As a business owner, you’ll need to proactively reach out to potential clients to make offers and to marketing partners and other decision makers to create business opportunities.
The most important direct outreach you do might well be to other service professionals, businesses, and professional associations to network, cross-promote, and build referral relationships.
But so many of us struggle with this. The idea of reaching out to someone that we don’t know…Yikes! You might be getting queasy just thinking about it. How do you do it (without nausea)?
With the BYS List of 20, of course. Don’t have one? Really? Ok, let’s make one…
The Book Yourself Solid List of 20
Make a List of 20 people within your industry with whom you’d like to develop professional relationships.
These are people whom you do not yet know — influencers within your target market who can help you get booked solid. This is your BYS List of 20.
The list never leaves your side. It sits on your desk. Lives on your computer. And, travels with you when you’re on the road.
Why twenty and why must you keep it with you at all times?
- Since your success is, in large part, determined by the people within your industry who are willing to refer to you or to put you in front of your ideal clients or endorse you, you need to keep these people top of mind. Keeping this list by your side will ensure that you’re thinking of them and, if you do, you’ll begin to notice opportunities to connect with them and get to know them.
- And, twenty, because it’s a large enough number to keep your focus expansive but narrow enough that you won’t be overwhelmed.
Written Exercise: Identify a minimum of three, and a maximum of twenty, people you’d like to reach out to directly and personally. (These may be prospective clients, decision makers at an organization or association, or the press.) At this moment, you might not think you can fill out your List of 20, but now that you know what you need to do, you’ll start to take notice of the people you should add to this list.
Here’s what you do with your list:
- Each day, reach out to the person at the top of the list.
- After you’ve reached out to this person, place this person at the bottom of the list.
- Now that this person has been moved to the end of the list, the person who was number 2 on the list becomes number 1 and each other person moves up one spot. This way your List of 20 always stays at twenty.
You’ll reach out to each person approximately every twenty business days which is about once per month.
This direct outreach activity occurs every day. This is critical. Dedicated, disciplined and determined action is key to your direct outreach success.
Remember, the BYS List of 20 is your wish list. You’re list of 20 people that could have a significant impact on your business through their referrals, introductions and advice. Do this daily and you’ll be booked solid in no time flat.
Booked Solid Action Step: Reach out to the first person on your list of 20 by sending a card or email of appreciation. Or maybe congratulate them on an accomplishment. Simple.
Using the Book Yourself Solid Direct Outreach Strategy is all about making personal connections. Reach out to others from the heart, in a way that is genuine and authentic for you.
Take it one step at a time and you’ll do fine.
People want to express their values. Plain and simple. And they do so through the products and services they buy. If you saw a fat casino tab, Smirnoff delivery charges and a Hummer lease payment on my Amex statement, you’d know what I value. However, if my charges included yoga sessions, continuing education in MIT’s Birthing of Giants program and the compost for a backyard vegetable garden, you’d get a different sense of values.
Looking forward to teaching full-day OPEN TO THE PUBLIC Book Yourself Solid workshop Wednesday, May 19, 2010 in Ivyland, PA. It’s something like $129. Can’t beat that!
By Michael Port
May 08, 2010
Simple but Brilliant and full of truths from Will Rogers. Enjoy!
Will Rogers, who died in a 1935 plane crash with his best friend, Wylie Post, was probably the greatest philosophical sage this country ever has known. Never slap a man who’s chewing tobacco.
- Never kick a cow chip on a hot day.
- There are two theories to arguing with a woman. Neither works.
- Never miss a good chance to shut up. Always drink upstream from the herd.
- If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
- The quickest way to double your money is to fold it and put it back into your pocket.
- There are three kinds of men: The ones that learn by reading. The few who learn by observation. The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence and find out for themselves.
- Good judgment comes from experience, and a lot of that comes from bad judgment.
- If you’re riding’ ahead of the herd, take a look back every now and then to make sure it’s still there.
- Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier’n puttin’ it back.
- After eating an entire bull, a mountain lion felt so good he started roaring.
- He kept it up until a hunter came along and shot him. The moral: When you’re full of bull, keep your mouth shut.
ABOUT GROWING OLDER…
- First ~ Eventually you will reach a point when you stop lying about your age and start bragging about it.
- Second ~ The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
- Third ~ Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me; I want people to know ‘why’ I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way, and some of the roads weren’t paved.
- Fourth ~ When you are dissatisfied and would like to go back to youth, think of Algebra.
