Today we dive deeper into examples of discovery, relationship and sales mechanisms to identify the best turnkey client acquisition systems that fit you and your business. We go through each of the three steps to attract, nurture and enrol clients and I share some example methods so you can consider what suits you and your business the most.
If you haven’t read the previous article or listened to the podcast episode, you’re best to do that first – click here – and then come back to this one, because you’ll get the right context for choosing client acquisition systems.
Last week, I took you through the only three systems or mechanisms you need to achieve a six-figure revenue in your business.
These were a discovery mechanism to attract your ideal people you want as clients, a relationship mechanism to nurture those prospects and a sales mechanism to convert them into clients.
We talked about picking ONE method to start with that you’ll focus on for each one, so you avoid that overwhelming feeling of all the different things spinning plates and the stress of doing too many things, and not quite tracking what’s working.
And last week, we also talked about the sequence – building out the three systems as three steps to keep you on the straight and narrow as you take your customers on a journey through your process to engage, educate and enrol them – be it into your service, program, membership or course.
So let’s now dive deeper and go through each of the three mechanisms and I’ll share some examples, methods you can consider what client acquisition systems will best suit you and your business the most.
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Discovery Systems that Engage Your Ideal Prospects
Good client acquisition systems start with being clear on what you do, for who specifically, and with what result/outcome. Because first, you need people to discover you. You need to engage your ideal prospect so you’ll need some kind of attraction mechanism.
An attraction system should act like a magnet so the right people can find you and start the process of engaging with you. Either they opt-in via a landing page with a juicy lead magnet, giving their name and email or they join your social media following or group.
You can drive the right crowd or traffic either through organic search based on content you’re publishing and sharing, or through paid advertising getting in front of a targeted audience.
Paid traffic or leads cost money but saves you time, and organic lead generation costs time and saves you money.
Ask most coaches where their clients come from, and they’ll almost always tell you “word of mouth.”
That’s great, because it skips right over discovery and relationship building and makes a beeline for the sale. Here’s the problem though: It’s inconsistent and unpredictable.
You need to supplement word-of-mouth advertising with discovery methods that will fill your funnel—and keep it that way.
Is blogging still relevant today? That’s a question that many online business owners ask, and some will tell you that—like email marketing—blogging is dead. Don’t believe them.
Blogging is critical for building your audience. It’s the very foundation of your discovery system, and forms the centerpiece for everything else you do online. Blogging consistently gives you:
- Powerful credibility. Everyone who reads your blog will immediately know you are the expert in your field. Think of it as your resume online.
- Great searchability. Using proven SEO strategies means your blog will rank well in Google and other search engines, putting you in front of your ideal audience.
- Your own web property. Social media and other discovery methods are important (we’ll talk about them in a minute) but they’re not yours. You don’t own Facebook or YouTube or Pinterest, and you can lose your access to them at any time. Build your business on a web property you own, not one controlled by someone else.
Here’s the key to successful blogging though: consistency. You absolutely must commit to blogging regularly.
You don’t have to blog every day (although you certainly can) but you do have to set a schedule that works for you and stick to it. To do any less is going to frustrate your readers and waste your time.
Brainstorm topics that will help grow your audience. These are the subjects your market is most interested in, and which will establish your expertise. Commit to a blogging schedule you can maintain for at least 6 months to accurately gauge the response.
Social Media Accounts
Judging by the number of social media platforms out there, it’s pretty clear that being social accounts for a huge amount of all time spent online. While it’s generally not a good idea to base your entire business on any social media platform, it is a necessary part of your overall success.
Not all social media platforms are created equal though, and not all of them will be suitable for your business type or audience. Your market might love Pinterest but completely avoid Twitter. They might hang out on LinkedIn but hate Facebook. They might love Facebook for groups but not participate on a personal profile.
Your job is to find out where your market spends most of its time, and establish your presence there as well. Start conversations, share your blog posts, encourage engagement, and simply be seen. This is all about discovery, so make sure your ideal client can find you on her favourite social sites.
While you’re checking out social media platforms, don’t neglect YouTube. As the second largest search engine, this is a must have tool in every coach’s toolbox. Getting on camera is ideal, but if you’re shy, there are plenty of other ways to make video work for you, such as…
- Slide presentations
- Photo montages
Like all other discovery methods, though, video relies heavily on consistency. Don’t think you can create one or two videos and suddenly have a gaggle of YouTube followers. Instead, aim for creating at least one video per week. It doesn’t have to be long—in fact it’s probably better if it’s not—but it does have to provide great information.
