The Biggest Sales Objection: Trusting Yourself

Have you ever crafted the perfect offer, put a perfectly reasonable price tag on it, sent it out to all the right people, and still come up empty-handed in the sales department?

I know I have.

One technique you’ll hear over and over again for combatting this problem is to address your customers’ objections. Are they worried about the time commitment? Show them how to fit it in. Are they concerned that your product is right for the kind of person they are? Explain why it’ll work for them, too. Are they concerned about price? Demonstrate what kind of return on investment they could get.

But the biggest sales objection I’ve run into over the years—and from conversations with our Quiet Power Strategy™ strategists-in-training last week, I’m in good company—has been an objection that’s exceedingly difficult to combat.

How to Combat the Biggest Sales Objection

It’s trust.

But not trusting you. The biggest objection to buying is trusting themselves.

As providers, makers, and marketers, we spend an exorbitant amount of time helping our prospects trust us. We share personal stories, create valuable free content, and demonstrate through testimonials that we can be trusted.

But many times your “ask” doesn’t require any more trust in you and requires your customer to trust their own ability to get the kind of results you know you can deliver.

Getting value out of a product or service requires personal responsibility. Unless you’re a snake oil salesperson, you’re not saying that your product is the magic formula. You’re not the kind of marketer that promises that “one weird trick” is going to reduce the number on the scale by 20lbs or that this secret formula will result in triple the sales.

Even if you design clothing or make jewelry or create paintings, your customers need to feel that they can put your work to good use in order to buy it. People generally don’t buy things they don’t have the confidence to wear or put things in their homes they don’t have the attitude to match.

An Example

Let’s look at an example: Amy is a career coach. She knows she can help people manage career transition, discover a new path, or land a big promotion. She’s done it many times.

On her website, she talks about the clients she’s worked with, the successes they’ve had, and spells out specific outcomes new clients can expect when working with her. She doesn’t make promises—she knows better than that—but she does clearly articulate what she can coach you to if you’re willing to put in the work.

Amy’s practice sustains her own career but it’s not thriving the way she would like it to be. She has a hard time closing new clients. They start with long drawn out emails, they evolve to long initial consultations. They come back and ask more questions. Maybe then she can close the deal.

Yet, her existing clients rave about her. They keep coming back to her even after their initial packages complete. They ask her advice (and pay her) on the little bumps in their careers.

So why don’t more new prospects sign on the dotted line? And why can’t she, for the life of her, get people to sign up for the awesome career change program she put together?

Trust.

As a potential client, when you’ve had some career missteps, maybe a bad boss or a difficult-to-work-for company, you’re hopeful but cautious. That caution leads to the long sales conversation Amy is having to have to land each new client. It also means that even those who feel like she’s the right person for the job won’t pull the trigger. It’s them, not her.

And if they’re not willing to trust themselves enough to get results from working with her 1:1, they’re not going to trust themselves enough to get results working with her in a program.

Again, it’s them, not her. (It might be them, not you.)

This Sales Objection is Also a Question of Risk

We are exceedingly bad at understanding risk. And a majority of your prospective customers think they themselves are a sizable risk to their own futures when it comes to spending money on goals that can’t be guaranteed. Every time you make an attractive offer, your customers are weighing the risk that they won’t be able to put it to use.

We, of course, think they’re considering whether it will be good enough or not, whether we’re smart enough or not, or whether we’re experienced enough or not. And that may be the case, but it’s far likelier that they’re asking themselves whether they are good enough, smart enough, or experienced enough to get the results they really want out of what you’re offering.

Breanne Dyck, who started this conversation on our Quiet Power Strategy strategist training call last week, explains that to help people feel more comfortable with perceived risks, you need to help them gather more information. More information comes from experimentation (action), not from more data (inputs).

Most of your marketing strategy to this point is about data. Blog post after blog post you’re explaining concepts, telling stories, and sharing experiences. But it’s all just data until someone takes action on it. The result of their experiment becomes true information that allows them to better understand and predict future outcomes. It allows them to better assess their own personal risk and increases their level of personal trust.

That means that in order to combat this stickiest of sales objections, you need to build action and experimentation into your business model—not just data.

