Do you hate cold calling? You’re not the only one. In fact, I’m of the opinion that business coaches should never “cold call.” They should “warm call” instead — calling on those who have already expressed an interest.
The other day, I stumbled across this tidbit in Bob Bly’s Direct Response Letter (Bob is a friend and vendor and one of the best copywriters in the business):
In a recent issue of the e-zine Yesware Monthly, the lead article was “25 Cold Calling Tips You Need to Succeed.” I rewrote it to have just one tip, and here it is: “If you are prospecting to sell your own services, don’t make your own cold calls.”
If someone ELSE makes the call for you … well, then it can work. Even then, though, I am not a fan of cold calling. And here’s why: Prospects want to hire vendors they perceive as being busy and successful, not desperate and needy. The late Howard Shenson called this “the Busy Doctor Syndrome.”
If you are spending your time on the phone calling up strangers and asking for work, does that convey the impression that you are busy, successful, and in-demand — or desperate and needy?
I couldn’t agree more.
10 Things You Should Do Before Cold Calling
- Host a free workshop through your Chamber of Commerce
- Send an email offer
- Write a blog post (as part of a consistent, ongoing digital strategy)
- Ask a client for a referral
- Make warm calls to past clients and prospects
- Do “bold walking”–where you actually, physically, drop into a business
- Send a targeted direct mail piece
- Ask to be introduced to a prospect through a mutual connection
- Host a webinar
- Run a paid social media ad campaign
How to Use the Phone without Cold Calling
If you’re still struggling to build a pipeline of warm, qualified leads, the telephone CAN be an effective tool–but just like Bob says above, business coaches should never cold call themselves. Instead, use a service. We recommend Connect and Sell, a fantastic service that uses an auto-dialer and live, professional pre-screeners to ensure that you ONLY get connected with business owners who are genuinely interested in talking to you. Every call that gets transferred to you is a business owner who’s said YES–they’d like to talk to you and learn more! It’s a fantastic way to leverage your time.
Looking for more great lead generation strategies? We have a whole module on it in the Coaches’ Coach Business Coaching System–and YOU can get a FREE 30-day trial. Check it out!
Here’s an important question if you’re looking to become a business coach (or if you are one already): is social media waste of time for business coaches?
I recently had a conversation with an experienced business coach who was “well-connected” on social media (her words). She had over 2,000 twitter followers, 400 Facebook friends, and 1,200 connections on LinkedIn. She spent hours and hours every single week networking, engaging, and connecting with prospects. But as we talked, I discovered she got little return for her investment, and the majority of time didn’t generate any leads from social media whatsoever!
Is it just me, or does that sound like a complete waste of time?
It’s no secret that social media has been one of the biggest developments in marketing for business coaches over the past decade. Make no mistake about it, if you want to dominate your market, then social media is just one of the tools you need to utilise and master.
But if what you’re doing now isn’t generating any leads…then STOP!
What You’re Doing to Make Social Media a Waste of Time for Business Coaches
The surprising thing is, although almost every business coach knows how important and effective social media can be to generate leads and build your practice, very few are actually seeing the kind of results they want from the time and effort they’re expending.
So how do you make it work?
The answer is a simple, but critical, shift in your mindset:
You must STOP thinking of social media as a place to network, and START thinking of it as a marketing tool first and foremost.
It’s a subtle distinction, but it makes a huge difference.
You see, most business coaches use social media exactly the same as a typical user: their profiles talk about their family, their hobbies, and their past experiences.
That’s fine if you want to use social media to connect with family and friends, but if you want to use it in your business to generate leads, you need to be doing it differently.
To generate leads from social media, you need to shift from talking about yourself to what you can help your clients achieve.
In other words, as with all effective marketing, you need to focus on the BENEFITS you offer to prospective clients.
Don’t get me wrong. Some of your prospects will be interested in what you do in your spare time, and what you’ve done in the past. A human touch adds credibility and makes you more likeable. But that should be a comparatively small percentage of what you post.
So rather than talking about what you do in your spare time, talk about how what you do can help your future clients get the results they’re looking for. And rather than talking about your past experiences, talk about the past results you’ve achieved for clients or employers.
