniently get added to your to-do list so you find yourself distracted enough to not have the time to prospect. Not enough time. Such a convenient excuse … but how is it harming your business?
What if it wasn’t the practical doing bit of prospecting that you’re struggling with? What if was the way you feeling into prospecting that was holding you back? If you were able to design and create your own rituals that allowed you to feel energetically ready for prospecting, would this make a difference? First, let’s clear on what I mean by prospecting.
What is prospecting?
Prospecting isn’t cold calling. It isn’t buying a database or sending blanket emails to any email address you can get your hands on. It isn’t buying space at an exhibition and handing out leaflets to everyone who walks past your stand.
Prospecting is the simple act of initiating or following up on a conversation with someone who you think maybe an ideal client. You may have met them before at an event. You may have even had a conversation with them in the past. They may also be someone you’ve never conversed with but you’re connected to on LinkedIn or Facebook. And they can definitely be someone you worked with before in the past or a friend or even your next-door neighbour.
My point is that anyone you feel may fit your ideal client avatar is someone you can potentially initiate a conversation about the work that you do and the services that you offer. And in this world of social media noise and trying to be visible, us small business owners and entrepreneurs have the potential of cutting through that with the simple process of reaching out to one person at a time.
You can not kid yourself that working on your marketing funnels or content or brand is enough to attract enough clients. If you are still waiting to be discovered or hoping to get to the stage of having a waiting list for your services and programmes, you simply can’t afford to wait for people to approach you. You have to spend some of your time – even if it’s just an hour a week! – to reach out to and follow up and start conversations with potential clients.
As a British person, I know how up-tight our Britishness can get us. We are historically a very polite nation who would apologise for having our foot stepped on and wait patiently in queues, with only the occasional silent tut. This Britishness can really pull a lot of people back from the idea of prospecting. Just think of the reaction you may have had when you read that a friend or a next-door neighbour could be a prospect 😉
There’s a lot of fear that comes up with prospecting, too. I get that. Your mind monkeys can get really noisy every time you even think about the idea of initiating a conversation with someone you may want to sell to.
Combine this fear with British politeness and you can find all sorts of things flying through your head …
‘I would hate to be a bother. What if I interrupt a meeting or they are in the middle of something when I called them?’
Would they really pick up the phone if they were in the middle of something important? And what if they were delighted to hear from you?
‘I hate getting emails that are trying to sell me something. I’m sure my potential clients would feel the same if I sent them all these emails that I’ve been told I have to send out.’
If you hate the emails you get that are trying to sell you something, it’s usually because you are NOT interested in what they are selling. How many times have you had an email that you’ve been really pleased to get out of the blue that’s saved you money, time or told you about something that has changed your world?
‘Those messages I get on LinkedIn, trying to get me to book a call with them, are really icky.’
Ditto as above. When you get the right message from the right person at the right time, that opportunity to speak with them directly is an amazing opportunity to get your questions answered quickly.
For every mind monkey thought, I will be able to re-frame it for you. But I don’t have the time – nor the inclination TBH! – to be doing that ALL day for you 😉
What I want to share with you today is something far more useful; a list of rituals that you could adopt to help create the right space, energy and environment to ignore the mind monkeys for a short while and make prospecting far more do-able and approachable. And, just to be clear, I’m not a natural prospector either, which is why I know how important creating rituals are in making sure it happens in my business!
What do I mean by rituals?
Most human beings are creatures of habits. Habits such as brushing your teeth in the morning or taking your supplements with your breakfast are often so ingrained that you don’t even have to think consciously about doing them. Other habits such as biting your nails or chewing on a pen can be triggered by nerves or your mind’s way of wanting you to concentrate. Some people want things in a certain way to feel comfortable and relaxed, so will have certain bedtime rituals. And others will be religious in their evening face cleansing rituals.
Rituals have a wonderful power in that they can help prepare you mentally for the task ahead and create an environment and the energy conducive for the activity you need to do.
Think back to how I joked about the dishwasher and ironing of socks being more important than prospecting. If you’re using these tactics, then this is your own way of using a ritual to avoid the task. So what if you used certain rituals to help you transition into the right state and environment for prospecting? What if you create your own habits to raise your energy, which in turn helps increase your confidence?
Here are some ideas for you.
This is by no means an exhaustive list so please write down your own ideas as they come to you. Or even share them in the comments below. I’d love to know what you try.
- Make your own Success Scrapbook and read it through before you start your prospecting. Print out, write out and stick your favourite testimonials, thank you notes and positive comments into a scrapbook so you have them all in one place. It’s really easy to forget about the nice things that are said to you throughout your working week, so keep them all together in one place and use them to remind how bloody brilliant you are before you start reaching out to people.
- Dance wildly in the kitchen. OK, so this may not be your thing but dancing whilst no one watches is a great way of getting any repressed negativity out of your system, as well as making your laugh at yourself. This is one of my favourite ways of rising my own energy.
- Clear your desk. A cluttered desk not only distracts you but can also have a detrimental effect on your clarity of thinking. If you say you like working in chaos and enjoy the creativity of having books and papers everywhere, but you still can’t ‘find the time’ to prospect (or other excuses to this effect), then I challenge you to clear some space and see what difference it makes.
- Make a cup of your favourite brew. Not only do you need to be hydrated to do your best work, the simple act of brewing your favourite tea or coffee also helps create the short time to mentally transition from your previous task to prospecting. The time it takes to boil a kettle, and stay there to watch it boil (that’s important – this ain’t a multi-task moment!), can slow down your breathing, centre your thinking on the task ahead and helps grounds you.
- Mediate. Yup, even just 5 minutes of mediation can slow you down sufficiently to feel more into your power. Laura Coleman of Be Mediation calls mediation your pause button. And this is a great practice and ritual to help calm your Mind Monkeys.
- Decide how you want to show up. I asked this to one my Momentum Pod groups the other week because we were discussing prospecting rituals. Curious, being of service and interested were some of the ideas shared. Imagine if you stepped out of those feelings of doubt and fear (don’t want to interrupt or be a nuisance) and into feelings of opportunity (I wonder who I get to speak to today?). Being conscious about this decision on how to show will have a dramatic effort on the results you get.
- Smug, burn or incense. Many of the clients I work with are what we may call spiritual. They have a strong connection with their intuition, may call themselves empaths and are more often than not introverts. They are often already using rituals such a sage smudging, lighting candles and crystals in their every-day but don’t think to use these rituals to help frame and prepare for their prospecting time. I find the simple act of lighting a candle and striking my singing bowl a really great of bridging myself into prospecting time. It connects me to who I am focusing on and helps me turn down my mind monkeys for that hour. So if this your thing, try it.
What else can you think of that you know could work for you? Music, your working environment, time of day and so many other things will affect your energy and desire to prospect. Using simple rituals like these can have a quick and immediate impact not just on the way you experience prospecting, but on your results too.
It’s all very well having the latest, sure-fire way of getting leads from LinkedIn or the best script or email templates, but if you don’t feel energetically connected with the process, you are going to do anything and everything to avoid the work. Try one or two of these rituals out and let me know how they make a difference to how you embrace your prospecting and what impact you make.
Until next time, do less, be more, play bigger.