I devoured Michael’s book Book Yourself Solid and I’m a little bit incredulous that Michael is here now two years later, speaking to all of you and to me.
One of the things that I wanted him to talk about was how you create a system for having a plethora of clients that you love to work with. Like I discussed in my previous blog post, some of us have had clients that we do not love to work with and we’ve had to fire them.
Here are 9 mindset shifts and actions that Michael Port revealed to help us set up our own systems for having a fountain of clients that we love.
This interview has been edited and abridged for time and readability.
“It’s what you do once somebody becomes aware of you, that actually books you the business. And when I started analyzing companies, I discovered that they’ve got lots of marketing activities in the works. They’re creating awareness. But, they don’t have a systematic approach to turning that awareness into actual business.”
We can generate tons of content, throw it at the wall and hope it sticks. Or, we can create a meaningful cadence to our marketing that intrigues people, converting leads into buyers who love to choose us.
“Ultimately, most of us would probably like to have a business where we no longer do any marketing whatsoever. That the business itself becomes a self perpetuating and self generating referral engine.”
Personalized marketing is more effective now than ever before. People want to know there is a real person emailing and reaching out to them – not a machine. 96% of marketers know this helps improve relationships with customers. So even if we automate our processes, we should still add a human-friendly approach.
“Let’s recognize that there are certain people we’re meant to work with and others probably not so much. And just because we can help somebody doesn’t mean we have to help them. But I think that this is something that each business owner comes to terms with at different points in their career – at the beginning of your career.”
When we first start out, we want to help the whole world. It’s in our nature as entrepreneurs to solve problems. But, we are human. We cannot solve everybody’s problems. Evolving in what’s right for you is the most effective way to create a lasting niche for yourself.
“If you feel like you’re just struggling to pay the bills, you might think it’s really difficult to say no to a particular opportunity. Or, to dump a dud client who is just draining your energy, makes you feel like your work isn’t worthwhile. And wonder why you got into this in the first place later on. [Knowing this] seemed to make me feel a little bit easier.”
It is unhealthy to attribute our self-worth to our business. You and your business are two separate entities. Even if we are not earning what we expected doesn’t mean our intrinsic value as human beings is any less.
Always put self-care first. We need full awareness to be able to make quality decisions for the long-term health of ourselves, our team, and our business strategies.
“Right from the beginning, we should be saying, ‘no’. Not necessarily as much as we say ‘yes’, but if you’re doing external marketing and people that are coming to you randomly – as opposed to through referrals from people you trust – you might say no, as much as you say yes. Fifty percent of the time you might say, ‘I don’t think we’re right for each other’.”
Saying ‘no’ is important. Speaking our truth ensures we have enough space in our lives for the things that matter most to us. Having family time, going the extra mile for clients we adore – these are things we need to have the bandwidth to say ‘yes’ to.
“We have a red velvet rope policy. We’ve documented what makes a client ideal and what makes them a less than ideal. And we look for any flags that are on that less than ideal.
We address them directly with confidence and without any concern for what they are going to think if I asked them.”
Actions speak louder than words. Create steps at the beginning of your sales process that weed out any clients who are not ideal for you. These ‘red velvet ropes’ create exclusivity for your dream clients. Boundaries keep you from being overworked, and make your clients feel appreciated and cared for.
“One of the things that helps really establish your authority is to move out of ‘expertville’ and into ‘Visionary Town’, which means this:
If you’re sitting squarely in ‘expertville’, you’re a commodity because experts these days are a dime a dozen.”
The Internet is a wealth of knowledge. Because of that, anyone can become an expert on a topic they choose. Being an expert is just understanding what best practices are in your industry.
What brings the right people to you is your visionary abilities. How can you create the future of your industry while serving your clients in the best possible way?
“People see you as a thought leader that is not just reporting on the present with here are the best practices, but creating the future by articulating a vision that is different than what the people who are in your market or your space are currently seeing. So that really establishes your authority as a visionary, not just as an expert.”
When we read books to improve, we are finding our own way of doing things. That’s what clients need. There is no cut-and-dry way to do life. Everyone has a unique voice.
Rehashing the same-old information can turn people away. But building credibility as a visionary, as Michael said, is what truly sets you apart.
“Well, I don’t think people talk much about the fact that you can run an entirely referral-based organization if you want. And in fact, when your clients know that you are a referral only organization, they feel really good that they’re in, it becomes more exclusive. It feels almost like being a member.”
You don’t have to run a referral-based organization to find success. It is an option if you are just starting out as a consultant. Adding a referral incentive to your business can ensure that you work with aligned clients. Referrals for new clients would come from inside your network, meaning that people will be able to tell if they are a good fit for you or not.
“What do we do for people that extends beyond just the services we typically provide that brings them together? So there’s some sort of forming of community, which makes them more connected to you know, the, the mission at hand and their, their relation to it. And they’re more likely to refer in.”
“So there’s two things that come to mind for me. Number one, I would put as much material on the front end of the process as possible to weed out people. And you’re probably already doing that. You know, I would put, we don’t work with pricks and we certainly don’t work with super pricks. So now you share a value and you bring it to the surface, right? At the beginning.”
Earlier we talked about setting boundaries at the client-receiving end of your business. These boundaries are powerful ways to let in clients that already love you and your work. You don’t have to create a long questionnaire. An effective way to do this, that Michael described, is giving potential clients a piece of content that explains your values. Or allowing your values to show up loudly in the first instance of any touchpoint.
“The second thing I would do is something that we found really, really effective that we call the 80-20 video. The 80-20 video is something that we have any potential client watch before they get on the phone with us, if you want to get on the phone.
So at the front end, we say, ‘look here, we’re really, really clear about who it’s for and who it’s not for. And if, and if you’re not in this category, here are some resources that would help you. Even though you’re not going to be coming to work with us. So you can listen to the podcast, you can read the book. Here’s other books, other people that are potential teachers for you.’ “
Sending away unaligned clients can be difficult when you don’t know if they will receive the guidance they need. Providing them with helpful resources that may help their journey is thoughtful. It also takes the awkwardness out of telling someone that they are not a right fit to become your client.
Here ends our consideration of the LadyDrinks’ podcast with Michael Port. There is so much to unpack here when adjusting your consulting business to Book Yourself Solid.
But, Michael gave us so many enriching tips, that I wanted to include 3 more points that were really valuable.
“Sales offers should be proportionate to the amount of trust that you’ve earned. So if you make sales offers that are too big too quickly, then you’re going to need these long, long conversations where they’re asking a million details.
But if the sales offer is perfectly proportioned to the amount of trust that you earn, they often don’t have a lot of details because they say, ‘I’m not even concerned about the details.’ ”
“So there’s something that I call the network of 90. So you’re going to identify, say 90 people, tops that you feel like if I had deep relationships or, or at least connected relationships where I could contact them and they would respond to me quickly with 90 people, that should be more than enough people to get booked solid.
You take just a few minutes each day. Introduce people inside your network who do not yet know each other, but would be probably pleased to meet each other.”
“So there’s 25 people. Now, if you do that for four weeks of the month, 25 times four is what hygiene. Yes. That’s a hundred people every month that you’re staying in touch with in a way that’s meaningful and supportive to them.
It’s more than your network of 90. I just called it 90 because a hundred and rhymes with network. So I figured a network of 90 people. So if you miss a day, you’ll still get your 90. If you miss two days, you’ll still get your 90. But think about that.
You’re staying in touch every month. In some way, that’s meaningful to all those 90 people. That’s an, a phenomenally effective way to stay top of mind for them. So when anybody asks them, Oh, I need some help with this. They go, I know somebody.”