First impressions are everything in business (and life.) Are you sure you’re making the right impression on your initial prospects calls or appointments? After running several businesses and coaching dozens of biz owners over the years, I have to say there are usually a few key elements missing. Here’s my rundown on how to run the most effective prospect appointments.
It all starts before the actual appointment. Usually, a prospect appointment (by phone or in person) will last 30 - 60 minutes, so you definitely want to be sure that time is worth it!
I suggest that before you have the full appointment, set up an initial interview call of 10-15 minutes to see if the prospect would be a good fit for your coaching, product, or service. Do NOT treat all leads as if they are equal!
Next, do your homework. Research the prospect by checking out their LinkedIn profiles, websites, online publications, and more to get a better idea of who they are and how you can add value to their life.
Finally, set some questions. Write up at least 5 key questions you want to ask during the call. These can be standard for every call you do, but you should try to tweak them to customize to each prospect. Examples include:
- What was the dream you had when you first started your business?
- How has owning and running your business been different than you imagined it would be?
- What would it look like if you “made it”?
On the call:
During the actual call/appointment, set the stage that you are the one interviewing the prospect, rather than the other way around. Of course, it’s a conversation so they are allowed to ask questions, but overall you should be the one directing the call and conversation.
Take notes. Be sure to take good notes throughout the call so you can refer to them throughout the call or in future calls or followup emails. Also, try to note things mentioned during the call that might have more significance than the prospect realizes. For example, they might make an off-hand remark about their previous divorce, but that could actually be playing a much bigger role in how they’re running their business than they realize.
Be confident in your rates. At some point, your rates will probably come up in the call. At this point, it’s important not to waiver. Even if the prospect mentions that someone else is cheaper or their budget is low - let them know you are completely confident that your work is absolutely worth the rate you’ve set.
Steps to the first call/appointment:
- Trust and Rapport (can be started before the call with the SM/website homework). Do not go into anything about you until you’ve had a chance to talk about them and given them a chance to talk about them. Only say what you MEAN, never lie just to build rapport or give a compliment.
- Gathering info (interview). People never give you the full picture with one question/answer. Always ask followups until you get to the root of the issue!
- Review alternatives they’ve explored/tried. Don’t be afraid to ask them about other products, coaches, programs, etc. they’ve tried, and what they liked or didn’t like about those alternatives.
- Introduce potential solutions. On the call, try introducing a few possible solutions to their current needs. You can start these with, “Have you ever tried…” or “It might help to…” or something similar. If you can’t think of possible solutions right on the call, let them know you have a few different options and would like some time to compare them before recommending any.
- Communicate your history of success. It’s extremely important for you to let the prospect know what you have done in the past, especially if you’ve ever worked with clients similar to them.
- Q&A. Ask if they have questions for you. This is an excellent opportunity to root out any reservations or objections they might have.
- If you want to do business with them by the end of the call, schedule a followup RIGHT ON THE CALL. NEVER, EVER leave a meeting or call without scheduling the followup one!
Try out these tips and steps on your next prospect appointments and be sure to track the results. I’d love to hear how they help you!
You can also receive many more free tips and advice from myself and other business owners just like you on our free Facebook mastermind group. Be sure to join today!
Over and over, we all hear the same statements and questions from fellow business owners. Maybe we’ve even said them ourselves.
“I just don’t have enough time.”
“How can I get all of this done?!”
I know, because I used to say and think the same things. Luckily, thanks to the guidance of excellent mentors, I discovered a long time ago that we all have the same amount of time each week: 168 hours. It doesn’t matter if you’re Bill Gates or a nine-year-old kid. Successful people do not have more time than anyone else. The only difference is how they spend it.
Being Busy vs. Being Productive.
First, let’s address one of the biggest myths plaguing business owners today: being busy does NOT equal being productive. The goal is not to cram as much work/activity into the day as possible, but rather to accomplish the most important activities each day. At the end of the day, you don’t want to do more, you want to feel more accomplished
The To Do List is Dead
We’ve probably all been taught the “art of the to do list. But let me just say now that the to do list is dead. The idea of creating a long list of things to do and then trying to prioritize them and see how many you can get done in a day is not the most effective way to get things done.
