There seem to be two sets of clients: really painful ones and amazing
It's the painful ones that seem to drain an enormous amount of energy and time. They're the ones that you constantly have to battle with. But how do you know in advance how to avoid these clients? There are red flags in place.
In this episode you'll learn how at Psychotactics (for the most part) we avoid painful clients.
In this episode Sean talks about
Part 1: Why and how to add barriers
Part 2: How to spot ‘Red Flags'
Part 3: How to filter through testimonials
How We Avoid Energy-Sapping Clients at Psychotactics
Which ants have more offspring?
The ants that forage more and hence have more food supplies?
Or the ants that are do less foraging and hence have less food?
Incredible as it may seem it’s the ants that restrain their foraging that fare better
Biological studies have almost always believed that species that have the greatest food supply tend to do better. A Stanford study by Deborah M. Gordon demonstrates how harvester ants experience greater success when they’re picky.
This picky, picky, picky habit applies quite neatly to client acquisition
When you first start out in business, it seems like a good idea to go out and forage for new clients all the time. Over time, you’ll learn that there are good clients and energy-sapping clients. And that by appealing to everyone you may get success, but at Psychotactics, we’ve found that seemingly counterintuitive behaviour seems to work a lot better.
That instead of trying to increase our reach, we’ve narrowed it down
In the ant world, success is measured by a greater number of offspring. In our world at Psychotactics, success is measured by the amount of control we have over our lives. The ability to work with the clients we want, earn a profit that’s sizeable, yet within a pre-defined limit.
Most importantly, it has allowed us to take three months off and travel the world on vacation. In a world that’s increasingly driving itself crazy, we live with an island mentality. And a significant part of this success lies in the fact that we have great clients. But no one just has great clients. You have to pick great clients.
So how do we pick our clients?
Over the past 16 years, we’ve used three core methods. And these methods have worked amazingly well for us. They are:
– Adding barriers
– Filtering through testimonials.
– Red flags
Part 1—Barriers: The First Step To Avoid Energy-Sapping Clients at Psychotactics
Let's say you tried to buy the copywriting course off our site.
You randomly go to the sales page, plop down a couple of thousand of dollars and then wait for your download.
The download might never show up.
Instead there'd be a back check on your record
Yup, just like an employer does a check on your past before hiring you, a check is done on your history with Psychotactics as well. Have you been a subscriber? For how long? Have you bought The Brain Audit yet? When did you do that? Have you bought other smaller products? If the answer is no, it's likely that you'll get your couple of thousand dollars right back in your bank account.
So why is the case?
It's a barrier in place. And we have rules. And the rules are simple. You need to have subscribed. You need to have read The Brain Audit. Without jumping over those barriers, you're not truly qualified to be part of our system. So yes, we may check if you've bought and consumed the products with another email address, but if the answer is no, then the money goes bouncing right back to your account.
I remember an event in Chicago quite clearly
I'd just spoken at the System Seminar. I'd just given a presentation, and a member of the audience approached me to buy our info-products course. Was he a subscriber? Did he have The Brain Audit?
Would he buy The Brain Audit? His said he wasn't planning to buy The Brain Audit. He just wanted the info-products course. And he was willing to spend his couple of thousand dollars if I just swiped his credit card.
You can tell how this story goes, right?
To this day, customers can't understand why we'd walk away from thousands of dollars over a measly subscription and a copy of The Brain Audit. But think about it for a second. Would you marry someone who you'd never had a first date with? Would you even consider marrying them without engaging with them at least a couple of times?
And if you're not the marrying kind, it doesn't matter. We still understand the concept of testing the waters, putting up the barriers just to see how the other person reacts.
At Psychotactics, we know how the other person reacts
The greater the barriers the client has to climb, the more they stick around. The more they stick around, the more we get to know each other and help each other move forward. And that is why we have a 3% or less refund rate on bigger products. It's because the client has qualified themselves repeatedly.
It's not like there's a zero-refund rate. Sometimes, despite all the due diligence between the client and us, there's still a mismatch of the product. A client may expect the product to do one thing, and it may do another. That's fine in our books. We know the client has gone through the steps and one rainy day doesn't make a monsoon.
The opposite is true as well
The refund rate climbs to about 98% if the client is not a subscriber. Yes, read that again. A whopping 98% of those who easy come, also easy go. If the client hasn't subscribed or bought The Brain Audit, they still can't buy our bigger products.
They can buy the smaller, specific products like Website components or ‘Black Belt Presentations’, and they do. The moment we see that order come through with no history of client/Psychotactics interaction, we can be almost sure that a refund will follow.
It gets worse…
Some of those folk won't just ask for a refund. They simply ask for a chargeback. It means we get a black mark against our name (Too many chargebacks and your merchant account can be closed down). Plus there's a $20 penalty that we have to pay. That's not nice at all, is it?
This punk, whoever he is (and it's usually a “he”) is running rampant picking up stuff only to refund it or ask for a chargeback. Even if the person simply asks for a refund, that's another 10 minutes of your life down the drain as you go through the process of refunding the amount and responding to the “customer”.
