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All sales start with a simple conversation. It may be a conversation between you and a potential client or customer, between one of your clients and a potential referral, or between one of your colleagues and a potential referral. An effective sales cycle is based on turning these simple conversations into relationships of trust with your potential clients over time. We know that people buy from those they like and trust. This is never truer than for the professional service provider. But as Sir Winston Churchill once said, “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”
If you don’t have trust, then it doesn’t matter how well you’ve planned, what you’re offering, or whether or not you’ve created a wide variety of buying options to meet varying budgets. If a potential client doesn’t trust you, nothing else matters. They aren’t going to buy from you—period. If you think about it, this may be one of the main reasons that so many professional service providers say they hate marketing and selling. They may be trying to market and sell to people with whom they have not yet built trust.
If you want a perpetual stream of inspiring and life-fulfilling ideal clients clamoring for your services and products, then just remember—all sales start with a simple conversation and are executed when a need is met and trust is assured.
So, where do you start? By using the most effective marketing strategy on the planet for the professional service provider—the always-have-something-to-invite-people-to-offer.
Your services have a high barrier for entry. To a potential new client, your services are intangible and expensive—whether you think they are or not—especially to someone who has not used the kind of services that you offer or to those who have not had good results with their previous service providers. People usually hate to be sold, but they love to receive invitations. Don’t you?
The Book Yourself Solid Sales Cycle begins by making no-barrier-to-entry offers to potential clients. A no-barrier-to-entry offer is one that has no risk whatsoever for a potential client so that she can sample your services. I’m not talking about offering free services, which I don’t recommend, and, unfortunately, is still a common practice for many professional service providers.
When you’re using your core self-promotion strategies: networking, web, direct outreach, referral, writing, speaking, and keep-in-touch, rather than attempting to sell people on your services, why don’t you simply offer them an invitation that has no barrier-for-entry?
For example: I worked with a man who is a personal trainer and a healthy eating chef. When he joined my Book Yourself Solid 15-Week Intensive Group Learning Program, he hadn’t yet created relentless demand for his services. As you might imagine, this caused him to be anxious over what his future held.
After we re-built the foundation of his business we created his always-have-something-to-invite-people-to offer: the Fitness Fiesta for Foodies. One Sunday evening a month, he would host a party where he would teach his guests how to prepare healthful meals that help them stay fit. There were two requirements for attendance, however. He would put that month’s menu on his website and each guest was required to bring one item off the menu. Each guest was also asked to bring someone new to the event, thus creating a new audience for his work. After he made his first round of invitations, he barely had to market himself. It was magical. People loved it and they loved him for doing it. And they joined his programs because of it.
A financial planner could do something similar either on the phone or in person. Even a simple Q&A about building wealth would do the trick. Are you beginning to get your own ideas on how this could work for you? Good! Here are some more examples that might inspire you:
• A Realtor® can offer weekly real estate investor tours where they fill a van or tour bus with active real estate investors and scour the neighborhood hotspots.
• An Architect or Designer can offer a monthly makeover where they go to a potential or new client’s office or home, along with a small group of 10 or 15 people (it’s not bad to have a waiting list for these types of offerings), and the Architect or Designer offers new design ideas for the space that will increase the value of the property. Ask clients to bring a new friend every week. Each week or month a new location would be chosen and include a social event afterwards.
• An IT professional can host a weekly webinar to demonstrate impressive technical innovations and solutions… and deal with real life questions or problems that potential clients are struggling with.
• A mobile DJ can post a variety of music clips on their website; or a video clip of themselves “in action”.
• An accountant can offer quarterly conference calls that focus on the latest in tax saving measures and better bookkeeping.
The value you add in your offer meets the needs and desires of the people you serve. Then as you continue to build trust over time through your sales cycle and your follow up and by offering additional value and creating awareness for the services you provide, you’ll attract potential clients deeper into your sales cycle, moving them closer to your core offerings.
You’ll notice that the always-have-something-to-invite-people-to examples I offered above are done in a group format. There are three important reasons for this:
1. You’ll leverage your time so you’re connecting with as many potential clients as possible in the shortest amount of time.
2. You’ll leverage the power of communities. When you bring people together, they create far more energy and excitement than you can on your own. Your guests will also see other people interested in what you have to offer and that’s the best way to build credibility.
3. You’ll be viewed as a really cool person. Seriously. If you’re known in your marketplace as someone who brings people together, that will help you build your reputation and increase your likeability.
Please give away so much value that you think you’ve given too much and then give more. I had a friend in college who, when he ordered his hero sandwiches, would say, “Put so much mayonnaise on it that you think you’ve ruined it, and then put more.” Gross, I know. I believe that he has since stopped eating his sandwiches that way and his arteries are thanking him, but adding value is not a dissimilar experience. Remember, your potential clients must know what you know. They must really like you and trust that you have the solutions to their very personal, specific, and urgent problems. The single best way to do that is to invite them to experience what it’s like to be around you and the people you serve.
Michael Port is the Founder & Chairman of Book Yourself Solid Worldwide and author of the #1 bestselling Book Yourself Solid, The Fastest, Easiest, and Most Reliable System for Getting More Clients Than You Can Handle Even If You Hate Marketing and Selling. To download a free chapter of his book go to:

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