Recently, I tried to write a series of emails for a project that my business partner and I had been working on.
Thinking I was going to be crafty and write a really good series the easy way, I modeled my first email after the format that a highly successful marketer used. You see, I had just finished going through his entire promotional sequence of emails and videos, and I was very impressed.
My business partner wrote back saying, “George, this email just doesn’t work for me. I see what you’re trying to do, but it’s off-putting.”
While he was concerned I’d be offended (I wasn’t), it was a great opportunity for a good laugh, and it reminded me of a couple of incidents where I wasn’t being myself…
Lessons about connecting with your audience by being yourself.
I had just come back from a training program on how to present and lead live workshops (Train the Trainer program); this was around 2003 or 2004.
I was practicing an introductory workshop that I was developing with my wife as an audience of one.
So I started my introduction, and two minutes into it she goes, “George, what are you doing?!?”
I said, “I’m practicing!”
She said, “No, no, no.
“You’re trying to be somebody else. You’re trying to be the guy who trained you at the Train the Trainer program. That guy cannot lead this program.
“You and only you can lead this program.
“You need to be you.”
So I got a little frustrated. I turned my back on her and regained my composure. Just took a few breaths.
I turned back around and then I started out the introduction being George.
And I didn’t expect this, but my wife broke into tears within the first 5 minutes. She got the impact of me introducing the program as me. It was powerful.
Curiously, at that very Train the Trainer program that I mentioned earlier, I was selected from the audience to come up on stage as an example.
I can’t remember exactly what the trainer asked me to speak about. But I started speaking about whatever topic it was, and he stopped me very shortly after I started. He said, “Hold on a minute.”
And he thumped me on my chest with a flat hand. Thump. Thump.
He said, “George, you’re a fit guy. “I want you to command that presence.
“Look out into this audience. (There were probably 250+ people.) “
And connect with everybody in this audience, be powerful, and project your energy to the back of the room.”
So after he pounded me on my chest, I started over, this time with a lot more energy, enthusiasm, conviction, and power.
Then he said, “Great job. That’s what I want!”
Everyone in the audience started clapping. And then I started walking off the stage.
I didn’t know this had happened, but several people in the audience were in tears.
I had them in tears. I had my wife in tears in a separate incident. So by then, you’d think I would have learned to be myself.
It’s so easy to forget this stuff!
Where in your life, particularly in your business interactions, have you attempted to be someone you’re not? And how did it go? Did it backfire?
Unless you’re a spy, mentally disturbed, or an accomplished actor, it’s a heck of a lot easier to influence and connect with others by being yourself—warts, blemishes, and all—than by attempting to cover up what you believe your shortcomings are by masquerading as someone else.
With rare exceptions, people can sense a fraud. Conversely, they can sense authenticity. Business success comes more naturally when you’re being authentic.
The next time it’s important for you to inspire and engage an audience of one or an audience of 1,000, which version of you do you want to show up? The real you? Or the fictitious you?
You know you’re really good at what you do. You offer tremendous value. You make people’s lives better. Maybe you even help them make more money.
Yet chances are pretty good that for the sake of getting business through the door, you’ve been tempted to take on clients at ridiculously low fees. Or worse yet, you’ve agreed to work with clients that you knew from the start were a train wreck, just waiting for you to help make it happen.
There you have it: The perfect recipe for instantly turning the business of your dreams into the nightmare of your day.
How does this scenario sound instead?
What do you think about working exclusively with clients who appreciate you, who value the expertise you bring to the table, and generously (and gladly) pay you for it?
I don’t know about you, but it sure sounds like the makings of “business nirvana,” where you work exclusively with “high-end” clients. You see, high-end clients are those whose values, business mission, and vision inspire others, including you as their consultant or coach. These clients take action and produce results in the real world. They’re simply fun and energizing to work with.
The curse of low-paying, lousy clients: Is there a cure?
But even with great clients like this, far too many service professionals end up undervaluing their worth. And so they end up under-charging. Or worse: Repeatedly giving away tremendous value for free.
Let’s take a look at this more closely. The “Client Profitability and Resonance” dashboard, shown below, displays a hypothetical roster of clients, based on their level of profitability and “resonance,” that is, whether you have good chemistry with the client (or not).
Starting in the left lower-quadrant, these are clients who aren’t very profitable to work with and they have the worst “chemistry.” In the short- and long-run, you’d best AVOID these clients at all cost.
In the left upper-quadrant, these clients are profitable, but the chemistry with them isn’t great. They are HIDDEN LIABILITIES because these types of clients tend to be less appreciative of your business and more likely to dump you with barely a moment’s notice.
Moving on to the right lower-quadrant, these clients with whom you resonate well, but they aren’t as profitable to your business as they could be. No matter how fulfilling it may be to work with them, you’d do well to UPGRADE these clients to higher levels of profitability.
