Imagine spending a half hour (or longer) on a sales call with someone. And as you wrap it up, you’re hoping they’ll say yes to your product, program, or service.
But instead, they tell you they’re not ready. Or they can’t afford it. Or the timing is off, and can they get back to you?
This is one of the most frustrating things about sales and the reason why so many entrepreneurs dread getting on a call with a new potential client. If this is something that you’re experiencing right now, then you need a strategy that allows you to turn more potential clients into actual clients.
Creating a well-crafted pre-client education process will do the trick. Not only does it improve your overall conversion rate, but it also makes sales so much easier!
In this episode of the Promote Yourself to CEO podcast, you’ll learn how to implement this pre-sale education process for potential clients in your business. I’ll talk about why old-school sales strategies don’t work anymore, what modern sales strategies do differently, and take you step-by-step through the pre-client education process.
On this episode of Promote Yourself to CEO:
2:24 – How have sales changed since the 1990s? I explain why there’s a disconnect with old-school strategies from 25-30 years ago.
7:53 – I reveal how modern sales strategies differ from old-school sales strategies and the importance of pre-sales education.
12:23 – What’s the first step of the pre-sales education process? You need this regardless of what you sell.
18:55 – Here are two options you can add in step two if a potential buyer needs to have a conversation with you.
24:10 – How do you use pre-sales emails to sell your product, program, or service? I discuss a great example I share with clients inside The CEO Collective.
30:26 – You can add this to your pre-client education content in case potential clients aren’t already familiar with you.
32:29 – I talk about a couple of other things you might consider including in your pre-sales content.
37:13 – How are sales calls different for me since I began implementing this process in my business?
39:09 – Give people a window of time to make a decision. What does your enrollment period look like?
43:01 – Some people will want to wait for the next round to buy from you, or you might have all spots filled. I share what you can do for those situations.
45:50 – What formats do you want to use to send pre-sales education content to your potential clients?
Mentioned in Want Easier Sales and More Conversions? Add a Pre-Client Education Process
- The CEO Collective
- The CEO Retreat
- The CEO Planner
- 90 Day CEO Operating System
- Marketing Strategy Intensive
- Podcast Ally
- Racheal on Instagram and TikTok
- Rate and review on Apple Podcasts
Raise your hand if you've ever been on a call with a potential client. As you've spent 30 minutes, sometimes even an hour talking with this client, you wrap up the conversation hoping that they're going to say yes to joining you for your product, program, or service, they're going to become a paying client, only to have them say, “Well, I don't think I'm actually ready yet,” or “I can't afford this. It's too expensive. It's out of my budget.” Or, “You know what, the timing isn't right. I think I need to follow up with you and we'll circle back in a few months.”
Your hand up? Mine certainly is. This is one of the biggest frustrations with sales. Either you experienced this on a sales call or you're actively promoting your product, program, or service, and your inbox is flooded with all sorts of questions just to essentially boil down to “I'm not ready yet. I can't afford this. Maybe later will be a better time.” If this is something you're experiencing in your sales, then today, we are going to talk about how you can fix many of these challenges by implementing a pre-sales education process. Let's get into it.
Are you ready to grow from stressed-out solopreneur to competent CEO? You're in the right place. I'm your host, Racheal Cook, and I've spent more than 15 years helping women entrepreneurs sustainably scale their businesses. If you're serious about building a sustainable business, it's time to put the strategy, systems, and support in place to make it happen. Join me each week for candid conversations about stepping into your role as CEO, the hard lessons learned along the way, and practical profitable strategies to grow a sustainable business without the hustle and burnout.
Hey there, CEOs. If you have been listening to this month's series all about how you can improve your sales, this episode is a must-listen. This is going to be a masterclass-style episode because we are diving deep into a strategy that can dramatically improve your sales, improve your overall conversion rate so that you're actually turning the same number of potential clients into more actual paying clients, and honestly, will make sales so much easier for you.
One of the biggest things I hear again and again from entrepreneurs and small business owners is they start to dread getting on a call with a new potential client. Imagine you have on your website a contact form, an information form, or request a consult form that people go to, they fill out, they book a call with you, and then they're showing up to that call honestly not ready to make a buying decision, mostly because they don't have enough information.
