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Anatomy of a Sale

Let’s call the client Sandy. She was first referred to me by an instructor in the professional training program she was taking. (Hint #1: Develop referral partnerships with people who serve your clients.) Sandy called me in March to inquire about becoming a coaching client. (Hint #2: Referred clients are more ready to buy.)

I asked Sandy about her situation and what she needed, then told her how coaching would help. (Hint #3: Listen more than you talk.) We discussed the cost. (Hint #4: Communicate benefits before quoting prices.) Sandy thought she would be ready to get started in June, so I asked to follow up with her then. (Hint #5: Get permission to follow up.)

I sent Sandy a copy of my print newsletter with a note summarizing our conversation. (Hint #6: Maximize every contact by following up.) I called her at the beginning of June to see if she was ready to become a client. (Hint #7: Follow up when you say you will.)

Sandy returned my call with a voice mail message. It was the wrong time to get started with coaching; maybe six months from now would be better. But could she order a copy of my book? (Hint #8: Capture your wisdom in a way clients can sample it before hiring you.) I mailed Sandy the book with a personal note and sent her an email, suggesting we talk again in six months. (Hint #6 again.)

If I thought I could reach Sandy by phone, I would have called, but she was a busy professional who sent every call to voice mail. (Hint #9: Use any available medium to follow up.) Three months later, I sent Sandy an email, asking if I could subscribe her to my email newsletter. She responded by email saying yes. Three months after that, I called her again. (Hint #10: Find a way to follow up at least once per quarter.)

Sandy replied by voice mail that things had changed for her, and she was no longer interested in coaching. She thanked me for keeping in touch. (Hint #11: Consistent follow up makes you appear professional.) I left a voice mail reply thanking her for her interest and asked her to keep my services in mind for her professional colleagues. (Hint #12: Ask for referrals when prospects don’t buy.)

I continued to send Sandy my email newsletter each month. Three months later, Sandy referred me a colleague, who became my client. I sent Sandy a thank you note for the referral. (Hint #13: Always thank your referral sources.) Later that same year, she referred me another colleague who also became my client, and I thanked her again.

Several months went by, and a third person in the same field contacted me, and became my client. My new client named someone I knew, but wasn’t in touch with, as the person who referred her. I contacted the referrer to thank her, and discovered it was Sandy who had told her where to find me. (Hint #14: Find out who your referral sources really are.)

I thanked Sandy again. It was now two years from our initial contact. At this point, Sandy decided to become my client. The dollar value of my relationship with Sandy — her coaching fees plus those of the people she referred — to date has totaled approximately $35,000.

In addition to the hints I’ve dropped while telling this story, there may be more to learn by asking yourself a few questions. Where in this process might you have given up? Would you have written Sandy off after she told you she wasn’t interested? Might you have considered yourself a failure at selling because Sandy kept saying no for two years?

Notice that in all this time, Sandy and I had talked live only once. Do you stop trying when you can’t reach people by phone? Before she became my client, I sent Sandy a print newsletter, four handwritten notes, three personal emails, and eighteen email newsletters. I never did send her a brochure. Might you have sent Sandy a marketing packet after the first contact, and stopped there?

The next time you get discouraged because a client says he’s “not ready” to get started, or you feel like follow-up is a waste of time, remember Sandy. I contacted her 25 times over a period of two years. Each of the seven personal contacts took less than five minutes, and the 18 email newsletters were sent by an autoresponder. Thirty-five minutes of follow-up resulted in $35,000 in sales. What do you think, was it worth it?

Find a Therapist.com here

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income.


Copyright © 2003, C.J. Hayden

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   Writing articles as an expert in your specialty or
   niche can help you become more believable and
   more noticeable. A strong, well-written
  article on  subject of interest to your target
  market will get their attention, display your 
  expertise and establish your name recognition. 

  There are countless blogs, ezines, journals, magazines, and other periodicals published online that are desperately looking for quality content. The more you write in your area of expertise, the better your writing will become, the more you will be recognized and so on a nd so on.  And, if you can say in writing to the editor you are speaking with; “I have been published in 1….;2…..3…..4…..5…….” the list grows longer and looks quite a bit more impressive, and you are definitly becoming the expert.