Finally, in the right upper-quadrant, you have your HIGH-END CLIENTS, the clients who are the most rewarding to work with AND the most profitable.
Which quadrants do your own clients fall into?
If the majority of your existing clients are NOT in the “BEST CLIENTS” category, there’s room for upgrading your business model and best practices. That includes raising your fees and being a lot more selective about your clients.
A High-End Client Tractor Beam?
If you’re ready to give up hourly fees, chronic underpricing, working with borderline clients, and giving away tons of free consulting and coaching time, I can to show you how to work exclusively with high-end clients AND get paid based on the value you provide.
I invite you to be my guest for the “Paid Sessions That Sell: How to Get Paid to Get High-End Clients” webinar. This complementary webinar is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th at 5 pm Pacific (8 pm Eastern).
To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.
If you’ve ever experienced frustration in getting clients to start working with you, or ended up working with clients who don’t pay you what you’re worth, this webinar will open up your mind to an approach that I think is just ground-breaking. And it’s not just because you get paid to prospect. It’s ground-breaking because you learn how to:
- Eliminate all “tire-kickers” (who simply waste your time)
- Select only high-end clients to work with
- Markedly increase your conversion rates (in some cases, 75% – 90%)
- Set your fees (and get paid) based on value and results produced
- Get PAID while you prospect!
To your freedom, contribution, and prosperity,
P.S. I used this very approach over seven years ago to create an annualized, six-figure revenue stream in just 73 days, when I started my business from scratch. And it’s not just me: I guided one of my clients to create his annualized, six-figure revenue stream in 70 days!
P.P.S.I’m excited to share this approach with you because it’s so powerful and effective for cultivating a solid connection with your prospective client, winning new, high-end business, and ultimately, providing outstanding value to clients at all stages of your relationship, even from the very beginning. To sign up for the webinar, just fill out the form below.
As the job market has shriveled up, more people have become “unplanned entrepreneurs.” You may be one of them. I think this is a good thing. And also a bad thing.
The good thing is that people aren’t waiting around for our governments to provide solutions to problems that are multifactorial and complex in nature. Personally, I’m counting on the entrepreneurs of the world, not our governments, to see us through and beyond our current circumstances of financial, social, and political chaos.
The bad thing is that most entrepreneurs, planned or not, don’t really understand what they are getting into. They think to themselves, “I’ve got an idea for a product or service that’s going to change the face of the planet; let’s start a business!”
The other night, I was speaking with a couple of students from my alma mater, Brown University. They are part of the Brown University Entrepreneurs Program. With the preceding observations in mind, we discussed ideas on how to better support students who are either interested in learning about entrepreneurship or already have an idea that they want to bring to market.
A number of support programs for entrepreneurs have sprung up across the United States.
I took a look at the course descriptions and curricula for some of the programs offered at Brown. And while the material is interesting, my overriding concern was that a great deal of the material wasn’t immediately practical. This reminded of being in medical school again: One of my professors was either arrogant or ignorant enough to say “We know that half of what we’re teaching you is totally irrelevant information; we just don’t know which half that is.” I mean, come on, does knowing the total cross-sectional area of capillaries in the human body make me a better surgeon? I guarantee it doesn’t. But it was on one of my exams that I passed.
So here’s my gripe: I figure if you’re going to invest time, money, and energy in learning, wouldn’t you want to invest wisely? Wouldn’t you want to invest in gaining practical knowledge that you can apply to produce results?
If you’re a “yes” to these two questions, I’ve put together a short list of fundamental, yet critical skills that any successful entrepreneur needs to develop, acquire, or hire for (listed in no particular order):
- Time and Productivity Management
- Interpreting Financial Statements
- Verbal Presentation Skills
- Written Presentation Skills
- Visual Presentations Skills
- Lifelong Learning and Application Skills
- Team-Building, Collaboration, and Network Development Skills
This week, I’ll address the first four skills; next week, I’ll address some more.
Time and Productivity Management
I don’t make any claims to being a master of time and productivity management. But I have have studied this area extensively and have a lot to say about it. I’ve studied the bestseller by David Allen, “Getting Things Done” and “18 Minutes” by Peter Bregman. I’ve even hired various personal organizers to physically descend on my office space. I’ve tried Stephen Covey’s time management software. And I’ve read lots of different books specifically on getting organized. But all the reading in the world hasn’t made a single bit of difference for me. And it won’t for you, either.
The problem most entrepreneurs have is that they don’t have a system, a true repeatable process, for identifying what to focus on what matters most and how to process and organize “stuff” that comes at you every day.
