Last time we met, we talked about how many TaxCoach members hate to sell. We walked through some of the reasons why tax business owners hate it (because they associate it with used car salesmen). And we discussed two ways to take selling out of that realm. First, realize that, unlike with used cars, people actually want to buy tax savings. And second, realize that selling tax savings doesn’t have to involve the sort of high-pressure closing associated with used cars. At the end of the article, I promised you two alternatives to selling that can help fill your office with happy clients, without ever having to resort to uncomfortable “pitches” or “closes.”
Well now it’s time to deliver those alternatives, and here they are: marketing and educating.
What, exactly, do I mean by “marketing”? Dictionary.com defines it as “the total of activities involved in the transfer of goods from the producer or seller to the consumer or buyer, including advertising, shipping, storing, or selling.” I think that’s a little broad for our purposes, so, to make sure we’re both on the same page, I’m going to narrow it down to “creating demand for a product.”
And that, in a nutshell, is what to do if you hate to sell: focus your energy on creating enough demand for your product that you don’t have to sell.
If you have three prospects – and you have to close all three to pay the rent – you’re probably going to feel a lot of pressure. I know I would! Few of us would happily put ourselves under that sort of stress.
But if you’ve done a little better with your marketing, and you have five prospects instead of three, that’s a different story. Now you’ve got a little breathing room. Now you can swing and miss – twice, even – and still get the bills paid.
Now ask yourself how you would feel if you had just delivered a bang-up seminar and you had ten prospects – but you still needed to close just three. Now you’re not under any pressure at all. Now you’re in the driver’s seat. You might even eliminate one or two off the top yourself, just because you have the luxury of that option.
The old-school marketing consultant Gary Halbert used to ask his acolytes, if they owned a restaurant, what’s the one thing they would want more than anything else? Location? Recipes? Special sauce? A cheesy clown mascot (or creepy king mascot)? No, no, no, and hell no. The one thing you should want is a crowd of starving customers.
That’s what good marketing can do for you – give you a crowd of starving customers, hungry for tax savings they can’t get anywhere else.
“Marketing” doesn’t have to be expensive. “Creating demand for your service” includes giving existing clients great value, to give them a reason to refer you. It can involve asking them for referrals. It can involve networking with fellow professionals like attorneys, insurance agents, business coaches, or financial advisors. It can involve lining up seminars for specific target markets. You don’t have to launch hit-or-miss online advertising campaigns, hire pricey search-engine optimization services, or sign up for difficult-to-learn marketing software. Just give prospective clients a reason to seek out you instead of the competition, and you’ll ease the pressure of selling by easing the need to “close” everyone you meet.
Let me reduce the key to success to two easy words, one syllable each: deal flow. If you’ve got enough of it, you don’t need to sell. When a prospect balks – which in other circumstances might mean ramping up the pressure to “close” – just let them go. Forget them and move on to the next one. (You might even be surprised how many prospects see your willingness to walk away as a sign that they actually should buy.)
I promised you a second alternative to selling, and that’s education. Education is really a different form of marketing, because the right education campaign accomplishes the same goal: it creates a demand for your service. Clients who are educated on why you’re different – and who are looking for that difference – will come “pre-sold,” and won’t need the sort of “closing” that make so many of us uncomfortable with the idea of selling.
Here’s your bottom line. Hating to sell doesn’t have to mean you can’t succeed in growing your practice. You just have to market fill your pipeline with enough prospects so you don’t need to “sell” them.