Identify the top three social media platforms in your niche, and set up or update your account, keeping in mind the subjects you brainstormed in the section about blogging.
For list building and sales, you really can’t beat the power of a webinar. They give you the opportunity to:
- Introduce yourself to a previously unknown audience
- Prove your expertise by sharing valuable information
- Grow your mailing list by partnering with a colleague in a complementary niche
- Make sales through time-limited offers
Not only that, but once you’ve created two or three presentations, you’ll always be prepared to speak, whether at a conference, a telesummit, a podcast, or anywhere else your audience is.
Create your “go-to” presentation and schedule a free webinar for your audience. Be sure you have your goal clearly in mind as you’re creating your event.
Like webinars, public speaking is an ideal way to get in front of your ideal client and speed up the “know, like, trust” time. Wherever you’re speaking, the audience members will feel an instant connection, and if your topic resonates with them, you’re well on your way to turning those listeners into buyers.
Public speaking doesn’t have to mean you get up in front of an audience of thousands, though. (And you probably shouldn’t, at least not at first.) Start small, with local business networking events, Chamber of Commerce meetings, and other intimate gatherings. Niche conferences are another great opportunity to be seen.
If you’re not comfortable on stage, get some practice and grow your confidence by joining a local Toastmasters group or taking a Dale Carnegie course. You might also consider working with a speaking coach.
Research (or have your VA research) several public speaking opportunities.
- Local events
- Niche conferences
- Meetup groups
Publish a Book
When it comes to getting discovered, there really is no better method than to write a book. It doesn’t have to be as difficult or time-consuming as you think, either. In fact, if you’ve been blogging for a while, you likely already have all the content you need, it just has to be organized and formatted, then uploaded to your favourite self-publishing platform.
Done right, your book launch can introduce you to a whole new audience who are eager to learn more from you and order your products and services.
Brainstorm and outline a book, then set aside at least 30 minutes each day to write. With just that small amount of time, you can easily finish your first book in only two months!
Relationship Systems that Nurture, Educate & Demonstrate
Once you have your ideal prospect’s attention – the “know” part of the oft-repeated “know, like and trust” of client acquisition systems – you have to foster a relationship.
It’s not enough for a potential client to stumble across your blog or social media accounts, or even for her to buy your new book. You also have to maintain contact and become the “go-to” expert if you want to turn those chance meetings into sales.
You have to move them through the customer journey from engage to educate. So the second step and second system you’ll want in place is one that helps you to build the relationship. A Relationship System that maintains the engage step and educates them on what they’re most interested in and demonstrates you’re someone who can help them.
Like blogging, many “gurus” will tell you that email is dead. In reality, email marketing is very much alive, and is still the single best way to stay in touch with your potential clients.
But the key here is to stay in touch. You can’t simply ask for their email address in exchange for a free gift, and then only reach out when you have something to sell. Doing that is a sure-fire way to destroy any trust they have in you.
Instead, commit to a regular email series that provides useful, actionable advice, and little to no selling. This will train your readers to expect great content from you, and help improve your open rates. The occasional sales pitch will be received much better when it’s a part of an otherwise education-based series.
Many online businesses are even bringing back the weekly newsletter. This is a colourful, information packed email that typically contains several articles and resources, along with a “related products” section that offers a soft sell. Again, the key to this strategy is consistency, so if you do decide to launch a newsletter, be sure to commit to it for at least several months in order to better gauge its effectiveness.
Commit to a regular (weekly) email series your readers can look forward to. Set this up as an autoresponder series and you’ll never have to think about it again.
As old-fashioned as it might sound, in-person networking can really cement a relationship that begins online. Attending conferences is a fantastic way to meet your ideal client just when she’s ready to make a commitment in her business or life.
Business networking events can be productive as well, especially if you live in a large metropolitan area. Check Meetup groups, BNI chapters, and other organizations for events where your ideal client is likely to attend.
Plan to attend at least 3 conferences or networking events this year. Before attending, decide on your most important goals for the event, including who you want to meet, and what you want the outcome of those meetings to be.
No networking opportunities in your area? No problem. You can network in person or via zoom or phone calls by providing free consultations. In fact, this tried-and-true method is a favourite among consultants and coaches looking to grow their client base.
Not only are free consultations perfect for showing your potential clients how you can help them achieve their goals, but they’re also ideal for weeding out non-qualified people.