The first step in getting an expert article published is to get the attention of the editor, or more often, the associate editor. For that you need what’s referred to as “the hook,”or that thought or idea which catches their attention because it fits in with current events in your area or country. For instance, Easter is coming up April 24th. What topic(s) fit with Easter or holiday themes? Depression is a common one. Almost every paper or periodical runs something on holiday stress and depression. The question to ask yourself is how to make your article just a bit different – how can you tweak it to make it different from every other run of the mill article so it gets looked at and then your goal – published! What about celebrating holidays when parents are  of different faiths and one wants to celebrate and the other doesn’t. I personally don’t recall seeing any articles like that. I’m sure there are some, I just haven’t seen them.

The next step in getting an expert article published is to identify some appropriate writing venues. What do the people in your target market read? Consider newsletters, ezines, web sites, magazines, trade journals, and newspapers. Ask your clients and prospects what online and print publications they subscribe to or regularly buy. Notice which periodicals are lying on their desks or coffee tables and poking out of their briefcases. Find out what web sites they frequently surf.

You can also look up publications by subject in directories of writing markets, such as those published in print, online, and CD versions by http://www.writersmarket.com or http://www.writersmarkets.com . To find online venues, just type your specialty and the word “articles” into your favorite search engine.

If you are new to getting your writing published, start with small publications that don’t require writing experience. Association newsletters are an excellent first target. Other possibilities are the many web sites that publish educational articles to attract traffic; employee newsletters for companies you would like as clients; newsletters, ezines, or web sites produced by your referral partners; neighborhood newspapers; and advertising periodicals that list items for sale, job openings, or workshops and events.

When you have a venue in mind, don’t just write an article and submit it. Most print publications and many online ones want you to query them first. Look for the submission guidelines posted on the publication’s web site, or listed in a box near the table of contents, inside the front cover, or for newspapers, in the editorial section. If you’re not sure, call the appropriate editor (usually listed in one of the same places) and ask.

Some publications accept queries by phone and others want them in writing. If you contact the editor by phone, be prepared to pitch your article idea on the spot. Tell them your proposed topic, why it is of interest to their readers, and why you should be the one who writes it. If you’re convincing enough, a small publication might give you the assignment right there. A larger one will probably ask you to send a query letter and include some clips of your writing.

When a publication requests queries, don’t try to skip the query step by sending a completed article in the hope that it will get printed. Most editors won’t even look at it, and you will have wasted a great deal of time. Only if the publication clearly states they accept completed or previously published articles should you send the article instead of a query.

A query letter should begin with a strong lead paragraph, written just as if it were the opening paragraph of the actual article. You want it to capture the editor’s interest, introduce your topic, and show that you can write. Continue the letter by describing two or three key points you intend for your article to make.

Then propose the article itself: “I would like to write a 1500-word article on the benefits to employers of integrated disability management programs. I plan to interview three employers who have experienced significant cost reductions…”

Conclude your letter with a brief description of your background that indicates why you are qualified to write the article. If you have previously been published, include two sample articles with your letter, or links to them when e-mailing. Be sure to send a self-addressed stamped envelope if you are querying by mail. E-mail submissions have become much more common, but don’t use this method unless you know it is acceptable.

The elapsed time it takes editors to respond to a query varies widely. Unless you have been told otherwise, follow up after 30 days if you haven’t heard anything. This is particularly important with a publication that only accepts newly-written articles, because you shouldn’t send the same query to another editor until you are sure the first one doesn’t want it.

Once you successfully place a number of articles, consider finding a venue for an ongoing column. Landing a regular column in a publication respected by your target market is a major milestone in establishing your expertise, and can significantly boost your name recognition.

C.J. Hayden is the author of Get Clients Now!™ Thousands of business owners and independent professionals have used her simple sales and marketing system to double or triple their income.Visit her website at GetClientsNow.

