When do I move from 121 to sell one-to-many?

When do I move from 121 to sell one-to-many?


During a Q&A call for my “Get More Clients Saying Yes!” course one of my students asked me:

“Networking feels so inefficient – is there a quicker, easier way for me to get clients?”

What she was really asking me was about leverage, and it was such a great question it got me thinking so I thought I’d answer it for you too.

When you first start out in business, normally your ability to leverage (i.e. to sell “one to many” instead of one-to-one) is limited.  For example, I started out with a mailing list of zero, nobody really knew what I did or even that I existed, and I hadn’t learned to stand out amongst all the online noise.

So I met my potential clients in 121 situations like networking and invited them to have a 121 conversation (aka a sales conversation), and then I delivered my coaching service – again, 121.

And back then most networking was extra time consuming as it all took place offline so I had “getting dressed” time and travel time to factor in too.  There wasn’t the range of options we have today of doing face-to-face networking online on zoom.  But it was still the most effective way to get started.

When someone joins my “Get More Clients Saying Yes” course they also might be starting out and not have a large online community or a mailing list that they can invite to Discovery Sessions.  Or speaking engagements booked in the diary.  Or a big social media following.  Or a Facebook Ads strategy that is bringing a steady flow of leads.

But they still want and need clients!

And one of the quickest ways to get clients from an absolute standing start is to get out networking.

Sell to Many

You simply get out to an “in-person” event  where your clients are going to be – or people who are connected to your clients (or join an online version over Zoom) armed with your “Captivating Introduction”, meet real people, develop “know like and trust” much more quickly than you can ever do online, invite people into your sales conversations, and start building an army of ambassadors who will recommend you to others.

Networking done well is really powerful, and in fact, I know of several people who have become fully booked with a waitlist just from networking alone, without even a website.

But my student was absolutely right, while it’s one of the best ways to get started, after a while networking can feel like the hard way, and as you get a few of your key business foundations in place you can start to graduate to more leveraged ways of getting clients (i.e. moving from 121 to one-to-many), for example:

How you market
You might market one to many through joint venture or partnership arrangements, through social media, or via email marketing to your own community.

How you sell
You might now be selling to a large audience via speaking gigs, webinars, or sales copy on a web page.

How you deliver
Some people love working with their clients 121 and would never want to change this.  Others, and I include myself here, graduate to more leveraged methods.  In my case I mostly work with people through my group online programme and my low cost membership  I do very little 121 work these days.

Beware of Running before you can Walk
But be careful of wanting to run before you can walk.   It can be so easy, when you’re starting out in business, to look up at the success of others who you can see are filling their programmes via webinars, emailing their own large mailing list, or driving traffic with Facebook Ads into Discovery Sessions for their high-end programmes.  And of course you want to be there too!

However, moving too fast can be counterproductive so beware of rushing without putting in place the important foundations that will help you to get there.

Because here’s the thing:  if you go and ask these people they will all tell you (with very few exceptions) – that they also started out selling 121 and delivering 121.

And trust me, it can be really hard to move to the more leveraged ways of selling without starting at the ground level.

You see when you attract your clients 121 and have your sales conversations 121 at the beginning you:

  • Get to understand and know your ideal client on a deep level – their dreams, desires, and fears
  • Learn what language they use to communicate their challenges and this helps you to communicate a message that resonates with them deeply (this is essential if you are to get much traction online)
  • Understand the concerns and worries that are most likely to prevent them from working with you
  • Know what they really need and want so that when you offer them a programme or a package they go “oh, yes please, I really need this”
  • Practice your sales conversations so that you become really, really good at guiding people through a conversation.

And without these important foundational pieces, you are likely to be disappointed and frustrated, whatever methods you use to attract clients through the “one to many” methods.

So start where you are – it really is the only way to get to where you want to be!

So is networking really inefficient?
So if you say to me “networking is inefficient” I want to know what part of it is not working for you.   I might ask:

  • How many networking events, online or offline, have you attended in the past month?
  • As a result of that networking, how many referrals have you generated?
  • How many sales conversations have you generated?
  • How many of those sales conversations have turned into a paying client?

Because, if the answer is something like “I’ve been networking 12 times in the past month and I haven’t had a single sales conversation or new client as a result” then I know that it’s not the networking that’s the problem, but that you  haven’t yet nailed your sales process.

  • Maybe your Captivating Introduction isn’t compelling – you are sounding bland and not capturing anyone’s imagination
  • Maybe you haven’t yet mastered how to gently guide someone from a casual conversation into a sales conversation without leaving them feeling uncomfortable
  • Maybe you haven’t got really good at having a conversation where you skilfully guide someone through a sales conversation that ends in them making a decision to work with you – IF they know it’s right for them.