- Fifth ~ You know you are getting old when everything either dries up or leaks.
- Sixth ~ I don’t know how I got over the hill without getting to the top.
- Seventh ~ One of the many things no one tells you about aging is that it is such a nice change from being young.
- Eighth ~ One must wait until evening to see how splendid the day has been.
- Ninth ~ Being young is beautiful, but being old is comfortable.
- Tenth ~ Long ago, when men cursed and beat the ground with sticks, it was called witchcraft. Today it’s called golf.
And, finally ~ If you don’t learn to laugh at trouble, you won’t have anything to laugh at when you are old.
When you send a professional email you may, inadvertently, be coming across as a teenager and not even know it. To protect yourself and prevent age regression, read these 8 things everyone should know about email from Seth with a bonus from Cory.
My Entrepreneur Magazine article on how to know who you want to know was picked up by Yahoo! Small Business.
Recently, many thoughtful people have been asking me, “Is getting certified worth it?” Interestingly enough, this question has been coming up, again and again, irrespective of the upcoming Certified Book Yourself Solid Coach training. Why?
The economic conditions in most service based fields have been tough, to say the least. It has led many people to consider their options and more education via certification or university is one of the first things they consider. Even my 27 year-old cousin, who’s been selling commercial real estate in New York City for the past 5 years, called me to ask if I thought he should return to school for three-years to get a masters degree in real estate.
Note that the title of this post is NOT: “Is getting more education worth it?” Of course, learning more is always worthwhile. When it comes to your work, ignorance is not bliss. But, does being “certified” or getting a particular degree make a difference when it comes to getting clients?
The answer depends on what kinds of services you sell. If you sell financial services or certain health related services, you’re required by law to be certified by the agencies that govern those services. And, certainly, some certifications or degrees, although not required by law, are expected as standard tools of the trade in some fields. On the other hand, however…
What if you sell consulting, coaching, or other more entrepreneurial services? Is certification worth it? Is it worth devoting the time to it? Is it worth the financial return on investment? Will it help you get more clients?
No. I don’t think so being “certified” will, necessarily, bring you more business. Whoa! Michael, didn’t you just say you have a Certified Book Yourself Solid Coach training coming up in June? What gives? I’ll tell you…
This is not going to make me popular with those who have created their world view around the importance or idea of certification but, in my humble opinion, many general “trade” certifications or paper degrees will not help you get clients. There is one thing, however, that makes all the difference when selling consulting, coaching or another related service — having a well-regarded, easy to sell branded protocol.
The etymology of protocol is from the Greek prot, which means “first formed” and kollan, which means to “glue together.” Making our modern definition of protocol “a detailed plan or procedure.”
That’s what your clients want to buy — a detailed plan or procedure.
It’s likely I’ve been selling coaching and consulting services longer than you have.
And, in all these years, yes, even before I become well-known, I have never been asked if I’m “certified.” Certifiable, maybe, but not certified. Before I published Booked Yourself Solid, I was, however, asked, over and over again, “How exactly are you’re going to help me get booked solid? Do you have a plan that we can follow? Do you have a protocol?” But, once the Book Yourself Solid system become established as the go-to system for getting clients, the question never came up again. The material, the system, the protocol demonstrated exactly how we were going to do it.
Getting a general certification as, say, a coach, might help you be a better coach, but it’s not going to get you clients. Unless… the certification is well-known, respected and desired within your target audience. Unless… the protocol that your certification demonstrates (and provides) is exactly what your potential clients want to buy to get them the specific results they they want.
So, as I see it, you have three choices:
You can create your own protocol which can eventually become the go-to protocol in your industry (it might take some time to do this);
You can use someone else’s already established protocol (as long as you have permission to do so); or
You can do both. Get licensed or certified in a protocol that your ideal clients know and what and, in the process, develop your own protocol that, over time, will become the go-to protocol in your industry.
If you want to use my protocol, the Book Yourself Solid system, you can.
But you need a license and I only sell 25 per year.
When things aren’t working the way you would like, you can hide from reality hoping things will change on their own or you can figure out what actually works and do that. As my colleague, Seth Godin, says, “I guess it comes down to this: if you’re having trouble persuading people to buy what you sell, perhaps you should sell something else.”
If you’re going to get certified, make sure the license allows you to sell something that actually sells.
With warmth and respect,
New York Times Bestselling Author of 4 Books
P.S. Keep thinking big about who you are and what you offer the world.