Very often, more now as we get more readers of this blog, people send me articles, quotes, bits of wisdom, but forget to tell me where they got it so I am not able to give the author proper credit.   This is one of those instances. So if you know who wrote this, let ME know and I will add their name and credits to it so they get the recognition they deserve.  Judy~

“I’ve written a great deal about the difference between marketing, which is letting people know what you can do, and making sales, which is about closing the deal. In general, I think most small businesses make more mistakes in marketing than they do in sales because they either don’t market enough, or they try such a wide variety of “strategies” that they and their potential customers end up confused and frustrated.

But, assuming you’ve done a good job of letting people know who you are and what you do, here’s a simple process for the closing sale:

1.  People buy solutions, not products or services. Your prospects want something that makes their lives easier, richer or more satisfying. In general, no one buys laundry detergent; we buy stuff to get our clothes clean.

2.  We buy from people (or companies) we know. Given a choice, I’ll generally do business with someone I know rather than with a stranger. A few goods and services are so price-sensitive that I’ll try an “off brand” at least once, but generally I’ll go with the familiar over the unfamiliar.
(This emphasizes the importance of marketing or “pre-
selling.”)

3.  We buy from people we like. Would you buy a car from someone you don’t like? Would you do business in an office that makes you uncomfortable? Neither will your customers.

4.  We buy from people we trust. This is THE key. In the end, I must believe that the product or service will perform as promised and I must trust that the seller will deliver, every time.

When it comes to selling, here’s the formula: Your customers buy Solutions from people they Know and Like and Trust. They will pay a substantial premium for the peace of mind that comes from doing business with confidence. Make it easy for your customers to feel good about doing business with you.

But what happens if there’s a mistake, an error or something goes wrong with the product or service and you know it was really your fault. You sold a defective product, the listing didn’t work correctly, or something similar.  What do you do?

It is really very easy. You talk with the customer and find out what happened and determine, if you can, what it would take to make the situation better for them . . .take the direct approach and ask them if you can’t find out any other way.  If it is reasonable, do it. If it is not a reasonable request tell them you are not in a position to to that and offer an alternative. Think about if this happened to you – what would it take to make you feel better. Tell them they are a valuable customer and you want to make things better for them. Be extra generous with them – exceed their expectations – go that “extra mile.” Then, and this is important, have the CEO or you if you own the business, follow up with a personal letter with a hand written signature. Apologize for the error, whatever it was and  ask if their situation has been resolved to their satisfaction. 99% of the time, you won’t hear from them again, but they will talk about you to their colleagues and talk in a good way.

Most of the time, this works and you have a pleasantly surprised customer who feels gratitude and loyalty to you.This is the best kind of publicity you can get.

Every  once in awhile, no matter what you do and how good your intentions are, the customer will not be happy. There are people who seem to be genetically programmed to complained and remain dissatisfied no matter what. . .and that is just life. YOU have to live knowing that you did what is right, your intentions were good, and what goes around, comes around. When YOU put goodness and honesty “out there” “into the universe,” it will come back to you. The laws of the universe, like gravity, never fail to operate. It is just a matter of having patience.Trust will come and your customers will learn that about you as time goes by.

I wish you all the best, especially in “learning patience!”

Judy

Training & Workshops

Many therapists report gaining a number of referrals from doing public speaking – I know I did.  It certainly wasn’t easy at first. I felt nauseous, my hands and voice were shaking – it was really pretty awful.  Then I remembered something a friend who did public speaking for a living once said to me.  She told me to let my audience know how I was feeling. WHAT!?

Yes, that’s exactly what I did because she was so successful and I trusted her wisdom so much, I simply said, “You’ll have to excuse me tonight – this is my first time on this topic and I am really quite nervous, so please be kind <smile>.  Amazingly, it worked. I found that audiences are for the most part very kind.  Afterward, many people came up to me and told me I shouldn’t be nervous, that I did very well, and how much they enjoyed it.

It also made me relax considerably and view these people much more as friends than people to be feared. Another thing I learned is that it takes practice to get better. Simple, eh? But so true. Each time I gave my talk, I got better. After about 10 times of the same parenting talk, I felt I could branch out into other areas. I picked one I enjoyed and felt I knew a lot about, Spirituality and Psychology,” and started promoting it. I contacted all of the people I had names and addresses of from previous talks – a reminder by the way – keep a signup sheet to build your mailing list – had a flier created, or you can use a template to create your own.  There are so many options out there today.  I had the money so I had mine professionally done. Because I was just starting out, I wanted to create the best impression possible.

