In my consulting business I currently enjoy a 75%+ conversation-to-client ratio, which means that more than 7 out of 10 of the folks that contact me (or that I contact) about work become clients. If you look at the projects where I’ve spent more than an hour on in the sale process, that number is closer to 90%. When I submit a proposal I am usually certain that my offer will be a match for their needs.
How is that so? I follow a four-step process. Let’s look at the steps now.
- Qualify your potential client – Before I look deeply into the project and definitely before I make an offer, I qualify the client to make sure that were a match. While budget is a definite factor, requirements, personality, subject matter, and timeline are equally important. I work to make sure, before the relationship grows, that it will be a mutual match.
- Establish a personal connection – I care a lot about the clients I serve and the work I do for them and, consequently, establishing and growing a personal connection is a priority for me. At the most basic level, it means caring and taking the time to show you care by paying attention to personal details, by asking questions, and by showing the initiative to share appropriate personal details of your own.
- Educate and share value freely – As I get to know the client and their project I offer ideas and recommendations, focusing on giving my very best, without holding back. I look for ways to teach them about concepts and technologies, shedding light on areas that may be new or confusing to them. Oftentimes, the knowledge and recommendations I’ve shared before the sale ends up working its way into the project. I cater the depth and detail of what I share to what I quickly learn of the client’s personality and interests and it makes a difference. Clients have continuously referenced and shown appreciation for the time I’ve taken to educate them and share value.
- Ask for the sale – Once I have a clear sense of what the client is trying to accomplish (i.e. their business objectives) I prepare my recommendations and an offer. At the end of the offer (presented via a formal proposal or via email, depending on the size and scope of the project), I ask them if my recommendations are a match for their needs (I expect that they are yet I always leave myself open to the fact that I may have missed something). If so, they give me a “Yes!” and we get started!
And those are the steps! In my free course, Four Weeks To Your First Client, I expand on those steps in even further, so be sure to take a look at that lesson (Lesson #4) if you haven’t already.
Now, with those steps in mind, here are a few additional thoughts:
- Don’t rush the process – Building quality relationships takes time. Focus on getting to know your client and their needs before you make an offer. This is important for a lot of reasons. Until you have a clear sense of their needs and what they’re trying to accomplish, how can you make a good offer anyway? A lot of folks are quick to throw out a price and see if sticks – this is a dangerous strategy. Take your time and make sure you’re on target.
- Offer options – I rarely offer one price for a project. Instead, I offer a base and “add-ons” as options. This gives the client control over pricing and it also helps to make sure that I’m not making any false assumptions about what they can and can’t afford. I work hard to make sure that each and every combination of options is a match for both them and me.
- Narrow the possibilities – When I submit a formal proposal (which is definitely an investment of time), I do so only after carefully narrowing down the possibilities and being as certain as possible of the outcome. My goal is to ensure that the only reason a client does not go with me is that I misunderstood their objectives (a mistake on my part). It won’t be because they couldn’t afford it (I qualified them in the first step).
And that’s a wrap! Did you find that helpful? Do you have any questions? Leave a comment or send me an email and I’ll get back to you!