Now this is something that we need to address. This is why the framework that I teach, the Attract, Engage, Nurture, Invite, Delight framework is so crucially important because the nature of making buying decisions has actually changed dramatically in the last 15-20 years.
A little history lesson, this is where Rach is going to nerd out on some things with you really quickly because I think it's important to understand why sales have changed so much and why we need to adapt and adjust in order to make sure that we are optimized to get sales and optimized to turn a potential client into a paying client without feeling gross, feeling slimy, and feeling pushy. That's what none of us want.
None of us want to be considered that overly pushy salesperson. When the internet started to become more and more popular, something interesting shifted in the world of sales. Suddenly, we went from the salesperson being the one who had all of the information and the potential client didn't have access to information to a completely different environment. Well, now they're on an equal-level playing field.
Think about buying a car, which is an experience many of us have gone through at some point or another. If you bought a car in the 90s when you showed up on the lot, you only knew about that car what the salesperson was telling you. You only knew what they were telling you because there was no website to go to look at all the specs on the car. There really weren't that many places for you to go and compare prices of this specific make, model, mileage, etc.
But that's completely changed. The car industry saw a major shift in how they sell cars because we went from the salesperson having power over the potential client simply because they had more information to now the salesperson and the potential client, the potential buyer being on the more equal playing field because they both have access to information.
This kind of transparency is now expected across all sales conversations. Meaning we expect or should expect that our potential clients aren't coming to us cold anymore with no idea about the product, program, or service that we have to offer. They are generally making buying decisions after having all of the information before they really are ready to engage in a sales conversation.
This is where the disconnect between old-school sales strategies and more modern sales strategies are happening. Old-school sale strategies were very much based on somebody comes to you, you're going to walk them through exactly what it is you have to offer, and essentially persuade them to make a buying decision right there on the call in front of you.
If it was a bigger, higher-ticket offer, maybe you would instead send a proposal and follow up in a certain timeframe. That's totally normal. But those people in an old school sales process, they were coming into that conversation with limited understanding of how you work, what you do, what the results are, what the benefits are, understanding what the exact offer is that you have for them.
We weren't on an equal playing field. Really, the salesperson had access to more information than the buyer. That unequal access to information actually set people up in a sales situation to feel more pressured because they didn't know enough information about the product, program, or service they were buying and the salesperson feels like they really have to sell. They really have to use specific sales techniques.
One that I think of off the top of my head is the stacking yeses. If you ever read a sales book that was written before the year 2000, they will talk about how you need to ask your potential client questions that you know they're going to answer yes to multiple times so that they just get on a roll saying yes, yes, yes. Then when you ask them if they want to work with you, it's a yes, because you've already gotten them into saying yes multiple times.
These types of strategies feel very uncomfortable and it's almost like afterwards, if you've ever been in that situation, you might have felt some buyer's remorse or some discomfort with how you feel leaving that conversation. It's because there was a power imbalance there.
Fast forward to more modern sales. Modern sales is about understanding that buyers expect to come into any buying decision, sales conversation, sales proposal, etc. Having all the information that they need to make a buying decision up front, that they don't have to jump through a bunch of hoops, and that they're not going to feel gross coming out from the other side of it.
Buyers’ mindsets have changed when they're making big buying decisions. They know when you're reading a script, they know when you're trying some sales tactic. We have to become better at what is the most important piece, pre-sales education. This is how we make sure every buying decision a potential client is making is on an equal level playing field with ourselves. There shouldn't be this power over potential clients because you're withholding information that they don't have access to prior to making a buying decision.
This is so crucially important for my community because I know most of my community are service-based business owners. We help people with their health, with their life, with their relationships, with their businesses. We help people in so many different ways that if we are doing sales in the old-school way where people are coming into that first conversation without all of the information we have power over them, it is instantly going to set off the buyer's mind that like, “Okay, they're really going to sell me on this.”