Finding a venue was easy because I had a track record, but if I didn’t, I would have started with the public library, churches, or bookstores, especially the small community ones. Have a list of books ready for them on the topic that they can display and sell.  If you do the work for them, they will be very appreciative and more likely to have you back because you are demonstrating that you are a professional and understand what they need.

Learning the tricks and tools of public speaking isn’t hard. There are places like toastmasters, etc. that help greatly. I found a video that I think is especially helpful, more than any I’ve seen, so I’ll share it with you here:

http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/video/do-it-yourself-body-language

Unfortunately, I can’t embed it, but if you click the link it will take you there.

So, what about results?  Why go through all the torture and work of preparation? Well, it works! My first awkward performance, I got one referral. The second a few more and by the 10th I was getting at least 5 clients from each speaking engagement. Now, they all didn’t rush up to me afterward and beg for an appointment. But over the next couple of months, I was able to identify 5 people from the talk.

Now what is that worth? Figuring ROI (return on investment) means taking what you spent and subtracting it from what you take in. So, what is one client worth? If you charge $125 and the average number of sessions is 10 is $1250. If you have 25 people at your presentation (my average) with 5 clients is $6250.  After the first talk and the initial preparation, which takes more time and you make less profit, what you do is begin to build a repertoire. Post it on your directory listing. On Find-a-Therapist.com, you can add a 2 – 3 minute video “teaser” about your next presentation as well. You can write an article that we’ll publish on our blog about the subject and mention that the public can hear you at your upcoming event at such and such a place and time.

Doing an event a month can net you approximately $6,000; 2 a month is $12,000. Remember, all the while you’re getting better, building your repertoire, knowing what your audience receives well – all the while your referrals are growing and your regular practice income is growing. If your making $10,000 a month on speaking, you can afford to hire a part time virtual assistant or an assistant that comes to your home or office and takes care of the details for you, leaving you free to research more, create more, write more, put more presentations  together.

Again, this won’t happen overnight.  But, if you apply yourself faithfully, as if you were taking a class you had to pass, I would estimate that in 3 years you will be at that level of income from your speaking. Do the research in your community. What self help books are selling? What speakers are being booked?  What is Oprah talking about on her show?  What is in the news again and again (ex. child abuse).

Taking this approach also helps you build your person to person networking and it helps you build your niche.  With each presentation, you will meet people in higher status positions, build better connections, and your more affluent data base will grow.

The are many articles about what you bring with you to your presentation, how you market once you are there, how you build your lists, so I won’t go into that here. You can do that research; it will almost fall into your lap.

For most therapists this is a quiet time of the year. So, let this be a start for you on making your 3 year public speaking plan.  Get a buddy who will commit themselves to doing it with you. If you’re appointment book is not as full as you want, use the free time productively. If you have questions, join www.TherapyNetworking.com – its free – and we’ll try to answer them on this topic specifically. Most importantly, treat the awkward times as learning experiences and practice sessions – don’t let them discourage you.

I wish you a year of good public speaking!

The holidays are coming upon us already! It seems like just a few years ago, the shops waited until after thanksgiving to put out Christmas decorations, now this year the day after Halloween they were out….almost a whole month earlier. Talk about aggressive marketing! This is certainly not the way I recommend you do your marketing, but looking at all the decorations did start me thinking about retailers and what we can learn from them in the marketing we do as therapists.
 

Marketing Moves

One of the things I hear most from the therapists I talk with when I do marketing consults is that they start something; maybe they’ve read a book or heard a talk and were inspired to begin a new program, but “Now I’m stuck! I don’t know what to do next. It’s already been three weeks and nothing’s happening.”
 
So let’s talk about getting “unstuck” with your marketing. Here are my top five tips for getting moving again, getting result – clients – and getting unstuck!
 