Rather than a to do list, work off of your calendar. It’s time to revisit your calendar and literally time block everything on it - sleep, social media, email, client meetings, marketing activities, etc. Include on your calendar a morning routine/ritual. Set a time to wake up each morning and create a system that sets the tone and intention of the day while taking care of yourself FIRST.
Set a Morning Routine
For example, let’s say you start work at 9am, and need about 30 minutes of travel time to get to the office and get settled in. A great wake-up time would be 7am. This gives you time to eat, shower, make coffee, and then take some time to write out your goals, meditate, and set the tone for your day to be intentional. This way, you arrive at the office completely ready to conquer the day.
Block Your Time
Then, your calendar should be scheduled out in blocks. Blocks of time for client meetings, email, lunch, etc. While you are in one activity’s block of time, do not allow other activities to interfere. I.E. do not be answering emails while you are supposed to be planning your marketing strategy, or checking social media while you are between client calls. Multitasking is a myth - all we actually do is switch our focus. Some do it faster than others, but you get far more done by focusing on just one thing at a time.
Review and Question
Now, while you are reviewing your calendar’s tasks, start asking for each task if you can eliminate, automate, or delegate it. If you can, do so. Examples of these types of tasks are:
- Social media posting
- Customer service calls/emails
- Blog & article writing
- Email marketing
Then ask if each remaining task absolutely has to be done today. If so, set a time for it today. If not, give yourself permission to put it off until it needs to be done. Remember more does not always equal better.
End Your Workday
Finally, and this is possibly the most important tip, have an end of the work day scheduled and DO NOT go over it. If you want to stop work at 6pm and be home in time for dinner with your family, DO IT. Do not take work home with you (even if you work from home.) Be 100% present at work and in your personal life. It’s only by having a balance and barrier between work and home that we can devote more of ourselves to each. We all know the drain of each day bleeding into each other because we take work home with us and never have time to decompress - don’t do this.
Have an end of day review routine similar to your morning routine. Sit down and reflect on your day. What “ate up” time? Email? Phone calls? Customer questions/complaints? Start looking into how to automate/delegate these, and consider what you can do with your schedule to better optimize blocks of time.
By working in this way, you switch your days from being “reactive” to being “proactive.” Finally, you will not be at the whim of every minute thing thrown your way, always feeling like you’re running behind. Instead, you will feel more like you are at the helm and in control of your business, life, and destiny
In a past post, I discussed how to begin creating a personalized success schedule. This process inevitably brings up a lot of questions for clients, so I’d like to follow up with some more tips on how to create the most effective schedule possible.
First and foremost, get in the habit of treating yourself as the most important person in your life and business. Far too many business owners are feeling overwhelmed and running their businesses reactively because they allow clients, customers, employees, and “important partners” to come first.
Now that’s out of the way, here are some of my top tips on creating your success schedule:
- Set a weekly appointment with yourself or your significant other to go over the week and plan out what’s important in all areas of your life. This includes business, family, personal, etc.
- If you focus on one day at a time, you can avoid that “to-do list overwhelm.”
- Practice saying no. Set your intentions for what you want to accomplish each month, week, and day and schedule items of each day that work toward that goal. Everything else takes a back seat or will need a NO.
- Set your intention every morning. A simple yet effective ritual is to get up at the same time every day, write out your top 3-5 goals/to-do items for the day, and then meditate on the day before beginning any work.
- Turn off notifications for email. Set 1-2 times per day to check email and do not let it interrupt you at any other time. Nothing is so urgent that it should derail your focus!!
- Multitasking is a myth. Do not attempt it!
- Start tracking where your time is going - track for two weeks using 3x5 cards or a small notebook. It may surprise you to see how much time you really have - or how much time is being wasted or used inefficiently.
- Consider the season you are in for your business - is it time to sow or harvest? Will you need to focus more on generating leads or on client appointments and product sales?
Remember: the basis of an effective success schedule is deciding what is important to you and building your schedule to progress toward that goal. Items that detract or derail from you achieving your quarterly goal should be either added to the very bottom of the list, or delegated to others to ensure you are completely free to focus on your goal(s).
