Week 5 – Reaching out and preparing for a sales conversation
Lesson Eleven – Reach out by letter or email to invite people into a conversation with you
Now that you’ve made some choices about WHAT you can offer for sale, and started to see how many people you know who can either use your help, or connect you to people who need your help, this week you’ll begin to make invitations and schedule some conversations.
Today, we’ll talk about using mail to reach out to potential clients, or people who can send you potential clients. Our next lesson will focus on having a few simple things ready to say to invite someone into a conversation with you. And the lesson after that will teach you a way to use social media more effectively to generate potential leads.
Then, you’ll schedule some practice conversations and set up a way to track those conversations.
Take a look at some of the lists of people you made last week who could either use your services or who might help you find people who need your services. What do you think would be the best way to contact them? A phone call? An email? Or a real letter?
What method should you use?
It’s your call. A phone call is good for the people you have the closest connection to, who you think would be willing to take the time when you call to speak, who you are comfortable asking directly for help. A phone call has the advantage of being fast and direct.
An email is casual. An email is good for people you have an established connection to, but who you might not feel comfortable calling.
A snail mail letter is a bit more formal. It can be good for standing out from the email clutter most people wade through. A letter invites people to take a little more time, and to consider your request more seriously. A letter can be great to send to friends and family to let them know about what you are doing and to ask for their help in finding people who fit what you are looking for. A letter can also be good for contacting past clients whom you have not been in touch with for a while.
We’ll talk more about phone calls and live conversations tomorrow.
There are a couple of different kinds of letters or emails you could write. Here are three common ones:
• Direct question about their need for your services and interest in having a conversation.
• Re-establishing connection, asking questions to determine if it’s appropriate to offer a conversation, and sharing what you are doing these days.
• Asking for help finding people who need your services.
DIRECT QUESTION EMAIL
How are you?
I enjoyed chatting with you at the Neighborhood Association meeting last week.
You mentioned in our conversation that you’ve been struggling with some health challenges, and weren’t satisfied with the help you were getting with your regular doctor.
I am wondering if you’d be interested in having a conversation about some alternative ways you might get some help and relief.
Through my wellness practice, I have a history of getting good results with people who are struggling with chronic conditions that haven’t responded well to conventional medicine. I’d love to learn more about what is going on for you, and to share some of my experience working with these issues.
If this feels right, I’d love to have a relaxed conversation to see if what I offer might make a difference for you.
Let me know if that’s of interest. Or not. Either way is fine.
I hope you are doing well and look forward to speaking with you soon.
How are you? It’s been a while since we were in the local entrepreneur’s networking group together.
I was looking through my database the other day and saw your name and I wanted to reach out and say hi.
I am curious how things are going in your business and in your life.
My life and work are going well. The focus of my work has been shifting lately, and I am now specializing in working with people with chronic health conditions that aren’t responding well to conventional treatment.
I’d love to find a time to connect and catch up and hear more about what is new with you. Do you have some time in the next week or two?
(For former clients, you can also be a bit more direct and say something like: “I was wondering if there is a way I can support you with your current efforts,” or “I am now offering these new services and am wondering if one of these might be a good fit for you now.”)
I look forward to hearing from you.
ASKNG FOR HELP
How are you? I am sorry I didn’t get to see you when I was in town last fall.
You have always been such a wonderful support to me and my work, and I wanted to reach out to you for help with something. I know that you know a lot of people, and that you love connecting people who can benefit from knowing each other.
Over the last six months, I’ve developed a specialty in my business helping people who have chronic health conditions that don’t respond well to conventional treatment, and I am looking for more clients.
I do my best work with people who:
• Have chronic back pain
• Frequent headaches
• Seasonal allergies
• Recurring skin rashes
Do you know anyone who is struggling with one of these conditions?
If you do, I am wondering if there is a graceful way you could connect me to them. If you wanted to pass on my information, what I would do is simply have a relaxed conversation with them about what they are experiencing and what they’ve tried to date, and only if appropriate, to share more about the help I can offer. There won’t be any pressure or hard sell, just a chance to see if we are a match.
I so appreciate any support you can offer. I look forward to hearing from you.
Your step for today:
Ok, this was a lot of information. Your job today is to draft a written communication to one person on your list. You don’t have to send it yet, but I want you to lean in and write something you might send.
Lesson Twelve – Preparing a simple script to invite people into conversation with you
Whether you start with a phone call, or have a follow up conversation after sending an email or letter, sooner or later you will probably need to speak to someone about what you do.