1.       Stephen Covey’s first of the “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” talks about being proactive and taking responsibility for your life. Look at who is in your Circle of Influence and focus on them because those people are the ones you can do something about. You may find you need to expand your circle of influence and this is why every business coach you’ll ever meet preaches networking.  Networking is nothing more than building that circle of influence.  When you’re feeling locked from moving forward, begin making a list of your circle of influence. Write down the names of everyone in it. Writing the names is important because it makes us commit at some level to these people and the next step, which is contacting them and doing some face to face networking. Tell them you have some openings in your practice, and if they hear of anyone who needs someone with your expertise (here’s where you do your “elevator speech”) give them your name and a card. Make sure you have 10 -15 cards to give them.
 
The new networking we’re all hearing about is personal networking. Actually it isn’t new; it’s always been the best way to network. The online social networking sites just make it easier to meet people and make connections to follow up in person. So work on your list. Take 15 solid, uninterrupted minutes a day for a week and add to your list. You’ll be surprised at the end of the week how many names you have. If you’re not surprised, it’s time to network some more!
 
2.       Step 2 is one of my personal favorites and maybe the most powerful. “Recreate your vision.” When you’re feeling stuck and can’t move forward, remember why you wanted to go there in the first place. What was your original vision of the business you are trying to build? What does it look like? Where is it located? Who will your work benefit? What fulfillment or satisfaction will it provide you? Write down your vision of a successful business, or if you’ve written it down before, pull it out and re-read it. Allow your own words to re-inspire you to do the necessary hard work.
 
Among my best memories is of a time I was standing on the balcony outside my office drinking a cup of coffee. I had a free hour and as I stood overlooking the garden in the center of the building, I was struck with the realization that at a professional growth retreat some years before I had done an exercise in which I had to draw a picture of my business in 10 years. At that point I had 3 clients and rented hourly space from a therapist friend…not much of a business at all. But, my realization was that my picture that I’d drawn, in great detail, looked almost like where I was standing at that moment. A definite goose bumps experience! But I learned that visualizing works! Picturing what you want, in great detail, works. For 10 years I had been moving toward that picture without remembering it most of the time, but I had it embedded it my mind, a seed that was slowly growing and taking shape. I still have that picture, and every day I have fresh flowers in my office just like I had in the picture.  This morning I picked 3 beautiful pink roses from that back yard for my desk. Recreate your vision!

During the exercise in the workshop, the instructor had us use the big fat crayons that kindergarteners use so our “inner child” was freer to “draw.” I still use the exercise to this day when I’m starting a new project. I visualize it and draw it with fat crayons! Try it and let me know what happens with your picture.
 
3.   Face your fear. One of the most common obstacles to being successful at marketing is fear. Marketing activities may evoke fears of rejection, disapproval, embarrassment, and a host of other catastrophes. Instead of pretending the fear isn’t there, or attempting to ignore it, you may find it more effective to confront the fear directly.

Try to identify exactly what you are afraid of. What do you fear will happen if you make that call or go to that meeting? If you can identify the specific fear that is blocking you, it may be possible to soothe it by providing reassuring information or positive experience. For example, fear of rejection can often be lessened by setting up practice selling sessions where a role-playing partner responds with “yes” to every suggestion you make.

4.  Quit; then start fresh. There may be days when you feel discouraged enough to just throw in the towel. Maybe you should do it. The act of quitting can be very cathartic. Proclaim: “I quit!” Perhaps even write yourself a resignation letter. Then take off the rest of the day, and don’t even think about work. It’s a good bet that after you have a chance to blow off some steam, you’ll be ready to come back the following day re-energized.

5.  Act as if. Whenever you feel incompetent about some area of marketing, you may be able to tackle those activities anyway if you simply try to act as if you were competent. Try playing the role of someone you admire. For example, what if you were Julia Roberts? How would she make a follow-up call? Or how about if you were Sean Penn? How would he introduce himself in front of a group? A short time pretending to be someone you think of as confident and capable can make those qualities rub off on you.

The next time your marketing feels stuck, try one of these methods to help you get back into action quickly.
 
Special Offer: See our new pricing on our Standard Listing – just $99! That’s about 27 cents a day.
 
 We’ve lowered the pricing for the holidays with our practice management tools as well.
 