If you’d like to hear the podcast episode which goes even deeper into the tools and tips of building a success schedule, check it out here.
It is overwhelmingly common how many businesses don’t have referral systems in place. This is a shame, because referral systems can literally make the difference between failure and success for some businesses, and even grow businesses by 200% - 300% or more in many cases. In this post, I’d like to explain how you can create a rock-solid referral system that can guarantee quality referrals every month to grow your business.
First, let’s do a quick check-in on your own system. Do you let referrals come to you on their own or ask good friends/clients/customers for them? If it is the former, then it’s a very good thing you’re reading this article! If it’s the latter, how do you feel your current system is working?
The Referral System Strategy
The first step to building your referral system is to create a list of your favorite clients/customers. These do not have to be the people who are paying you the most money, but the ones you enjoy working with the most. When you think of them, you wish you could have 10 more clients just like them. I call these your “Wow” clients.
Try to make your list of “Wow” clients at least 10, but just start from where you are. If you only have one, then start there!
If you don’t have any clients/customers that you love, then revisit your target audience and lead generation funnel to get some first.
Why start with just a handful of clients? Because people tend to live, play, and work with others you are like them. If you really enjoy working with a particular person, chances are they will be able to refer you to similar people who you also enjoy working with. If you start with so-so or even bad clients, then you will probably get more of the same. This makes the difference between work that is truly fun and meaningful to you, and work that is just a drain.
Once you have this list of people you really enjoy working with, reach out to each of them to set up a lunch or coffee meeting. During this meeting, you will let them know you are looking to form a few key relationships that will be mutually beneficial. Ask if they had the opportunity, would they refer you to other people? If they say yes (which they most likely will), ask them who they were thinking of when they said yes. If they say no, ask them what you can do to improve and then work on those points first.
Once your client tells you the name(s) of people they think you’d be a great fit for. Then, ask them what kind of referral would be good for them, and go through your own network and see who you can refer to them. This is your first exchange of referrals.
Finally, ask the client if they would be open to doing this type of meeting about once a month to continue growing each other’s business. At this point, you only need 4 of your clients to say yes, because then you can have one meeting per week.
It may sound simple (because it is.) However, I’ve found that the most simple strategies in business tend to be the most successful, and this one has brought in millions of dollars of business for me over the course of several businesses. If you follow it consistently, it will do the same for you.
I’d love to hear about your successes and answer any questions you have along the way. Join us in the free 10x Mastermind Group on Facebook or LinkedIn!
We are coming up on the summer months of this year, and the tendency of many business owners is to go into vacation mode while the kids are out of school. My suggestion is to NOT fall into that trap, but to instead take advantage of the competition resting on their laurels. This could be your opportunity to really run laps around them and end the year strong.
So now I want to invite you to spend a bit of time reviewing what you’ve done so far this year, what has worked, what hasn’t, and what you can do to make the second half even better than the first. My suggestion is to schedule 1-2 hours on your calendar to run through these three steps I am about to lay out.
1. Improve Your Mindset
The first thing to do during this 1-2 hours is look back at everything you’ve done thus far in the year. Ask yourself what you could improve on and make a list. Then decide on which ONE of those things that you want to focus on improving for the next quarter. Then, dedicate the next three months working on it - learn everything you can and practice to improve.
For example, your ONE thing could be lead generation. So, during the next three months, you want to read books and blogs, listen to podcasts, attend workshops online or in person, and generally absorb as much information as you can about improving lead generation and then put what you learn into practice. Do this for a few months, and you will be astonished how amazing the results are.
2. Create a Success Schedule
This is one of the most important aspects of measuring and improving your results in business, and one I have written on and spoken about at length. I highly suggest you check out both the blog post and podcast I have on setting a success schedule for yourself.
It cannot be stressed how important this step is. It may actually require an hour all on its own, because it will pay dividends over and over for years to come.
3. Set Up a Success System
Remember that success leaves clues, and we can use these clues to build repeatable systems for ongoing success. One such system that I teach all of my clients is the Baseline Strategy.