So why not put the barrier in place for the smaller products as well?
Remember that you're running a small business. And so are we. Some things can be monitored and others can't. A stream of small products go out of the door every single day, but less so with the bigger products.
So while we push hard for clients to have a relationship, some of them are just walk in with every intention of sneaking away in the morning. Everything can't be monitored, but as the products and services get bigger, the barriers can indeed be put in place.
Having barriers in place is a good thing
The moment someone puts a few thousand dollars in your bank account, you feel pretty entitled to it. And some folks have put in $10,000 into our account (when we used to do the Protégé sessions) and yes, you feel entitled to that as well. But don't cozy up to the dollars just yet. You need to do the background check. Find out if the person is a good match. Do your due diligence.
A little due diligence goes a long way
Clients that jump over the barriers stick around for years to come. You don't have to be like all those marketers out there chasing endlessly after new clients. Instead, you can have a group of clients that trust you and will be more than happy to buy your products or services in future. And yes, there will be the occasional refund, but nothing very dramatic. And that's what barriers will do for your business.
Yes, it's scary
Yes, it's necessary.
Do the background check. Put up the barriers. It makes good business sense. But barriers are only one way to avoid energy-sapping clients. Most trouble shows up well in advance, and we just ignore the red flags.
So how do you learn to work with red flags? Let’s find out in this second part.
Part 2—Red Flags: How We Avoid Energy-Sapping Clients at Psychotactics
Do you know where the word “vaccination” comes from?
It’s derived from the Latin word for “cow” (which is “vacca”). And there’s a strong connection between cows and viruses. For 3000 years, smallpox was wantonly killing people. In the 18th century alone, over 400,000 people died of smallpox.
But in 1796, a British doctor named Edward Jenner noticed that dairymaid got cow pox
Cowpox was a less dangerous virus but still related to smallpox. Once they contracted cowpox, the dairymaids were completely immune to smallpox.
So Jenner injected a young boy with the cowpox virus and then later inoculated him with smallpox.
And the boy didn’t get sick because the body has an immune system. And that immune system was able to figure out the virus with the lowly cowpox. When smallpox came knocking, the body had the red flags in place. It was able to identify and destroy the virus before it was able to do any more damage.
At Psychotactics we’ve learned to look for red flags when dealing with clients
-Not showing up on time
-Not doing what they said they'd do
-Not returning calls or emails
-Clients that want quick results or to bypass the usual barriers.
These are all red flags for us at Psychotactics
And sometimes you get caught unaware by a situation. Just like an unknown virus that may attack your system, it’s possible for clients to make seemingly mundane requests. Like the one that a client made at one of our workshops.
“Can I bring my teenage daughter along to the workshop?” he asked.
He promised she wouldn’t be a problem, and since he was going to be in the workshop for three days, he asked if she could sit at the back of the room. She wasn’t going to participate, just quietly sit and watch the presentation.
Can you see a problem in that request?
Well, neither could we. That seemingly simple request caused an enormous amount of grief. Instead of simply sticking to the back of the room, she went along with her father for the group sessions and began to participate. Not only was the group unhappy with the introduction of the daughter, but the father started to get aggressive. He’d defend whatever the girl said, much to the frustration of the group.
Most red flags are consistent in a business
You’ve experienced the issues before, and you can see the problem approaching at a great distance, yet sometimes we lower our guard and let the virus in. And this creates great havoc and sucks up a lot of energy.
I had to tell the client that his daughter could no longer sit in the workshop or participate in any way. This got him all upset and both he and his daughter left. Now, if a client asks for exceptions, we walk through what can go wrong and make a decision accordingly.
However, the least energy-sapping plan of action is to have everything down on paper
You need to let the client know what they can do, and what they can’t do. Writing down what they can’t do allows you to anticipate the issues before they pop up. It’s like a form of cow pox injected into the system, so that if a problem should arise, you’re ready with your paperwork. Incredible as it may sound, the moment something is down on paper, clients tend to play along.
When we choose clients, we make sure we put barriers in their way, but paying attention to the red flags makes sure that once we avoid disruptive clients. However, these are only two of the methods to getting good clients. The third one does all the grunt work without us lifting a finger. Incredibly, this system of choosing clients comes from the usage of testimonials.
That doesn’t make sense. How is a testimonial a filtration system? You’ll be surprised at what a photo and text can do. Let’s find out in this third part where we take a deep dive into testimonials.
Part 3—Testimonials: How We Avoid Energy-Sapping Clients at Psychotactics
If you ever had the need to go to a dating site, you wouldn’t start reading the information, would you?
You’d first look at the photos
We instinctively look at photos because we recognise ourselves in the photos. A photo tends to reflect who you are. And you get a live demonstration of this phenomenon when you go to a marketing site where they have exaggerated promises. They may promise you’ll make a lot of money, or get results quickly.