Looking for more great tips on becoming a business coach? Check out our FREE ebook, How to Become a Business Coach, with a step-by-step guide to getting started in the industry!
Here’s a question for you: what matters to coaching clients? I mean really matters–deep down in their bones?
Getting inside the mind of your ideal clients is one of the most important things you can do as a business coach. After all, understanding client wants and aspirations is vital to helping you communicate the value of the services you provide. Do it right, and it’ll pay huge dividends. Do it wrong, and you’ll struggle to connect with prospects and clients alike.
And to be clear: I’m not talking about brief sketches. This is about drilling down to specifics and having a list of concrete hot button issues that enable you to communicate with clients and prospects at an emotional and intrinsic level.
As you understand your clients’ hot button issues, you can use it to develop great content, marketing messages, and engaging pitches which will resonate and convert. You’ll also be able to zero in on exactly what your clients want to accomplish with coaching, so that you can prioritize your efforts. The result will be more sales, better results, longer-lasting contracts, and increased referrals.
So where do you start? As you begin to drill down into your ideal clients’ psychology, explore three main categories: wants, aspirations, and fears.
What Do Your Clients Want?
Wants are short- and medium-term desires that will make a noticeable impact on your clients’ bottom line or quality of life. They want a sales team that runs smoothly and generates plenty of leads. They want a customer service system that wows their customers and turns them into raving fans. They want to cut the cost of production but maintain standards. They want to spend less time in the office and more time enjoying themselves. The more you know about the immediate needs of your clients, the better you’ll be able to make an impact fast and demonstrate your value on the spot.
What Do Your Clients Aspire To?
Aspirations are bigger picture dreams and desires–the why behind your clients’ business. What do they hope to accomplish within the wider frame of the world or their lives? Do they aspire to sell and go live on a sun-drenched island somewhere? Do they aspire to give large sums of money to a certain cause or charity? Do they aspire to prove the doubters and nay-sayers in their life wrong? The better you understand your clients’ aspirations, the more effectively you’ll be able to connect emotionally with them and paint a picture for how life could be if they do business with you.
What Do Your Clients Fear?
Finally, drill down into what your clients are afraid of. What keeps them up at night? Is it employee problems? Poor cash flow? Are they afraid of being embarrassed in front of their community, of failing, of going out of business? Here’s a key point: we tend to try to avoid pain more than we want to attract pleasure. When you’re able to uncover your clients’ fears, you can motivate them to take the steps that will make those fears evaporate.
Do Some Digging to Find What Matters to Coaching Clients
So, how do you discover your clients’ wants, aspirations, and fears? A good place to start is with clients who value your expertise already. Because you have a good rapport with them, you can ask them questions that will help you see the world from their point of view.
But what if you don’t have anyone who immediately springs to mind? Maybe you’re a new coach, or you’re hoping to break into a new market. It turns out people love talking about themselves: a little research in your local area should uncover potential subjects you can contact.
One of my coach clients, Laurie, wanted to break into the restaurant industry. So she contacted several restaurant owners personally to see if she could interview them. Laurie discovered they were only too happy to talk–and it gave her the information she needed to create messaging and coaching strategies around their important hot buttons.
My suggestion is to dig until you can comfortably identify the top seven fears and top three wants and aspirations that your clients and prospects have. This will give you the foundation to start working on solutions that matter to your clients. Get it right and you’ll find more clients coming to your door and your reputation growing leaps and bounds. For more great tips like these for improving your business coaching results, check out Secrets of a Business Coaching Rock Star by Eric Dombach.
Seeing things from another point of view is not easy. For business coaches, this can be the biggest challenge–but one of the most important if you want to convert more clients. As a business coach, it’s critical that you know more than what their age group is, where they like to hang out and shop, and who their favorite film start/vocalist/ball player is. You need to find coaching clients’ hotbuttons–those emotional “hooks” that will get them ready to buy.
How, though, do you really get into their shoes?
Let’s start with two extremely strong hotbuttons: fears and frustrations. These can be powerful building blocks that enable you to create a stronger connection and engage in a more focused way than ever before through targeted content and great pitches.
