10Jan/130

Social Media Mania

Posted by Dean R. DeLisle

Social Network Building: A Whole New Approach to Building New Coaching Client Relationships

By Dean R. DeLisle

When you log into a social networking site, it seems very new to most of us. In fact, we just feel lost. Most of us are used to the good old-fashioned process:

  1. Attend an event or get an introduction
  2. Get the card
  3. Connect with the person
  4. Schedule a meeting
  5. Submit a proposal
  6. Close the business
  7. Ask for a referral

Now while we conduct this old approach, we want you to take a fresh approach using the knowledge you have gained to this point.

The goal is still the same! Get the meeting, provide an amazing proposal, close the business, then get a referral and repeat the cycle.

However, we want you to learn two new techniques to get you there quicker. One is a new best practice for when you meet a targeted prospect, and the next is a proven method to getting targeted, closable appointments.

Building Your Network Consistently

Amazing things happen fast when we do them on social networks as opposed to the old way. With the old way, we get the business card, enter the info into our email system, phone, or if we are really efficient, a contact manager or CRM system. What we would like you to do is a network building practice that will pay off tenfold, using just one of your social network accounts. For the example below, we will use LinkedIn, however this will work with most interconnected social networks on today's market; only the numbers will vary based on the size of the network.

Let's assume that LinkedIn still only has about 60,000,000 active members at the publishing of this article. With that in mind, when we connect it's like adding conservatively 1,000 targeted, like-minded contacts into your system. The reason is degree of separation. On average with LinkedIn, we find the following formula to be very consistent.

1st Degree: If you have 90 direct connections (these are people you know directly that you are connected to), it is equivalent to entering these contacts directly into your contact management system.

2nd Degree: Based on average user counts, you should have roughly 15,000 to 20,000 connections that your first degree contact can introduce you to or that you can effectively see to use your own approach.

3rd Degree: Based on the same average user counts, you should now have 1,600,000 to 2,400,000 connections that can turn into introductions.

Using these rough conservative formulas, this means if you have one contact whom you meet at a networking event, speaking event, business meeting, or just casually, you can then determine whether that person is a good prospect for your business coaching. Once you take the time to enter them into your social network (like LinkedIn), then you will have just picked up about 17,000 3rd degree connections just by adding that one person. Now of course these numbers will vary based on the person's connectivity level, but keep in mind it is conservatively the equivalent of adding only 1,000 targeted like-minded contacts to your system. This gives you a margin of error by 16,000 bad connections that your contact has made, which we typically see is highly unlikely!

Getting the Appointment

So you have your core contacts, and now you have visibility and "access" to their contacts. Now, let's get to the appointments!

There are several techniques, though the most important thing is to make sure you don't just barge into someone's network too quickly. We highly recommend the safest approaches first.

  1. Ask for a recommendation from the person you are connected through
  2. Directly compliment/congratulate them on a visible accomplishment, such as an article, promotion, or press
  3. Ask them for advice on a relevant topic
  4. Join a group or sub-community in common

These are value-based techniques that will allow you easier access and a more secure method than just blindly jumping into their network.

Once you have established a relationship, it is more appropriate to invite yourself into their network. Nevertheless, as a best practice, we recommend waiting until some level of relationship is built.

Summary

In this business coaching industry, our job is to help people, so building a large network is not always necessary. In fact, many of the coaches that we coach are very successful with working on quality rather than quantity. Whichever type of social network you choose to build, just make sure you have a method by which to communicate and build on the relationships you have worked so hard to secure.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (June Issue 2010, Volume 6, Issue 2). Copyright © 2013 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Dean R. DeLisle has proven his ability to accelerate contacts, business development, and operations with sound business practices, the ever-evolving power of technology, and his consulting, coaching, and training skills over the past 25 years. More about Dean in the WABC Member Directory. Contact Dean.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
27Oct/110

Traditional Sales Calls Don’t Work for Coaches, But What Does? By Kerri Salls

Posted by WABC

In classic sales training, we learn that there are five simple steps to selling. If you follow the steps, you get the sale. They are:

  • Opening the call
  • Investigating needs
  • Giving benefits
  • Handling objections
  • Closing the sale

But as some coaches have been so vocal to bemoan, they aren't getting sales using this approach. So what's happening? If coaches are selling a big ticket item, like an executive coaching program or an assessment program for a corporate management team, the selling cycle no longer fits the traditional model.

