If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly

I am so over the “Just do it!” slogan. I’ve had it with the anti-procrastination advice: “Don’t overthink it!”

I totally get why procrastination is a Thing. I understand how perfectionism can stop you in your tracks. I know what the business equivalent of stage fright is.

You stick in your own head. It’s a trap. And for all the advice about believing in yourself and living your dream and feeling confident, none of that works.

So, what works?

I speak to a lot of people in my week, and I get to meet a lot of procrastinators.

In some ways, I could appear to be the grumpy boss, telling you with my stern daddy  eyebrows “Get on with it! Just get it done!” (I’m referring to my age, not to the number of eyebrows I have).

But I am a consummate procrastinator, and overthinker.

And in spite of all of that here’s what I have produced in the last week:

  • I wrote two email courses
  • I converted a third email course into a booklet
  • Created a video to humblebrag about the booklet and got over 7000 views on it

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  • was interviewed on two podcasts, both of which have hundreds of listeners

and saw hockey stick growth on my email list:
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(If you want to join that hockey stick, you’re going to have to go through my Win More Business email course first).

What does all of this mean?

It means that I have somewhat learnt the secret to beating procrastination.

On the surface, this might look very impressive or appear to be bragging.

This email is not for me fishing for your praise.

It’s telling you that the key to getting stuff done, and especially getting content out there, is to redefine success and failure. Better still, eliminate the very notions of success and failure from your language and your thinking.

No, you’re not ready. Do it anyway. (Photo by Debora Cardenas on Unsplash)

You don’t need to feel confident. No single piece of content is going to make or break your business.

No deal that you lose spells death. There’s always another one around the corner.

But one thing I can tell you does spell death: the word “Draft”. Publish or perish is my motto.

Now for you, “publish” may mean something different to getting an unedited video out there on LinkedIn.

For me, it meant planting seeds. Writing that post. Sending out that weekly newsletter.

And you know what? Now that I’m doing it, I’m doing it. I’m Just doing it. Not because I think it’s perfect. But because I know there is someone out there who I’m helping. I’m a long way behind you, dear reader, in so many different ways.

But I do have this going for me: I don’t care if it’s not ready.

I see people drowning. I can help them, even if my swim stroke isn’t perfect.

I’m half apologising for making this such an “I” focused article, but I’m writing this to tell you that you’re not confident, your writing or your offering isn’t quite ready yet and it doesn’t matter!

Dancing, writing, cooking. You don’t have to be the best in your game to be able to help someone who is a little behind you. If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing badly.

OK. End of humblebrag rant.

Two pieces of content that you might like:

How to sell less

Do you have clients who love you, but don’t know how to work with you? Is there some access to you that doesn’t fit into the bill-by-the-hour or project-pricing model?

What if you could offer them a retainer agreement that wasn’t tied to X hours per month or time sheets? How would that work? How would you charge them? What would you include (apart from your time)?

Here’s my hot-off-the-presses course on how to sell retainers. It’s totally free. It’s six parts (currently), and it’s not really 100% finished yet. But it might just be enough for you to craft a compelling offer, secure that revenue engine and give you some runway:

How to sell retainers

What to say to people who think your job is boring

How do you create intrigue when “everyone” thinks your work is boring?

What can a taxidermist teach you about how you describe the impact of what you do?

And why on earth should bookkeepers sell themselves as travel agents? Intrigued?

How you talk about your work is critical, whether you are in IT, bookkeeping or are a taxidermist.

Fasten your seatbelts and listen to me as a guest on the “Monetising Knowledge” podcast.

Anthony

P.S. I’m opening up some slots for half-hour calls where we dig into one tiny problem in your business (probably around finding your next clients!) I’m not into doing a hard sell at the end, so this is a completely safe way for you to reach out to me. I will make a recommendation, which (surprise, surprise!) might involve me offering my services, but I hate being sold to and so do you. So if that’s the only reason you’re not booking a half hour with me, do it now. Don’t procrastinate! Just do it! Don’t overthink it!

Being prolific (advice for procrastinators)

Did you ever have an idea of a book you wanted to write, and never get past the first couple of chapters?

What about creating an email course, so that you could demonstrate value to subscribers (and maybe even get some of them as clients)?

Have you published a LinkedIn post or three, and then given up?

Do you agonise over what to write in an email to a potential client? Or maybe spend all weekend writing a proposal, only to have no response when you send it?

If any of this sounds familiar, it’s because you could be describing me.

Or, more accurately, you could have been describing me as of a month ago.