A new way to do sales isn't based on being pushy or trying to convince anybody of anything. I'm not here to make anybody get on a call with me where they feel like they have to make a decision right away, where they feel like I'm coercing them into anything.
I feel like if we're going to have an equal level playing field here, we're all going to have access to the same information, we're going to have respect for our potential clients that they can make the buying decision they need to make, and we're going to make sure that before we actually have a conversation before they read through my sales page and make the decision to buy, we've answered all their questions in advance, that they're coming into this whole process understanding what they need to know about what it looks like to join our program, to work with us, to use our products, to use our services.
Hopefully, that kind of sets the stage here for what I'm talking about. When we are on the equal playing field, things become easier and you're giving your potential clients the information they need in advance of making the buying decision so that they can get ready easier.
If you have people saying, “I'm not ready for this yet,” how can we make them more ready? How can we help them see what they need to do before working with you? If they're coming to you saying, “Well, this is too expensive or it's out of my budget,” how can we educate them in advance so that they are aware of not only what it costs to work with you but the return of their time, their energy, and yes, their money when they work with you, what is the true ROI of working with you, not just the transaction?
The final thing that I hear a lot is, kind of along the side of not ready, but it's more about timing, the timing is not right. This is something you'll hear from a lot of people when they really want to say no, but they want to just kind of quietly say no, they'll say, “Oh, the timing isn't right for me.”
On the other hand, sometimes people will actually have reasons why the timing is not right. They really do want to set aside the funds to work with you. They want to prepare in advance. They want to make sure they're not signing up to work with you when they're also planning some big life event or have their kid's schedule in mind. There are a lot of reasons why the timing might be a component.
How can we answer all of these questions in advance and make sure that before somebody is making that buying decision, whether it's on a sales call, getting a proposal from you, or going to your sales page and signing up for your product, program, or service, how can we make sure that we have taken them through this pre-sales education process?
The first step of this for me is having a really good sales page. This to me does not matter if you are a service provider, if you do branding, websites, or photography, or if you are a coach, you have an online course, or you have a group program, any type of business really needs to understand that people want the information in advance and a well-crafted sales page will answer so many questions for people. They will have more insight into what you are offering and whether or not it is a fit for them.
The way that we teach sales pages, I mean literally if you go to my website, look at theceocollective.com, you can check out the sales page for The CEO Retreat, you can check out the sales page for The CEO Planner, you can check out the sales page for a Marketing Strategy Intensive, and you can check out the sales page for The CEO Collective Mentorship Meets Mastermind.
All of my offers have a sales page, even the smallest offer. Even my books, even The CEO Planner has some form of sales page where they're getting the information in advance before making a buying decision.
Now the type of sales page you're going to create is dependent a bit on the type of offer that you have. Clearly, you don't need a super long involved sales page for, in my case, a $35-CEO Planner. That sales page can be pretty short and sweet to the point. It doesn't need to be super long.
But as your products, programs, and services go from being like a physical product, like a planner or a book, those tend to be shorter, descriptive sales pages, but as you get into selling services, as you get into selling coaching, as you get into selling any group programs, you will need to create what we call more of a long-form sales page where you are not just telling them what they're getting, the features of what they're getting, but you're actually walking them through the benefits.
You're sharing with them, yes, you're going to get this from me so that you can experience do-be-have this. For example, if I'm looking at, I'm clicking through real quick to my sales page for The CEO Retreat, if you read the sales page for The CEO Retreat, we lead with a headline “Accomplish more in 90 days than most do in a year,” then we talk about the benefits, the thing that people will walk away from this experience with, what will attending The CEO Retreat allow you to do-be-have-feel-experience.
We talk about confidence. We talk about freedom. We talk about knowing that you have a concrete check-offable plan. Then after we've shared the benefits of what you're going to get, then we can get into the logistics of how this retreat works and what it's going to look like for you.
I encourage you to start thinking about adding a sales page for each offer that you have. I'm not going to get into specifics today about how to write a sales page. If you join us in The Collective, we have an entire training about how we write this sales page and why they're structured the way that they are.
