In the first blog post in this series, Ratcheting Up Your Revenue (Part 1): Power Strategies Every Smart Entrepreneur Needs to Know, we covered an overview of the only strategies a business can use to boost its revenue. Click here to read that post
In the second blog post in this series, Ratcheting Up Your Revenue (Part 2): Enticing Buyers to Buy More Often, we covered a less costly but highly effective revenue ratchet strategy: Enticing buyers to keep coming back for more. Click here to read that post
In this blog post, we’ll discuss ways to sell more to your buyers by encouraging them to buy more and/or higher-end products and services each time they buy.
A word of caution though: Don’t rush out and arbitrarily raise your rates. Instead, consider the following “power practices” and apply them thoughtfully as you go about increasing the size of each purchase.
Selling More: Power Practice #1: Give your buyers obvious and easy reasons to buy more with each purchase.
Let’s look at how you might do this. First, you have to understand their needs; how do you fulfill their needs? In other words, you want to ask the question, what’s the best way to solve your customer’s problems and fulfill their wishes and desires?
How do you figure what your buyers want? You have to ask them.
Here’s an instructive snippet from a conversation with a coaching client that illustrates this point:
Me: “What’s your value proposition?”
Client: “We make life easier for them. We help them make more money.”
Me: “How do you know this?
Client: “I’ve been in business for 15 years.”
Me: “Okay that’s great, but how do you know that these are the specific results, improvements, outcomes and experiences that you’re providing for your clients?
Client: Silence for a little while.
Me: “Would you be willing to directly start asking buyers why they bought from you and what they want more of? Call them up. When they make a purchase, ask them. Do a survey, formally or informally to understand and meet your customer’s needs.”
Client: “I’m having a flat-forehead moment.”
You may already be successfully providing a valuable service; yet, you still would do well to speak with your customers and clients and get feedback. Ask this simple question: “What would you like to buy from us that we are not currently offering and if we offered something else, what would you want to buy from us?”
What you think you’re providing and what your buyers say you’re providing may be two different things. Similarly, the reasons why you think your buyers purchase from you may be surprisingly different than what your buyers actually state as the reasons. The only way to find out is simply to ask them!
Selling More: Power Practice #2: Continually add value.
Value exists in the minds, hearts, and experiences of your buyers. Similar to Power Practice #1, ask your buying audience: “What else can I add that’s valuable?” and “Is what I’m offering still valuable to people?” Times change, things change, economies change, mindsets and wishes and desires and problems change.
It’s important for you as a business to be adaptable and flexible enough to be able to continue to add value on top of what you’re already offering. The most efficient and reliable to do that is to continually ask questions of your buying audience and to listen to what your buyers are saying they want and need from you. You have to provide what they want before they’ll buy what they need.
Be aware that what buyers say they want to buy isn’t necessarily the same as what they really need. That’s okay. Sell them what they want. After that, you can sell them what you as an expert know they really need.
Selling More: Power Practice #3: Reinforce the ultimate value that buyers get from the business solving their problems and fulfilling their desires and needs.
Businesses commonly overlook such opportunities. A simply way to reinforce that value is by asking customers to tell you why they’re using your products and services, why they chose to buy from you, and what they’ve gotten out of them.
You may not always get desirable feedback but it will be very instructive and, used properly, will make a significant difference if you apply that feedback to your business.
You can reinforce the value by capturing raving fan stories, success stories, and testimonials, then sharing them with your potential buyers and existing buyers. This is called “social proof.” For instance, if you go to my website you can watch videos where you hear from the voice of some of my success stories what they got out of working with me. Success Interviews and 6-Figure Success Stories
In instead of or in addition to a “Success Stories” section on your website, you can sprinkle testimonials across different pages on your website as well.
Simple reminders with ideas and tips about how to get the most out of their purchase also serve to reinforce the value of their purchase and encourage potential buyers to jump on-board. TechSmith, the creators of Snagit and Camtasia, does a fantastic job of doing this through their “Your TechSmith New You Can Use” electronic newsletter.
Selling More: Power Practice #4: Focus on value conscious buyers, not price-sensitive consumers.
Price-sensitive customers buy based on who offers the lowest price for what they believe are comparable goods and services. They very often buy at the lowest price at the cost of quality, features, benefits, durability, longer-term value, and overall results.
For you, the problem with price-sensitive customers is that they tend to be disloyal when it comes to buying from you again.
They also tend to be the toughest to please and the most likely to be easily dissatisfied.
Value-conscious customers, on the other hand, buy based on trust, relationships, quality, service, outcomes, and the ultimate experience they get from doing business with you. Over the long-term, you establish an ongoing relationship with these customers in which you’re both invested. As a result, they are more likely to be fiercely loyal and supportive of the longer-term success of your business. Though their expectations remain appropriately high, they are more understanding, patient, and forgiving when things don’t go as well as intended.