The selling cycle for business coaching has four characteristics that make traditional selling techniques ineffective:

  1. Length of Selling Cycle
    The selling cycle may require many calls or connections. Multiple sales calls have a completely different psychology from a simple single-call product sale.
  2. Size of Customer Commitment
    Large purchases involve bigger decisions. This alters the psychology of the sale. As the size of the sale increases, successful salespeople must build the perceived value of the service.
  3. Relationships
    Most large sales involve an ongoing relationship with the customer. This is where multiple offerings that represent different pricing levels, what some call your "marketing funnel," come in handy. Why? They must get to know, like and trust you before they will invest greater time and money in your offer.
  4. Risk/Return/Resistance
    In small sales, customers can afford to take more risks and try something new on the spot. Consider offering something of value, like an e-book or teleclass, for less than $50 on your Web site. The consequence of that risk is relatively low. Each larger purchase represents a bigger decision and a more significant risk. The perceived value of a $250 program package and the pain it will solve must be more explicit, it must be targeted and it must promise greater results. When you expand that to a $999 package or a contracted fee for $5,000 to $10,000, the customer becomes more cautious with each increase in the size of the decision you are asking them to make.

You Need Different Selling Skills For Major Coaching Sales

There are four distinct stages of a sales call when dealing with the large sale. This simple model was developed by Neil Rackham in the book SPIN Selling and became the foundation for the Huthwaite Corporation's research and training services.

Preliminaries
In large sales, preliminaries do NOT have the influence on success that they do in small sales. The more senior the people you are selling your coaching to, the more they feel their time is at a premium. So your objective in the preliminaries is simply to get the customer's permission to move to the next stage.

Investigating
This involves asking lots of questions, collecting data, uncovering needs, and understanding the customer and their organization. In fact, for higher value selling, investigating is the most important of all selling skills and can increase the overall sales volume by more than 20%.

Success in larger sales like coaching depends on how you handle this stage. Successful calls entail asking a lot more questions than we were trained to ask in traditional selling. Uncovering implicit and explicit needs is the sole objective of the Investigating stage of the call. This is where you build the relationship before the sale is made.

Demonstrating Capability
There is no surprise here--you must demonstrate to each prospect that you have something worthwhile to offer. You must prove that your solution will address each customer's unique problems. Selling a solution is not the same as rattling off a list of features and benefits. Connect with their pain and offer a solution that makes you exceptionally qualified to meet their need.

Obtaining Commitment
Obtaining commitment is not the same as your classic closing script. Remember, the bigger the decision and the more sophisticated the buyer, the more negatively they generally react to pressure and closing techniques.

In larger sales, there may be a whole range of other commitments you must obtain before you reach the order stage for your coaching program. Your call objective may be to get the customer's agreement to attend a teleclass or workshop. Larger sales contain a number of intermediate steps. Rackham calls these steps "Advances": they advance the customer's commitment toward the final decision.

Next Steps to Get it Right

What I've described is only theory until you put it into practice. Here are four rules for learning any new sales skills:

  1. Practice Only One Behavior at a Time
    Focus on one new thing at a time.
    For example, work on asking more and better questions of prospects.
  2. Try the New Behavior at Least Three Times
    Never judge whether a new behavior is effective until you've tried it at least three times.
    For example, focus on a specific Advance (e.g., subscribing to your newsletter, attending a teleclass, working with a specific assessment tool) you want as an outcome from your calls.
  3. Quantity before Quality
    When you are practicing, concentrate on quantity and you'll get the results you're looking for. Use a lot of the new behavior. Don't worry about how smooth it is; use it often enough and the quality will look after itself.
    For example, if you are learning to connect with the client's pain to offer a solution you may get tongue-tied as you develop the conversation down new unscripted paths. Do it anyway.
  4. Practice in Safe Situations
    Always try out new behaviors in safe situations until they feel comfortable. Don't use important prospects to practice new skills.

Try just one of these ideas and see if it improves your prospecting results and lead conversion for your high end offerings. My experience has been that if you apply this unique selling cycle strategy in your coaching practice, you will see more doors open and more clients moving deeper into your marketing funnel.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 3). Copyright 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Resources:

Lee, Andrea. Multiple Streams of Coaching Income. (2005).

Rackham, Neil. SPIN Selling. (1988). McGraw-Hill.
Kerri Salls, MBA, founded Breakthrough Business Enterprise to train, consult, and coach business owners, CEOs and sole proprietors on how to create more profit in less time. She publishes Breakthrough Success, a weekly e-zine that provides tips, tools and ideas for leadership. Kerri may be reached by email at kerri@breakthrough-business-school.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
7Apr/110

The Power of Partnerships: The Key to Increasing Sales, Margins, and Profits, by Denise Trifiletti

Posted by Denise Trifiletti

Powerful partnerships are the key to improving sales revenues, margins and profits. They are also the best way for you to exponentially increase your business success. Why is this so?

