Welcome back to Part III of “My First 20 Clients”, a four-part blog series all about exactly how I won my first 20 clients online — and continue to win clients today.
So far I’ve laid out all the delightful, dizzying, downright-dirty details around how I crafted my first offers and designed my schedule to fit my life. Now, I’m sharing how I won paid clients without being gross, and next week I’ll dish on how I kept winning clients consistently.
Let’s get right back into it, shall we?
Ah, discovery sessions — a.k.a. sales calls with potential clients.
Everyone I know either loves ‘em or hates ‘em.
After all — when they go well? They go so well (and put a bit more cha-ching in your bank account).
But if they go badly… then you’re stuck sitting there alone staring at your computer screen after the call ends, feeling embarrassed, and vowing to never do one again.
As for me? Even though discovery calls don’t always go perfectly, I’m firmly in the “love ‘em” category.
The truth is that luckily these days, I don’t have a lot of trouble winning clients. Once I had my offer and master schedule in place, while it did take work, I was able to make progress towards winning the 20 clients I wanted to work with fairly easily.
It’s not because I’m “smarter” or “better” than anyone else.
It’s because I’ve got a simple system that works over and over again to help me turn sales calls into paying clients (or at the very least productive, really fun experiences that don’t end with embarrassed silence during or after Skype hangs up).
Sales conversations are in my comfort zone — but it wasn’t always that way.
I originally created my approach to discovery sessions after some really shitful experiences when I first joined a private consulting firm, and I tried to win clients the way I saw my male boss doing it.
Big. Mistake. Oh my God.
I was so clunky and awkward. Deep down (or not so deep down, it was probably pretty obvious) it felt so uncomfortable because it was all fake.
You know the type. Those: “Let’s pretend to be friends while I’m trying to hard sell you.” sort of sales conversations. Eugh. You guys, kill me now.
After a while, even if I wasn’t leading the talk with the client, even if I was just sitting in the room watching my bosses do the sales pitch, I had to work not to squirm from awkwardness. I remember wishing the ground would just open up and take me away from those situations.
It was so. not. me.
And chances are if you’re a woman coach, creative, or work in any transformational industry? It’s not you either.
Before I got online, and before I started blogging, I’d created a system and process that worked for me when it came to sales. That system involved really focusing on being authentic and generous, and on listening, asking questions, and being beyond respectful where everyone involved feels safe to be in full integrity.
That is what made sales comfortable for me.
So, by the time I got online, I knew that if I had an irresistible offer that really spoke to my ideal clients, and was genuinely trying to be helpful instead of just making a sale? I wouldn’t have trouble actually converting prospects to clients — no used-car-saleswomanship required.
Want to know how I do it? I thought you’d never ask.
First, here’s a look at my key philosophies and systems that underpin my sales process.
Philosophy #1: I don’t shy away from selling.
I know that selling can feel so awkward, especially for those newer to business. But the reality is, sales are an important part of running a business. Without sales, you don’t really have a viable business in the first place.
So just know: Selling your services is nothing to be embarrassed about.
Philosophy #2: I don’t sell to anyone who’s not a great fit for the offer — nope, not even if I “need” the money.
When most people think of sales or the sales process, their mind automatically goes to that aggressive, fake selling that I used to hate. But selling doesn’t have to be that way. It’s a matter of what you prioritise.
Pushy selling is about getting more people in the door, which means more money. But in my world? I choose to be selective. I will never ever enrol someone into one of my programs unless I’m hand on heart, 100% certain that we’ll have a great time working together and I can help them make a positive impact in their business.
Philosophy #3: I create value for the client whether they choose to work with me or not, just by helping them decide.
I also really believe that it is not my job to pressure anyone into buying my services. Instead, it’s simply my job to make sure that my ideal clients understand what I offer, and make the best decision for them. That’s it.
I think that helping someone confidently make a decision one way or the other is hugely valuable in itself. That alone can make a massive difference in someone’s business and life.
Philosophy #4: I genuinely believe I can help people.
I really believe that if more people had access to the skills and knowledge that I have, they would have a better business… and I think that shows.
Knowing and believing are two different beasts. I can know I get clients results, but if I’m feeling insecure, or letting my self-doubt win me over? Potential clients can spot that a mile away.
Philosophy #5: Genuine conversations are the most powerful sales tool that any of us have.
Because sales tools are, at their core, experiences.
My stats tell me that a great discovery session is powerful in a way that other sales tools (sales pages, webinars, ads, events etc) can’t compete with.
When your discovery session helps make an ideal client feel crystal clear, decisive and empowered — even if you don’t make the sale? You can walk away from the conversation feeling amazing, knowing you’ve helped that person experience a breakthrough. And while you may not have a customer at that moment, chances are you’ll have at a minimum a fan — or even a friend — for life.
So, now that you know my philosophies about selling? Here are a two of my favourite strategies for making discovery sessions even more impactful:
Strategy #1: First, ask your audience to apply for a discovery session by answering a few questions.
This is a very important step, even if you don’t have an email subscriber list or a waitlist, even if you’re just starting out, because it helps you identify the people you can help, and the people you can’t.
It’s a way to show people that you really care about them upfront straight away because you’re not going to waste their time. It also shows them that you’re going to be really respectful, you’re going to prepare for the session, and a whole host of other things that will give your potential client confidence in your services, even before you connect in a Discovery Session.
It also helps you avoid that sinking feeling in the middle of the call when you realise, “Shit, this is so not the client for me.”
Strategy #2: Set up a structure for the call, and stay within your appointed timeframe.
Hey, I get it. It’s easy to over deliver and go over time.
The first few times I got on the phone or had a conversation with a potential client, I felt so excited that I didn’t stick to the structure that I usually like to follow for these types of conversations. I would go way over time on my calls — sometimes turning 30-minute sessions into 60 minutes.
It was crazy — and it also didn’t necessarily translate into more sales.
I quickly learnt that when I don’t follow my structure, even though the potential client enjoys our Discovery Session, I know that I haven’t made it any easier for them to make a decision about their next best step. In the end, I’m just adding to their overwhelm, which does them a huge disservice.
So these days, I focus on always coming back to my structure and following my approach and discovery sessions. And when I do that? I’m able to deliver value and help people make those decisions straight up.
Now, I’m curious: What is your best strategy for winning clients? What has worked the best for you so far in your business? What are some of your favourite “do’s” and “don’ts”, and what’s changed in your approach as your business has grown?
I can’t wait to hear from you in the comments below.
I hope you are LOVING this series so far. It’s been so much fun to put together for you!
I’ll see you next week, where I’ll be pulling back to curtain on the last episode of the My First 20 Client series: How I Kept Winning Clients.