“So, what changed (and how do I beat procrastination)?”

First, let me share with you what I’ve done in the last month:

  • written two email courses from scratch
  • published 8 articles on Medium.com (an online publishing platform that gets gazillions of visitors each day)
  • created around 7 short videos
  • published weekly newsletters (such as this one)

I could go on, but you get the point. I’m now publishing, not just sticking my ideas in a draft.

So, here’s what changed: I moved the goal posts.

I no longer see any single LinkedIn post or article or email lesson or video as the deal breaker.

This was a mental shift for me. Instead of writing a blog post, for example, and putting it under pressure to turn my whole business around and have clients pounding down the door, I just launched it the way that I tell my children to play sport: “try and improve a little bit on last time, and have some fun.”

In other words, I gave my posts/articles/videos/email lessons permission to fail.

They felt really good about that. And you know what, once the pressure was off them to perform, they started to enjoy themselves, run around freely, and actually get some traction.

“Anthony, are you saying your posts actually spoke back to you?”

Well, yes. They saw themselves as little seeds, and they didn’t feel any pressure to produce fruit overnight, because, you know, that’s not how plants grow. It’s not how businesses grow, either.

And then these plants started to blossom.

Don’t expect your articles to blossom overnight.
Photo by Runing Li on Unsplash

And so I started taking offcuts from the sprouts and planting them in other places

That’s right. I didn’t kill them off altogether (or – to use the sporting analogy – I didn’t pull them off the field because they didn’t win every single play). Instead, I started to see that these were assets, glorious long-term assets for my business.

And then I started planting some more, not caring how they went. I didn’t expect them to blossom overnight.

So, then I saw that I could start creating evergreen content (that, my friend, is an asset). Want to know how I did that? Read this article.

Assets, seeds, my articles and posts and videos are all going to build this wonderful garden called Content. And they grow overnight, while I’m sleeping. (Well, at least they can capture people just like you, who are trying to find your way through running a business and past the procrastination).

Some people say I’m prolific. I’m not. I cheated. I moved the goal posts.


I’m Anthony English and my writing is part of my business coaching to help consultants grow their business.

Make your business memorable (without any budget)

When you don’t have millions to spend on marketing campaigns focused on brand awareness, you have to be creative.

A simple and strong message can put you on people’s radar. (Photo by Susana Coutinho on Unsplash)

One way to do that is to craft a compelling description of what you do. If it’s memorable enough, people may be intrigued by it and then think of you when they come across someone who needs your services.

Unpaid marketing team

If you can create a message that isn’t easily forgotten, and especially if it centres around a pain point that the potential clients have, you will have a free team of people doing your marketing for you.

Here are some people who have managed it:

I met an insolvency practitioner at a local networking event. In layman’s terms, he shuts down companies that have gone out of business.

An important job, no doubt, but he explained to me that he was the sort of person you never want to meet.

However, he came up with a way of softening the impact of how he describes himself. He sometimes introduces himself as a corporate undertaker.

It always raises a smile and softens the blow if you do find yourself in a position where your company needs to be shut down.

“I love invoicing and paperwork”

I couldn’t believe my ears! A lady who actually enjoys doing all that invoicing work: getting the right details on the invoice, sending it out on time, and then calling if the invoice is overdue.

Her headline on LinkedIn reads: “Let me loose on your invoices.”

The taxidermist

You didn’t see that one coming, did you?

Here’s how he described his job. “I’m a taxidermist, and my job is taking a dead animal and making it look alive again.”

The dog lawyer

There’s a lawyer in Melbourne who is a “dog lawyer”: specialising in laws involving pets.

The aim here is to make someone remember you … even if they don’t remember your name.

Focus on the expensive problem

It’s easy for us to speak about what we do, but we’re better to focus either on the trigger for the expensive problem that you solve. In other words, talk less about what you do, and more about what it does for your client; what difference it makes.

By concentrating on the expensive problem, or the outcome that you get to after you’ve done your magic, you won’t have to speak so much about your process to get attention.


Anthony English helps consultants to attract better clients, speak their language and make more sales. He offers a free email course for anyone who wants to learn how to Win More Business.

You can sign up for the first lesson here.

How to make evergreen content

Evergreen content is a gift that keeps on giving (Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash)

We all know how important content can be for generating awareness in the market of what you do.

This simple article is an example of content marketing.

When you publish a blog post, for example, you may not be directly selling anything, but it may still be valuable.

It could attract potential clients to your website, entice them onto your email list, or in some other way nurture them as potential clients.

