If you own your own professional services business, then you’re in sales.
So, how’s your sales strategy working for you?
When it comes to marketing and selling your services in this economy, one thing is certain – the rules are changing, which means the strategies that worked well in the past to attract and retain clients are no longer meeting your bottom line.
Part of the problem service professionals face is that the market has shifted and consumers are more careful than ever before about where they invest their hard earned dollars, even for services that improve their lives. If you’re a solopreneur, you have the even greater challenge of attracting new clients while servicing your current clientele. The marketplace is crowded with other business owners looking to generate revenue from the same piggy banks that you are trying to tap into, and what ends up happening is that consumers are bombarded with a lot of noise; the result then becomes, consumers shut out all messages. In addition consumers are turned off by the overly salesey approach. Your goal is to stand out from the crowd and position yourself as a leader in a sea of endless choices.
Word of Mouth isn’t Enough
I’m a health care practitioner, a field where most people are relying on traditional word of mouth marketing. They have their elevator speech down and, you can be sure, are at most networking events passing out cards. Nonetheless, this often isn’t enough. The challenge of working hard at their business while growing their business catches up with them eventually. Many are at risk of closing their doors. Many more end up losing their sparkle because they have been going to networking events for so long they are burned out. That’s why it’s essential to have other strategies.
Be an Expert
We all respond well to someone that has been recommended to us by someone we know. That aspect of “word of mouth” will never change. But whether a client finds you through a friend or your own Web site, the same mechanics are in play – they will judge you on your likeability, authenticity, integrity, trustworthiness and confidence. And if your potential clients believe you to be an expert, your sales conversion grows beyond 70-80% without effort.
A study by Jupiter Research Group found that 63% of Internet information seekers would switch doctors if they found credible information online – a Web site, article, review or blog entry; something to indicate the expertise of their practitioner. Therefore, what you put online has to be top notch. Potential customers will flush out “truth benders” and “stretchers” rapidly, and when they do, they see the poster as unreliable, unsafe and no longer an expert. I know of a dietician who got lazy and misrepresented research she’d read in an article she wrote about DNA. When she was snuffed out, her credibility was lost to the point of being unrecoverable, all over research that wasn’t hers to share anyway. So, in sum, if you are going to represent yourself as an expert, have some real expertise.
Understand how Your Clients Find You
When looking for a new health care or wellness provider, the typical prospect will first talk to friends, family members or co-workers; second, investigate any paid advertising, TV or print media; and third, Google their choices on line. The more times your prospect sees you in one of these three key areas the more likely they are to come and see you. Some of you may be saying, “I’m starting out so I don’t have the word of mouth network established” and/or, “I could never afford TV or magazine advertising; I’m a solopreneur,” which leaves the internet as your primary focus. However, you may be selling yourself short.
First, understand that you probably have more of a social network than you think that is already getting the word out about your fabulousness. Second, there are some options for TV and print media that you should consider that are within your reach. The Internet is one area you must have a presence in no matter what; it remains the single most important new factor in building a successful practice.
Develop an Internal and External Marketing Strategy
Whichever method you use, your focus needs to be on building credibility and trust. Your strategy should include external marketing strategies, like those mentioned above, and internal strategies to retain clients and up sell them to other products and services you offer. This is easier than you may think. The idea of sales to your current clients may initially turn you off, but remember that your clients already love you; you are doing them a disservice by not sharing with them other relevant products and services that will help them. By not tapping into your current client base, you are leaving money on the table.
You already know what some of the best internal marketing methods are: regular newsletters, educational seminars and product specials. But that’s not all. How about creating a brand new program and trying it out on your current clients? If they are already sold on the idea of you, why wouldn’t they purchase something new from you?
Wherever you find yourself in the marketing game, take a moment to look at what you are doing to see if there is room for improvement. Push yourself beyond your comfort level; you may be surprised to discover opportunities that have been there all the time, but that you just didn’t consider before. SMARTY is one of the best sounding boards and resources we have for transforming our business and catapulting our success. Take advantage of our great community of women. As women we know, where one of us succeeds and leads the way for others to succeed, we all grow. Your success is our success.
Cheers to your new working sales strategy.
Loni Anderson L.Ac. is a licensed Acupuncturist, Doctor of Oriental Medicine in private practice. She has built her practice through trial and error, she now offers her “know-how” to other wellness service professionals to help them succeed in business. Loni is teaching SMARTY’s Peer to Peer Workshop, “Healers, Come Get the Top Five Tips to Getting Clients NOW.” Click here for more details.
Peer to Peer programs are intimate micro-workshops facilitated by SMARTY Members and experts in their field. The small-group setting allows attendees to meet in a cozy atmosphere, while finding education and connections on specific topics related to their business development.