One of biggest problems with any sort of prospecting is the dead silence right after clients love what you've said or done.
You'd think they'd call immediately, but there's not a peep out of them. Is there some flaw in the system? And how can you overcome this obvious glitch?
How do you find prospective clients?
Red Bull has the highest market share of any energy drink in the world, with 6.302 billion cans sold in a year. However, it almost never got started.
Before the launch, part owner, Dietrich Mateschitz hired a market research firm to test Red Bull's acceptance. The result was a complete let down “People didn't believe the taste, the logo, the brand name. “I'd never before experienced such a disaster.” But Mateschitz believed the product would do well if he placed it in the right market.
Which is precisely what he did
His insight was to target not just students, but trendy students in universities. Instead of selling the brand to them, he'd pay them to throw a party and supplied them with free cases of Red Bull. What Mateschitz was doing, was two masterful acts all at once. He was seeking out the kind of clients he'd want, and instantly demonstrating the application.
For someone starting out in coaching it might seem like an uphill task to get clients
No one knows you, no one knows your brand, and no one even cares. Sounds pretty much like Red Bull doesn't it? But just like Red Bull, you've got to know how to work your way around such a dismal scenario. The first stage would be for you to decide on a specific audience. Before you get close focus on a single person, namely a profile, it's important first to find an audience.
Take Mike Jara's audience for instance
Mike deals with the issue of stress management. And that's a pretty broad audience. On any given day, you're likely to run into people who are wound up. Even so, it's not quite the audience you (or Mike) is looking for. Instead, Mike has chosen to talks to teachers.
They have a pretty stressful day, not just in the classroom, but with the prep work and the assignments after the last kid has gone home. The stress gets in the way of sleep, causing the teachers to be even more sleep deprived. When they get back to work, after a restless sleep, they're edgier than ever before.
However, without the audience in mind, the message goes quickly off track
When Mike started the exercise of getting a message across, his line went like this: Start your mornings with abundant energy. Ditch the coffee and grab yourself a hot cup of habits. Not only was the line a bit confusing, but it instantly brought up objections.
Most people drink coffee, because they like the taste, but also because it's a break, and often a social gathering of sorts. They don't see coffee as the enemy.
If Mike were to look for prospects with a line like that, he'd be likely to get little or no response, which would be a shame, because there's nothing wrong with Mike's offering. When looking for prospects, it's not enough to have a great product or service.
Instead, you have to get started with the target audience, then move to the target profile, and that's when you avoid the noise factor and get a clearer signal.
When I started out as a coach/consultant I thought I had a great line
I'd say something like this: “Reactivating dormant business clients”. I was so chuffed with my line that I got a designer to design my stationery, which included a thousand business cards.
Months later, I found barely little or no interest in what I had to offer. However, I also got lucky because I was introduced to a networking group. This group met on every Friday, which meant I could test out which lines worked best. Even so, I got nowhere in a hurry.
What changed everything for me was a live situation
As part of the group exercise, I had to visit every member of the group individually. They, in turn, had to explain their product or service to me. I'd listen patiently, while some people took as much as 10-12 minutes to explain their marketing message.
I'd then reassemble the concept in my brain, and put it forward to the member. “You explain it better than me,” they'd say in astonishment. Even so, I was not convinced.
I was the guy who “reactivated dormant business clients.”
Plus I had all these sunk costs in the stationery. I wasn't about to go all nuclear on the existing message. It took over a dozen people to point out what I did before I was cured of my stubbornness.
Eventually, I started talking to people about how hard it was to get the attention of a client in a few seconds, and almost immediately those very people would stop what they were doing.
They'd look up and pay attention to what I was saying because I'd hit a chord with them. I'd narrowed down my audience, and had managed to craft a message that appealed directly to that very audience.
Prospecting may seem like a frustratingly tricky task
You're not sure where to get your clients and they, in turn, can't find you. However, the core of prospecting is to figure out where the gold lies in the first place. Your gold is to “find the audience, any audience”.
When I started as a coach, I worked with a small business owner group, but I could have easily worked with dentists. Mike Jara is targeting teachers, but dentists are fair game too.
It doesn't matter who you start with, because most problems are relatively generic. However, once we get past the first stage, it's the second hurdle that's harder. You somehow need to speak to your audience and find out the most significant barriers they face.
As you dig, you'll find something that they're very keen on solving and they'll even give you the exact terminology for their problem, and how to articulate the solution. A target profile interview helps tremendously in this regard. (and if you're in 5000bc, here's a link).
Once you have clarity with your message, it's time to go back to your original audience and see how the message works.
Yup, it's time to test. Will they react?
Will they get in touch?
Why do prospects go dead on you? Let's look at three big reasons:
They’re hearing the idea for the first time
You don’t have a clear next step
They’re not sure how to apply your idea to their world
One of the biggest problems is definitely “hearing the idea for the first time”.
There's a reason why people that follow up do better than others. Even when we're keen to buy into a product or service, unless there's a screaming level of urgency, we move very slowly.
We fully intend to solve the problem, but we tend to have other fires to put out. Having an idea in place is wonderful, but how are you going to follow up? When I worked as a cartoonist, I'd send a monthly calendar as a follow-up.