Content creation and writer’s block

However, the problem with creating content is that it can be very time-consuming, with little observable reward.

Of course, there are many things you can do to improve the content, such as writing about a specific problem, crafting a compelling and intriguing headline, and using language that is going to resonate with your prospective clients.

Also, by making the content evergreen—which means it doesn’t necessarily go out of date too quickly—you have a chance of giving your content a longer shelf life. Evergreen content is a gift that keeps on giving. It can attract people to your business even years after it was written.

But apart from improving the content itself, what can you do to give the content a longer shelf life?

One way, of course, is to share it through channels that are not necessarily controlled by your business. That might mean posting on social media, or sites such as Medium.com.

This repurposing can be very effective, and move you off the content-creation hamster wheel, where you feel like you have to create original and interesting content, such as via a weekly newsletter.

Squeeze more juice out of the lemon

Photo by Max Delsid on Unsplash

One piece of content getting seen over multiple channels gets you more eyeballs looking at it. So, this kind of repurposing can be very valuable.

However, there are a few other ways of squeezing more lemon juice from a single blog post or article.

And, best of all, most of them don’t require significant effort in terms of writing new content.

Moving your writing down the sales funnel

You may have written a blog post, for instance, so as to draw new traffic to your website or onto your email list.

But that content on that particular topic may be very valuable in other parts of your sales funnel. For example, when you’re writing a proposal, you may want to include an extract from a blog post you’ve written, such as one that explains an outcome that one of your other clients achieved.

In fact, there are many other ways you could use the same content.

Here are a few of them:

  • Convert the article into part of an email series
  • Create snippets for use in brochures or sales pages
  • When posting the original content, ask for feedback that you can use in testimonials
  • Send a questionnaire with the content and use the answers for new content
  • Use it as the topic for a webinar
  • Turn it into an ebook or a checklist

And if you do create an eBook, for example, from the article, you could then:

  • Include the eBook as a bonus or incentive for people to buy other services
  • Add it to one of the packages

This approach can help with writer’s block

Here’s a spinoff of this strategy of building content for multiple purposes: it helps you get through writer’s block. When you see the rewards of a single piece of content, it’s like a tonic that is injected throughout your marketing and sales ecosystem. Knowing these kinds of rewards for a single blog post can make it a lot easier to try your hand at writing another one.

Write with the long term in mind

When you create some content that isn’t going to go out of date very easily, it makes sense to get as much mileage out of it as you can. Evergreen content that is reused in other marketing and sales material is a gift that keeps on giving.

When does your side gig become a real business?

A side hustle becomes a real business when you have enough paying clients. (Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

A lot of people start their service business as a side gig. This can be a smart way to test if you really have a business that can sustain you. After all, it’s easy to start a “business” which is little more than a hobby. Totally legitimate, if you want to run it as a hobby.

But if you want it as a viable concern, then you need a business.

Is it a business, or just a hobby?

How do you know whether your dream is a business, a hobby, or just an idea you had in the shower?

My advice: build your client base first.

  • Who will be your paying clients?
  • What will be the transformation you can do for them?

If you’re not ready to jump from your full-time job just yet, how can you have a team of enthusiastic early adopters of your service when you do?

What’s the long-term goal: 1 year, 5 years?

Are you planning to sell eventually?

There’s a lot to running a business beyond the little I’ve covered here, and I’m learning every day, so I don’t claim to have all the answers. But one thing I’ve seen in most of the ones I consider successful: they find the need first, then find clients who are ready to pay to have that need met.

If you can’t sell your services, you won’t have a business. To sell, you need someone to sell to, and they need to see the value you’re bringing to them.

Starting a business? Start with the client.

“Why isn’t our business taking off?”

You’ve got a great offering for the market. You’ve already been paid as a consultant or contractor, and you know your service is valuable.

You have a team of people who you can call on. They’re not employees, so you’re not desperate, but if you needed to, you could ramp up quickly.

So, what are you doing wrong? Why isn’t your business taking off?

There may just be a silver bullet

Just joking. Well, only half-joking.

Because you have the team ready (although they’re taking a wait-and-see approach). You have your offering, your process for delivery, and you even have enough collateral, such as case studies, testimonials, and a simple and clear sales process.

So, what’s missing? Is there a silver bullet? In fact, there is.

What’s needed for lift off

Let’s take that plane analogy a little further.

You have enough financial runway or a pretty easy fallback plan if those sales you’ve been hoping for don’t come through just yet. So, you can relax.