Knowing is not enough. Knowing too much can encourage us to procrastinate. There’s a certain point when continuing to know at the expense of doing allows the mess to grow further.

— Abby Covert,  How to Make Sense of Any Mess: Information Architecture for Everybody

The best way to ask your prospects to act is to ask for a commitment.

Trust (and True Information) Comes from Commitments

Think about the way you develop a romantic relationship. If you meet your special someone online (as I did), you start with committing to email them—it’s an initial experiment. This is about as low of a commitment as you can go. Then, hopefully, you commit to a first date. It’s probably just a coffee or drink date. Then, maybe you do a dinner date. And then a day hike.

Yes, this is a process of learning to trust the other person. To suss out whether they’re the one for you or not. But it’s also a process of learning to trust yourself. Do I like myself when I’m around them? Do I trust myself enough in this relationship to know I won’t make stupid decisions or follow them blindly?

Each commitment helps you learn to trust yourself as much as it does the other person.

As you’re building your business the same process needs to apply.

People generally don’t jump from discovery to purchase—especially not high-end products or services. You need to establish a series of commitments first.

Here are some commitments you might ask for:

  • Like your page on Facebook
  • Join a webinar
  • Exchange an email address for a welcome gift
  • Share a post with their friends
  • Regularly open emails and read content
  • Attend a workshop
  • Buy a book
  • Read a detailed case study
  • Visit your booth at a show
  • Purchase an entry-level product
  • Engage in an initial consultation
  • Book a short-term, project-based package

If you want to seriously combat this huge sales objection and dramatically reduce the amount of time it takes you to close a prospect, don’t pick one or two of these. Pick 3, 4, 5, or more of these smaller commitments. Create systems around them. Build them into your marketing calendar.

Relentlessly ask for small and escalating commitments so that when you’re ready to make a much larger offer, your prospect trusts herself enough to say yes.

Now you might be asking, “Isn’t this why I’m blogging every week?

Sort of. The thing is, blogging isn’t enough. Content strategy is huge, don’t get me wrong. But marketers who are only blogging (even blogging and sending it out through email) aren’t establishing that trust spiral that allows their readers to get closer and closer to feeling really good about making a purchase.

In my own business, I’ve built action and experimentation into all levels of my marketing:

  • I write ebooks that have built-in workbooks. The action is both the purchase and the results.
  • I host webinars that promise results during the call. The action is decision-making and discovery.
  • I teach workshops that build action steps into strategic concepts. The experiment is committing to watching and doing the homework.
  • I offer Goal Discovery sessions as part of my on-boarding process. The experiment is vulnerability and commitment.

Together, these pieces work together so that I don’t have to worry about the “trusting myself” sales objection. If you’ve made it that far in my business model and still don’t trust yourself, you’re probably not a good fit for my programs.

Amy’s Strategy

Remember our career coach Amy? I would ask Amy to think of 3 common scenarios that send people looking for career help. They probably don’t know they need a coach yet (and maybe they don’t), but they know they need to consult Google, a friend, or the network to get an answer. Those 3 common scenarios are:

  • I’m bored at work. I want a new challenge. I’m ready for a promotion.
  • I’m tired of this career. I want a new one. I’m ready to figure out a new direction.
  • I’m not making enough money. I want a raise. I’m ready to ask for one.

Then, I’d ask Amy to create a commitment trigger for each of those scenarios. Maybe she has a free ebook on asking for a raise, a free audio & workbook that helps you pinpoint your interest so you can figure out a new direction, and a checklist for preparing for a promotion. Each of those she puts behind an email wall. The “ask” is for an email address.

Now, let’s follow the free ebook on asking for a raise. The ebook shares exactly how to put together your pitch. The prospect finds that extremely helpful–but now she has a new problem. She needs to combat the fear of asking for a raise. Amy knows this, so she’s got a free webinar that she invites people who downloaded the raise ebook to. It’s all about getting over the 3 biggest fears you face when you ask for a raise.

Of course, asking for a raise is personal. So every month, she leaves 5 spots open on her calendar for a free initial consultation. Once a month, she asks this same group who is ready to work with her privately and invites them to this no-hassle consultation. She books all 5 appointments effortlessly. On that 30 minute call, she equips the prospect with at least one tactic they can use to suss out the possibility of getting a raise.