Notice the term “monthly calendar”?
Most people get a calendar once a year, but I wanted my clients to remember me month after month. With Psychotactics, we send out newsletters; we do podcasts, etc. And granted it's not about coaching and more about products and courses, but let's not sidestep the issue of follow up.
Even if you're offering the most powerful product or service, clients take their time to respond. Without the follow-up, your message is like a ship in the night. If clients have listened closely to your message, it means they're interested, and you've got to take the next step and get their details so that you can follow up. However, do these potential clients have the next step?
Having a next step is crucial
If a potential client is in your space, what can she do next? There's no prescribed answer for every situation. Sometimes the client can get in touch with you, go to your website, or join some newsletter. The better option, wherever available, is for you to get their information and get in touch with them, instead.
If that potential client is stressed, not getting enough sleep, etc. she may be motivated to get to you, but other priorities might be greater. Hence it's usually better to get them to give their card, or their details, with one tiny additional step.
I used to make the clients write “YES” at the back of the card so that they had a clear memory of opting in. It was less for the opt-in process and more so because they remember their decision to move ahead.
Online, it's a good idea to get them to take some action
It's one thing to just have a report, white paper etc. but it's easier to get distracted online. You might want them to get to a specific page in the report or a particular set of pages.
Yes, the report starts at Page 1 and moves ahead, but there's no rule that doesn't allow you to nudge the prospect to Page 7, where you have something powerful in place. You've gone through the trouble of finding the prospect, have even gotten the prospect's attention, but something that creates action on their part is a powerful tool.
If you're an art coach, helping them draw something quickly might help
If you're into assisting clients to get work, a quick template might be the answer. If you're into meditation, an active meditation technique that's different is likely to get their attention. Many of us believe that prospects will make their decision and take the next step. It isn't as true as you'd expect.
Most of us need that additional nudge. We don't need to be inundated with “this is your last chance, goodbye” newsletters or follow-ups, but a cute little bump in the right direction does wonders.
However, this only applies if your client can see the application of your service. We looked at follow up, next step, and it's time to see how the application matters.
Let's say you position yourself as a coach in InDesign. Is that likely to get the client to call you?
In many cases, you're not going to get the call, because clients aren't necessarily familiar with the term InDesign. They don't necessarily know it's a layout program. And if they do, they don't know what they're supposed to do with it. Which is where applications come into play.
Let's say you show a prospect how she can create a gorgeous e-book in InDesign; now they have one type of application. Another set of prospects might open their eyes wide when they see the ability to create stationery and brochures. It's still InDesign, but there are many applications, aren't there?
When we started out with The Brain Audit, it seemed like clients would figure out how to apply the book to their own businesses. However, in time we learned they weren't always sure. Which is one of the reasons why I wrote the book, “The Brain Audit Applications”.
It showed how to apply the concept of The Brain Audit to marketing messages, to strap lines, websites, etc. In short, if I were a trainer for The Brain Audit (there's no coaching system, but let's say I was a coach), I would need to at least give prospects a glimpse into the possibilities.
Don't confuse this advice with a one-stop shop
A one-stop shop is where you try and push everything under the nose of the client all at once. That kind of business is quite counterproductive for a small business, as it positions you as an extreme generalist and not a specialist at all.
However, if you were to draw the client into your business with a single concept. e.g. Mike Jara's line is: Morning has just started and do you already feel left behind?
That's a feeling, an emotion, a real day to day problem that draws in the client.
Jara might have a slightly bigger program or coaching system, and he needs to reveal it much later. When the clients are sure of what he's offering, he can then put forward the applications. It might seem that sleep has just one application—to get a restful sleep—but you'd be surprised.
People, and in this case, teachers may not be sleeping because of a change in a relationship, death in the family, money issues and a whole raft of issues. These issues can be directly addressed or gently brought up as tiny examples, which in turn gets and keeps the attention of the client.
Which in turn brings us right back to Red Bull
Red Bull isn't a coaching service, of that we're all quite sure. Even so, the principles of getting a client are relatively similar. They found their audience by hiring the popular kids to throw a party. The problem they solved was one of being cool.
Red Bull was and still is considered to be a cool drink by many in that audience. Nobody believed in Red Bull at the start, and it took Dietrich Mateschitz three years to get things going.
Even so, as a company they've followed up consistently using sporting and cultural events, creating spaces and parties to make sure they're in the public eye at a relatively low cost.
As coaches we need to put similar principles in place to get prospects, so let's go through a quick summary:
Work on getting to your target audience—yes, offline and online
Meet with clients and run your message past them
Watch for something in the message that gets their attention
Go back to your audience and state your line and message
If they are interested, do they follow up?
If not, it’s because you’ve got to follow up, give them a clear next step and show them various applications.
Yes, these are a lot of steps, indeed
And it's one of the reasons why many coaches don't do so well. The fundamental steps are remarkably similar whether you have a product, training or a service like coaching.
Just having a website or just one speaking engagement isn't going to do the trick. You've got to be diligent with the steps, and even a great coaching system takes time to get off the ground.
Get started with your plan and execution right away.
Next Step: #185: Why Clients Leave