Last week, I wrote about giving too much away before a prospect signs on the dotted line. If you didn’t read the article, you can here: Do You Give Away Too Much?
This week, I want to share with you some tips that will give you credibility, enable you to hook the client and get you some well-deserved pay.
Here they are:
First clarify results
One of the first things to do is to get him/her to describe what success looks like. Do this with them, not try to anticipate what they want. People like to feel they’re being heard and asking about this is a sure-fire way to make them feel heard.
Ask the prospective client “What would success look like for you?” Another question that is appropriate is: “What does success feel like to you?”
Depending on the answers they give, it may be appropriate to pursue the conversation or to perhaps end it. If the person wants a financial planner and you don’t have the skills/criteria to fulfill that role, it would be disastrous to continue.
It is important, as Stephen Covey says, to start with the end in mind. What would a successful interaction with you look like to the client?
Explain how you work
I usually explain to my new clients how I work, the way that I organize a project, what kind of response time they should expect from me and what deliverables I will provide for them.
For a prospect, it is very important that they are reassured that their information is secure with you and that, once they’ve signed on the dotted line, they will not be forgotten.
Suggest a problem-solving framework
Briefly describe what is your successful, overall approach for your work.
Describe the overall steps or phases of your system. Keep it simple. Describe guidelines, don’t delve into detailed procedures. The what and the why are important for the prospect to hear. The how you do things is too much at this stage.
For example, if you were explaining to your neighbor how to go to a new store, you’d tell her what sign-posts to look for and how far between them. You wouldn’t tell her how to drive the car or how to put one foot in front of the other or the color of each house to go by.
Remember WIIFM? People want to hear what results they will get when they speak with you, not precisely what you are going to do or all the knowledge you’ve accumulated.
Don’t say “It’s Easy”
One of the reasons prospects are looking is because they have a problem that they want a solution to.
It may be easy for you, that is why you are the expert. But, if it was so easy then your prospect wouldn’t be calling you. Would they?
“It’s easy” is a two-edged sword. It might just make the prospect think you understand, are sympathetic and reassuring. However, it might just make them think that you have a magic wand and it’s all better.
If the prospect is in a cash-poor state, he or she might become convinced that if is so easy you’re not really needed after all.
The negative ramifications of saying this might also extend to thinking that hiring you is a short term thing. Or that, since it is so easy, you don’t deserve to be paid much.
So be careful when tempted to say something is easy!
Always follow-up with a proposal and contract
It is important to continue contact unless and until the prospect tells you no. Once you’ve had your sales conversation with the prospect, the next step depends on what it is you do. No matter what, ask for their permission to follow up in a short period of time. This will enable you to continue
If you are a consultant, a proposal (or Statement of Work) should be an easy follow-up. Don’t fret too much about the scope of the work. It’s rather common for the focus and scope of work to change during the duration. Project managers call it “scope creep.”
If you are a coach or do other types of one-on-one work, the appropriate thing would be to send an invitation to enroll in the appropriate program, if the prospect has indicated a preference. If they have not, perhaps more information about what you offer would be in order.
If the prospect left undecided, send a personal note asking how they are and where they are in their decision process.
Always have a contract, especially about the roles and information ownership each of you will have. In today’s litigious society, clients often want to own what the provider brings to the work. Be clear about what you own.
A simple search on the Web will give more suggestions about the content of proposals and contracts.
If You Really Want Your Services to Be Free, Then Say So
As I stated in last week’s article, you can provide services for free. Just make sure you say so in no uncertain terms. Also make sure to outline the extent of the free stuff you are providing, that they won’t be getting the kitchen sink as part of the freebies.