Finally, she follows up and asks if they’d like to book her Get That Raise coaching package. She offers to guide them through the next 6 weeks so that they’ve got a helping hand for each part of the process. She can’t guarantee a raise, but she can guarantee they’ll feel really good about the procedure.

Each part of Amy’s process has helped to build the prospects’ trust in herself. She’s taken action and already gotten results. Now it’s just an easy assessment of risk (what risk?!) to determine whether the information she has makes her feel good about working with Amy. Does she trust herself enough to really make use of this? Of course! She already has.

Sale closed.

Now it’s your turn.

How will you ask your audience to act, experiment, and commit in order to build their trust in themselves? There’s likely something you could do today. So do it!

How to Create $10k in Unplanned Revenue: Breanne Dyck Case Study

One of the most fun parts of being an entrepreneur is the ability to generate revenue from nowhere. Of course, it’s not really coming from nowhere. You need to be able to spot an opportunity, create the right conditions for success, and make it all happen.

It’s not that it’s easier said than done but that it takes a type of perception that needs to be worked at. The good news is that anyone can learn this type of perception and learn it quickly. It’s one of the things that I teach our clients in Quiet Power Strategy™.

  1. They learn that opportunities are most often driven by their customers’ evolving needs. In other words, you’ve probably nailed one need at this point so now you need to ask, “What do they need next?”
  2. Then they learn how to create valuable experiences that require very little work to produce. Instead of trying to get everything right, they only prioritize what their ideal customer truly cares about. They also take into account what is going to make them as both a business owner and a value deliverer most effective.
  3. Finally, they create a plan to make it happen. We focus this around their Chief Initiatives so that they have the kind of focus that not only transforms the way they work on a day-to-day basis but transforms the way others perceive their businesses.

Breanne Dyck: learning strategist & coachBreanne Dyck, a brilliant learning strategist who has helped me craft my last two CreativeLive workshops, used this system to generate unplanned revenue and seriously up-level the way her business is perceived in the market. Not only that, but the way she perceives herself and her business has changed. Here’s her story:

“Create a plan to generate $8000 in un-planned for revenue during the course of the program.”

 

That was the challenge that Tara gave us in September, at the start of Quiet Power Strategy™.

 

My gut response was, “$8000? Unplanned?! In four months!?!”

 

It’s not that I didn’t want the revenue; I just didn’t see how it could be possible. My plan for the rest of the year had included no new sales cycles, offers or clients. Just taking the program.

 

What I didn’t realize at the time was that this “plan” was really just me holding myself back. Over the next few months, the coaches helped me strip away that false complacency and lack of confidence. Nothing was sacred; everything I thought I knew went under the microscope.

 

I thought I helped online entrepreneurs who wanted to create online courses. Turns out, “my people” are business owners who want to be recognized as best-in-class, every time they show up in the world.

 

I knew they liked my experience, smarts, and ability to apply theory to the “real world.” But I learned that they love  my drive for excellence, my ability to quickly zero in on opportunities, and my dedication for making them – and their work – stand out.

 

Quiet Power Strategy™ didn’t create this knowledge. Instead, it helped me to articulate it and bring it together, so I could stand firmly and confidently in the overlap. In doing so, I found a brand new business model, a new way of talking about my work, and a set of all-new offerings.

 

Looking back now, I can hardly believe that so much could change in such a short period of time. There was a lot of unlearning to do; a lot of stepping outside of my comfort zone; a lot of trusting myself and my instincts. But every step moved me closer and closer to where I want to be.

 

And that insurmountable-feeling challenge?

 

I knocked it out of the park, with more than $10,000 in new, unplanned revenue. My January 2015 sales alone exceeded 1/3rd of my total prior-year revenues.

 

What I’m most excited about, though, is that I know the best is yet to come.

If you’re looking to develop a best-in-class workshop, program, or course, I cannot recommend Breanne more highly. She has helped me infuse incredible value into my teaching and create experiences that are grounded, measurable, and truly beneficial to my students. You can find out more about her Elevate sessions and get access to over 9 coaching videos by clicking here.