You also have your team, thanks to years in the industry, and some pretty smart collaboration and networking. You clearly build trust. So, your plane is ready for flight.

There are three more things you need (and I’ll bet you’re well on the way to two of them).

You need a direction

You’re not going on a joy flight. Your business is not a hobby. And it’s not an airplane show you’re putting on, either. You’re headed to a destination, and you have a plan.

That means you need to communicate that clearly: who you work with, where you can take them and why they would want to go there.

In business terms, that means that you can see the vision for your clients even more clearly than they do. How effectively do you communicate that?

Are you saying you’re a taxi driver, ready to take them wherever they want to go?

You need fuel

But as well as a plan, you need the fuel to get that plane off the runway and into the air. That’s pretty scary, because it means you have to build all the processes and pricing and packages you need so that you won’t have to turn back mid-flight.

In fact, you have to be so committed to arriving at the destination that you will have enough fuel to make it impossible, or at least very difficult, for you to turn back. You know that big planes have to shed fuel if they need to land straight after take off. That’s how committed they are to not turning back.

How have you invested in yourself, in your flight? Are you spending too much time, taxi-ing on the runway, because you’re scared to take off?

You need clients

Ah yes! The missing element. The silver bullet! You’re not running a charity. You’re not running a non-profit. You’re not taking on friends and strangers who want a free flight or a bartering with colleagues in the hope that enough passengers will take you seriously enough to buy a ticket and get on board.

This is a gap I have seen in many, many business. They run their business like it’s a joy-ride business. That’s alright as you’re building up your knowledge, but when you’re ready to fly, you need to work out who your (paying!) passengers are, where they are now, where they want to head, and why.

Why should they trust you to deliver an amazing experience, flying them over the mountains and seas?

Flying Business class

If your plane (your business) has lots of power, but no direction, you’re creating a risk for the market. Power without direction spells danger.

And if you have direction without power, it may be time to shed some of that luggage of those low-paying (or no-paying) customers, and ask them to get off the flight, so that your real paying customers can come on board.

Your business depends on clients. Your clients need to know that you are competent, professional. That you have systems in place to take them where they want to go, and get them there safely.

Direction, power and passengers

To run a business, you don’t have to have everything in place. But you do have to have enough to get your passengers confident that they’re better off stepping onto your plane than someone else’s (or—more likely—staying where they are).

Do you have the vision, the plan? Do you know the direction to head?

Do you have enough power to fuel your flight? That will be processes, systems, the little things which help passengers know that you’re the one to fly with.

And do you have the right kind of passengers (clients)?

Which one of these is missing in your business? What should you work on first?

Qualify clients! Protect your time, sell faster and build your ideal business.


Ever said this? “I need more leads.”

Working out if your clients are a good fit is a two-way process (Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash)

Maybe you don’t.

Ever heard that sales is a numbers game? That saying may lead you to go for as many leads as you can get, in the hope that if you cast your nets for enough fish, you’ll catch something. But what if you could use better bait? Imagine if you could halve the numbers of people you need to talk to, and still make the same sales?

Have you ever met someone for coffee, given away lots of high-value advice, only to find that they:

  • don’t have any budget
  • aren’t the decision maker
  • are incurable procrastinators

The solution: Qualify your prospects

What, exactly, does it mean to qualify?

It means spending your time and efforts where they are going to get the most fruit.

Qualifying your prospects means that even before you start a one-on-one chat, you have done some pre-work to determine if you’re going to be a good fit for each other.

The smoke signals

Qualifying your clients is a series of smoke signals you send to each other to give some indication that it’s worth moving to the next stage of your sales process.

The aim of your sales process is not to make a sale. It’s to get to a decision. The goal here is to get to the right decision faster. To do that, you can send out some messages that will help your potential clients to know that you’re a good fit to work together or not.

There are four possible ways of doing that:

Do your qualifying work before you talk one-on-one

Let’s walk through each of them.

1. You qualify yourself

This is largely through market positioning. This is letting the world know who you serve, and what difference it makes for them.

There are plenty of ways of qualifying yourself (or, in other words, telling people who your market is).

Here are a few:

  • Your LinkedIn headline says who you work with (for example, “online stores selling camping equipment”).
  • Your prices are listed on your website.
  • Your case studies, articles, blog posts all make it clear that you are working with a certain kind of client

There are plenty of other ways of indicating ahead of time: “here’s who I do my best work with / this is my tribe.”

2. You qualify them

This is still done by you, but is a little more specific than the marketing material you put out to the world.