To help prepare you for that moment, you’ll want to prepare a simple script so you’re clear what you want to say.
The most common scenarios where you might speak to someone include:
• Social occasions where you are chatting or catching up with people you know
• Calling someone you know who might be a prospective client
• Calling someone who might know potential clients
• Having a follow up conversation after sending someone a written communication
This won’t be terribly different from the written communication we looked at yesterday. You’ll be drawing on your “who you are looking for” and your “desirable outcome” phrases you worked on in the first week.
“Hi, how are you? (various personal chit chat – ask questions if appropriate somewhat related to your work.)
Work is really good. I’ve been doing a lot of work lately with people who have recently ended relationships and who want to build a strong new life for themselves as a single person.
It’s been really gratifying, and clients are telling me wonderful things about the confidence and renewed energy they are finding as a result of our work.
You know, I am looking for a few more clients. I am curious, do you know anyone who has recently ended a significant relationship?
Is there a way you would feel comfortable connecting me to them? (e.g. tell them about me, give them my card, invite them to call me.)
Great! I want you to know if they call me, here’s what will happen. I’ll set a time to talk. I’ll ask some more questions about what’s going on for them, where they are now, and where they’d like to be, and if it sounds like I might help, I’ll tell them a bit about how I work, and then we’ll decide together if it makes sense for us to work together.”
CALLING SOMEONE YOU KNOW WHO IS A POTENTIAL CLIENT
“Hi, how are you? (various personal chit chat)
Listen, I wanted to ask you something. When we spoke the other day, you mentioned how hard it has been for you since you broke up with your partner.
I’ve been doing more work lately supporting people like you who have just ended significant relationships, and I was wondering if you’d ever consider (or have ever considered) working with someone like me to help you move through this transition?
Tell you what. Here’s what I’d propose if it’s comfortable for you. Let’s schedule a time to talk. I’ll ask you some more in depth questions about what’s going on for you, where you are now, and where you’d like to be, and if it sounds like I might help, and you’d like me to, I’ll tell you a bit about how I work, and then we can decide together if it makes sense for us to work together.
Great! Let’s set a time when you have about a half hour to talk.”
CALLING SOMEONE WHO MIGHT KNOW POTENTIAL CLIENTS
“Hi, how are you? (various personal chit chat)
Listen, I am calling because you’ve always been really supportive of me and my work, and I wanted to ask for your help with something.
I’ve done a lot of work lately refining the focus of my business, and I am looking right now to work with more people who have recently come out of relationships and are struggling to regain a sense of who they are as single people.
I was wondering if you know anyone who fits that description who you might be willing to connect me to.
What do you think would be the best way to make that connection (you call them, they call you, your friend gives them your info.)
Just so you know, when we speak, it will be a relaxed conversation where I can take some time to find out how they are coping after the end of the relationship, what they are finding difficult, and what they want moving forward, and then, only if it’s appropriate, I’ll tell them a bit about what I do.
How does that sound?
Thank you so much for you help and for keeping an eye out for folks who might be a good fit for me.”
HAVING A FOLLOW UP CONVERSATION
“Hi, how are you? (various personal chit chat)
I’d love to hear more about what you are up to and how things are going for you.
(Ask questions related to what you do – about their health, their relationships, their work. If appropriate, say more about what you are doing, especially any new developments in the focus of your work.)
Listen, I want to ask you something.
I don’t know how this will land with you, but more and more of my work these days is with people, like you, who have just come out of a relationship, and are looking to regain a new sense of themselves as a single person.
I am curious, is that something you might be interested in having support with?
Would you like to talk about that now? Or should we find another time to explore what that might look like?”
Your step for today:
Ok, pick one person you are more likely to speak to than write.
Using one of the examples above, script what you might say to them, focusing most on your description of who you are looking for and the kinds of outcomes you help provide.
Again, you don’t have to call them today, but use today to really step into what it might be like to do that.
Lesson Thirteen – Using social media to generate leads
Social media can be a great way to create engagement and to generate leads!
The best strategy I know for social media is to post “I am curious” or “I am wondering” posts.
Here’s how it works:
Start your post with “I am curious” and then describe a situation or scenario that someone might be in that would make them ripe for your help.
“I am curious, as we approach the end of the year, are you saying to yourself that this is the year you are going to finally get in shape, and lose weight, only you aren’t quite sure what you will do that will make it work this time.”
