The Forgotten Magic of “Talking to People”

Last week I wrote about the importance of getting a decision on the spot from a client during a sales conversation.   But I know that for some of you this raises another question:   “it’s all very well talking about getting decisions on the spot but I’m not getting the conversations in the first place.”

And this is the eternal challenge in the early stages of a business.   And it’s is why I always recommend my clients start with the “low hanging fruit”.

 

Low Hanging Fruit:
a thing or person that can be won, obtained, or persuaded with little effort.
In other words, take the path of least resistance when it comes to attracting new clients

This might be:

  • referrals from previous delighted clients
  • asking a joint venture partner to ask them to promote you
  • sending a special offer out to your email list
  • switching on your Facebook Ads funnel to generate new consultations

And it’s great when your business is at a place where those are your quickest and easiest path to a new client.

But here’s the problem:   none of us start out there – I certainly didn’t.  Here’s where I started out:

Mailing list:   0
Joint venture partners:  0
Previous delighted clients:   0
Tested funnel:  0

Just  17 years of sales experience and a desperate desire to create a business that felt truly meaningful.

And if this is where you are too I would really encourage you not to make your client-getting activity too complicated too soon.

You see, we live in this amazing world with access to technology that allows us to connect with people all over the world within seconds.  It makes the potential for the long-term growth of our businesses immensely exciting.   But the downside is that it’s too easy to see technology as the answer to all of your client getting problems, or to do activity that is really more effective for a more established business  – when in fact your “low hanging fruit” may be much more low-tech, much closer to home, and much more fun.

You see for many of us (myself definitely included here) spending too much time squirrelled away on social media, fiddling with Facebook Ads or creating online funnels means that:

You begin to lose energy – you went into business because you’re a people person and want to help others.  Yet here you are spending hours and hours in front of your computer with very little to show for it, so it’s really easy to lose motivation and enthusiasm and start questioning why you are even doing this.

You’re not creating genuine connection – rather than feeling a deep connection with your clients and the sense of fulfilment from helping them that you expected, you are quite possibly talking to less people than at any other time in your life – even your partner barely recognises you!

And the thing is,  it’s not just you who wants to experience genuine connection – it’s your clients too!

It’s a busy old world we live in.  Everyone is rushing somewhere.  And  when they stop rushing they are looking at their phones or devices.   So your clients have no shortage of messages and information coming at them online – if anything they are overwhelmed – and you have to compete with it all.

But what they really crave is real, genuine connection.   For someone to lean in and truly listen to them, and then say “I hear you, I get it, I care, how can I help you?”

So if you need new clients right now, today or this month (not in 6-12 months time once you’ve built your mailing list and tweaked your online funnel) then here’s what I’d recommend:

Take a deep breath and step slowly away from the computer…. (yes, it can be done safely I promise!)

Then put on your coat and shoes and go out there into the world with the intention of making genuine, meaningful connection with others.  (But if you’re confirmed homebody option B is to slip into your PJ’s and do this from home).

Now, I could call this Networking, but I know that freaks some of you out.   After all it has that connotation of sterile rooms full of men in suits thrusting business cards at each other, everyone talking and nobody actually listening.

So instead of calling it Networking why not call it “talking and listening to people”?

Tell yourself:    “I’m going to talk and listen to 5 people  this week”.    And yes this might be business networking in the traditional sense, or it might be a more supportive style of heart-centred, supportive networking.  But it could also look like:

  • Going to any place where people are  gathering (a Meetup, a talk,  a workshop,  a social occasion– even the school gates!).  Of course, it helps if this is a place where your ideal clients, or people connected to them, might be spending time.
  • Instead of spending hours posting on Facebook and Twitter and then wondering why no clients are forthcoming, why not reach out personally to a few people you’ve met online and invite them for a Skype cuppa? (I met some of my best JV partners this way).
  • Instead of broadcasting to your mailing list how about sending a few personal emails to invite people to have a conversation?