By creating an application of sorts, you can easily separate the action-takers from those who simply want to “pick your brain” or who are not committed to making the changes necessary to reach their goals.
You can also use your free consultations to determine if you really want to work with someone. Since not everyone is your ideal client, a short phone call is ideal for getting to know someone better and deciding if you want to continue the relationship.
Set up a system to offer short, one-on-one consultations. This can be through a scheduling app such as AcuityScheduler, Calendly or ScheduleOnce, or with “open office hours” on a regular Google Hangout.
Sales Systems that Enrol Your Best Clients and Generate Revenue
Now that you’ve got your discovery and relationship systems in place, the only other thing that all slick client acquisition systems need is a well-thought-out sales system to handle enrolling people into your program or service.
If you can automate some of the follow-ups and even customer support, it will leave you free to continue to grow the discovery and relationship components.
At its most basic, your sales system must contain:
- Your funnel. This begins with discovery (the top of the funnel) and continues through low-cost products and services, right down to your high-end VIP coaching program.
- Payment system. Whether a shopping cart or a simple PayPal button, you have to have a way for people to pay you, and for them to receive their product.
- Customer support. Not just a help desk, customer support includes everything from your FAQ page to follow-up messages and encouragement. The last thing you want is for your clients to feel they’ve been abandoned as soon as they make a purchase.
For B2B, it’s more often you’ll need an enrolment conversation by zoom or phone or in-person, however you’re growing the business.
Your Sales Funnel
Entire books have been written about sales funnels, but here’s the basic idea:
Your sales funnel begins with your free offers—your blog, social media updates, YouTube videos, etc. These are the things that anyone online can access at zero cost.
Following that, are your free items that require an opt-in. The cost of access isn’t money, but rather an email address. These include checklists, worksheets, video training, small reports, resource guides, etc.
Below that in your funnel are low-cost items. Depending on your market, low cost might be $7 or it might be $70. Only you can determine what your “entry-level” rate is.
Next are your mid-range products, followed by those top-end, elite coaching offers.
Ideally, your sales funnel will work in conjunction with your social media, your blog, and your email autoresponders to move people from the top through to the bottom over a period of time.
If you find that people opt-in for your free offer, buy your low-cost items, but don’t purchase your higher-end products consistently, you have what’s called a leaky funnel. It simply means that buyers are “escaping” your funnel at some point. Identify where your trouble spots are, and you’ll be closer to your earning potential.
Draw out your sales funnel, with your free offer at the top (this is your opt-in), followed by your low- and mid-priced products, and finally your highest-cost program at the bottom. Do your email messages, follow-up marketing, and other information work together to move buyers through the process?
When a visitor lands in your cart, your relationship with her has reached a new level. If she buys, you’re in the perfect position to offer more in terms of an upsell, cross-sell, or one-time-offer.
You’ll see this in action whenever you buy from places like Amazon or Wal-Mart. Before you click the “buy” button, you’ll often see a row of items with the heading, “Customer who bought this item also bought…”
This encourages buyers to explore other, related items, and ultimately increases the average sale amount.
You can do the same thing in many of the most common shopping carts available today, but even if your cart doesn’t have that option, you can easily add a few related items to each checkout or thank you page.
But what if a customer lands in your cart and doesn’t buy? Perhaps she decided the cost was too high, or that she’s not quite ready for this product. That’s the perfect opportunity to offer a downsell—a lower-priced item in the same category.
Your downsell might be a “lite” version of the item she almost bought, or a self-study course rather than live training, or even an ebook instead of an on-site workshop.
The point with a downsell is to turn a “no” into a sale, even if the sale is of your lowest priced product. It’s much easier to sell to a customer than to sell to a visitor, so if your downsell converts, it’s a powerful tool.
Consider all of your products, and where it makes sense, add a downsell. Then track your cart abandonment rates and see if they improve.
Shopping Carts & Product Delivery
The cart you choose and the method of product delivery can mean the difference between making a sale and not. While a PayPal button is really all it takes to collect payment online, it might not be enough to instil confidence in your audience.
If your ideal client is older or is used to doing business offline, she might not be comfortable with just PayPal as an option. Consider upgrading to a cart that offers credit card payments as well, so she’ll feel better about security.
Your cart should also be as professional as possible. WooCommerce might seem like a great option (it’s free, after all) but does it really present the image you want to portray? 1Shopping Cart, Infusionsoft, or Premium Web Cart lets your clients know you’re committed to your business—and to them.