But I do find that this is one area I see over and over again, people have like a few words, maybe a small paragraph about their offer, and then people are supposed to book a call or request a proposal, and they're just not getting enough information about the benefits of this offer, how this offer is delivered, what needs to happen in order to get this offer, who is the perfect fit for this offer, who's not the perfect fit for this offer.
If you're missing all that information and then you're asking people to make a buying decision, they're coming in with a lot more questions than answers, which means those calls are going to be a lot more answering really common questions and trying to help them make a buying decision when they don't have all the information.
Sales pages, hands down one of the best tools any business can embrace. It doesn't matter if you have a physical product, if you're selling an information product, if you're selling a course, if you're selling a group program, if you're selling a service, have a more-detailed-than-you-think-you-need-to-have page about what is involved in buying that thing that will answer so many questions upfront.
Ideally, that sales page is there not only to educate people about what they're going to get out of this and what this is going to allow them to, again, do-be-have-feel-experience, it also helps them see really quickly whether this is a yes or no. People who are like “This is a no” are just going to click away. That's fine.
We want people to start making those decisions a little earlier on in the sales process. Because if they're a “maybe,” I'm okay with talking with them because at least they have the information upfront.
At least, they're coming in with the most important information about working with us and then usually the call that I might have with that person isn't so much about the common information that's on the sales page, it's usually more, “Let me tell you about my business,” and “You make sure that this is actually the perfect fit for what I do.”
It's no longer “Am I ready yet? Can I afford this? Is now the right time?” it's more really double checking that we're the right fit, that I like them and I know I can help them, and that they like me and we are going to gel. Because if you're working with us, you're working with us for at least a year, we want to make sure that we're both going to enjoy working together. A sales page, number one.
The second thing I think about on the bottom of a sales page is what happens if they need to ask a question, they need to book a sales call, or whatever else. What's the next step? Now there are going to be some sales pages where they can just buy right away. This is typically going to be for your standalone products, your information products, things that don't involve you actually delivering something for them or creating something for them.
But I have worked with a lot of clients who need to actually have a conversation with that person to get the scope of what they're going to be working on together, create a proposal, and then start working with them, or they need to make sure this person is a perfect fit and then work with them in their signature service. They want to have a conversation first.
If that's the case on the bottom of your sales page, there are a couple of options for you. One thing you could consider having on the bottom of that sales page, again, once they've read through all the relevant information, is an application.
Now we have shifted to an application process for The CEO Collective for a really important reason. We wanted to make sure that because this is a group container, all of the people we're bringing into this paid community are truly ready for the level of work we are going to do. We know that there are certain types of clients who get the absolute best results working with us and we have some criteria that we're looking for.
Now, this application process is pretty simple. I'm not asking for their social security number and crazy information. I'm not asking for paragraphs, but I am asking to get a look at who they are, what their business is, where their business is, as far as how long they've been around, their revenue level, the types of clients they serve, and what they're looking to accomplish.
Through reading through that application, we can quickly get an idea of whether or not this is a type of business that will do well inside of The CEO Collective. That has been a game changer because it means everyone coming into The CEO Collective as a member of the mastermind is vetted. They're ready to be here.
We don't have an imbalance in types of businesses. Everybody's in a similar stage and they're challenged with the same types of challenges, which means as a team, my business can serve them even better because we have similarities with what's going on.
Now an application is a great tool for making sure that you can truly serve this client, that they have the types of problems that you can solve. You can get so much insight as you're reading through these applications to determine whether or not this person truly is a fit. This becomes a way to protect, not only your time and energy as the business owner who's going to work with this potential client but their time and energy.
Because trust me, if they really aren't the type of person you can do your best work with, it doesn't serve them and it doesn't serve you to say yes to that working agreement. We want to make sure that people who are signing up to work with us are our ideal clients. They are the types of people we know we can get a result for.
I use an application process for this. Another alternative could be to just go ahead and book a sales call directly. I think this is one of those things you have to choose your own adventure here. What makes the most sense for you? For us, an application process makes the most sense, then we can invite people to book a call.
