As promised, I’ve been developing a Resource Kit for you. And I now need your help…
You see, I’m not the kind of person who can develop ideas in a vacuum, sitting in front of my computer.
Instead, I feed off the energy and enthusiasm of others.
So here’s the thing:
I’ve got elements of this Resource Kit strewn across my computer. And I figure that the only way to get the various parts put together is to make it into an event.
So we’re going to turn this into a virtual “Value Pricing Resource Kit Building event.” This is how I see it working:
We’ll schedule 75-90 minutes of time for a web-based group gathering, using GoToWebinar. Then I’ll show you the material that I have put together so far on the principles and best practices of pricing based on value, rather than erroneously on other misleading factors.
Then, I’ll need you to tell me, what else you need to know to apply this in your business.
Fair enough? And we’ll build this thing together.
So, I’m thinking we do this on a weekday at 10am Pacific; that way, folks in Europe stand a better chance of participating.
To get the ball rolling, go to this blog post and post a comment to let me what you think of this idea. And while you’re there, let me know what challenges you face around pricing. Maybe mention so of the approaches you’ve tried. What has worked? What hasn’t? What has really backfired?
When it comes to pricing based on value, rather than erroneously on “what the market will bear,” or “hourly,” what are the challenges you’ve run into? What approaches have worked for you? What hasn’t worked?
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.
Let’s face it: No matter how great your products and services and no matter how great your sales track record, selling in today’s tumultuous times is more challenging than ever. There’s no doubt that:
- Prospective clients are increasingly cautious and hesitant about buying.
- Sales cycles are getting longer and longer, plus there are fewer buyers overall.
- Even existing, satisfied buyers are foregoing new purchases and making do with existing resources.
But rather than focus on the downside of a down economy, what if you consider the upside of the down economy?
Yes, you read correctly…the upside of the down!
The upside is simple: Consider that your opportunities for larger and longer-term gain are magnified because of the down economy.
While everyone else is running around caught up in the panic, you have an opportunity to shift your mindset about selling and your approach to how it’s done.
If you are willing to commit to making this shift, there’s a better than even chance that you’ll exponentially multiply the lifetime monetary value of your buyers as well as the difference that you make.
A Fresh Approach: Selling Based on Being Valuable
Unquestionably, fresh approaches and skills are required to successfully sell in this challenging environment. While sales strategies and techniques have their place and the quality of your products and services remains paramount, these factors alone won’t complete the sale for you.
Selling based on outcomes and value provided makes more sense than ever. By all means, sell based on the specific results, improvements, outcomes, and experiences that buyers get from using your products and services.
But I challenge you to take this to another level – a deeper, more meaningful level: Become more valuable to your existing and potential buyers by becoming known and valued as a trusted resource of information, expertise, and guidance. Some of the solutions to their problems and challenges may lie outside the realm of what your own products and services can directly provide, yet you can still point customers in the right direction. While this approach may make common sense, it isn’t commonly practiced. Nor is it consistently practiced. Are you up for it?
Valuable Ideas for Becoming More Valuable to Your Buyers
What follows are a few ideas on how to become more valuable in the minds, hearts, and eyes of your buyers. If you’ll commit to consistently practicing at least some of them, you’ll ultimately position yourself as a valued resource rather than as a commodity or, worse yet, someone who only cares about the short-term gain of the sale.
- Commit to learning what they specifically want to accomplish in their business or job and why it’s so important to them. Inquire sincerely and really listen. And dig. Don’t just accept the first three or so answers; those are typically superficial. Ask genuine questions about what they’re up to. Learn about their initiatives and goals as well as their challenges and concerns about reaching them.
- Create a success library. Do you have a readily accessible collection of articles, websites, audios, and other media that might be of interest to your customers? This may seem obvious for items that pertain directly to your products and/or services, but be sure to expand the breadth and depth of your value by including resources that are of value to your customers, but may not necessarily promote your products and services.
- Provide educational and training programs. Doing so positions you as an expert in your field and, in general, people like to buy from perceived experts, especially those they know, like, and trust. These can be live, in-person events and/or virtual events, such as teleseminars and webinars. They may be free or for a fee. And, to add greater depth of expertise and value, you can bring in other experts from complementary fields.
- Create a “success rolodex” and share it freely. You might not be the best solution provider in every case, but you probably know someone who is. Do you have a rolodex of proven, reliable collaborators, even those in the same field as you? While others in the same field may be viewed as competitors, they may better serve your customer’s immediate needs. If there is a spirit of generosity and best serving the needs of the customer, your competitors become true collaborators.
- Develop a mindset of contribution. Readily share ideas on how your prospective and existing customers can more readily achieve their goals and initiatives. Weave these ideas into your sales conversations. Yes, there’s a risk of confusing your buyers or sending them too far off track from what you specifically have to offer through your products and services. But if you approach this from the right mindset and a spirit of genuine concern for helping, then you probably won’t need to worry about that.