And if you’re ready to learn how to start applying these principles to your business, I invite you to check out my free training on creating your Chief Initiative and finding the focus that not only transforms the way you work but the way people perceive your business. Click here to register–FREE.

Why More Offers Don’t Equal More Revenue

Need to make more money? Generate some revenue? It’s as easy as creating a new offer, right?

Not so fast. True, being an entrepreneur means that, even if money doesn’t grow on trees, it’s not so hard to find something to sell when you need a few extra dollars.

But creating a new product, program, or offer every time you want to generate revenue isn’t a good plan. In fact, it’s not a plan at all. It’s a reaction to a need.

When you’re just starting out, most of what you do is react. And that’s okay. But you’re really ready for something a little more proactive now, aren’t you?

My story starts no differently than yours. I “got” the entrepreneurial money mindset—that you can create revenue whenever you need it—well before I “got” planning for steady, predictable revenue growth. When I wanted to make some money, I’d make something new. I’d write a book, create a program, make a new coaching offer.

Of course, launching all the time, creating products all the time (even when you’re an idea person like me!), and selling all the time is exhausting.

Beyond that, it’s not building a legacy for your business. It doesn’t give your prospects something to remember your business for.

But most importantly, always creating new offers doesn’t set you up for making more money in the long run.

Every time you launch a new product or program, you’re only tapping into a very small segment of your potential customer base (the Early Adopters). If you stop there, other customers might trickle in over time but most people won’t even know you have that offer available.

That just puts your business back in the position of needing to generate revenue with another new product. It’s a vicious cycle.

Instead of a vicious cycle, your business needs a system for marketing, launching, and selling your best offers over & over again. And when that system also includes products that work together to create more value for your customers and your business than they could alone, it’s a Business Model.

When your business has that kind of system in place, revenue becomes predictable and more consistent. At the very least, you know when it’s coming. Best of all, you’ll find that your offers start to generate more and more revenue each time you enter a sales cycle because your customers are expecting them, planning for them, and eager to buy them.

It’s so much easier to sell to a prospect who is already aware of your product. It’s even easier when your prospect knows people who have purchased and loved your product already. That’s easy to accomplish when your business has regular sales cycles for your best offers.

My business now has two main offers: Kick Start Labs and 10ThousandFeet. And with just those two offers, my business is on track to do $100,000 more in revenue than it did last year—and possibly much more. Instead of generating new offers over the last 2 years, I’ve focused on making those offers better and better, more predictable, and more familiar.

To get really specific, that means that my interest list for an offer like 10ThousandFeet has gone from 20 to 50 to 150 to 250 to many, many more without much promotion. When I enter a sales cycle with that group, they’re there because they’re truly eager to find out more about the program. They’ve probably heard about it from a past client and they want to get similar results.

Each time I launch the program, it’s easier and easier to sell and I’m more confident about its ability to sell out.

That’s how a blockbuster product is born.

It doesn’t happen all it once. It builds over time. When you design your whole business model that way, you’ve got the makings of a blockbuster business.

This is a great time of year to step back and examine the offers your business currently has, how they’re working together (or not), and how you could plan a system for revenue growth based on those existing offers. Your Next Big Thing might be something you’re already selling.

Have questions about how that works? Ask them in the comments and I’ll address it in a future post.

Why You Haven’t Reached Your Revenue Goals Yet (and Still Feel Burnt Out)

Imagine this common scenario: Stella is a new business owner. She’s got impeccable skills, a passion for her work, and a unique set of insights into her market. She’s poised for success–and excited about sharing what she does with the world.

She develops her first offer, a one-on-one service with companion workbook that helps her customers make big steps toward their goals while giving them the tools they need to maintain their success. She gladly tells her network all about this new offer. She’s full of the kind of earnestness and zeal that really moves people to action, even if just one at a time.

As Stella is in business longer, she gets even better at what she does, grows her prospect list, and has many happy clients. However, things aren’t quite as exciting anymore.

Why? She feels like she needs to hustle more & more to maintain her revenue growth. It’s not so much that she doesn’t feel “successful” so much as she isn’t having as much fun growing the business.

She hustles and hustles. She develops new offers. She launches like a boss.

And she’s feeling burnt out.