For some of my clients, just booking a call makes the most sense. If you use any sort of scheduling tool, you can always build a mini-application on the back end of booking that call so they can schedule their call, but then answer some questions before your call so that you can get the important information that you need. As soon as they booked that call, you can have insight into who you're going to be talking to and whether or not they're going to be a perfect fit.
That's the next piece. You have your sales page. You have either an application or something to book a call with you. This is going to help you really vet every single person before you have a conversation with them, before you say yes to working together.
I think as you go higher and higher price points in your business especially, this is important because you want to make sure that if somebody is coming in and investing a lot with you, and a lot is relative depending on what your business is and who you're talking to, but if it isn't a significant investment to your client, it is worth it to make sure that you have a stage in there to check for that alignment, to check for “Are they truly ready? Do I feel like I can truly get this person results?” and make sure you're both on the same page before you commit to working together. I love that step.
The next step that I like to put in place is the pre-sale education. Now this is different from Nurture content. If you've heard me talk about Attract, Engage, Nurture, Invite, Delight, you know that I talk a lot about Nurture content, how we structure Nurture content.
If you have followed my podcast, you probably have seen it. If you really zoom out and look at how I structure the podcast, it's always in different series. We have topics we cover in different series of content, anywhere from three to six episodes about a specific topic so that we can go deep into that topic. Then there's some sort of call to action to check out one of our offers.
This is one layer of pre-sales education, is in your Nurture content. That's one way for people to get to know you, your business, your brand, your expertise, is to have content that you have on your website, on a podcast, on social media, on video, etc. However, when you have a specific offer that someone is now wanting to learn more about, you need to have pre-sales education content that is specific to that offer.
This is where it's a little bit different because if you have multiple offers, then you need to have content that is educating to each specific offer. I want to share an example of how I've seen this done exceptionally well and I'm going to give a shout-out to Brigitte Lyons of Podcast Ally.
In fact, I love her approach to this so much that this is something I asked her, “Can I share this with my clients?” Inside of The CEO Collective, we have a whole almost like tear-down review of every single part of this pre-sales education series that she created.
But essentially, if you go to her website at Podcast Ally, you learn all about how she and her team can help you get more podcast interviews by hiring them to pitch you and book you on more podcasts. You read all the information, it's a sales page. You're getting all the information in advance, you're booking into her calendar to have a conversation, and then answering some questions from that calendar.
You choose the time and date you want to talk, confirm, and then it has some questions for you to answer. From there, you're going to start getting some emails giving you pre-sales content. These emails are brilliant. They're so brilliant. She did such an amazing job with these. We do a similar thing here in The CEO Collective.
When people are booking to talk to Brigitte and her team about pitching them for podcasts, they're going to get a series of emails that really speak specifically to the types of things people need to know before they make a decision on whether or not they should move forward and hire Brigitte's team at Podcast Ally.
The types of things these emails cover is one, this is a great way for you to share case studies. Case studies are powerful, testimonials, anytime where your existing clients in that offer, that product, program, or service can share their experience, can share, “Where was I before I worked with this person? What made the biggest difference? What was the thing I did with them? Or what was the aha moment I had? What was the thing that changed everything and then what are my results after? Then what do those results allow me to do-be-have-feel-experience that I couldn't before?”
Case studies are powerful because as a potential buyer, we want to know that other people have gotten results, that other people at a similar place to where I'm sitting right now have showed up to this particular service provider and have gotten on the other side with these types of results.
I think that's a huge piece of pre-sales content that you can include. I'll talk about the formats in a minute, but this is one of my favorite things and one of the things I think most people forget to do is to let their clients sell them on their results. You don't have to do all the selling yourself. You can let your clients sell for you by sharing their case studies or testimonials.
The next piece of content that Brigitte included is a piece of content that really validates if this is going to work for you. Is this offer going to work for you? What she shares in her email here is “I want to address something podcast interviews can't do.”
She's talking about what this won't do for you. If you have any misconceptions about the results you're going to get out of this, I want to clear that up right now. It says, “Here's what it won't do for you, and here's what you need to make sure you have before you start doing podcast interviews.”