Gearing Up for Selling in a New Era of Prosperity
In a sense, selling from this mindset no longer is selling. Selling becomes an elevated form of education and sharing of knowledge; it becomes a means of contributing to the welfare of others.
This mindset, attitude, and approach transform selling to the realm of educating, connecting, and supporting one another and sincerely helping others to achieve their goals.
It avoids selling for the short-term gain, only to lose the long-term value of a client.
Making this a normal part of your selling approach is certain to position you as a leader and valued resource. Businesses will pledge their loyalty and send their referrals.
Ultimately, the economy will regain strength and resistance to buying will shift. Adopting this approach of “selling by contributing” will position you to:
- Attract more and better customers.
- Increase the average transaction size of each sale, and
- Enhance the likelihood that buyers will buy more often and from you.
If you want to sell more and sell easier, then first give. Give of yourself. Give of your expertise. Give of your extended circle of expertise.
Do this, and you’ll transform the process of selling to the gift of contributing value, creating a following that is certain to exponentially expand.
Connecting with your buyers this way is more fulfilling. That connection leads to trust and that naturally leads to a collaborative relationship. Ultimately, this level of relationship enhances your ability to contribute to the welfare of your buyers and their own clientele.
This is a sure-fire approach in any economy – up or down. You win. Your customers win. Their customers win. Isn’t that an outcome worth striving for?
Imagine that you’re on an airplane and the stranger sitting next to you strikes up a conversation. What’s likely to come up as a topic of conversation? “What do you do?” Right?
And how do most people respond? They say “Oh, I am a _____________. In the blank, insert whatever their title is.
This is a “put foot in mouth” response, because that’s exactly what you don’t want to say. If you say something like: “I’m a surgeon,” “I’m an accountant,” or “I’m a bookkeeper,” that quickly puts you into a box where you’ll get stereotyped.
Instead, let’s suppose you are a wardrobe consultant for women. Then you might say something like: “I help professional women who are paralyzed by choosing what to wear. I get them unstuck, so they feel comfortable and confident about what to wear for any occasion.”*
Now doesn’t that sound more intriguing and interesting than “I’m a wardrobe consultant”?
If they respond by saying: “Oh, that’s interesting. So where are you from?” then it’s time for a different conversation.
But if the person you’re speaking with says: “Wow, that’s interesting! I have that problem. How do you do that?”, this ought to be music to your ears!
But there is one common misstep that most people make at this stage: They go into a verbal diarrhea about their process, their technology, the features of their product or service. They take it as an opportunity to unleash their “elevator pitch.”
Here’s the thing: Clients buy outcomes, not process.
You see, clients don’t care about “process.” At least not initially. First and foremost, all they care about is that you have a potential solution for their problem or can fulfill their needs.
Earlier today, I was discussing this with participants who are in my current Get Paid to Get Clients Acceleration Program. We’ve started working on defining and articulating their “Core Client Process.” The Core Client Process is your proprietary, step-by-step approach to working with clients. It’s your “signature system,” your unique method for how you deliver your services and products. More importantly, your Core Client Process gives people a sense of structure in how you deliver value, how you work with clients, and how you help them to achieve the results, improvements, outcomes, and experiences that make it worth working with you.
Your Core Client Process tells a story of how you take them from where they are now — through all the steps, twists, and turns that they need to take — to get to where they say they want to go. It also gives people a sense of your unique view of the world.
So the next time someone asks you what you do and then they ask, “How do you do that?,” ditch your “elevator pitch.” Instead, weave your Core Client Process into the conversation as a framework for the outcomes that you help clients achieve.
*My good friend and colleague, Robert Middleton is a master of what he calls the “audio logo.” An audio logo is simply a single sentence that describes 1) who you serve, 2) what their problem is, and 3) how you help them. Robert helped me to overcome my allergy to marketing and sales. For a ridiculously low price of $29/month, I highly recommend that you check out his Marketing Fast Track program, where you can learn more about the audio logo.
“Selling.” “Sales.” “Sealing the deal.” “Always be selling.” “Closing the deal.”
I don’t know about you, but as an entrepreneur, whenever I hear these terms, I get the creeps and hives. And as a consumer, I don’t want to be “closed” or “sold” on something.
The same fears and trepidation about selling exist equally for anyone whose livelihood depends on getting more people to buy their services, programs, and products, regardless of industry.
If you’re afraid of selling, then just STOP SELLING!
I mean that literally. Don’t try to sell anything.
Instead of trying to sell, I recommend taking a more thoughtful and intuitive approach: “THINK DIAGNOSTICALLY.”
Think of doctors. In general, doctors don’t sell. And patients trust them to offer the best possible advice and recommendations.
So there’s a lot to learn from their approach that applies directly to selling. You see, doctors focus on diagnosing a problem that a patient comes in with.
And that’s the “Diagnostic-Based Selling” approach. Diagnostic thinking, applied to the context of problem-solving and turning prospective clients into paying clients, is what I call: “Diagnostic-Based Selling.” This approach is based on the medical approach to diagnosing problems and arriving at viable, practical solutions.