That’s rough. Burnt out isn’t a fun place to be in your career. Especially when your business is largely dependent on you to keep it rolling.

Surely, there must be a way for Stella to reach her true revenue goals (they’re high!), to keep up the parts of her business that she loves, and to spend less time & energy on the maintenance of her business so that she can live her life own her own terms.

There is.

The “microbusiness earning plateau” is an extremely common problem. Hustle, hustle, hustle, and you just don’t get the same growth you used to get. On the outside you look successful, but on the inside you feel tired and spent.

It’s where I see a lot of microbusiness owners end up throwing the towel in. They just don’t see the path to the revenue and scale they thought was possible.

And that’s often when they come to me.

That’s when we start working on creating a business model that breathes. Marketing & sales activities pulse through its veins. Customer perspective feeds its soul.

The key to busting through the microbusiness earning plateau isn’t more offers (that’s just more work) and it’s not necessarily some signature program or ebook.

The key to busting through the microbusiness earning plateau and creating a business that helps you stick with this for the long haul is leveraging:

  • Prices that serve your customers.
  • Products or services that address their evolving needs.
  • And marketing & sales strategies that are designed for your freedom.

And that is the essence of a business model.

When you’re focused on creating, delivering, and exchanging value according to those three principles, you can kiss that microbusiness earning platue (and burn out, and frustration) good-bye.

 

Leverage Your Weaknesses

I have often been teased for being brainy and intellectualizing personal problems. I tend to think more than feel. I rationalize more than empathize. I am INTP.

I have never gone so far as to try to hide my smarts but I certainly have often seen it as a weakness instead of a strength. Like it’s something to be managed instead of something to be exploited.

This week in Quiet Power Strategy™: The Program, our clients completed Quiet Power Inventories. These begin with understanding your Onlyness. Onlyness is a concept from Nilofer Merchant’s book, 11 Rules for Creating Value in the Social Era, and she uses it to talk about the unique angle that each of us bring to the work that we do.

Leverage Your Weaknesses

From my perspective, Onlyness also applies to brands–it’s a big part of where they draw their Quiet Power from. The most memorable brands get really good at using what makes them unique to deliver additional value to their customers. And this often means focusing on what has become a perceived weakness and turning it into a genuine asset.

Instead of hiding what could be the butt of jokes, great brands put it out in the open. They exploit it.

Merchant writes in a recent post:

Your brand is the exhaust created by the engine of your life. It is a by-product of what happens as you share what you are creating, and with whom you are creating.

So if your engine is running on something–no matter how quirky it might be–and that’s not a key piece of what you’re putting out into the world, what’s representing you, what’s acting as a channel for the value you’re creating, you’re missing a big opportunity.

Don’t try to engineer a brand. Reverse-engineer a brand (click to tweet!) that supports your unique way of creating value.

My brand leverages my habit of intellectualizing and rationalizing. It sets my brand apart from brands that leverage fun & glamor or spirituality & poeticism. But its these unique strengths that allow each of these brands to deliver more value than they would if they were traveling down the middle of the road. And they are each things that could be perceived as weaknesses if not blatantly built into the very core of each business.

There’s a perception that there are certain “right” ways to create a brand or build the persona of your business. Whether you’ve bought into an image that ultra-professional, glam, corporate, spiritual, new age, or quirky, if the image of your business doesn’t spring from what you’re bringing to the table through your business’s unique skills, strengths, and passions, the resulting disconnect can drain you dry. Financially and energetically.

Your Onlyness helps you build a business model that really works. It informs your sales copy, your company culture, and your sales process. But, bottom line, it helps you & your business do what it does best.

As I mentioned earlier, often that thing that businesses are trying to hide, manage, or battle is the key to infusing Onlyness into their brand, business model, and sales process. It’s the thing they assume is keeping them from doing more, when that couldn’t be further from the truth.

Stop fighting it, start leveraging it.

If you’ve be struggling with how to manage a certain aspect of your personality or something that your business doesn’t do as well as you think it should, what would happen if you decided to highlight it? Harness it?

If you have a particular weakness that’s been nagging you for awhile, my friend & client Bridget Pilloud does this for a living. She helped me recast my social anxiety as a strength–which I’ve sense incorporated into my work in a big way.