She outlines three specific things you need to have in place before you start pitching yourself to make sure you're actually going to get the results. Is there something that people need to know before they sign up to work with you that they need to have done, they need to have ready before they actually say yes and start working with you?
This is important because often, people will put the cart before the horse, they will think that what we have to offer them is like a magic pill. If they just take it, it will leapfrog them in their journey. That's often not true. Sometimes there are just some foundational things they need to have in place before working with us makes sense. That piece of pre-sales education can be really important.
At this point, remember, they've already read your sales page, they've already filled out an application or booked a call, now we're just really triple checking are you really ready? And we're answering that in this piece of content.
Another thing that I love to have in this pre-sales education content is going to be something about yourself because people all come to us with different levels of familiarity with us in our work. We can't assume that somebody who's going through this process has read every inch of our website, has listened to every podcast we've ever created, or has gone down the rabbit hole of everything we've put out on the internet.
There are a lot of times when people will fill out an application and they will book a call and they're just not that familiar with your work. They're not that familiar with you and the type of person you are, the values you have, the team that's going to work together with them as they buy your product, program, or service.
I love having a piece in your pre-sales education that is about you. Why do you do this work? Why does this matter to you? Why are you passionate about this? This is such a great way just to make sure that you are in alignment with your values. People want to do business with people that they know, like, and trust, which honestly, it's values alignment. They want to do business with people who they're on the same page with.
This is a great way, again, it's all about having the perfect fit clients. It's all about having somebody who's reading this and going, “Oh, my gosh, you're so passionate about this, me too.” Or in my case, I have a whole email in our pre-sales education sequence that I talked all about how because I'm in that sandwich generation raising kids, taking care of my aging parents, and running this business, I too have the brain fog moments and need extra support.
Anything that you can share, this isn't about sharing everything about your life or your life story, it's about why this work matters. Why this work matters to you, I think is so crucially important.
Other things you might consider including in your pre-sales education content is what are the biggest myths and mistakes that people might have around working with you, around the type of product, program, or service that you have.
I think myths and mistakes is something you'll hear me talk about all the time. Is there a myth, a mistake, a misunderstanding, something they might believe about working with you or getting this type of product, program, or service that once they actually experience it, they might be disappointed if they don't have this result?
I think it's important to talk about this in advance. Again, we're bringing all of the relevant information prior to the sale. We're not withholding anything. We're making sure they are coming into this sales conversation or the sales decision on an equal playing field because we have access to equal types of information here.
This is where you can clear up any misunderstandings, clear up any myths or mistakes that would hold them back from really getting the results that they're looking for. Making sure that you have level-set expectations. One thing that you might consider is what do you need to level-set expectations with that people might come in with the wrong expectation.
In my world, this could be that they are like, “Okay, if I work with you, you're going to fix everything and we're going to turn on a dime and everything's going to work, right?” No, I level-set expectations very early on that the business you have today is the result of the work you did three to six months ago.
In fact, for many of our clients, it took until 6 months, 9 months, even 12 months before everything truly starts to click. It takes time to implement the 90 Day CEO Operating System. I want to clear that up as quickly as possible so that we're all on the same page about what the expectations are, that this is not an instant success button that suddenly everything's going to change, that it's going to take time, it's going to take follow through, and we are here to support you in actually following through.
Those are the kind of the core types of information I like to have in this pre-sales information. I like to make sure that we're level-setting expectations. I like to make sure that I have shared some case studies or testimonials. I like to share any mistakes, misunderstandings so that we can, again, all be on the same page.
You can also share in your pre-sales education if you have another good overview of the information about your offer. For example, if you wanted to apply to The CEO Collective, you can go to theceocollective.com/apply, read the page, and then submit an application.
But then I'm also going to send you to a training about our 90 Day CEO Operating System. Because breaking that all down on the sales page, like we have some information about it but we have a deeper dive training on what this is, why it's important, and how this can shift things for your business. You can layer things in this pre-sales education.
Remember, maybe this is something I haven't said before actually now that I think about it, but people need information in multiple formats. There are some people who will read every single line on your sales page word by word. There are some people who would prefer to listen to that information. There are some people who prefer to watch a video about that information. You can layer those things in.