To view listing packages and options use this link:
http://www.find-a-therapist.com/PublicHome/RegNew_listPractice.aspx

For practice management tools use this link:
http://www.find-a-therapist.com/SimpleRegistration/NewReg_PracticeMgtTools.aspx

With the purchase of any listing, get one free additional website listing from this list: http://www.practice-solutions.com/additionalsites.htm

Offers expire 12-31-10
 
SPECIAL THANKS TO C.J. Hayden, author of “Get Clients Now,” for her inspiration and contributions to this piece.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Judy

We’re starting something new today! Wednesday’s are a good day for new things; they’re right in the middle of the week which means there are only a few days left until the weekend and that’s a good thing. So we’ve decided, in our great wisdom, to call our mini newsletter, “Wednesday’s Wisdom.” Today’s newsletter will be text only – no pictures or anything to distract you from the wisdom we’ve gathered here. We hope by this point you can tell some of this will be written “tongue in cheek,” but with real tidbits of wisdom thrown in here and there.

We’ll be sending these every other week, and they’ll be short and sweet and chocked full of goodies. We’ll ALWAYS include a special offer – so watch for it – near the bottom of the letter.

So here we go – Wednesday’s Wisdom! Here are the five best ways for professionals to get clients:

1. Meeting prospects or referral sources in person, at events or by appointment

2. Talking to prospects or referral sources on the phone

3. Sending personal letters and emails to prospects who already know them

4. Following up personally with prospects over time

5. Speaking to groups likely to contain prospects at meetings and conferences

Now here’s the most important thing to remember. In this context, prospects are NOT clients. Prospects are those professionals who come into contact with your prospective clients; doctors, lawyers, teachers, pastors, insurance agents, dentists, nurses, hairdressers. . .those people who deal with your clients everyday in their profession.

These are the ones you invite for coffee or lunch. These are the people you get to know so they can get to know and refer to you when they see a potential client in their office.

So, there it is – Wednesday’s Wisdom for the week. Schedule a time on your calendar right now to make that call and invite your hairdresser or barber for coffee. Ask them about their work and what they do when they think a client of theirs needs someone to talk to – a trained clinician like yourself. And leave them with a stack of your business cards – and the next time you see them, ask if they need more!

Special Offer :  $40 OFF!

New subscribers will receive $40 off a premium or enhanced listing when they mention this promo. Learn more about our available listing packages at Find-a-Therapist.com. Call today to take advantage of this special! 1-866-450-3463. Expires November 30, 2010

Very often, more now as we get more readers of this blog, people send me articles, quotes, bits of wisdom, but forget to tell me where they got it so I can give proper credit.  This is one of those instances. So if you know who wrote this, let ME know and I will add their name and credits to it so they get the credit they deserve.  Judy~

Training & Workshops

“I’ve written a great deal about the difference between marketing, which is letting people know what you can do, and making sales, which is about closing the deal. In general, I think most small businesses make more mistakes in marketing than they do in sales because they either don’t market enough, or they try such a wide variety of “strategies” that they and their potential customers end up confused and frustrated.

But, assuming you’ve done a good job of letting people know who you are and what you do, here’s a simple process for the closing sale:

1.  People buy solutions, not products or services. Your prospects want something that makes their lives easier, richer or more satisfying. In general, no one buys laundry detergent; we buy stuff to get our clothes clean.

2.  We buy from people (or companies) we know. Given a choice, I’ll generally do business with someone I know rather than with a stranger. A few goods and services are so price-sensitive that I’ll try an “off brand” at least once, but generally I’ll go with the familiar over the unfamiliar.
(This emphasizes the importance of marketing or “pre-
selling.”)

3.  We buy from people we like. Would you buy a car from someone you don’t like? Would you do business in an office that makes you uncomfortable? Neither will your customers.

4.  We buy from people we trust. This is THE key. In the end, I must believe that the product or service will perform as promised and I must trust that the seller will deliver, every time.

When it comes to selling, here’s the formula: Your customers buy Solutions from people they Know and Like and Trust. They will pay a substantial premium for the peace of mind that comes from doing business with confidence. Make it easy for your customers to feel good about doing business with you.”