To create a Baseline Strategy, write down what you earned last month. Then, write out all of the things that you did that month that produced that result. It could be anything from 25 sales calls to 6 speaking engagements to passive revenue from online programs. This is your current baseline.
Then ask yourself what one thing you can add to your baseline to get a better result. For example, you might think of running a monthly webinar, or increasing your speaking engagements or even creating a new product/service.
Then again, begin absorbing as much information as you can to learn and implement this new thing into your business. At the end of the next month, do the baseline check-in again and see where you are before looking to add a new strategy.
Success is all about knowing where you are. Having a keen insight to yourself, your business, and your staff so that you can correctly maneuver to the next level of growth.
I’d love to hear about your frustrations, progress, and wins over at the free 10x Mastermind Group. Be sure to join us here.
Not all leads are created equal. While we all know that business is a numbers game, some may not be playing the right numbers. You hear it all the time: get 10,000 email subscribers, as many social follows as possible, or 400 leads in your queue and you’re on the path to success. This is not really true, because there’s a lot to be said about the quality of those numbers.
Let me ask you this: would you rather spend 3 hours and $100 getting 1,000 highly-targeted email subscribers, or the same amount of time getting 10,000 faceless, random ones? I hope you said 1,000, because that is where we will be focusing today. To be successful in business, you need to focus on quality over quantity.
Imagine you had to pay $50 per lead - wouldn’t you want to know for certain that these were highly-qualified leads who were the most likely to become clients or customers? Your time is more valuable than anything else in your business - if you are spending it getting leads, then you had better be sure they are worth it!
To be clear, qualified leads are those who are most likely to become clients/customers, based on their demographic, your target market, the referral systems you use, and more.
Start With What You Have
You can start to narrow your lead focus by sitting down and writing out who your top clients are or have been. What was their demographic? What did they do? What made them such perfect clients in your mind? Try to get 8-10 on this list.
Then, think about each client on the list and write out how you got them. Were they referred by a friend or colleague? Did they come in through an ad? Did you cold-call them? Go into some detail on how they became your client. Remember: success leaves clues.
Finally, ask yourself what it was that made them agree to meet with you and/or to become a client. What was their biggest challenge, and how did you respond to it? How did you help them?
Or Look to What You Want
If you are so new that you have not had any clients yet (or none you’d say you really liked), then sit and think about who your perfect client might be. What demographic? What do they do? How would you like your business relationship to look?
Then you can look into who has your “perfect clients” now. How do they attract clients? What common problems are they solving? And how can you position yourself to do so in a way custom to you?
Taking the time to identify your market will make your efforts to attract leads at least 100% more effective. Without this, you are essentially just firing blindly and will spend far more time and effort in “converting” than necessary. Do not do this to yourself or your business!
Once you’ve decided on the type of lead you’d like to attract, you can use this information to guide your marketing efforts, sales language, copywriting, budget, and much more. It’s a powerful starting place, and one you will want to revisit at least once per year to stay on top of the game.
No man is an island, and neither is any business. When we start out in our business, chances are we’re doing every job - from janitor to customer service rep to CEO. That’s a great start so that you can get a good idea of what it actually takes to run your business in every department, but eventually, you will build your business to the point that it has steady cash flow, and realize that you don’t own the business - it owns you. This is when having strategic relationships becomes vital for the survival and growth of the business.
So why partner up with anyone? There are three main reasons that I tell my clients who are at this point: to create leverage, to grow, and to get your time back. As the business owner, you want to be freed up to spend time on brainstorming and strategizing to grow your business even more. You don’t want to be bogged down by the daily minutiae required just to keep the business afloat.
When you get to this point, here’s a great exercise to generate beneficial partnerships with ease:
- Keep it simple by thinking of your own business and think “who else is going after my clients?”
- If you’re drawing a blank, call your clients and ask them what vendors they use for things like internet service, bookkeeping, marketing, etc.
- Write those down as people/businesses to connect with.
- Ask your current client if they will do an email introduction with the people/vendors they’ve recommended. This opens the door to having a conversation with them as a possible partner.
- Add these new contacts via SM (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) and go to their website to learn more about them. This will help you narrow down to prospects that are the best fit for you.