For instance, you might decide who to connect with on LinkedIn. This may be a 2-second decision, but is a way of not trying to catch every fish that may fit into your net.

There are certain indications that people will be a better fit to work with you, and you may be able to see those well before you make direct contact with them.

For example, supposing you want to work with companies that are keen to grow their business online, if their website has a 2010 sort of feel about it, and their latest blog post is two years old, then chances are they’re not your market.

3. They qualify you

Let the fish decide if they like your bait. The sales process is a mutual decision between buyer and seller. But there may be something in your messaging that helps the buyer to decide for themselves that you’re not a good fit for them.

For instance, they may see that you’re working with businesses that are much bigger than they are, or much smaller. Your pricing, your messaging, your availability, may all be indicators of just how they decide whether they’d be the sort of client you would work with.

A warning: there are many people who might have been great clients for you, but who have (wrongly) decided that they wouldn’t be. To prevent that from happening, you want your messaging to be as clear and focused as it can be, so that the right fish don’t swim away from your bait.

4. They qualify themselves

This is my favourite. This is where your potential clients jump through some self-qualifying hoops before they speak to you one-on-one.

What kind of self qualification “hoops” do I mean?

These could be that they watch a webinar, or complete a questionnaire, or give some other indicator of their interest and the stage they are at in their business.

Allow your clients to qualify themselves with an email course.

In my own business, I used to offer free strategy sessions. I used to meet people for coffee. These usually ended up with me giving away some valuable advice, and the person I was meeting not becoming a paying client.

I realised I had a problem with my qualification process.

So, I addressed this (largely) by creating a free email course on how to Win More Business.

It’s an easy way for people to get some value, without me giving a lot of my individual time to discover whether or not we’re a good fit to work together.

The email course has a series of lessons:

  • Lesson 1: What every business owner needs to know
  • Lesson 2: Swap seats with your buyer
  • Lesson 3: Be the detective, not the superhero
  • Lesson 4: Focus on outcomes (not solutions)
  • Lesson 5: Move your buyer from spectator to player
  • Lesson 6: From information to transformation

Most of the lessons have a short question at the end to ask them about their business.

After people have gone through the whole course, I offer them a 30-minute free call. By then, I know that they and I have taken a few steps in qualifying each other.

If you want to get access to my Win More Business email course you can get the first lesson here.

The benefits of qualifying

There are quite a few benefits of qualifying the sort of clients you want to work with.

Here are three of them:

  1. qualifying buys you time
  2. you speed up the sales process
  3. you build your ideal business

Let’s look at each of these.

Qualifying your clients buys back time

As you can see, one of the big advantages of having a qualifying process is that it buys back precious time for you. It’s a way of setting some boundaries for your prospects, and showing them that you are not available for coffee meetings, free strategy calls and other ways of giving away your one-on-one time for free.

Qualifying your clients speeds up the sales process

Sell faster. Having a qualification process means that when you do end up in a sales conversation, your prospects and you both know that you are a much better fit than if you had just arranged a call with a random stranger.

This not only directly speeds up the sales process. It also has a great spinoff: it helps you feel more confident in your other sales calls. If you think of your clients as fish you want to catch, then it’s a whole lot more motivating for you if the fish you’re trying to catch don’t slip off the hook or aren’t ones you should throw away because they were a bad fit.

Qualifying your clients helps you build your ideal business

Another benefit of qualifying your clients is that you get to build the ideal business you want to. You’re willingness to set some boundaries around who you talk to, and when you talk to them, means you have clarity about where your business is headed.

A side benefit of this is that your prospects also have clarity about who you work with and what you do for them…what difference you really make.

So, how are you going to build your qualifying process?

Here are two things you can do to help you get started with your qualifying process:

  1. Sign up to my free email course. I trust it will have valuable content in itself. But as you read the emails, look at the subtext:
  • Why am I teaching that lesson?
  • How am I qualifying my subscribers?
  • How am I helping them to qualify themselves?

2. Choose just one of the four elements of qualifying. Here they are again:

and identify one specific way you can do this better. Make it as small and achievable as possible. Remember, if you save yourself even two hours of time that you are currently wasting on coffee meetings with the wrong prospects your efforts at building a qualification process will have paid for themselves.


Originally published at https://www.linkedin.com.

How slow periods can boost your sales

Quiet times can prepare you for busy times (Photo by Cedric Fox on Unsplash)

You know when you’re going through a quiet time in your business: waiting for people to get back to you, wishing you had more leads. Everything seems to be on hold.

