How cool would it be to spin straw into gold?! Surely, that would get you a spot in the finals of America’s Got Talent!
While turning straw into gold may only be the stuff of fairy tales, you do have the ability to do something almost as good: Turn complete strangers into clients.
You know you need to
The greatest challenge for most of you reading this (as an organization, if not personally) is achieving consistent top-line growth. “Consistent” being the hardest part.
If you’ve survived in business for any period of time, you can achieve growth in fits and starts. But, achieving that predictable agency growth, consistently, and on a frequent basis should be one of your top priorities, maybe THE top priority. The answer is simple.
All you have to do is turn complete strangers into clients who trust you with their business.
I have to do what?!
Sounds daunting when you spell it out doesn’t it? And it is. But, to channel the Rob Schneider character from so many Adam Sandler movies, “You can do it!”
The key is to break it down to a few basic steps. But, before we talk about those basic steps, let’s establish some ground rules. If you don’t agree with these, don’t bother with the rest.
Rule 1 – This is not the relationship business you may think it is. Nobody owes you their business or even their attention just because you are a nice guy/gal. Their attention and business have to be earned.
Rule 2 – Your business is too important to too many people to allow growth to be a random endeavor.
Are you still with me? You sure?
Alright then, let’s do this!
As a reminder, your challenge is to turn strangers into clients and to do so consistently. As obvious as it likely sounds when you read it, I emphasize the word consistently because I see evidence every day that this is lacking. I see evidence that you only focus on intentional growth when the excitement from your last win is a distant memory and the panic of an empty pipeline starts to set in.
We also have the privilege of witnessing just such consistency on a daily basis. Those who achieve consistent top-line growth may do so in slightly different ways, but they have one core understanding in common.
When making a purchase or solving a problem, the majority of the decision-making process takes place online. Many times, an online search is what leads to an eventual answer/partner. At the very least, online information is used to validate what they may learn offline.
Oh, I may have forgotten to mention, not only do you have to turn strangers into clients, you have to do much of the heavy lifting without ever meeting them. And, don’t give up on this as only being relevant to that “marketing stuff.” Even if you work mostly off of referrals, most of what those slightly warmer opportunities learn about you, they learn from your online presence (or lack of it).
Crank up your spinning wheel
Here are three moves to turn those strangers into business gold.
1. Anticipate their questions and provide answers before they even ask
You first challenge is to get your future clients to get over their stranger danger. To do so, you must earn their trust and confidence as quickly as possible.
They are going to be much more open to getting to know you when they start to feel as though you already know them. Or that you at least understand their challenges and are genuinely committed to helping with those challenges.
They are looking for help because they are struggling with something. They’re likely worried, scared, and more than a little overwhelmed. They are looking for a safe place to bring their angst.
Potential clients will naturally be drawn into you when:
- Your online presence seems to speak directly to them
- When you are talking about the things that challenge them
- When you are answering the inevitable questions without them even asking
- When you are starting to illuminate a path to better results
Much like a ship in distress is drawn into the beacon of the lighthouse, they sense you are a calm place in their turbulent sea.
2. Make it about them, not you
Most marketing and sales conversations in our industry are focused on the seller. Every day we see marketing and sales messages that are all about telling the agency story, how long it’s been in business, the carriers it represents, the free stuff they give away, you know the drill. I hope this doesn’t hit too close to home for you.
Selling is an emotional game. With the exception of your mom, nobody is going to get emotional about your story. (Well, not any emotions you actually want to elicit anyway.) But any worthy prospect will get emotional about their own story and any opportunities to improve that story.
I’m sure you feel you focus on your buyer’s story more than your own, but prove it to yourself. Go to your website, social media feed, and most recent email campaign. Tally up how many statements are based on “we and I” versus how many are based on “you and your”.
Feeling really bold? Next time you're role playing (you do practice, don’t you?) for a prospect meeting (you do have a sales process to practice don’t you?), tally the same “we and I” vs “you and your.”
If the “you and your” tallies aren’t 5 – 6 times as many as the “we and I,” well, as Ricky would tell Lucy, “You’ve got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
3. Reinforce their online attraction to you
The final decision of engaging you is significant. The sooner they feel comfortable and confident, the sooner you will have a new client.
Obviously, there are countless factors that impact these feelings, but mostly it comes down to the personal interactions. Sure, your marketing efforts lay the groundwork and create the expectation you will be a comfortable and safe partner, but that is either validated or falls apart through your personal interactions.
Marketing is the first step of the sales process, but it has to be followed effectively with personal sales interactions.
The threshold of what makes them comfortable and safe will vary by prospect, but it is always met through consistent interactions. Without overwhelming them, make sure your sales team has enough touch points with the prospect throughout the marketing and sales conversations to create an opportunity of familiarity.
Through those touch points, let the prospect see that you are approachable, realistic, responsive, dependable, transparent, and focused on them. Don’t take these needs lightly.
Damn, that’s a lotta work!
It is and it isn’t. I watch agencies work their tails off every day only to be frustrated at the lack of tangible results. The problem is they are doing the wrong hard work. Do the hard work necessary to make your prospects comfortable and feel safe and you will be rewarded.
Never forget, they are about to place a significant part of their business in your hands. That is a decision they shouldn’t take lightly, and it is a privilege you should never take for granted. Approach this with the level of respect it deserves, and you will find yourself with a foundation of trust capable of supporting untold additional growth.
Every fairy tale has a moral to the story
But, don’t forget the moral of the namesake inspiration of this post. The story of Rumplestiltskin is one of deceit, manipulation, and greed.
When one has a special gift such as spinning straw into gold (or turning strangers into clients) it comes with a great responsibility. No matter how rare and special your talent, become deceitful, manipulative, and greedy with it and, in the end, you’ll lose everything you worked for. But, use your gift to benefit others, with their best interests in mind, and you will find yourself the most rewarded in the land.
Photo Credit: subbotina