So instead of trying to sell, trying to get someone to buy from you, take a diagnostic approach. Ask good questions that both draw out important details and nuances about a particular buyer’s issues and situation and that provide an opportunity to build a connection, a chance to build a relationship based on trust, sincere interest, and a commitment to help.
First and foremost, adopt an attitude of being of service to your potential buyer. Don’t even concern yourself with making the sale.
To take this on, it takes a willingness to shift your mindset, shift your habits of thinking, suspend your beliefs about how things should work.
Because even if you’re willing, old habits tend to die hard. But even that doesn’t mean we have to make it harder for them to die!
It’s an approach I use to solve problems, plain and simple.
And while it may seem mechanical and totally “Vulcan” logical on the surface, this approach also draws on your intuitive senses to contribute to a thorough process. As a surgeon, this approach is so “obvious” to me, that I have to frequently remind myself that most people don’t think this way or approach growing their businesses with such a mindset.
Interestingly, the author of the Sherlock Holmes series, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, was a doctor himself. So he naturally infused the diagnostic mindset into Sherlock’s character.
Adopt a diagnostic mindset and you’ll go a long way toward selling more and selling to better buyers.
Ask the Right Questions
The best way to adopt a diagnostic mindset is to first build your skills in asking really good questions that lead down to the person’s core of why they need your help. In my experience, most sales people ask really bad questions that are just down-right boring for me to answer. Too often, I have to jump through a few hoops to get the help that I need. They feel a bit more manipulative than value-driven.
Instead, let your customer know that you care about them. After all, that this is why you do what you do…to help them, isn’t it? They won’t care about what you know until they know you care about them and their situation.
So how do you do this? Start by developing a set of general “diagnostic questions.” With experience, you’ll also develop specific diagnostic questions that you ask when you need to dig deeper at the appropriate times.
A common place to start is with the question: “What your biggest problem, issue, or challenge you are facing right now?” While this is a good place to start, you’ll need to dig deeper than this.
It’s easy to casually move on to questions that give your potential client to share what they’ve tried, what’s working, what’s not working, what strategies and tactics they are planning to apply next.
In medical school, I learned a mnemonic that helped me get my bearings when I was taking a history from a patient. The mnemonic is spelled: “CHLORIDE” and stands for:
CHaracter: [What is the pain like?] Ask questions that inform you about how your potential buyer is experiencing the issues, problems, or challenges that they seek to solve; strive to understand what their world is like.
Example: “Can you describe what this situation feels like?”
Location: [Where do you feel the pain?] Ask questions that tell you where, specifically, the “pain” is being felt or potentially being felt by your potential buyer.
Example: “What people or departments are most affected by this issue?”
Onset: [When did the pain first start? What causes the pain to occur?] These questions give you a sense of when awareness of issues and problems began; they give you indicators of the level of urgency, motivation levels, degrees of resignation and despair.
Example: “What has happened to trigger or escalate the severity of this problem? ”
Radiation: [Where does the pain go?] The purpose of these questions is to discover what other areas, systems, workers, customers, departments, etc. are being affected or potentially affected by the issue(s) of concern.
Example: “What other people or departments are affected by this issue?”
Intensity: [How bad is the pain?] The purpose of these questions is to find out how bad something is. You want to understand what’s at stake for your prospective client, how high a priority is this issue, what the likely timeframe is for making a buying decision, whether there are financial and other resources allocated for addressing this issue.
Example: “What is the priority level for addressing this issue?”
Duration: [How long does the pain last?] These questions give you a sense of the timing and level of effort that has been expended to deal with the issue(s) at hand.
Example: ”How long have you been dealing with this?”
Events associated: [What makes the pain better? What makes it worse?] These questions help you understand other factors, variables, and elements that influence the current situation or may be influenced in the future.
Examples: “What have you tried that worked?” “That didn’t work?” “What are potential unintended consequences of addressing this issue?”
Diagnostic-based selling is an approach that bridges both art and science; there’s form and structure to it and there’s a methodology to it, but it’s not formulaic in the sense of like, “Do this, do this, say this, say this.” It’s not that. There are things to say, there are things to do; but it’s more along the lines of expanding your thinking and expanding your ‘seeing’ into the problem and into the situation from a more comprehensive, holistic view that includes the initial challenge or problem or complaint or issue or desire that a person or a company has, but isn’t myopically focused on that initial area alone.
This approach is based on my decades of experience as a physician and surgeon. It’s an approach based on integrity, core values, and an earnest desire to be of service. That combination positions you naturally as a trusted adviser and a valued expert. And it naturally leads people to want to buy from you, not from someone else.
Like any important skill, this approach takes practice to become comfortable and proficient in thinking this way. If you’re willing to master this approach in working with your clients, you’ll take your business to a level of success that makes the challenges of entrepreneurship well worth it!