Personally, I’ve developed a workflow that I’ve synthesized from a variety of different resources. Perhaps one day, I’ll create a comprehensive training on this, but in the meantime, here’s are some resources from my friend and colleague, Elizabeth Hagen, that I’ve found extremely useful and practical: http://elizabethhagen.com/home-office-organization-products (men, just ignore all the pink in her material)
No I’m not talking about “Mary Had a Little Lamb” stories. I’m taking about story frameworks. Storytelling predates the written language by thousands of years. So the human mind has been wired to tune into stories. Effective storytelling has the power to influence people and shape the world. Think Martin Luther King, Jr. (I Have a Dream speech) and John F. Kennedy (Man on the Moon address). Story Proof: The Science Behind the Startling Power of Story
Marketing & Selling
Marketing and selling are two distinct skill sets that use different parts of your brain. Marketing is simply educating others, promoting your platform, your beliefs, your vision. The goal of good marketing is to attract potential buyers who are looking for what you have to offer and are ready to buy now. Now there are a ton of resources on marketing. You just need one to get you organized and pointed in the right direction. If you’re in the service-based business, I recommend The Fast Track Marketing Club for Independent Professionals http://actionplan.com/fasttrack
Created by my good friend and colleague, Robert Middleton, this program gives you a comprehensive, yet practical approach to marketing. This is the very content that helped me to overcome my own allergy to marketing and selling, years ago.
In contrast, selling is simply helping your potential buyer clarify their needs, wants, and desires and then guiding them through the decision-making process to arrive at solid plan of action. Of all the resources out there, I highly recommend SNAP Selling, written by my friend and colleague, Jill Konrath. SNAP Selling: Speed Up Sales and Win More Business with Today’s Frazzled Customers
I’ve attempted to give you a primer on some of the key skills I believe are important to your entrepreneurial success. No doubt, there are lots of other skills to develop. Next week, in Practical Entrepreneurship, Part 2, I’ll address the following skills:
- Interpreting Financial Statements
- Verbal Presentation Skills
- Written Presentation Skills
- Visual Presentations Skills
And I’d love to see your comments on other entrepreneurial skills that you think are important.
In my work with participants of the current Get Paid to Get Clients Acceleration Program, one of the things we’re working on is codifying their “signature system,” or “Core Client Process.”
The Core Client Process is a step-wise methodology that takes your client, customer, or patient from where they are now, to where they really want to be. Said differently, it’s your unique approach to delivering your services and products and, in turn, delivering value.
You probably recall that I’ve written previously about how clients, customers, and patients buy outcomes, rather than process. But at a certain point, after they’ve learned about the value and outcomes you can deliver, they will want assurance that you have a reliable approach for taking them to the “promised land.”
I’ve taught the participants in my program the principles and “best practices” for defining and articulating your own Core Client Process. It would take a few hours to take you through how to do this, but I want to share something from this training that you can apply immediately in your own business… As you take clients through your signature system/core client process, show them frameworks and models that visually illustrate important concepts, principles, ideas, and structures.
Such visual frameworks and models support your “core client process” because they give you a way to tell a story visually. They provide your audience with reference points that are critical for understanding your way of seeing the world. In my own experience, these visuals (and the descriptions and explanations that I include with them in verbal and/or written formats) help my clients to see their “blind spots.”
Key Pillars of Life: This is an example of key aspects of being human. I use this for describing different areas for personal growth.
The “Kitchen Table” model of value delivery: I use this visual to describe the main ways that businesses can deliver value to their buyers.
Optimizing Human Performance Model: I use this model to illustrate the key elements that I objectively measure that help me to guide clients in selecting the best business development strategies, structures, and working environments that are suited for their unique style of thinking, decision-making, and taking action.
Sequence of Client Flow: I use this model to describe the various stages that clients go through when they work with a service-oriented professional or business.
Your Audience Will Value You and Thank You
Approximately 60-70% of the general population is comprised of visual learners. Including visual models and frameworks provides a visual reference that makes it faster and easier for learners of all types to grasp the concepts and principles you wish to impart.
If you include relevant models and frameworks into your conversations and presentations, whether in groups or one-to-one, they will serve to maintain awareness, learning, and retention. And they help the brain to process and store information, for easier recollection and application later on.
At first, this approach may take a little extra thought on your part, but in my own experience, remembering to present visual models and frameworks has become second-nature. I believe the extra effort is worth it; simultaneously, you’ll enhance the learning experience of your audience and enhance the value that you provide.
P.S. If you are interested in a training on how to define and articulate your own comprehensive Core Client Process, add yourself to the list using the form below. If there is enough interest, I’ll run a special training on the principles and best practices. And I’ll show you real-world examples of numerous ways to use your Core Client Process (including your visual frameworks and models) to work exclusively with higher-end, highly profitable clients.