- Send the best prospects an email to introduce yourself and ask if they’d be interested in a coffee meeting to discuss a possible partnership.
- Before that meeting, create a list of open-ended questions based on info you know or want to know about them. Here’s a few example questions:
- Do you have a partnership with anyone who does what I do?
- What struggles do you find common with your clients/customers?
- What needs or gaps do your services/products fill for them?
- Can you think of anyone off the top of your head that I would be able to help? Why or why not?
As you’re going through this process, remember that you are looking for a relationship that fits like a glove. You’re not looking for a competitor, but someone who compliments your goal/market. Be interested in long term growth over short term results with these relationships - the right partnership could equal millions of dollars in sales for both parties!
In business, all of us have goals. We are all working to achieve greater growth, impact, fulfillment, freedom, etc. But often, our plans (if we even make them) are not customized to help us achieve these goals. In fact, they are often counter-productive, because they’re based on generic templates which were made to achieve other people’s goals. Let’s change that today. Let’s look at how to create a custom sales and marketing strategy that actually helps you achieve your goals.
Before getting into the specific steps, it’s important for you to know one thing: this is not a simple, five-minute process. It is also not a set it and forget it type of process. As you grow, your goals will change, and thus your strategy will need to change. As a starting point, I suggest you set two block of time - each 2-3 hours long and ono more than a few days apart - to really get this plan nailed down. If you aren’t willing to spend this time, then you aren’t willing to actually reach your goals, and this article isn’t for you.
For the first session, what you’ll want to do is some brainstorming. You’ll have several questions to answer, and lots of freedom to dream big.
Start with your numbers. Ask what you want your yearly revenue to be and then break it up by month. For example, $400,000/yr in revenue is $33,333/month.
Look at what you currently do for revenue streams. For example, product sales, client coaching, and speaking engagements. Anything that currently brings in money for your business. Break down how much you are currently bringing in for each AND how much you’d like to be bringing in for each.
Important note: At this point, do not worry about HOW you’re going to achieve any of the goals your set down - just think about what you want and write it down!
Ask yourself several questions such as:
- What am I taking into this plan that has worked for me so far?
- What hasn’t worked or haven’t I enjoyed that needs to be removed?
- What do I want to try?
- What limitations do I think I have right now, and what might I be able to do to remove them?
After brainstorming what you want, then you can work on how to get there. This will be the bulk of session 2, and involves more specific questions.
Ask if you have the skillset to do what you need to reach the goal. For example, do you have the skillset to give killer front-of-room speeches so that vendors book you and you can reach your speaking engagement revenue goal?
If not, you need to do some homework to fix that. Here’s my suggestion: read five books, watch 2-3 webinars, and attend 2-3 workshops on the subject, and/or get a coach to help you become and expert quickly.
If there’s limitations like, “I don’t have time”, then you need to consider how to make time. Perhaps getting an admin or virtual assistant.
Consider these questions:
- What can I bring to the marketplace that people want?
- Am I passionate enough about it to do it for free? (You may need to at first to get some experience and testimonials.)
Reflect on the year before. Make a list of what you are most proud of, what you were most surprised by, and in what ways you grew. This will help guide you through the coming year as you work to achieve your goals.
These steps will help you craft a plan that reflects your goals, dreams, and values. Then it is up to you to DO THE WORK and make it happen!
Here’s to your success.
In all of my years as a businessman and coach, there has been one concern that clients have had more than any other: how to increase sales and revenue. At the end of the day, it’s important to always keep those goals in mind, as they can be the largest indicator of success or failure as a business. However, it is also one of the hardest things for business owners to tackle. Whenever we want to go for a new goal or height, our biggest obstacle is going to be between our own two ears. Our mindset will ultimately determine everything.
One dangerous mindset that all of us have from time to time is the idea that you’re doing good right now, so there’s no need to continue generating leads and sales. This trap leads to the feast-or-famine cycle in business, and can completely destroy it. Always remember: no matter how much success you’ve had, you cannot rest on what you’ve done in the past.