“I am curious, when you think about building your business this year, are you groaning a bit inwardly at what you think you will have to do to bring in more clients?”
Then, ask for a response:
“If you feel this way, I’d love to hear your thoughts below.”
If you do nothing else, you can engage, interact, ask more questions, note who is experiencing this challenge, and build relationship.
However, if you want to take an extra step, make an offer:
“I have a simple, simple checklist with the 5 things I’ve seen really do make a difference when you want to change how you look and feel. Just post something like “yes, please” below and I’ll send you the worksheet.”
Then, you can direct message them on Facebook with an attachment. You can also say something like: “Here’s the checklist I promised you. Would you be interested in having a 20-minute conversation about the items on the checklist? These are things I work on regularly with my clients, and I’d love to see if these are things you might like help with as well.”
What if you don’t have a checklist? Make one up! It should be something super simple that showcases your knowledge but which you can create in less than an hour.
You can use a similar strategy on Twitter. On Linked In, you would post a question to your audience-targeted Linked In groups to start a discussion or send folks to a blog post.
The beauty of this strategy is that you could easily post one or more of these a week, varying using it for discussion and engagement, or having a more concrete offer.
You can use this to identify people you might direct message with an offer to have a conversation (e.g. I was really intrigued by what you posted about your challenges writing copy for your web site. I am wondering if you’d like to have a conversation about that. I specialize in helping people write authentic, substantive web copy, and I’d love to see if I could help.”
You can also use this to slowly but steadily build your list by sending people to your site to read an article you’ve posted previously.
Your step for today:
It’s simple. Draft an “I’m curious” post you can post on Facebook or Twitter or Linked In. Please include an offer if you can, even if you haven’t created anything yet.
Bonus points if you actually post it today!
Lesson Fourteen – The basic anatomy of a sales conversation
I have found the best thing to do with sales conversations is to not overthink them. If you are worrying about saying just the right thing, at just the right time, or about getting the person to say yes, you’ll probably be less present and fully engaged.
That said, there are a few main things you’ll want to touch on in the conversation. I recommend that when you are speaking to people by phone, you have a form or outline you can follow to make sure you hit each piece of the conversation.
For our purposes, we are going to look at the five main elements of a sales conversation:
• The opening
• Finding out where they are
• Finding out where they want to be
• Finding out what gets in the way
• If appropriate, telling them a bit about what you do
You don’t want the sales call to just be a pleasant chat. You do want to take the lead near the top and say something like:
“So, here’s what I have in mind for our call today. I’d like to ask you some questions about where you are (in your business, with your health) and where you’d like to go. Then, if it sounds like I can help, I’d like to tell you a bit about what I do and we can decide together if it’s a fit. How does that sound?”
FINIDNG OUT WHERE THEY ARE
At this point, you are mostly going to ask questions and listen. I also recommend taking some notes. Your basic question will be: “Tell me where you are today with (whatever the area of your work addresses).”
If the person is vague, ask them to be specific. So if they say, “business is going well,” you can ask, ”tell me what ‘going well’ means to you. How many clients are you working with right now? What percent of full capacity is that for you?”
You are actively digging for specifics to find out if they are a good candidate for you and your business. Don’t be shy about asking. If it feels personal, you can always say “would you be comfortable telling me x?”
For example, with income, I’ll sometimes say “can you give me a ballpark of what you are earning now?” Or, is what you are currently earning not enough to pay the bills, just enough to pay the bills, or comfortably enough to pay the bills?”
FINDING OUT WHERE THEY WANT TO BE
Once you have a handle on where they are, it’s time to find out where they want to be.
The simplest version of that is something like, “So, in six months, or a year from now, where would you like to be in this area?”
Again, ask for specifics until you really feel what it is they truly want for themselves.
FINDING OUT WHAT IS IN THE WAY
Once you know where they are going, ask “So, what do you believe is keeping you from having what you want now?”
Most people will know intuitively some of the things that are in the way.
If you find that people don’t always assess accurately what is keeping them from what they want, you may want to have a short list of questions to help them identify what is in the way. I usually do this by asking “On a scale of 1 to 10, . . . .” My questions are things like: how aligned are you with the biggest message that is here to come through you, how confident are you about being able to write for your business.
I often like to ask here something like, “If we were to work together, what specific outcomes would you hope that we accomplish together?”