We all get frustrated. In business, there are plenty of events and factors that stall progress, minor irritations that mean you don’t quite get what you want done. It could involve day to day frustrations, such as dealing with cash flow problems. It can be more personal, such as spending too much time in work and being tied to a desk. It can include anything from improving performance to not being able to get the best out of their teams.
Frustrations are generally those stones in the shoe that get in your clients’ way. If you can help your clients and prospects reduce the amount of frustration, then you certainly begin to become more useful to them.
What Are Their Fears?
There are a lot of things that your client may fear. Finding out what these are and using them to build a better relationship is the key. Fears are things that have not happened yet, but which may. This could be something like concern that a top-performing salesman will decide to go to another company, to falling behind the competition, to outstanding debt, to a whole host of hurdles your clients and prospects might be facing.
Fears can be wide ranging and not always rational but they are important to your client. When you help them reduce their fears, you get their attention and they become more likely to engage you in the future.
Getting Your Clients to Talk
So how exactly do you find coaching clients’ hotbuttons?
You could use your imagination to come up with a list of all the frustrations and fears that your clients face on a daily basis. Or you could get out there and talk to them directly. Doing interviews with clients and compiling a list of hotbuttons will enable you to uncover areas that matter most to them.
Choose your clients carefully: You want to get good, honest responses and a clear picture of the issues facing them. Don’t simply carry out a few interviews and then think you have a handle on everyone’s hopes and fears. This is an ongoing process and the more you drill down, the more likely you are to strike gold.
One of the best resources to help you with this is our Silver Bullet Cheat Sheet, which covers the 21 most common hotbutton issues that your clients and prospects are struggling with AND their solutions. It’s available FREE on our downloads page–no opt-in required! Enjoy!
Is it your New Year’s resolution to start a business coaching practice in 2017? Are you wondering if you’re ready to take a big chance? Here’s a pep-talk for you.
I caught a rerun of one of my favourite films this week: Rounders.
If you haven’t seen it, the film charts the rise, fall and rise of law school dropout and poker natural, Mike McDermott (played by a young Matt Damon).
The main plot follows McDermott as he tries to win enough money to pay back the debts of childhood friend Worm.
But there’s a really interesting subtext which always grips me.
As the film reaches its climax, McDermott reaches out to his mentor Joey Knish to borrow money to take another tilt at his nemesis, Teddy KGB.
Knish turns him down and berates him for taking too many risks, for going for the big score and risking losing it all.
Knish is a “grinder.” Day in, day out, he grinds out a living playing 12 hours a day against weaker players, slowly taking their money with percentage plays. Never taking any risks.
As he says, “I’m not playing for the thrill of f-ing victory here. I owe rent, alimony, child support. I play for money. My kids eat.”
There’s great nobility in being a grinder.
Both my grandfathers were miners. Breaking their bodies underground to feed their families and put a roof over their heads.
Both my parents were teachers. They didn’t always love what they did, but my brother and I got a great education and opportunities they never had.
There’s a wonderful, selfless nobility in being a grinder.
And yet, Mike McDermott knew he had the chops to play a bigger game.
When he’d won enough to pay off the loan and avoid the beating that came with non-payment, Teddy KGB goads him to play for bigger stakes. McDermott knows that quitting while he’s ahead is the safe play. The one Joey Knish would make.
“You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle…but you can’t win much, either,” he says.
He risks it all for a shot at the big time. To follow a dream.
Sometimes. Just sometimes, you know in your heart the big play is the right thing.
Sometimes you’ve got to get above the grind and play a bigger game.
Is that you this year? Are you ready to take the big chance–to start a business coaching practice in 2017? Are you ready to take a chance on YOURSELF, once and for all?
There’s nothing quite like the thrill of getting in the game.
See you in Vegas 😉
Ian Brodie helps consultants, coaches, and other professionals to attract and win more clients. He’s the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Email Persuasion and has been named as one of the Top 50 Global Thought Leaders in Marketing and Sales and one of the “resources of the decade” for professional services marketing. You can get more of his in-depth tips on starting and growing your business at www.ianbrodie.com.