In general, buyers who are value-conscious will buy more from you at any one time than price-sensitive ones.
Selling More: Power Practice #5: Shift your mindset to set your product prices and service fees based on value.
The more common approach is to set fees based on hourly rates, on what the competition is charging, or on what you mistakenly fear is what customers can afford to pay.
For a lot of entrepreneurs, this is a very challenging subject. It takes a committed effort to shift existing habits and mindsets. I’ve worked with a lot of people on this. For many people, they just aren’t as confident about stating their fees. When it comes to setting fees, frequently there is this little voice that goes off in the back of our minds that says “You can’t do that.” “People won’t buy from you.” “You’ll lose all your customers.” “Your business will come to a screeching halt.” “It won’t work. It’ll be a disaster.” “You’re going to fail.” This comes from mistaken beliefs about yourself.
What is the number one reason that people don’t set their fees based on value?
The number one reason that people have a challenge in setting their fees based on value is self esteem. They have a weak relationship to themselves in understanding and appreciating who they are and the value that they provide to others.
When you alter your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about who you are as a human being, you gain greater confidence in the value that you have to offer and in setting your fees based on value. This inquiry opens up a whole host of other things such as emotional feelings, emotions that are based in the past, typically from our childhoods.
Expanding and upgrading your mindset about the value you provide and setting fees and prices is an ongoing process. Engaging in this work is likely to boost your confidence in the value you provide with potential clients and reinforce that value for existing clients.
In Part 4 of this series, we’ll cover 5 more power practices for encouraging buyers to spend more each time they buy from you.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve asked for and received scores of questions related to rapid revenue acceleration. I addressed as many of these as I could during a recent Q&A webinar, but lots of additional questions continue to pour in.
So I’m going to start responding to these questions by turning them into topics for the Freedompreneur blog.
Here’s this week’s burning question related to how I created a 6-figure revenue stream in 73 days: Linda, one of my readers asked: “Did you have high-end products? What’s the first thing to do if you start out with nothing?”
When I first started out, I did not have any products, such as a book, CDs or other information-based training programs, that were either downloadable or in physical form. Instead, I offered a high-end coaching service at $1,500/month. Essentially, I “pre-sold” my coaching program, because I had never delivered my coaching services for a fee before.
If you’re just starting out, like I was, you have three basic options for what you could offer:
1) Create and offer a product.
2) Create and offer an educational or training program.
3) Offer consulting, coaching, or some other type of service.
Let’s take a look at each option…
Create and offer a product.
For the service-oriented entrepreneur, a product typically consists of content that exists in downloadable format and/or physical format (CDs, DVDs). The advantage of offering a product is that you have the opportunity to leverage your time, effort, and energy.
The potential disadvantage is that it takes time, effort, and possibly money to create an initial product.
If you choose the route of creating a product, my recommendation is that you “pre-sell” the product before you ever create it. Otherwise, you run the risk of investing time, money, and energy into creating a product in forever search of buyers. By pre-selling, you have buyers who pay you before you build the product, so you then have the funds to create the product and support your business operations. And you have greater confidence and real-world proof that there’s a place for your offering in the marketplace.
Create and offer an educational or training program.
By my definition, a program has a specific starting and ending point. And typically, there’s a particular core approach upon which such a program is based.
If you’re looking to create significant revenue as quickly as possible, offering a program of some sort can certainly work. However, just be aware that, like creating products, creating a valuable program requires significant investment of time and effort.
And just like products, I recommend that you “pre-sell” your educational or training program.
Offer consulting, coaching, or some other type of custom service.
I like this option because once you’re working with a client, you can customize the services you provide as you are working with the client. You aren’t locked into a particular approach or areas you can address. In other words, offering a service gives you the greatest amount of flexibility and adaptability in delivering value while best serving your client’s needs and wants.
The distinct disadvantage comes only if you’re not comfortable customizing the nature and delivery of your services as situations and needs arise. And if that’s the case, I strongly encourage you to create frameworks and models for the content/material you plan to offer to your buyers. In fact, I recommend this even if you are comfortable with customizing services for clients “on-the-fly!” I’m referring to mapping out your basic “Core Client Process” or “Signature System,” which I’ve written about elsewhere.
Based on my experience and observations…
If you’re just starting out, no doubt, one could make a strong case for offering a product or program; you can certainly generate signficant revenue in a short period of time by doing so. However, my preference is to offer a custom service of some sort.
Offering a service gives you more latitude to create content “just-in-time” and, potentially, shortens your “time-to-market.” That means you have a chance to generate significant revenue sooner than later.