No, this isn’t advice on how to get more leads quickly through hustle. And it’s not advice on how to tidy up, or enjoy the downtime with family or friends. All of that can be valuable, but this email is taking a slightly different approach.

Slow periods: how could they possibly boost your sales?

In my email course on how to Win More Business, I invite readers to
consider which problem they might be facing with not enough sales:

  • you’re not talking to any prospects at all; or
  • you’re talking to people, but they’re not the right people; or
    maybe
  • you’re talking to the right people, but not converting them
    into clients.

Now, let’s focus on that last problem: not closing the sale. At one stage in my business—not too long ago—I was having long free strategy calls, and both me and my prospective client ended the call wondering what was the next step.

That was entirely my failure to lead the conversation, and to take charge of the client relationship.

Build a process … any process!

In fact, it was a lack of a sales process which made me give away so much of my time and free advice, and never make sales from it. #Ouch (In fact, #ExpensiveOuch )

If I only had the key elements of a sales process (we’re talking very high level here), I wouldn’t have stumbled so much when the prospect and I were wondering what was next.

In fact, there are many other parts of my business that could be tuned a little during downtime, so that when that marketing kicks in and sales conversations start happening, we’d all know where the train was headed. It was a lack of organisation and planning on my part that caused me to leave prospects bewildered and at least in part sabotaged the sale.

And so a good friend who is a productivity ninja (unlike me), got me to get myself organised, even just a little. Very little, by using one tiny step.

I’m going to show you one tiny step you can take during your slow period to help avoid that lack of process that may be leaving both you and your client confused about where to go next.

1. Pick one specific tiny step that is a problem

Or one part of the sales process that you’re finding awkward or feeling out of your depth. It may be nothing to do with the actual sales conversation or how you close your deals. It could be something like how you book appointments, or a list of handy tips and advice you use when speaking about pricing. Find one topic you “always” get asked about and that you wish you had time to research and have a ready answer for.

Got your tiny problem? Make it smaller! Cut it back! Find something that would save you 20 minutes if you only had it in place.

Next:

2. Tie it in to a specific success metric

What do I mean by “success metric”? I mean something that is a necessary part of the success of your own business; something you can measure. Or (better still), connect this skill or tiny problem that you can solve with your client’s success.

3. Create a resource list

This is not as daunting as it seems. It’s just a list of blog posts, quotes, snippets from webinars or podcasts, something that you can have at your fingertips.

4. Create a checklist

Yeah, I told you this article wasn’t going to be about how to tidy up or build an all-you-can-eat productivity system for your entire business. A checklist isn’t that. It’s simply a list of five to nine items that you can have at your fingertips whenever this process (like making an appointment), or this question (“how much should I charge?”) comes up.

Working example #1: SaaS Pricing

One question consultants often ask is how much they should charge. Of course you could come up with a big “it depends”, but it’s handy to have some guidelines; some resources that you can quickly go to.

Let’s say I’m coaching somebody who is launching a SaaS (that’s Software as a Service). Now, I know that SaaS pricing is usually the biggest mistake people make when they build their SaaS, but I also know that I could go to people who have worked extensively on SaaS pricing.

So, what resources would I turn to?

  • a talk by Patrick McKenzie on how to engineer marketing
    success. SaaS pricing is covered in a couple of minutes starting
    at 17:45 into this video.
  • another talk (also by Pat McKenzie) where he speaks about how
    he would do SaaS pricing (allowing for an enterprise version with
    enterprise pricing); starting at 15:22 in this video .
  • other talks, articles, extracts from books etc.

Working example #2: Measuring how your business is tracking

This may seem a little remote from the sales conversation, but if you’re very clear about what’s important and what’s not, you can quickly assess whether you should be spending time on this activity or not. In other words, ask how it will influence your sales.

Three books I would turn to are:

I know what you’re thinking

You’re probably wondering when you’d get the time to read these books. And that’s exactly my point: if you had read them and had some simple extracts that you could refer to when you were in a sales conversation, you’d be glad to have done that.

Putting this all together

The aim of this email isn’t to make you add more books to the pile, or even to give you a lot more work to do. My aim is to get you thinking about those tiny processes you can build now, so that your sales appointments and conversations can work more smoothly.

Building systems and checklists or resources to have at your fingertips, so that when you do actually get into sales conversations, your sales process will be more streamlined.


Would you like to get my free email course on how to Win More Business? Pop your email address here and you’ll get the first lesson in your inbox in a few minutes.

Getting unstuck (quickly!)

So, you’re stuck. In your business, you don’t know what the next
step is.

