There are three components to a successful sale. First your prospect needs to know that you exist. Second they need to like you enough to reach out to you for their work. Third they need to trust that you're giving them the best advice possible outside of the financial upside your business may see.
If you're missing the first one then you don't have a sale because the prospect won't ever reach out to you. If you're missing either of the other two items then the value of the work won't be as high as it could be.
Why lower value?
Above I said that without a prospect liking and trusting you the work won't be as valuable as it could be but why do I say that?
A few years ago I was referred by a client by two colleagues as my technical skills were simply the best fit for the prospect. That double referral meant that there was a high trust factor with me, but as we talked it was fairly obvious that we didn't really like each other. Our mannerisms simply grated on each other and we could feel it.
Despite this I pushed forward with a proposal for middle five figures only to have it rejected as entirely out of line with their business. They did ask if I knew anyone that would be more in line with their value though, so I referred them to a friend who could do the work and had a similar personality.
In two weeks my friend had the exact same work, they even stole most of my proposal, for a few thousand more than I had proposed all because they had the like factor.
Knowing you is all about your marketing. Do you write on your blog regularly? Do you go to the networking events that your prospects go to? Do you contribute content to other publications in your field and in your prospects field?
Building a multi-channel marketing system helps ensure that your colleagues and prospects will hear about you so they can get in touch about a purchase. If you don't stick around and play the long game then no one is going to know that you're around to even get to the next levels.
Unfortunately part of this is going to come down to simple personality compatibility. Some people will communicate in a fashion that's not easily compatible with how you communicate. Unless you can both recognize this and put in place procedures to communicate effectively it's better just to refer them on to someone that's a better fit.
For all the other prospects you encounter the best way to get them to like you is to meet them in person. If you're widely separated by geography then a video call is the next best option for building up the rapport between you and your prospect. Via video they'll be able to see your mannerisms and get to know you much better.
If for some reason you can't get a on a video call, then try a traditional voice-only phone call. At least in a phone call they'll hear your voice, which gives many clues to your personality.
The worst option is to simply deal via email. Email means you lose all the verbal and non-verbal cues we are attuned to. Email-only communications are likely to lead to less trust and less liking from your prospect, and then they're likely to be more price sensitive.
As I said above, a great way to shortcut your way to trust is through referrals. The longer you're in business the more you're going to see your best clients come from referrals from past good clients and colleagues that respect you.
Next to that you need to treat your prospects as you want to be treated. If you're not the best option for them it's time to tell them that. If you're to busy to take on the work in a timeframe they want, refer them to a trusted colleague.
I recently sent a great client to a colleague saying goodbye to a few thousand dollars of work. Both the client and the colleague have sent me referrals since then for great projects that have equaled more dollars than I sent away. They both trust me to do right by their referrals because they've already seen it.
If you're just getting to know a prospect then simple straight forward honesty will go a long way to building trust. Another recent prospect had all kinds of ideas about his business that simply were terrible. While all the other consultants were happy to be paid money to help him implement these ideas that would harm his business, I spent 20 minutes writing an email to educate him why those ideas were a bad option. Out of that he dropped his conversations with all the other consultants and provided me with a large deposit to have access to my time in two months when he's ready to move.
When it's time to make a sale don't rush through it. Make sure that on top of just knowing who you are, you've invested the time to get your prospect to like and trust you to. Not only will it make the project go smoother, it's going to increase the prices you can charge.
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