A lot of conversations around how to get more clients focus on what the client's resistance is. But sometimes it's not always the client that is the one blocking the client from connecting with or buying our products or services. Sometimes, dag nam it, it's just plain old US getting in our own way. After my last several years of talking to Practitioners/Business Owners about how to get more clients and what's breaking down somewhere in the process that they're not getting more clients, this week an article with a few of the common ways we tend to block our own sales. Plus a few thoughts on what you can do to get back on track.
First though, let's take a step back and clarify what marketing and sales actually ARE:
What is Marketing?
As defined by the American Marketing Association, Marketing is the activity of and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for clients, customers, partners and society at large.
It is the process of accurately identifying client needs and also effectively working out what will satisfy them.
What is Sales?
If marketing is the means by which a concept moves to the creation of viable client offering or product, then sales if that’s what you want to call it, at it’s simplest, it is the exchange of a commodity (e.g. something of a perceived value) for money; in this case, it is the action of selling that something to a client.
It is the process of checking what problems exist for the client in front of you and then identifying the most appropriate potential solution/s you have to that problem and then linking the client in with the before-mentioned solution/s.
Those solutions may be your services or they may be a good referral to someone else’s. But at the simplest level, that’s it.
Like many things on the planet, yes both can be used for good or evil. Which brings me to our first potential block:
7 Ways that we ourselves can be blocking sales and why. Plus what to do to fix it.
1- Investing too much of our time and energy in hating on the shadow side of sales, marketing, business and the existing financial system, instead of investing our time and energy in learning from the right heart centred, integral people, how to do heart centred, integral, soulful sales, marketing, business and conscious capitalism WELL (so that you can ultimately increase your reach and make a bigger difference in the world)
Ok, so we've probably all got a story of someone who used the laws of human psychology and effective communication and problem solving to try and manipulate someone into buying some THING for their own gain. But this is NOT the norm. Playing into the belief that ALL sales, marketing and attempts to make money are evil is a bit like that scene in Tomorrow When the War Began, when the kids take the petrol tanker and blow it up in the middle of the main bridge to and from town to stop the enemy being able to come into town. Only, in this instance, you're on one side of the bridge, your clients are on the other, and the bridge between them is made of good, authentic, heart centred but effective marketing and sales, that links the problems and aspirations on one side with the solutions and pathways to get there on the other. Literally, if you choose to detonate the tanker with the belief that it's ALL evil, you cut yourself off and hence move away from your life purpose and the exact processes that will help you CONNECT with more clients.
Choose to see the thousands of gorgeous heart centred people standing all around you of all ages who want to help you learn to do marketing and sales the heart-centred soulful way, who are committed to using their time, resources to helping you make a bigger difference in the world and you, as much as them, live lives you love, with those you love. And invest your time and energy there, so that you can better be of service.
2- You're talking Practitioner Language not client language and hence, not communicating enough value to them for them to see you're offering as essential, not just relevant or (we hope not) irrelevant.
In case you missed it, or missed me mentioning it in previous blogs) I did a Facebook Live in the Women in Wellness Leadership group here.
But the basic idea is that, the longer we are training as Practitioners or Experts in a particular field and later working in that field, the deeper our knowledge becomes on a particular set of problems and the more technical and exclusive our lingo/language we use becomes in the process.
The longer we're on this path, the further we move from the version of us and what he or she knew and how we talked and behaved before we
Quite naturally, in our personal and work relationships, it's entirely normal to want to hang out with other people who also now 'get it" and are "on my level."
BUT there's one fundamental law of teaching and being a teacher here that we must remember for the sake of our clients. Think of a Primary School teacher for a second. Do they stop working with school children because they're "not on their level and don't get me"? Or do they operate on the understanding that it is their job to help their kids move through a bunch of learning and developmental milestones on the path of growth? Your task as a Teacher is no different.
It's not necessarily the people just like you that need your help too. There might be other people, from vastly different industries or backgrounds, who are facing the same challenges or similar ones to the ones you have, or know how to solve, but are anywhere from a few weeks to several years still developmentally behind you on that healing or growth journey. They could just as much benefit from the knowledge and solutions you already have.
Thus, we have to remember to be sensitive to how we used to communicate (and how they STILL communicate) before we learned "Practitioner Language" and understood the problems/solutions the way we do now. To remember that we're now moving at running pace, while they're just taking their first steps. Communicating in terms they still understand, thus, will help your clients better understand
3- Not everybody is going to catch fish when we all fish in the same little pond
Which brings me to no 3: further to the wanting to be with like people, have you ever noticed that every Practitioner and their dog wants to have their target market be other Practitioners? (Which kind of then has them ALL fishing in the same little pond, with a fixed number of fish in it, hence limiting your number of potential sales in basic "Supply outweighs Demand" fashion?)
