I am going to bust a myth today… Stop spending time building relationships with potential clients in the hope that they will buy from you.
As a creative business coach, I have taught the importance of building relationships to my clients many times before, so this may come as a surprise. But becoming friends and being part of the same community does not in any way mean people will buy from you more easily. Clients do not come to you to be your friend, they need help. In this blog post I shall explain what you should be focusing on instead.
Why do we spend so much time trying to build relationships with potential clients?
Because most of us creatives, coaches and therapists are trying to be ‘nice’, and don’t want to ‘put too much pressure’ on selling our products and services. We hate to be sales-y and pushy, and so we emphasise on building a community of followers to hang out with online, to share posts with, to start conversations with.
But how many of your online pals have bought from you? How many people in your network have hired you? Look at where most of your clients are coming from; did you know them beforehand? Did they book you because they wanted to be your friend? Or did they buy because they felt you could really help them with their problem?
Friends and loyal followers don’t necessarily become your clients
The truth is, we should focus on getting discovered by the right people first, and build the relationship once they actually buy. Spend more time and effort on becoming visible in the right places by the people who need your help. Make it easy for them to say ‘yes’ to you, with a crystal clear message, and plenty of credibility. Be authentic, real, and approachable, and you will become a magnet to the people who are your dream client.
Once you start working together, that is when the relationship building begins. And when that relationship flourishes, and you solve their problem, this person will become your ambassador, telling many others about you. Put your energy into that outcome.
I recently closed my Facebook group for this exact reason: it was a nice bunch of people, and we had some good chats on there sometimes, but nobody ever booked a call, let alone bought any of my programmes. So why was I still spending time in this group? Because I felt a loyalty and responsibility to this tribe, and I wanted then to like me But in the end, you have to be honest with yourself, and realise that you are running a business, not a charity.
There is nothing wrong with sharing your expertise on social media for free, but if you end up trying to run several platforms to serve people who will never buy from you, you need to stop and think. How could you spend that time better?
Of course, you can try and force the issue, and reach out directly to followers. Some coaches swear by a lead-generating tactic called DM-ing. You know the ones; the coaches who send you a private message on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn trying to be friendly and chatty. They are trying to build a relationship with you. And sometimes, they are genuinely nice, and you enter the conversation and you may think, yes, I like this person and I want to work with them.
However, 9 out of 10 times…we can get a little annoyed by unsolicited messages from overly eager coaches, especially if we feel pushed into booking a call. This is NOT a good start of a relationship at all, in my opinion.
So if we will not focus on relationship building…what should we focus on, then?
Before someone parts with their money, they want to be sure that their problem will get solved when they pay you. They will check you out, want to know if they can trust you, and will make a decision based on relevance, credibility and value. Those are the three things you need to nail down in your marketing.
Marketeers always talk about the so-called ‘buyers journey’. This is the process a buyer goes through from the moment they discover you to the moment they click ‘buy’. Often, this journey can take a while. They stumble upon you on social media, they start following you, download a freebie and enter your ‘funnel’, they consume your content for six months, they sign up for a free webinar, buy a short course or an e-book from you, and then, eventually, because they feel they know and trust you – they say yes to a high-ticket programme.
Some clients don’t need to go through a funnel
I have had more than one client discover my website in the morning, book a free strategy call with me in the afternoon, and sign up for a 1-to-1 programme by dinnertime.
Not much of a buyer’s journey there! So what happened here? They found me on Google, I was being relevant on my web content, they felt I was credible enough to book a call, and during that meeting they felt I offered exactly what they need for an acceptable price. It was a 100% ‘yes’ for them immediately. And this is what you should be working on too. Get the three ingredients right that will make it super easy for a potential new client to make a decision on whether you are the right person to work with.
Relevance, credibility and value
The three ingredients to get absolutely right, are relevance, credibility and value. In other words: your message, the backup of your claim to solve their problem, and a price that reflects your offer and matches their need and urgency.
Get this right, and you will sell time after time.
Being relevant means tapping into the client’s ‘pain points‘, or current reality. You make it crystal clear that you are able to help them with that particular problem. You are relevant to what they are looking for. You are relevant in your blog posts, your social media content, your emails and your general web copy, so that people who meet you for the first time, immediately know whether you can help them or not. This is important to get spot on, so you attract only the ideal clients, and turn the others away.
Gather testimonials and write case studies. This type of ‘real’ content is very important for someone to make a decision about working with you. Written testimonials, videos, audio files, quotes, it really doesn’t matter, as long as they are genuine and not made up. If you haven’t had any paid clients yet, I recommend offering your service for free or at a discount to a handful of friends and people in your network who fit the ideal client profile, so you build up those reviews.
Media coverage is another great way to build up credibility. A mention in a magazine or an interview on someone’s podcast, or you could write and self-publish a book. Another form of credibility is sharing your expertise in your content, and mention any relevant experience and diplomas that could back up your message and offer.
Third point to focus on, is value. A potential client will first discover you, then decide whether they think you are the right person to help them with their problem (or if you offer the right product), and then look at the price. The higher the need (‘the bleeding neck problem’ – is their need urgent?), the more they are willing to pay.
So value does not automatically mean having the lowest price. The three points work closely together and need to be in balance. If the price is right for them, and your offer seems relevant to what they need, but there is nothing to proof that you have actually helped people, then they still won’t buy. Likewise, if your offer is relevant, but your price is super low…then people may wonder whether you are actually going to deliver a good job. Don’t be afraid to ask your worth.
I hope this was helpful! And as always, if you feel I am relevant to your problem, you have checked out my credibility and case studies, and you would love to talk to me in person, please book a free call to chat.