Whenever someone recommends a resource or “expert” to you, what’s the first thing you’re likely to do? Chances are, you go right to their website. Typically, you’ll take a quick glance at their home page, then you’ll jump right to the About Me page (if there is one, that is).
Why? In this age of virtual connectivity and instant information, you’re looking for a connection, to resonate with what this person or business stands for. And sometimes, the bio does a great job of making that connection. But the majority of the bios floating around in cyberspace are plain booooring. Lots of times, they read like they were written while eating stale crackers.
When was the last time you read a bio that really had you hooked? Does your own bio tell a story that resonates with the people you most want to connect with?
If you’re guilty of ‘boring bio syndrome”, take the following tips to heart…
- Tip #1: Create an About Me page on your blog or website. No kidding. You’d be surprised at how many gifted, talented people, who have a ton of value to offer the world, completely overlook or avoid this step. No more hiding, okay?
- Tip #2: Write like you speak. If you were speaking to someone in person or on the phone, you probably wouldn’t use a formal style or choose fancy-doodle words, when everyday penny words would be as good, if not better. Your bio isn’t about showing the world how great you are; it’s about showing the world how great a contribution you can make. So ditch the façade of formality.
- Tip #3: Make your bio relevant to your audience. A formal, academic presentation of where you went to school and all those fancy degrees and awards that you won may be great if you’re up for the Nobel Peace Prize, but it’s no good if you want people to relate to you and really get behind your cause.So what if you were Phi Beta Kappa or graduated summa cum laude? Does your audience know what that means or even care? More importantly, how does that benefit to your audience? If it doesn’t, scramble for the ‘Delete’ button.
- Tip #4: Don’t make your bio all about you. What you say? After all, isn’t a biographical description supposed to tell other people something about you?Instead, write from the perspective of your reader or viewer. Make sure that what you have to say has relevance and significance for your audience.
- Tip #5: Be real; don’t pretend to be someone that you’re not. Allow your personality and quirks to come through in your bio. Most readers and viewers can detect a fraud faster than they can click away from your website.But even if you fool people at first, it won’t help in the long run. A few years ago, my wife and I got a direct mail postcard from a carpet cleaning company. It was attractive in design, but what really caught our attention was the angle of education that the card provided. We called them. But when they showed up, the owner of the company wore an untucked, ratty plaid shirt and was gruff in demeanor. Not at all what we expected from the postcard. Think we ever called that company back again?
- Tip #6: Create three bio versions of different lengths – short, medium, and long. A good bio comes in handy all over the place, from your website/blog, to articles, to press kits and speaker’s packets. So have different versions prepared. As a guideline, a short bio might be 250-300 words; a medium bio might be 500-750 words; a longer bio could be 750 words or more.
- Tip #7: Inspire support and enthusiasm for your vision. Your bio is an opportunity to touch people’s hearts, awaken their minds, and stir their souls. Paint the picture of possibilities through what you have to say about who you are and the causes you champion. It’s a lot more interesting than line after line of where you went to school and degrees you earned. After all, you can’t bore people into buying from you!
- Tip #8: Be authentic. Don’t try to come across as someone that you’re not. Your bio is NOT the place to “fake it, until you make it.” Take the risk of telling a true story.
- Tip #9: Avoid trying to write the perfect, masterpiece bio. Think of your bio as a “work-in-progress.” Create your bio based on who you are today and who you intend to become tomorrow. But don’t worry about getting everything just right. Instead, plan on updating your bio at least once or twice during the year. That way, you won’t get stuck with “analysis paralysis.”
- Tip #10: Hire a friend or a ghostwriter to write your bio for you. Let’s face it; writing about yourself is a lot harder than writing about someone else. Even if you follow all the tips from above, you still might get stuck. In that case, it’s time to call for reinforcements.
- BONUS TIP: (Okay, okay, so what if I couldn’t keep it to 10 tips!): Write your bio as a story. We all love stories. We learn from stories. We are entertained by stories.On my website, I can’t tell you how many times prospective clients have told me that they completely resonate with the message in the video on my “About” page. In this video, I tell the story about how my background as a plastic surgeon prepared me to work with high-passion, purpose-guided entrepreneurs who want to achieve greater levels for freedom, contribution, and prosperity. Take a look and judge for yourself: https://freedompreneurmd.com/about/
I frequently tell people: “If you want to play a bigger game, you need to tell a bigger story.”
What’s the big story about you that wants to be told?
Your bio needs to tell a compelling story about who you are – where you came from, what challenges you’ve overcome, what inspired you to do what you do, who you help, how you help, along with what your vision is about what’s possible through your work. In short, it needs to tell the story about what the value you provide and what earns you the right to be the “go-to” resource in your field for providing that value.