Remember though, as i was blogging about earlier in the year, there are other people out there from different backgrounds who STILL have similar problems to you, who also need your help, the whole world over. BUT you might need to step away from the familiarity and comfort zone of the known pond under that bridge you've so far been living near and get curious about the other ponds out there. And what they want and need.
For example, as one of my Mentors once said to me when i had previously come from a Community Services background and had not long been in private practice, there are just as many wealthy people (as he put it) who are dealing with/need help to overcome the ripple effects of abuse stuff in relationships, as the people i'd been familiar in working with through NFP's and agencies, who's problems i could ALSO be solving AND they could afford to pay a whole bunch more for it. I just had to get out of my comfort zone of what i already knew and get just as good at marketing, sales and being of service to them too, so that i could both make a bigger difference and (personally speaking) thrive in private practice.
Which brings me to no 4:
4- We're still working through our money stuff and or have the guilts about charging and that's putting the future sign ups on PAUSE
Again, like the Tomorrow When the War Began Bridge metaphor, this one can be temporarily terminal to the part of the bridge that relates to us RECEIVING a YES and the money for the sale, if part of us are still in a state of judgement about money and the integrity or people who have it, or not feeling entitled to it, again, we just blew up the bridge.
To take what i said in my recent blog called entitlement is actually a good thing a step further, this also has an impact on temporarily blocking our sign ups/sales as well, because you've got to love money and square with it being an expression of love to get MORE of it.
5- We're resistant to that client because they're showing us the parts of ourselves we haven't learned to love in ourselves yet, and that can be blocking us and the client connecting more closely.
Sometimes the projection of our own unhealed shadow also creates a distance between us and a potential sign up. This might sound a bit like you saying "i don't know why, but i just don't like that person" or some other form of judgy, adverse reaction to whatever they're presenting with.
Breathe. It's human to have this happen. We all have parts of ourselves we have to learn to love and have compassion for. But, it's also worth remembering that you could feel it, right, the last time you were around someone who was triggered by you and couldn't be around you with their heart wide open because of that?
Our potential clients and clients are no different. They can feel it when you're triggered by them and or struggling to show up with the full degree of love and presence you know you otherwise normally would intend to.
In a world where we all want to be loved, valued and honoured for who we are, warts and all, unfortunately, at times, immense value offered or not, that's motivation enough for some people not to buy.
Relationships wont exactly last very long if we quit every one of them every time we get triggered, will they? BUT what we CAN do instead, is the self love work.
Once you can love and accept it in you, you'll be able to be with it in your clients without resistance. A temporary referral might be advisable in the interim, in both your best interest, especially if it's something major. If it's minor, you might keep working on the bridge.
6- You're actually not listening to the part of you that doesn't want to be doing this particular thing right now or possibly even doing this thing anymore (and the low interest or sign ups are reflecting this truth back to you externally)
Sometimes low numbers are simply a reflection of something our heart in not really IN right now for whatever reason, in the short term, or occasionally maybe that we're now transitioning beyond, delivered back to us via the external world.
Sometimes, when you're sick or emotionally dealing with something, low sign ups might be life reflecting back to us that we actually need some rest or "me time" right now.
Or when you've been a Practitioner for a while and have been giving it your all, sometimes it can just be showing us where we're burning the candle too hard at both ends and the old way we were doing things needs an overhaul.
Or occasionally, at other times, it might show us when we're just DONE completely, because we healed or evolved beyond the reality of that particular story/phase of our lives and it's the natural evolution to now move on.
Easy self care questions for this one:
7- We're feeling genuinely resistant because we're feeling an incompatibility red flag
In the eyes of the consumer, they have a lot of expectations about what they will want to get when they invest money. But there's also such a thing as a client code of conduct, e.g. a set of guidelines regarding practices and procedures within your business, as well as guidelines about how you would like to be treated in this business relationship.
Do you have one? If not, might be time to write one down and get clear about it.
But the point is, wether you have one already or just have a version of it in your head, sometimes you will spot it or feel it as clear as day when a client is not in alignment with that.
In which case, it's often better to be honest at the outset, rather than string both of you along until whatever it is plays out and that negatively impacts not just your client or you, but potentially now your business too.
Sadly, just like "difficult" staff, challenging clients often pass from Practitioner to Practitioner, organisation to organisation with everyone tip-toeing around their challenging client behaviour, wondering what to do about it. Just like Centrelink or Community Services organisations, Hospitals or HR departments though, you're allowed to say something at times like:
These can be times where we need to set boundaries and or engage other appropriate professional support as needed. And those boundaries start by trusting in it initially when you feel a red flag with a potential new client.
If you're ever in any doubt about what to do when challenging behaviour comes up, it can be immensely handy to have a Supervisor or Mentor to check in with. On two fronts, for the welfare of the client. Plus, it can help you take the breaks off on recruiting new clients when you feel better supported and like you've got this, even when the road of service gets bumpy.