And then talk and listen.   Start out with no agenda other than to discover “who is this person?  What are they sharing?  What do they need?   How can I help them?”

But Beware:  Making New Friends Syndrome!
But do beware of this common pitfall for many new business owners – that of focusing so much on creating the connection that you neglect to guide them to become a client (IF you can tell that working with you would help them, of course).   Because if you don’t have a clear sales process and a system for guiding them that feels comfortable, you risk ending up with a whole bunch of new best friends – and still not a client in sight.

Yep – I know that’s probably happened to you right?

So don’t forget that the reason you are doing all of this is for a business purpose so make sure you:

1.  Create a genuine, authentic connection – ask questions but listen more than you talk.   Let them know you’ve heard.  Show them you care.

2.   Know your Sales Process – if you recognise that you could really make a difference to this person through your work, don’t shy away.  That won’t serve them – and it won’t serve you.  Instead invite them to take the next step to find out more about working with you.  It’s really hard to do this seamlessly if you don’t know what your process is:   “Hello new best friend!”

3.  Have a Focused Conversation
If they are interested in finding out more then guide them through the “7 Steps to Yes!” sales conversation –  a focused conversation designed  help them decide whether working with you is right for them.   You can learn the “7 Steps to Yes!” structure for free here.

4.  Build the Relationship
If it’s not the right time to invite them to a sales conversation just yet, or they are not ready, find another way to build on the relationship.  Can you send them a video that will help them with their problem, or a link to an article on your blog?  And then stay in contact until they are ready.

And this is how getting clients becomes comfortable and easy – and a lot more enjoyable too.

Do you relate to any of this?  Do you also find you lose energy and miss that sense of connection if you spend too much time working online?  Have you had that very common experience of making lots of new friends instead of getting clients?  Please share below in the comments – I always love to hear from you

With love

8 Responses to “The Forgotten Magic of “Talking to People””

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  1. Another inspiring blog. Thoughtful and very timely for the World. Well done Catherine.

  2. Jackie says:

    Hi Catherine, this so perfectly echoes my current thoughts. I’m actually amazed. I feel I spent the last six months planning, preparing and trying things out around the coachng practice I bringing into being. This was all great. What was unsettling however was the realisation that I had done very little actual coaching last year. What I’ve just admitted to myself this last few weeks is that I don’t like traditional networking. I don’t even like the word ‘networking’ I love your alternative way of looking at it and look forward to taking part in the challenge you mention.
    This post comes at just the right time. Thank you so much!

    • Catherine says:

      Jackie,
      I’m so glad this resonated – yes, there is nothing as rewarding as connecting deeply with our clients yet it somehow becomes the thing that we forget to do with all the focus on nuts & bolts “marketing”. So I’m delighted to hear that this has prompted you to want to do more of it – you are going to have a LOT of fun on Karen’s challenge for sure!
      With love, Catherine

  3. Thanks Catherine for this timely reminder not to over-complicate things and focus on the easy wins. 2 things in partic resonated with me – not making real connections definitely leads to me running out of energy and beware the new best friend syndrome!! With love, Rebecca

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Rebecca
      I’m so glad it resonated with you. And yes, that new best friend syndrome is a common one! And of course we do become friends with my clients. I have many wonderful friends who started out as clients. But they did start out as clients, we didn’t accidentally become friends first. In fact I realise I’ve so much to say on this topic I think it’s a whole other blog post!

  4. Kate says:

    Thanks Catherine – timing is perfect to remind me I’m spending way too much time both squirrelling away in isolation and befriending potential clients without seeing any business benefit. I’m inspired to get in touch with one such friend-zone potential client and try to make the work we’ve been talking about actually happen!

    • Catherine says:

      Hi Kate
      Ooh, I’m glad this was perfect timing for you – yes, it’s so important to keep that element of professionalism and business focus – at least until you establish if they are going to become a client or not. That’s the funny things about friends – they tend not to become clients – while it can happen, it’s relatively rare.

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