And if your networking is inefficient because of one of these reasons then when you leverage you won’t magically get more clients – you will just be leveraging your lack of success and frustration.  Zero multiplied by 500 is still zero!

Fix the hole in your bucket
I’ve used the analogy many times before – your marketing process is a bit like pouring water into a bucket.  If your bucket has a hole in the bottom all of your time, money and effort is wasted.

So plug that hole by nailing your message and your sales process – once you’ve done that you can get busy growing your mailing list, seeking speaking gigs, and using online marketing strategies.  And the sky becomes the limit!

Networking isn’t for everyone
And of course, networking isn’t for everyone.  Yes, it’s a great place to start out as it is so easy and quick to get results, but if it’s not in your natural flow, you won’t want to do it for too long.  But you have to start somewhere and there really is no better way than networking for getting a client from a complete standing start, especially if aspects of your message are still not clear.

  • And once you know that your Captivating Introduction has a velcro-like effect on the people you meet and they are always wanting to know more,
  • And you know how to draw someone gently into a sales conversation without them feeling you are being pushy,
  • And you know how to guide them skillfully to a “Yes Please!” when you know your work is right for them…

Then you know you have the foundations of something amazing  – and you can take that out into the world and shout from the rooftops to much larger audiences, both off and online.

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And please let me know what you think about leveraging your business in the comments below!


"THE 7 STEPS TO YES" Watch these short videos and start to fall in love with sales

Please leave a comment as I would love to hear your thoughts


  1. Jane Jackson on June 6, 2016 at 1:51 pm

    Thank you for this post.
    I’m new to business and have been avoiding networking. I have an event to attend this evening so will go along with those points in mind and of course my captivating introduction ?

    • Catherine on June 6, 2016 at 5:58 pm

      Have fun at the networking even Jane! Networking is a lot like sales – it’s usually the way we are “thinking” about it and approaching it that causes us all the discomfort. Once you know how to approach it to get the most out of it without putting undue pressure on yourself it actually becomes fun!

  2. Pippa on June 2, 2016 at 8:50 am

    Completely agree re learnt so much re my ideal client from networking and got results from it – 3 consultations and then a sale came quickly. Being an astute intuit and having worked as a numbers person in an earlier life, I worked out 2 things very quickly. Being in a visible role such as speaking (something which it turns out I enjoy) and delivering my message is of greater impact from a contribution perspective than networking – even if it is just to a group 5 people. As I love learning and most networking events tend to have an educational element, I tend to find myself in growth mode – processing and assimilating the learnings. Also finding that networking is still an under utilised avenue for the non female entrepreneur ie female employee, thus there is a lot less places where one can go, add value and make an impact. Leaving one with two choices – going to networking events where some are not highly targeted or taking a more leveraged approach. Final observation – depending on the price of the starter package, by the time one tallies the cost of the networking events, time invested etc. this approach can be a loss making activity – a few hundred can go very quickly if attending 4-5 events per week. That being said it is a critical starter step. Afterall without an in depth knowledge of the ideal client nothing else moves if at all.

  3. Angela Wells on June 1, 2016 at 11:32 am

    Thank you Catherine for sharing this simple and valuable advice. It makes so much difference when the reasons and learnings behind building a business this way are conveyed especially to those setting out in business for the first time!

    • Catherine on June 1, 2016 at 2:38 pm

      Hi Angela, thanks for commenting, it means such a lot to me when I hear that my writing makes a difference and I’m glad this has given you some clarity – best wishes on growing your business step by step and with appropriate patience 🙂

  4. Maureen on June 1, 2016 at 8:53 am

    I found this very reassuring, thank you.

    • Catherine on June 1, 2016 at 10:51 am

      You are welcome Maureen, networking really DOES work, it just needs a few important pieces in place that such a lot of people don’t have – and then they wonder why they don’t see the results. This is why I put so much focus on the Captivating Introduction all the time!

  5. Sherry Bevan on June 1, 2016 at 8:29 am

    Good post. Thought provoking. I also think that sometimea we might think networking is not working because we are not networking in the right places. But absolutely right, when you understand your clients and worries and dreams at a deeper level, it’s much easier.

    • Catherine on June 1, 2016 at 10:50 am

      Hi Sherry, yes that’s a great point and something I didn’t mention – that sometimes you are just networking in the wrong places, where your ideal clients and people who know your ideal clients are not hanging out – rather than networking itself “doesn’t work”.

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