Admittedly, because I have an Allied Health, Emergency Services, Community Service and Counselling background, as well as now being a Business Coach and Mentor, my clients often check in with me when they need to come up with strategy on how to handle exactly these things. And i'm always happy to share what wisdom i have on such things if you ever need.
Finally, and here's the BIGGEST one, but a process too, to help us end on a high...
We secretly think we're not enough or what we're offering is not enough
So, whoever they are, perfect client, some one we worry is more qualified or experienced than us, maybe, sometimes we energetically block them from signing up before they ever have a chance to judge or BE disappointed or IMPRESSED.
This can look like:
as a couple of examples.
It's well worth taking a look at the "I'm not enough" belief, because it's not only like the cloud of smoke that comes with blowing up the sales bridge that blinds you AND your potential clients from being able to see and then connect with each other via the bridge. But's it's also one that can potentially be negatively impacting us across MOST areas of our life in which we're not really getting what we want, without us realising. Every time we get busy trying to prove that we're enough from the reality in which we believe "I'm not enough", we actually continue to reinforce the exact reality that we're actually not enough. And then what? We attract more people who perfectly line up with our belief, through their belief that we're not enough and stay in a state of longing for anyone who thinks we have value and we're enough.
I also wrote about it in greater depth earlier in the year in my blog called Valuing our own incredible value (and why people buy us)
Here's a process i'd been running in my own Mentoring programs the last few years when it came to helping Practitioners particularly in the start up phase recognise how amazing they really are and what value they have to offer the world.
Inspired by some of the processes in the original 90 Day programs i was trained to offer, and my counselling and coach training, I call this one Awesome Me Awesome You Awesome Stuff.
a) Awesome Me:
Like you would for a job interview, for this one you brain storm a list of all of your strengths and everything you can think of that you know you're good at and that makes you who you are. Get as much out as you can before you start thinking too much about it.
b) Awesome You:
This is about taking stock of all the wonderful things that other people say and have said about you. Especially as it relates to work. It may involve:
c) Awesome Stuff:
This one is about taking stock of your past achievements and the evidence of your holistic version of success (last week's blog), just like you'd do for a CV.
Some of them might be qualification related and some actual targets or goals you achieved or changes you made in specific job roles that, in this case, are relevant to customer service, case management, retail or sales.
You might too put things you achieved in business so far. Like that time you did that Facebook post or Live and got inquiries and a booking or 2 from it. Like that intro workshop you ran at a festival and got a few bookings for your next workshop from.
Or your personal best so far on product or program sales.
It can be good to reflect upon all how you felt at those times were you were last in the sign up zone. What happened just before and how were you behaving while you were "in the zone" that worked so well on those occasions?
This all helps reconnect you to the reality where you're awesomely succeeding and then some, e.g. back in "your zone." And, most importantly of all, it helps you sell yourself ON yourself. It builds your self-belief and your conviction in KNOWING through and through that you have something of immense value to offer the world. And seriously, about 90% of "selling" is conviction and belief alone in the value of what you're selling. Once you're sold on you, once you're one with the reality that i am awesome right here and NOW and what i've got to offer is just as awesome, there's no one left to convince. People start to belief in your belief. And that's why it's so important that you go all in creating and inhabiting the reality in which you believe in YOU.
Now (as one of Australia's Leading Experts on Self Belief, Conviction and Commitment, and author of The True Believers, Christina Guidotti would say):
d) Visualise and feel in advance the successful version of you.
Which is to say see and feel yourself (even if you have to get up in your lounge room, theatre style and act it out like you're rehearsing for a play) as the version of you who IS enough, who's overflowing with self belief, self confidence and conviction in the amazing value of what you're putting on the table. The you who is successfully helping for example, 7 people in your clinic on this particular day and receiving lots of great feedback and thanks at the end. Or delivering a talk to a room of 40 or even 4000 people, who are laughing along with something you just described, that they go through every day that they totally GET and LOVE that you get. And then see your sales process at the end and how many people are excited to be coming on board with you. Whatever "success" will look like for you personally.
Make sure you feel how you feel in that moment and notice how you're different to now and what you're doing different. Let it all flow back into awakening in you here and now.
Again, i've mentioned this before, but this is how you apply it to unblocking your sales potential :-)
So there you have it, some of the common ways I've noticed particularly Wellness and Service Based Business Owners can tend to block ourselves when it comes to sales and a few ways to get our authentic, integral, heart-centred sales mojo back ON.
Love to hear if there was a few AHA's in here for you. Is there any too that you'd add?
if you have any further questions, or there's anything I can further support you with in moving through any of these, and help you get more momentum from your sales and marketing efforts, feel free to drop me an email here. Just a reminder too, applications for private mentoring are now open again now for an October or January next year start. You can book in an application call below if you'd like to find out more.
As always, thanks so much for taking the time to stop by and until next time, have fun, take care.
Nat talks about Self Expression, Heart Centred Communication and Lifestyle for Leaders.