As someone who travels the country for a living, one of the questions I get asked is, “As a service professional, how can I get more clients without being pushy?”
Because let’s face it: getting clients as a coach, consultant, speaker, lawyer, chiropractor or other service-related business can be especially challenging, simply by the fact that you don’t have a physical product to sell!
Restaurants have food.
You can see that product. You can smell it and taste it.
Retail shops have clothes. You can see them, touch them and even try some on before you buy.
But, how do you decide which CPA you want to use for your taxes?
Or better yet, how can Sally CPA engage you in a sales process that would make you consider hiring her services, without making you feel like you’re getting a hard sell?
Well, the answer starts with the consultative sales approach.
The consultative sales approach is a nifty little client acquisition strategy because it allows service professionals to educate and ask, versus the traditional approach, which is all about convincing and cajoling.
Everyone loves to buy, but no one likes to be sold!
So, how can service professionals integrate this approach into their practice? Great question.
1. Ask good questions.
This is absolutely critical since it gets the focus off of you and onto your perspective client. Here are some questions I ask when I’m actively engaging a prospect.
So what made you decide to talk to me today . . . is there a specific challenge or circumstance you’re facing right now?
What have you done to address this situation prior to our discussion?
What were the results of those action(s)?
Notice these questions are focused on understanding their situation and getting a feel for how you might be able to help. This is in stark contrast to the traditional sales approach where people just launch right into their pitch. I don’t like that, and I’m guessing you don’t either.
Which is why asking good questions is a great first step for getting the ball rolling.
2. Add value.
This step is crucial for a successful client acquisition strategy: always add value to the conversation.
So, for a chiropractor, adding value might mean suggesting some changes in someone's posture to help alleviate back pain. For a CPA, that might be suggesting a nifty little app you can use to keep better track of your receipts.
Regardless, this step continues to place an emphasis on your prospect by providing specific expertise as it relates to their challenge.
Obviously, you don’t want to give away the farm by telling them everything. Instead, give them enough so they think, “Boy, this is some really good stuff and I haven’t paid a dime. I can only imagine the level of service he provides to his paying clients!”
3. Make a clear, firm offer.
This is my favorite part, because most people think the consultative sales approach is simply about educating and waiting for clients to fall in their laps, and that is absolutely not the case.
The consultative approach involves an education component, yes, but it also involves asking for the business -- what I call making a clear, firm offer.
Here’s what I personally say in my coaching business:
"Well Sally, it sounds like you’ve definitely been heading in the right direction the past few months in terms of growing your practice, but as we discussed, it also sounds like there are a few areas where you still might be stuck.
"To be honest, I’m thinking you might get a lot of value out of doing some work together. I think some one-on-one sessions might be best, covering the areas of building a word-of-mouth practice and building an online following of raving fans.
"We’ll do these through a series of 60-minute sessions where I’ll walk you through the entire process. Typically this is a 90-day commitment, and in terms of investment, we’re looking at $X.
"Now I’m not sure if this is something that would work for your budget or if you feel like it would be of value, but based on what you’ve told me, I definitely think it would help. So, does that sound like it might work for you or your budget?"
Quick, easy and very effective with people who are genuinely interested in solving a problem and who feel heard by a service professional like yourself.
So there you have it: a quick, easy-to-implement process for getting more clients without feeling pushy.