P.P.S. As always, it’s my deepest honor to have the opportunity to be of service to you.
By Michael Port
April 16, 2010
My latest article at Open Forum on The Top Ten Reasons Thinking Big in Business is Better. Here’s how it starts…
Hands down…bigger is better. No, not always. Not in the gas-guzzling SUV sort of way. But when we’re talking about the super-fly thoughts that are traveling through your mind, yes, bigger is better.
You want to be big in business? Then bring big thoughts front and center. It’s your mind that will change your business (and the world). When you think big, you’re large and in charge. Here are 10 little-known facts about big thinking. Big thinking encourages you to….
Continue reading the top ten reasons thinking big in business is better.
By Michael Port
April 08, 2010
It’s very common to see service professions offering free sessions or services as a sales tactic in order to get clients. Does it work? Sometimes. Should you do it? Depends on who you ask. Some swear by it. Others have sworn off it. And yet, others still, swear every time they do it. Generally, I don’t recommend it. Think about it. How does it look to a potential client that you’re offering free sessions to anybody that happens to stumble across your website–in demand, successful and valuable or, sitting around with lots of time on your hands just trying to give your stuff away for free in hopes that someone will hire you? In my humble opinion, the latter.
Credibility is part perception. And, anyway, what happened to your Red Velvet Rope Policy? Sure, get on the phone with someone to see if they’d get passed your red velvet rope and give them an opportunity to fall in love with you at the same time but don’t set up a situation where a) they perceive that they’re supposed to get some big result from that one free session and if they don’t, they’re disappointed and don’t hire you and b) they see you as a low status service provider. With all due respect, do you think you can call my office and say, “I’d like to schedule a free hour-long session with Michael”? I would think not. So, why should I be able to call your office and get your time for free? I shouldn’t. Before you get your knickers in a knot, hold on, because it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a way to use this strategy—there is.
Here’s how I used free sessions to “close” 65% of new business during my first year in business. I included an offer for a 20-minute laser coaching session into my sales cycle–but only after someone had demonstrated that they were serious about learning from me. If someone downloaded my 7-part email mini-course (see why information products are important to the lead generation and conversion process?) I would send them the first two lessons during week one. Each lesson included two paragraphs of education followed by a detailed written exercise. Then, instead of starting off week two with lesson three, I would send a “congratulations and reward” email, offering praise and appreciation for the work they put into the first two lessons (all of this was automated). As a reward, I offered them a complimentary 20-minute telephone coaching session to address any questions they had about the material in the first two lessons. I called these phone sessions, Laser Coaching Sessions. However, in order to book the session, a number of criteria needed to be followed, which I spelled out in the “congratulations and reward” email:
- They had to schedule the session using my public calender. I made only a few spots available on Friday afternoons so that a waiting list developed quickly. This way I didn’t look like I was sitting around twiddling my thumbs, hoping someone would show up.
- If they missed the session or didn’t reschedule with 24 hours notice, they missed the opportunity and could not reschedule (again, all of this was automated).
- If they were more than a few minutes late to the phone session, I wouldn’t pick up.
- And, finally, within one week of the scheduled sessions, they had to send me an email with their responses to the exercises from the first two lessons. This helped because:
- If they had not already, it got them to do the exercises. Getting clients to consume your work is as important as getting them to hire you.
- By reviewing their written exercises, I knew what they needed before they dialed my number. It showed me what they were struggling with and how to help them. So, in just 20-minutes I could solve their problems and create an impressive result.
You might think that all these rules would put potential clients off. You’re trying to get clients not force them to jump through flaming hoops. But, you know what? Over 65% of the people who signed up for the free 20-minute session became clients. The other 35%, for the most part, truly couldn’t afford it. But I’ll tell you what, that other 35% generated even more business for me because they went out to their community and talked about me and the work I “gifted” them. Figure out a way to use this strategy in your sales cycle and you’ll get the opportunity to do something valuable, and free of charge, for your potential clients. You’ll enhance your reputation, build credibility, and book more business.
The Italians have La Dolce Vita, the French have Joie d’Vivre. What do Americans have? Happy Hour? Miller Time? We need help.
Good news. Help has arrived. New York Times bestselling author Michael Gelb (How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci) opens our eyes to the remarkable power of wine to tap into our creative potential as we deepen bonds with friends or co-workers. Seriously. I’m even encouraged to start drinking.
Wine Drinking for Inspired Thinking offers a “whole brain” approach to wine appreciation and enjoyment that is definitely unique.