I mean, I've even been seeing people do audio sales pages, video sales pages, layering in additional trainings or resources that your potential client can check out and review prior to making that buying decision.
I just think that's so great because it's giving them the option to really dig deep if they are somebody who wants to have all of the information upfront, and again, you're not holding back, you're giving them everything they need to understand how you work, what to expect, what they're going to walk away from this experience, this product, program, or service with, what the benefits are, what those benefits allow them to do-be-have-feel-experience.
They're going to walk away understanding how does this work? The logistics of how your offer works, what to expect, and they're coming into this buying decision very much on an equal level playing field. I have to tell you, since implementing these types of systems into my business, and this is kind of how I've worked for just a really, really long time, since I do it this way, I rarely get on a sales call where I'm convincing people. I never have to do that.
That's one reason I love having calls with people because I already know that I know based on the application they've submitted, this is the type of business we've worked with before or that we really feel like we can support and help. I know because of the application where they are in this journey and that gives me a lot of insight into the common challenges that we help people navigate at each stage of business.
I know coming into that conversation that they're likely a great fit and now it's just really about values and personality. Are we individually a good fit to work together? Are they going to enjoy being in our community? Are they going to be the types of women entrepreneurs who we love to have in the room at the table at our CEO Retreat?
That conversation is so much more fun to me because it's more like getting to know each other compared to “Let me convince you to buy my thing.” They've already decided if we enjoy talking if this is a good fit, they're most likely going to say yes and I don't have to be pushy. I don't have to be salesy. In fact, I don't take any information on any of these calls. There's never going to be a call where I'm like, “Well, if you're ready to move forward, let me get your credit card.” I don't do that.
I always say, “Great. I'm so glad we had a chance to talk, answered your questions. I’ll follow up with a quick email so that you have the link to go ahead and join us. If you have any other questions, don't hesitate to hit reply to that email and just let me know.” I always want to go into those sales calls knowing that this is about having a conversation, not about strong-arming somebody into something.
I also just really feel—and this is, I think a values thing more than anything—I know I don't like going into sales conversations where I feel like I'm going to be pressured, where I'm asked to make a major investment decision on the spot, and where I haven't had a chance to ask the people around me to just check me and make sure I'm making the right decision for where I am in my business, my health, my relationships, and whatever.
I know personally if I'm making a major buying decision, I'm going to talk to my director of operations, we're going to look at does this fit in with our plan, our goals, and what we're focused on. I know that I'm really going to want to take a little bit of time to make sure that this decision is the right decision for me and my business.
With that in mind, I want to be able to treat people the same way. I think this is another thing that's really important. Setting expectations around how long can they take to make this decision, what does it look like? What does this actual enrollment period look like?
I've done this a few different ways. This is the final thing I'll say, what happens post-conversation or sending somebody a proposal? One, give people a window. Give people a window of time to make a decision. I think this is important, not because we're trying to push urgency and scarcity but if you're a service-based business owner, you have to schedule in new clients.
If you're working with a new photography client, new website client, or new branding client, your functional medicine doctor, you got to get the new client appointment in the calendar, we have capacity we are all trying to manage. It makes sense for you to say, “Hey, it was so great to talk to you. I would love to have you join us. Here's the cutoff date for signing up to start on this date.”
In my business, when we give a window, it's usually to enroll in the cohort starting that next month. If you're talking to us at the end of April, it's to start in May, if you're talking to us at the end of May, is to start in June. I give a very clear window.
“I'm so glad we got to talk. I'm so glad we got to connect. Here's the window for the next cohort. If you have questions, I want you to take your time. Consult whoever's on your team or your support system to make sure this is the right next step and let us know if you have any questions. We will follow up with you to make sure that you don't miss that window to start in this next group.”
Now, if you're a service-based business owner, I really recommend you give people a deadline for how long they have to make a decision. Again, it's a capacity issue. If you have people signing up to work with you for, I mean, I'm trying to give examples here but literally doesn't matter, if you need to know who's going to start on what dates, if you're trying to manage your schedule and your capacity, tell people how many days they have to make a decision.