And you can turn the information you create and deliver to private, high-end buyers into programs and products that you can sell at a lower price point to buyers who aren’t ready for your premium offer.
I didn’t have the time or confidence to create a product or training program when I first started. But I did have my experience of turning my practice around and I had confidence in my ability to share that experience by offering business development advice. So that’s what I did; this strategy worked out extremely well for me, enabling me to get of to an incredible jackrabbit start and sustain that through a consistent stream of high-end clients. And now I’m working on developing programs and products for people who are interested in what I have to offer, but aren’t ready to commit to the high-end, big-ticket services that I have offered over the past seven years.
So my choice was a rational, logical one. But what about trusting your intuition? Well, there’s certainly a place for intuition. So if you feel called by your heart (and not your head alone) to create a product or program, instead of offering a service, I’d recommend listening directly to your heart (I say “directly” because it’s possible for your mind to fool you into thinking that you are listening to your heart, when instead, you are rationalizing your choices under the guise of listening to your heart.)
Introducing the 6-Figures Fast! Community…
Creating your services, programs, and products is only one small part of rapid revenue acceleration. There are lots of moving parts! But the key is to know what to truly focus on and where to invest your time, energy, and efforts. Based on 100’s of specific requests, suggestions, feedback, and questions we’ve gotten from readers from around the world, we’re planning to create a virtual community of like-minded, like-hearted entrepreneurs who are committed to contribution, first and foremost, and rapidly boosting their revenue.
Stay tuned for specific details early next week.
In today’s economy, an increasing number of highly-trained and capable professionals are setting out on their own, attempting to build a business based on their experience and expertise.
For a lot of these intrepid souls, achieving a consistent, six-figure annual revenue stream is an important, almost magical goal.
But the immediate problem most of these people face is that their existing areas of expertise have nothing to do with getting the business that leads to a six-figure revenue stream.
They fail to appreciate the myriad of moving parts that need to be working together to achieve this level of revenue and sustain it.
Great Power Lies in Simplicity
In contrast, most don’t realize how important it is to simplify their approach. A lot of “gurus” will tell you that you just need to focus on what matters. Great, but how do you figure how WHAT to focus on?
You see, in an effort to build their businesses, most people invest a lot of energy trying to do the “right things.” They study books, listen to audios, watch videos, and attend training events. And then they devise complicated plans that involve multiple strategies that, according to the “books,” should predictably lead to six-figures really fast.
But IF you knew where you should start given your particular situation, what to focus on, and how to get moving in the right direction, would you feel more confident and enthusiastic about building your revenue stream faster?
I hope so!
Some people find this story hard to believe…
As you may recall, I created an annualized six-figure revenue stream in 73 days. All without a website, blog, social media, real business cards, a list of leads, network of referral sources, or even real client success stories.
And I’ve guided other brave souls to either best my record or come pretty darn close.
There are plenty of people out there teaching how to achieve a six-figure revenue stream. But as far as I can tell, I’m the only one who has done it in 73 days (and with far fewer resources than most of you have at this very moment). And I’ve guided others to best my record (or at least come close).
Even so, achieving the six-figure revenue fast isn’t that big a deal. What is a bigger deal is the impact and contribution you can make when your business is financially solvent. And the sooner, the better.
So I’ve come to the realization that it’s far overdue for me to pull back the curtain on what it really takes to rapidly achieve a five- and six-figure revenue stream.
In the spirit of being of service to the very people who are searching for this caliber of guidance, here’s what I’m going to do…
Next week, on Thursday, April 26th at 5 pm Pacific, I invite you to hop on a conference call line with me. I’ll share specifics about my personal journey to six-figures in 73 days. More importantly, I’ll answer any and all questions you have about the fastest ways for you to go about creating your own six-figure revenue stream.
Some of the things I plan to address include:
- How I created an annualized six-figure revenue stream in 73 days (and why I think you can and should do it, too).
- How I used speaking events to accelerate my lead-generation.
- How I recommend for you to accelerate your lead-generation, even if you’re mortally terrified of speaking in front of groups.
- The 10 key principles that significantly increase your likelihood of generating a five- or six-figure revenue business within the next 70, 90, 180, or 365 days (but only if you know how to apply them).
- A simple way to figure out what to focus on (and what to ignore) as you accelerate toward six-figures.
And I’m going to devote the majority of this teleclass to answering the most important, pressing and toughest questions you have for achieving a significant boost in your revenue.
In the registration box below, just list your toughest questions for me and I’ll be sure to address them during the call. And for those of you who register for this session, you’ll be automatically added to the “Six-Figures Fast” special interest list. That means you’ll qualify to receive the “Six-Figures Fast” training program that I’m considering creating.
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.
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.