It happens. A lot.

And so you blame your lack of knowledge of the technology. Or maybe your upbringing (“our family never were business people …”).

You’ve never done selling/writing/pricing/speaking before.

No, this isn’t going to be a “motivational” post which ends with a command to “Just do it!”

But I would like to help you get unstuck.

So, answer this question: of that area where you’re feeling stuck, what do you need most?

It might be clarity. If you don’t have clarity about what you’re supposed to be doing, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

If you do have clarity about where you should be headed, and what you need to do next, then somehow that overwhelm just melts away.

Call it “mindset” if you like, but I’ve found that a lot of people blame something external (the market, for example) when they simply need to shed some light on the problem.

Light — clarity — doesn’t make the problem go away, but it puts it in perspective.

But what if you know what to do, but don’t know how?

So, the second place you might get stuck is because you lack a particular skill. There’s something you wish you knew how to do, but you don’t.

When this happens to me, I try to work out why I need that particular skill. There could be alternatives.

For instance, if you feel you don’t know how to create a video, then maybe you don’t need to know. What’s the goal of the video, anyway? Maybe you could write something instead.

Or else, you may be letting perfectionism or self consciousness get in the way of you actually recording that video. (This is a mindset thing, not a skillset thing).

If you do need a skill, what’s the level of skill you need to get to a state of minimal competence? How would you get to that? Are you going to get that skill on your own, or with the help of someone else? Do you really need that skill anyway? Can you outsource the work to someone else?

Let’s say you have the clarity, and you have the skill, but you’re still stuck.

Here’s where you can dig out your Nike t-shirt and tell yourself: “Just do it!” And here’s a place where people often get stuck: accountability.

So, they go back to blaming their lack of skills.

But very often it’s not the lack of skills. It’s a lack of clarity, or simply the inability to make a decision and carry it through.

The simple way to get unstuck quickly

Now, we’ve got a very easy 30-seconds assessment you can use when you get stuck.

Ask: “What do you need most? Clarity? A skill? Or do you have the knowledge and the skill, and just need to implement?”

And then, you can work out how you want to move forward with this. (Options are mainly: handle it yourself, or get someone else in to help. “Someone else” may mean a mentor.)

Bonus tip for getting unstuck

When you have a particular pain or find yourself in a state of stuckedness (is that even a word?) here’s another approach you can try:

1. Find the pain (get as concrete as you can in describing it. Make it very emotional, and describe how this pain is affecting you).

2. Paint the dream. What is the outcome you hope to achieve by overcoming this? What difference will it make?

3. Find the first step. What is the first, tiny step you need to take? Not “I need to call some clients.” That’s too big. Make it itsy bitsy small, so that you have no excuse for not taking it.

4. Name the obstacle. What might get in the way of you taking that first, tiny step?

Now, are you going to put this into practice?

Do you need clarity? Or maybe you need a skill. Or perhaps you have the clarity, and the skill, and you just need to implement.

So, where are you stuck? What are you going to do about it?

Protect your time (and sell faster)

Ever said this? “I need more leads.”

Maybe you don’t.

Ever heard that sales is a numbers game? That saying may lead you to go for as many leads as you can get, in the hope that if you cast your nets for enough fish, you’ll catch something. But what if you could use better bait? Imagine if you could halve the numbers of people you need to talk to, and still make the same sales?


Have you ever met someone for coffee, given away lots of high-value advice, only to find that they:


– don’t have any budget
– aren’t the decision maker
– are incurable procrastinators?
 

The solution: qualify your prospects


What, exactly, does it mean to qualify?

It means spending your time and efforts where they are going to get the most fruit.

Qualifying your prospects means that even before you start a one-on-one chat, you have done some pre-work to determine if you’re going to be a good fit for each other.

Smoke signals

Qualifying your clients is a series of smoke signals you send to each other to give some indication that it’s worth moving to the next stage of your sales process.
 
The aim of your sales process is not to make a sale. It’s to get to a decision. The goal here is to get to the right decision faster. To do that, you can send out some messages that will help your potential clients to know that you’re a good fit to work together or not.


There are four possible ways of doing that:
 
Let’s walk through each of them:
 
 1. You qualify yourself
 
This is largely through market positioning. This is letting the world know who you serve, and what difference it makes for them.
 
There are plenty of ways of qualifying yourself (or, in other words, telling people who your market is).