I like to end this section by asking “On a scale of 1 to 10, how important is it to you to solve this challenge?” If it’s less than an 8, don’t be afraid to ask why, or to ask what is more important.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
If the “how important is this” number doesn’t shift to an 8, 9, or 10, you may simply want to say, “While I believe I can help you, I am not hearing that working on this is a high priority. I am not sure if it makes sense for me to talk more about what I do. What do you think?” It can be a huge relief to not take the time or feel you have to sell someone who isn’t really clear they want help.
That said, if all of the above has left you feeling that you truly can help this person, and that they are the kind of person you would like to work with, now is the time to tell them what that would look like.
So, you would say something like, “Based on what I’ve heard, I believe I can help. Would you like to hear what that might look like?” I like asking permission at this stage so I know they are with me.
If you don’t want to work with them, or are not sure you can help, you can say that too. I do this fairly often. Recommend other resources if you can.
Now, you describe in broad terms how you might help. For those who have done the Mojo training, this is where you might share the elements of the True Wisdom.
I say something like, “So, the first thing we would do together is develop what I call the True Spirit of your Work. Here’s why that’s important.” And then I describe why this step will help address some of the challenges they’ve described to me, e.g. sounding like everyone else, not sure how to describe what they do. I go on to describe another two or three elements, like True Wisdom, Basic Story, Copy Writing etc.
I believe it’s important to give your prospective client a few key elements of how you work so they can picture what the journey will be like. If you haven’t developed this, you will want to take some time to jot some notes and practice this (more on practice in tomorrow’s lesson.) If your prospect hears that you know exactly how to help, you know the sequence of what you would do, it gives them confidence that you know what you are doing.
Before I make an actual offer, I like to ask, “does this sound like a process you’d like to experience?” This gives me a check before I actually make an offer or discuss fees.
Depending on how your service works, you might make an offer (“My suggestion is that we begin with a package of 3 sessions where we would accomplish x, y, and z,” or “I recommend that clients begin with a three-month commitment. In three months, we would do x, y, and z”) or if needed you can give some broad strokes and offer to write and send a proposal in the next 48 hours (this is often what I do).
In the case of a proposal, you might give a range (I think we’d need 4-6 sessions together to accomplish x). You might also ask, “what were you thinking of in terms of amount of time we’d work together.” I sometimes give a price range, (most proposals I write are between $2,000 and $6,000, is that a range you can work with?)
If you make an offer, state the offer, and if you like ask, “how does that sound?” or “is this something you’d like to do?”
Once you’ve made the offer, bite your tongue! Allow for silence. Let it be ok if they say yes or no.
If they are interested, but not sure about the investment, ask more questions. What can they afford? What are they willing or able to invest? Given what they’ve told you, do they have another way to address this situation?
If they still are a no, let it go. Bless them silently. Say something positive and end the call graciously. If you can recommend another option, do that. Think in terms of building long-term trust.
If they tell you they need to think it over, don’t be afraid to ask more questions! I usually affirm that they want to make a thoughtful decision and that I support that. I ask how long they need to decide and set up whatever the communication will be at that point, e.g. “so, what I hear is that you’ll email me in the next three days to let me know if you’d like to move ahead.” And, if you want, ask permission to reach out, “so, if I don’t hear from you by then, is it ok if I call you back to find out what your decision is?”
You will usually hear in this process if they are truly going to consider it and just need time to feel sure, or if they really are not sure they want to do this enough.
Your step for today:
Create a checklist or form you can use as a reminder of the five elements of the sales conversation.
Lesson Fifteen – Practice your sales conversations
If you want to get good at sales conversations, the best way is to practice. To prime the pump and get you going, I have a challenge for you today.
I want you to reach out and find three friends or colleagues who would be willing to have a practice sales conversation with you in the next week.
If they are colleagues, you can trade practicing with each other. If a friend, they may be willing to do it just because.
Practicing is the best way to see what you have under your belt, and what you might need to work on.
As we finish Week Three, here’s what you’ve accomplished:
1. You drafted an email or letter you can send to a prospective client or to someone who can help you find prospective clients.
2. You scripted what you can say out loud to a prospective client or someone who can help you find prospective clients.
3. You learned how to use social media in an engaging way to generate new leads for your services.
4. You learned a simple, basic structure for an effective sales conversation.
5. You scheduled some practice sales conversations to get you warmed up and to give you feedback on how you are doing.
Good work! You’ll be ready to amp things up next week.