But don’t read the information, just gaze at the photos
You’ll find to your amazement that you don’t like the look of many of the people in the testimonials. You don’t know those people, yet there’s something about them that sets off tiny alarm bells.
Yet, there are others who want a quick result. They want to become millionaires overnight. They are desperate, and unlike you, they find the photos very appealing.
Photos send out a powerful message to potential clients
If you put photos of clients that are reliable, ethical, clients that you like and want to work with in future, that’s what you’ll get.
Which is why we have photos of people that we like, clients that we’ve worked with, clients that we’ve gone out with, clients that we would love to have all the time.
And what’s the result of this photo strategy?
If you’re a client or have been on our courses, membership site or workshops, you know what’s coming next. The clients on our courses are easily the most helpful and the kindest people you’re likely to find on any course. Clients often ask: “How do you get such great people in your courses?” What kind of filtration system do you have in place?”
The answer lies in the photographs
In the past, we’ve made the mistake of putting a photo of a client who didn't meet with our picky nature.
Almost immediately, we’d get other painful clients. If you’d like to try this experiment for yourself, put photos of painful clients on your site and you’ll start to attract similarly migraine-inducing clients.
If you put in the photos of clients you like to work with, you’ll attract great clients too. It's a simple filtration system, and it works amazingly well.
But photos alone will not do the job
You will also need testimonials that read like an experience. When you look at the testimonials of our membership site at 5000bc, you’ll see they don’t just say “wow”. They read as if someone were talking to you. When it comes to more expensive products or services, the testimonials are sometimes 500-1500 words long. And the entire testimonial is about the user experience.
A testimonial that says, “that was the hardest course in my life” gets attention
But it also attracts the right kind of audience. It drives away those wimpy people who don’t want to put in the effort and think that business is just some magic trick. It drives those people to the “gurus” of the Internet.
When those “get rich quick” crowd clear, what we have are kind, friendly, hard working people. People who have similar goals, similar ethics, and behaviour. And most of all, we at Psychotactics have no trouble. We get to do the things we love. Clients admire that we work hard and that we take our three months off as well. They cheer us on because that’s their goal as well.
And that’s pretty much how the Psychotactics strategy for getting great clients.
Time to summarise, eh?
We started with barriers
Barriers may seem counter-productive and yet they’re a filtration system. The biggest reason why you have to wait to join 5000bc, or pay to be on a waiting list or can’t do a workshop until you’ve read The Brain Audit, is because we’ve put a barrier in place.
And the bigger the price of the product or service, the bigger the wall. If clients don’t get over that barrier, they’re not serious about succeeding. That speed bump drives out the “quick and easy” crowd and leaves us with clients that appreciate steady progress and hard work.
The red flags that show up are the next factor to consider
When you’re in business, you get taken aback by client requests. And at first, you want to make the client happy. But you’ll find some situations are consistent red flags. It’s not like we don’t ignore the red flags.
We do, and when we do, we pay the price. But by and large, when a red flag goes up, we pull up our rules and regulations and stick firmly what’s written on paper. Putting down what we will do and won’t do enables us to predict the future a bit.
So yes, we get out that paper and write down what we will not do. Putting down our red flags on paper, ensures we get clients that stick to our guidelines and not spoiled brats who want to make their own rules.
Finally it’s the role of testimonials
Testimonials have many aspects to them, but the main aspects are the photos and the experience. We pick and choose photos of clients who we adore. We put their testimonials on our site, and not surprisingly we get similar clients (Note: If your photo is not on our website, it’s not because we don’t adore you. It’s just a space issue).
We also don’t just put testimonials, but put in experiences instead.
An experience is a before and after scenario. And it may go on for a few sentences but often for over 1000 words. And this again filters out clients. Those who are in a hurry don’t read the experiences and just leave in the hope of amazing riches. And we’re happy to see them leave because our goal is to create clients who value not just information, but skill.
It’s the skill of writing, of creating your sales page—it’s these skills that matter in business. There’s no easy way and when our clients describe the effort they need to put in, it drives away those who want shortcuts.
Ants that succeed forage less often
We at Psychotactics have grown our list very slowly over the years. We’ve done almost no affiliate-sales, no advertising, don’t have Google AdWords and joint ventures. And yet, we’ve had a lifestyle that most others only dream off. We take weekends off; we take three months off, and we have clients that keep coming back to do our courses, workshops and buy products and services.
Like the ants we’re picky
Which is why we’ve had a blast. Over the past few years, we’ve had lunches, dinners and had wine and beer, individually, with over 1000 clients. We’ve gone on vacations with clients too. They’ve been invited to our home and in turn have made us comfortable in theirs.
Being picky has its rewards.
You get the cream of the crop. And you get to lead a satisfying life on your own terms.
What else could you want?
Next Step: Read or listen to—The Meaning Of Life? Or A Life of Meaning? How To Solve This Eternal Problem
P.S. Do you sometimes wonder if planning books are written just for the ‘organised’ people?
Find out if Chaos Planning is for you.