Let’s just get one thing out of the way here: selling sucks. There are like 3% of people in the world that are naturally good at it and the rest of us spend hours trying to learn best practices and processes and strategies to somehow convince random people to buy what we’re selling.
So, I’ve decided that I am no longer selling anything in my business and I think you should do the same. Yes, you read that right. I am not spending another day stressed about making a sale, practicing sales conversations, or generally trying to sell anything.
Instead, I plan to focus on serving – because that’s what I’m actually good at! I believe that if I serve my clients and prospects in the best way that I can, there should be no need for sales. They will naturally want to continue working with me and receiving the value that I’m providing.
If you’re doubtful, consider this. Would you rather work with someone that you have to convince you are the right person or someone that already believes in you and values your work?
Here are 4 ways you can focus on serving and, in turn, land your ideal clients.
Treat Your Prospects Like They’re Already Paying You
I used to work with a marketing consultant who was an expert at choreographing the customer experience. I mean, he had it down to a science. He told me one time that it never made sense to him why people keep a wall up between them and their prospects – not wanting to spend money or provide value until they were getting paid. “This is totally backwards,” he would say. “Why would someone want to work with you when you haven’t provided any value, aren’t responsive to their inquiries, or otherwise act like you aren’t interested in them?”
I swear, that hit me like a ton of bricks. As soon as he said that, it clicked. Of course, you should invest time, money, and value into your prospects. If you assume that they are going to become clients and therefore treat them like that from the start, the likelihood of them actually becoming clients skyrockets.
Spend time laying out your customer experience from the moment your ideal prospect becomes aware of your existence until they actually hire you. Ask yourself, “how can I delight and pleasantly surprise them at every turn?” It can be something as simple as committing to respond to inquiries within 2 hours and including a link to a helpful blog posts in your reply. Several of my clients send out overnight packages of information to those who inquire on their website. Not regular USPS, but overnight. They allocate that extra budget because they know their prospects will be surprised and excited when they receive them the next day.
Each time you serve your prospects value, they are moving one step closer to hiring you. But it doesn’t end there.
Consistency is the big differentiator between selling and serving. When you make a sale, once the check hits the bank account, you’re on to the next prospect. But, when you’re serving, the “sale” is only the beginning.
Commit to consistently delivering more value than your clients expect (or paid for). This does a couple of things for your business. First, you create really devoted fans and advocates that stick around for a long time and become repeat customers. Second, they talk about it! When you have a really great experience with a brand, don’t you share it with friends? The same thing will happen for your business, resulting in plenty of referrals.
A perfect opportunity to serve is when you deliver the “end result” product or service for your clients. Let’s say you’re an artist and you include a free print with the original art that you send. Or maybe you’re a developer and instead of sending an email that your client’s website is ready to review, you put together a brand book that details why you made each design decision.
I started implementing these types of strategies in my business because I learned the hard way how much it sucks to spend hours developing something and then hear *crickets* once you send it over. I’ve been there, refreshing my email every 2 minutes to see if they’ve replied. Now, when I deliver a marketing strategy, website, email campaign, or even just a proposal, my goal is to “WOW” my clients so they are compelled to respond positively.
The reason I’m able to do that is because I…
Focus on Solutions
So many small business owners, myself included, have a hard time “selling” themselves. It’s especially hard for someone like me because I am literally the product and service. I deliver ideas and strategies, which can be hard to quantify. So, in my conversations with prospects and clients, I focus on solutions.
Be honest, when faced with a “sales” conversation, it’s easy to fall into the trap of listing the features of the products and services you provide. Whether it’s the length of a photography session, the specs of a piece of art, or how many coaching calls they’ll get per month, these features aren’t really what they’re buying. When you focus on solutions, you help show prospects the benefits of working with you. Because what clients are really buying is beautiful memories of their big day, a wonderfully decorated home, or business growth and success.
For example, I offer 30 minutes of free coaching to anyone who wants to take advantage of it. During that 30 minutes, I am 100% focused on delivering solutions, giving advice, and addressing challenges. I don’t talk at all about my services or how I may be able to help going forward until I’ve solved their initial problems.
That makes it really easy to transition into a conversation about how I may be able to help them continue this progress. I make everything about them. Instead of telling them my 3 packages of services, I will create a custom proposal based on what they need, what their budget looks like, and how I can help. This creates a level of trust that allows me to continue to provide value throughout our relationship. My clients believe that I truly put their best interests before my own, even to the point where I will point them to another professional.
Commit to Saying No
Sometimes, it’s not a good fit. And that’s ok. When you have a mind and heart for service rather than selling, it’s important to commit to saying no to clients that you aren’t going to be able to serve in a productive way. Commit to saying no to clients that aren’t your ideal client. This will save your sanity more than anything.
I’ve found that sometimes the best way to serve is to point people in a different direction. For example, I spoke with a gentleman this week who was looking for “drastic” results in 7-30 days with an extremely limited budget. I explained to him that, while I hoped there were experts that were able to help him, I am more focused on sustainable growth. I was a little bit nervous turning him down because we had gone back and forth via email for a few days. So,I was pleasantly surprised when he replied that he respected the fact that I didn’t just sell to him because he was looking for someone and that he hoped we had a chance to work together in the future.
Do you know someone who would be a better fit? Refer clients to colleagues that will be better able to help them. Be emboldened to serve your clients by pointing them in a different direction.
I want to challenge you to focus on serving your clients and prospects this month and evaluate the response. If you truly commit, you’ll begin working towards a business that doesn’t require any traditional selling and consistently delivers ideal prospects to your door. Let me know in the comments how you plan on implementing this idea of service into your business!