“From the time that we talk, you have five business days to make a decision.” Cool. Now they know how long they have to make that decision. You can follow up with them in those five days. You can still check in if they were like, “That sounds great. I will follow up with you,” and you haven't heard from them by three days after you talked, no worries.
You can follow up, “Hey, so and so, so great checking in with you. Just a quick reminder, my schedule is filling up for XYZ date. I really want to make sure I can get you in if you want to move forward. If you have any questions, please let me know so that I can answer them and we can go from there.”
Now sometimes you'll have somebody who does want to wait for another cycle. This is where I will say, “Awesome.” If you have a capacity challenge though, get used to the idea of taking a deposit for people to start work later down the road.
You can always tell somebody, “Hey, yes, this five-day window is to start in the next available spot. But if you want to look further out than that, the easiest way to get started is for us to go ahead and put in a deposit for your start date in the future. I'll give you some homework between now and then so you can get these things together before we get started, and we'll start the rest of your payment schedule or what have you on that start date.”
You can always take a deposit and advance if it's just a matter of timing isn't perfect right the second. When it comes to things like a group program, mastermind experience, anything like that, maybe it's not a service where you're staggering people, you can do the same thing. You can offer an extended payment plan. You can say, “Great, I'd love to have you in that cohort. Why don't we go ahead and look out to whatever start date they want? Cool. Here's how we can make that work for you so that your spot is secured.”
I think these are great opportunities to give people the flexibility they need to actually logistically get ready on their end because let's face it, we all have busy lives, but also make sure that you have those clients lined up at the right time.
I hope this episode was helpful for you. This was a very deep dive into looking at your sales process and looking at how you can level it up. If you, again, are getting people coming to you, you're announcing your product, program, or service and they're saying, “I'm not ready yet, they're saying, “This is too expensive,” they're saying, “I need more time,” chances are they do not have enough information to make a buying decision and you need to give them that information upfront before they're making the buying decision.
That's why I love having the sales page in place. Again, it doesn't matter what your offer is. You want to give them everything they need to know upfront. This is why I share the price upfront or if you have a range of prices, I actually share the range of prices.
This is where I'll take an application or book a call with questions in my scheduler so I can make sure like, “Okay, they fit the type of clients we know we can help,” then we can have a conversation, make sure it's more of that personality fit, and send them some specific pre client or pre-sales education.
I gave you some different types of education to send, I didn't talk about format so let's talk about that quickly. These can be sent over a series of emails. That's totally fine if you have like a week between the time they booked the call and have the call. You can have a few emails that are going out to them before the call.
You could package it all up into a beautiful PDF guide like what to expect working with us where you lay all that out. Make it in Canva, make it beautiful, easy peasy. You can even do a quick video overview where you’re walking them through all of these specific things or you can do a combination of all of the above.
But I think the biggest thing I want you all to take away is that if you don't want to feel like the sleazy, slimy salesperson who's having to convince people to buy a product, program, or service, the number one way to shift that is to embrace giving them the information they need to know upfront, offering education, answering their questions in advance, level-setting expectations, making sure it's really clear who this is for and who this is not for. Those things can be accomplished with a great sales page, an application, and a pre-sales education content series.
I hope you liked this episode, kind of a deep dive into my thoughts around this. I think this is going to become more important than ever before as people are more discerning than ever before. They want to make sure, especially if working with you is an investment of time, energy, and money, they want to make sure it's going to be the right fit.
People are tired of wasting their time. They're tired of wasting their money. They're tired of signing up for things that don't get the results they promised. It's really important that we adjust and adapt our sales strategies to match what people are actually looking for.
If you liked this episode, please let me know. Head over to Instagram, tag me @racheal.cook, and let me know your biggest aha, insight, or takeaway, and stick around because we have a final episode coming where I'm talking with my podcast producer, Stacey Harris, about how we create clients for life.
This is a conversation you definitely want to hear if you're tired of constantly searching for new clients and not realizing you may be sitting on a goldmine of ongoing clients, people who continue to work with you for longer stretches of time. We're going to deep dive into that in the next episode. I'll talk to you then.