Product delivery is best when handled automatically, not only for you, but for your clients as well. Imagine if you make a purchase at 8pm on a Friday evening and have to wait until Monday morning for delivery, because the seller is offline for the weekend. You won’t be thrilled with the experience, and neither will your buyers, so be sure whichever cart you choose has the capability to deliver products automatically, within minutes of purchase.
Your cart should also handle refunds, coupons, bundles and other ecommerce components with ease. Sophisticated buyers have come to expect this of the merchants they buy from, and if you don’t offer such things, you’ll very likely be passed over in favour of someone who does.
Take a look at your shopping cart setup. Does it need updating? Is it still serving you and your clients well? How could you make it better?
From the moment of purchase onward (and really, even before!) your clients and customers deserve the best support you can offer them. It begins with product delivery, which we’ve already covered, continues with follow-up and encouragement, private and group calls, your help desk, product updates and more.
Begin by incorporating a series of emails that encourage clients to both use the products they’ve purchased, but also participate in any groups or other live training available to them.
One coaching program does this by requiring mastermind members to complete a questionnaire by Friday afternoon each week. One of the questions is, “What was your biggest accomplishment this week?” The following Monday, the entire group receives an email listing the upcoming events, and detailing everyone’s greatest moments from the previous week. This keeps members engaged, and makes it far less likely they’ll drop out part way through the year.
You can offer encouragement to your buyers whether your program runs live or is a self-study plan. Simply set up your emails in an autoresponder to go out on a regular schedule, and your clients and customers will be much more likely to not only complete your program, but to purchase others from you as well.
Your help desk is an important part of your customer support system as well. By providing fast, courteous help, you’ll build a loyal fan base that will happily sing your praises and refer new clients to you as well.
Whether you maintain your help desk via email or with a dedicated app such as Zendesk or Help Scout, take the time to set up a FAQ page. This will help your buyers find the answers they need without you having to spend time responding to easily answered queries.
For those questions that do require an answer from your team, canned responses can easily take care of 80% or more of the tickets you receive. Not only that, but you can (and should) craft your responses to gently nudge your readers more deeply into your funnel.
Create a FAQ page, set up a help desk, and ensure that your buyers aren’t being left in the dark after their purchase. Check your follow-up sequences and see if they can be improved.
Aligning Systems into a Turnkey Client Acquisition Process
If you’re not earning that six-figure salary you deserve, chances are one or more of these systems are lacking. Perhaps you have lots of traffic to your blog and social media, but few sales. That would be an indication that your relationship building system needs some work. If engagement is rocking, but you’re not making sales, it’s time to take a look at your sales system.
If your sales system is good, but you want to increase your profits (who doesn’t?) then a good hard look at your funnel is probably in order. Also, check your follow-up system if your customers buy once but never again.
And of course, if there’s no traffic at all, and you can trace each and every client back to a referral, your discovery system likely needs an overhaul.
I do want to stress, though, that these three systems work best when they’re tightly integrated with each other. A discovery system alone can bring in clients, but it won’t be efficient or consistent. A relationship system will help grow your list and build your audience, but it will be slow going if you don’t have a great discovery system in place.
Take a look at your overall business, and identify those areas where each system could use some sprucing up. Whether your social media accounts are outdated, your blog looks like a ghost town, or your sales funnel is as leaky as a piece of cheesecloth, take the steps needed to tighten those systems up and you’ll be well on your way to earning that six-figure revenue in your business.
Going Beyond Six Figures
Given how consultants and coaches like us are experts, established in our field, have an existing network of professionals, and that we’re also by nature probably high-achiever types, ambitious, hard-working, the six-figure goal should be an achievable income, right?
We not asking for the impossible. So why do people struggle?
The answer is that we’re reinventing ourselves for the digital arena.
There’s a lot that’s different so we question whether we can stand out, if we’re good enough compared to others, if we should drop out prices to attract more clients.
Or maybe you’re creating a new offer or working with a slightly different type of client, you’ve shifting or innovating in some way.
And don’t forget what my lovely guest Gaynor Gosling shared about leveraging your R&D back in episode 20. Because some of the research and development you do to deliver your services digitally may well mean you’re eligible for tax relief and you could get a significant rebate if you make a good claim.
As a successful independent consulting or coaching business, you should be aiming to hit multiple six figures or 7 figures.
So next week, I’d like to take you into the future so you can plan ahead. I’ll be looking at ways you can track customer journey data to increase your influence, impact and income.