Here are a few:
  • Your LinkedIn headline says who you work with (for example, “online stores selling camping equipment”).
  • Your prices are listed on your website. 
  • Your case studies, articles, blog posts all make it clear that you are working with a certain kind of client

There are plenty of other ways of indicating ahead of time: “here’s who I do my best work with / this is my tribe.”

2. You qualify them

This is still done by you, but is a little more specific than the marketing material you put out to the world.

For instance, you might decide who to connect with on LinkedIn. This may be a 2-second decision, but is a way of not trying to catch every fish that may fit into your net.

There are certain indications that people will be a better fit to work with you, and you may be able to see those well before you make direct contact with them.

For example, supposing you want to work with companies that are keen to grow their business online, if their website has a 2010 sort of feel about it, and their latest blog post is two years old, then chances are they’re not your market.

3. They qualify you

Let the fish decide if they like your bait. The sales process is a mutual decision between buyer and seller. But there may be something in your messaging that helps the buyer to decide for themselves that you’re not a good fit for them.

For instance, they may see that you’re working with businesses that are much bigger than they are, or much smaller. Your pricing, your messaging, your availability, may all be indicators of just how they decide whether they’d be the sort of client you would work with.

A warning: there are many people who might have been great clients for you, but who have (wrongly) decided that they wouldn’t be. To prevent that from happening, you want your messaging to be as clear and focused as it can be, so that the right fish don’t swim away from your bait.

4. They qualify themselves

This is my favourite. This is where your potential clients jump through some self-qualifying hoops before they speak to you one-on-one.

What kind of self qualification “hoops” do I mean?

These could be that they watch a webinar, or complete a questionnaire, or give some other indicator of their interest and the stage they are at in their business.

Allow your clients to qualify themselves with an email course.

In my own business, I used to offer free strategy sessions. I used to meet people for coffee. These usually ended up with me giving away some valuable advice, and the person I was meeting not becoming a paying client.

I realised I had a problem with my qualification process.

So, I addressed this (largely) by creating a free email course on how to Win More Business.

It’s an easy way for people to get some value, without me giving a lot of my individual time to discover whether or not we’re a good fit to work together.

The email course has a series of lessons:

  • Lesson 1: What every business owner needs to know
  • Lesson 2: Swap seats with your buyer
  • Lesson 3: Be the detective, not the superhero
  • Lesson 4: Focus on outcomes (not solutions)
  • Lesson 5: Move your buyer from spectator to player
  • Lesson 6: From information to transformation

Most of the lessons have a short question at the end to ask them about their business.

After people have gone through the whole course, I offer them a 30-minute free call. By then, I know that they and I have taken a few steps in qualifying each other.

If you want to get access to my Win More Business email course you can get the first lesson here.

The benefits of qualifying

There are quite a few benefits of qualifying the sort of clients you want to work with.

Here are three of them:

  1. qualifying buys you time
  2. you speed up the sales process
  3. you build your ideal business

Let’s look at each of these.

Qualifying your clients buys back time

As you can see, one of the big advantages of having a qualifying process is that it buys back precious time for you. It’s a way of setting some boundaries for your prospects, and showing them that you are not available for coffee meetings, free strategy calls and other ways of giving away your one-on-one time for free.

Qualifying your clients speeds up the sales process

Sell faster. Having a qualification process means that when you do end up in a sales conversation, your prospects and you both know that you are a much better fit than if you had just arranged a call with a random stranger.

This not only directly speeds up the sales process. It also has a great spinoff: it helps you feel more confident in your other sales calls. If you think of your clients as fish you want to catch, then it’s a whole lot more motivating for you if the fish you’re trying to catch don’t slip off the hook or aren’t ones you should throw away because they were a bad fit.

Qualifying your clients helps you build your ideal business

Another benefit of qualifying your clients is that you get to build the ideal business you want to. You’re willingness to set some boundaries around who you talk to, and when you talk to them, means you have clarity about where your business is headed.

A side benefit of this is that your prospects also have clarity about who you work with and what you do for them…what difference you really make.

So, how are you going to build your qualifying process?

Here are two things you can do to help you get started with your qualifying process:

  1. Sign up to my free email course. I trust it will have valuable content in itself. But as you read the emails, look at the subtext:
  • Why am I teaching that lesson?
  • How am I qualifying my subscribers?
  • How am I helping them to qualify themselves?

2. Choose just one of the four elements of qualifying. Here they are again:

and identify one specific way you can do this better. Make it as small and achievable as possible. Remember, if you save yourself even two hours of time that you are currently wasting on coffee meetings with the wrong prospects your efforts at building a qualification process will have paid for themselves.