However, even the best mindset and systems in the world will do nothing without action from you. So the key is to combine a winning mindset with consistent action. That may sound overwhelming, but it can actually be fun if do just one thing: focus on one day at a time.
Here’s a daily routine that I challenge you to try for at least one quarter:
- Every morning, get a blank sheet of paper out, and write down what your revenue for that month/quarter/year is. Then decide how many days you want to work in that time. Divide the amount by the days, and you’ll have the daily amount you need to make to reach that goal.
- Then write own at least four actions you can take THAT DAY to hit that goal (call x number of prospects, generate sales via email etc.)
- Look at your calendar, and block out time to do those activities. Remove or reschedule items that will not generate revenue or help you reach your goal.
- Most important: DO the things you laid out!
- At the end of the day, ask yourself if you hit your goal. If not, reflect on why and what you can do differently the next day to hit it. Then, forgive yourself and start the next day with a clean slate.
This last step may be the most important of all. You need to take some time to reflect on each day, but you also need to give yourself permission to start each day with a clean slate. If you didn’t reach your goal, simply think on why and brainstorm ways to reach it tomorrow. Do not beat yourself up or decide the whole thing is a bust because of it.
This also means there are no carryovers. If you were short $100 today, making an extra $100 tomorrow does not matter. What you do every day matters for that day only. Keeping each day separate like this allows you to focus on just one step at a time, and before you know it, you will look up and be at the end of the path. You may even surprise yourself and go way beyond that initial goal.
If you’re ready to take on this challenge for yourself, I’d love to hear your progress, questions, and insights over on my Facebook page!
Last week I discussed the first two steps in the perfect sales funnel. These are the two steps that will probably require the most energy and prep work, but the next few steps are where the real magic happens. It’s important that you look at the process holistically and apply your best business behavior to each. So let’s move on to the next steps!
Remember, this is what our funnel looks like so far….
Step 3: Core Offer
Step 3 is where you will introduce your flagship product/service. This is the item or “thing” you are most known for or proud of.
Rule: Should be $100 - $1,000.
Homework: Think about what you do. What do people pay you the most for today? Tangible or intangible products? Most people will drop more money for knowledge than they will for tangible products, so it’s possible you could create a flagship product around your knowledge (if you don’t already have one.) This could be 1-on-1 coaching, training programs, membership sites, or more.
Tip: NEVER discount your coaching or 1-on-1 time in order to get more leads. You can discount these services for qualified leads in certain circumstances, but you want to use steps 1 and 2 in your funnel to weed out the prospects who are not a right fit first.
Step 4: Profit Optimizer
Now we are getting into the growth portion of the funnel. Your product optimizer is designed for customers and clients who really dive deep into the topic of your business.
Rule: Should be $1,000 - $10,000 and treated a VIP service. If you don’t have your own offer in this category (yet), consider this an opportunity to refer your clients/customers to an affiliate who does. Sometimes that is more time and cost effective.
Homework: Think of one of your or someone else’s products/programs that you can offer as a profit optimizer to really wow your top clients/customers.
Step 5: Retention
Retention is all about keeping the current clients/customers, and is far easier than trying to attract new clients/customers. Happy customers pay much more over the long term, and lead to step 6 in the funnel: referrals.
Homework: Each month, pick a client/customer, and reach out to them to find out the struggles they are dealing with or goals they have for the year/quarter. Then, find 3-6 other vendors who can help them out (whether you get anything for the referral or not.) The entire focus should be helping your client out in any way you can.
Step 6: Referral
This is the final portion of the funnel - and a truly magical one. Referrals will come from happy clients/customers, but can also come from other vendors and affiliates you have in your network, so be sure to keep that network varied.
Homework: Sit and look at the clients you have and ask them who their other vendors are. Accountants, attorneys, dry cleaners, etc. Set up a referral incentive program for them to refer your products/service to their vendors and clients. You can also set up an affiliate program for anyone to enroll in on your website. Usually, referral partners will get 15 - 25% of whatever you earn from the people they refer you to, so it is a win-win!
Now, your funnel is up and running and should look something like this:
Well-crafted sales funnels are the lifeblood of any business. If you haven’t created your own, then I hope this two-part article has helped you get the ball rolling!