Partnerships can increase your:

  • Qualified leads and word-of-mouth referrals
  • Differentiation and competitive edge
  • Credibility and effectiveness
  • Close ratio and margins

Let's explore what partnerships really are by first defining the term. The one I prefer is this: A partnership is a relationship between two or more organizations whereby everybody contributes, and everybody wins. Risks and rewards are shared, and neither party gains strictly at the other's expense.

As you consider new ways to grow your business, remember that building such "Power Partnerships" can give you maximum sales results while being more cost-effective than any other marketing strategy.

You can build or improve partnerships with your clients, prospects, networks, employees, and vendors by asking yourself, "How can I improve my attitude, skills and knowledge to become efficient and effective at building such partnerships?"

Think of a specific partnership you would like to establish or strengthen. Explore the possibilities of a breakthrough by calling that individual. A potential Power Partner must be a decision-maker, have a problem that you can solve or a need that you can meet, and be willing and able to spend some valuable resources (time/money/energy) on a solution. Ideally, a Power Partner will also fill a gap or meet a business need that you have.

Once you have determined that the potential for a partnership exists (I call this qualifying), you should meet, one-on-one, with that prospective partner. Agree on an agenda, including a discussion of:

  • Partnership benefits (goals)
  • The parts you both will play in the relationship (roles)
  • The values and standards which will guide your relationship (operating principles)
  • How you will define and measure your results (wins)

When you use this approach, it is critical that you ask in-depth and open-ended questions regarding each of these four areas. Why is that? Asking in-depth questions can provide you with a complete understanding of your potential partner, enabling you to explore a variety of ways of creating a truly powerful partnership. Perhaps you barter or co-market the products or services you each provide. You may pay each other for referrals that result in actual business. You can also define your expectations in great detail, to avoid surprises in the future. You can ask your potential partner to quantify the value of the anticipated benefits or "wins" resulting from this partnership. Knowing your value proposition enables you to better understand the advantages you bring to the partnership, allowing you to price and negotiate for optimum margins.

Building a powerful partnership means taking the possibilities inherent in the partnership to the highest level, allowing all involved to reap benefits and win. Wins may be monetary and/or intangible, professional and/or personal. Quantify the value of the wins so you can measure your results. Measuring your wins validates the fact that you have achieved the goals that both you and your partner defined and pursued.

How Partnerships Increase Leads and Referrals:
View yourself as a "consultative salesperson" with a large network of strategic referral partners who offer various quality products and services. When meeting with a client or prospect, you ask questions that unveil many needs, and perhaps some of them lie outside your product/service capabilities. You introduce your strategic referral partners to your prospect, and they may be able to meet the prospect's needs. Thus, you gain a satisfied client who refers more business to you--and who may also provide you with a testimonial. You receive referral fees or other remuneration from your partners in recognition of your efforts. It's an all-win proposition! Meanwhile, your strategic referral partners are driving other potential clients to you. How much business can you handle?

How Partnerships Increase Credibility and Effectiveness:
Armed with a host of top-quality solutions offered by your partners, you are confident in asking questions about a wide range of client/prospect needs. You are not pushing a single product or service; rather, you are focused on solving their problems by sincerely attempting to meet their needs. Asking questions is the key to sales effectiveness. In a consultative role, you can help them to discern their challenges, explore the value of the options you provide, and assist them in determining their best solutions. Some of those solutions may come from you and some may come from your partners. This approach renders you credible, trustworthy, effective and valuable.

How Partnerships Increase Your Competitive Edge:
You distinguish yourself from your competition by providing a true value-added service to your client--a host of solutions through your referral network. Unlike others, you are a "one-stop-shop," providing a resource that saves your prospects/clients time and money.

How Partnerships Increase Your Close Ratio, Sales Revenues and Margins:
Your partnerships will allow you to close more business. By asking a host of questions, you will confirm the value of your solutions, which leads you to employ value-based pricing (pricing based on your client's perception of the value of your offerings). You need not lower your prices to get more business, and you may even be able to charge more.

A good test of whether you are ready to take the next step towards establishing powerful partnerships is to assess the following:

  • Do you have an abundant "all-win" attitude and belief in the possibilities of partnerships?
  • Do you employ the skill of asking in-depth questions to really understand your partner?
  • Do have the knowledge to jointly develop goals, roles, operating principles and a method for measuring wins? Can you apply that knowledge effectively?

Developing powerful partnerships is the key to increasing your sales, margins and profits. This approach has been proven effective, and it can work for you!

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Spring Issue 2006, Volume 2, Issue 1). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.


If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.