Insert lame networking stock photo here!  :)

Insert lame networking stock photo here! 🙂

Hey there Rainmaker!  Let’s talk more about how to sell yourself and your products and/or services (but especially services)…

Yesterday I shared a common selling challenge.  It was about how to close more deals, without making yourself too “available.”

This is an especially big problem with consultants in networking situations, like the AWAI Bootcamp I’ll be at next week.

In a situation like that, it’s GREAT to connect with potential clients.  But as soon as you start pushing yourself on them — especially when there’s literally hundreds of others in the room trying to sell a similar service to yours — you start to sound like a total novice.

Even if you get the gig, you’re not going to get the respect you need to make the most of it.

So, what to do instead?

In short, you need to control the relationship.

At Bootcamp, one of the things that all the marketers do is offer spec challenges.  And I’ve come out before in favor of spec challenges, to get your first one or two projects under your belt.  Nothing wrong with them in that regard.

But as soon as you have one or two really solid projects under your belt, you need to refuse them.

This might actually limit your total client pool, and that’s okay.

The thing about specs is they put the client in control of the relationship.  Even if you get the gig, you’re in a position of far less power and control.

This will carry through to every element of the relationship.

And if you’re legitimately good at what you do, it will likely end up with the client getting service at a lower quality than is possible.  A lower quality than they should get.

Because if that client is hiring you for your expertise, you need enough control in the relationship that you can practice and exercise that expertise.

David Ogilvy famously said, “You don’t buy a guard dog and stay up all night barking yourself.”

In more cases than not, a spec assignment will turn into a situation where you are the guard dog, and they’re out there in the yard with you at 3 AM trying to teach you to bark at every shadow.  This may be helpful, and is often an unnecessary evil, when you’re totally green.  But not once you’ve found your bark.

That’s why I’ve actually refused spec challenges since 2010 or so, and actually close more deals as a result.

The rest of this email is what to do instead.

The easiest way to control the relationship…

I’m going to tell you exactly what I’m going to do, at the risk somebody else is going to copy it and I’m going to look like the me-too!

My goal is to control the relationship after the first conversation.

I’ve set aside some time on my calendar to have short phone conversations with folks I meet at Bootcamp and may be interested in developing a long-term, mutually-beneficial relationship with.

These are conversations that will happen at my discretion.

They are something I can directly offer, in lieu of a spec assignment or other follow-up method.

The purpose of the calls is to take the conversation out of the supply-demand imbalance that is Bootcamp, and make them take place in a less distraction-filled atmosphere.

Also, by having these conversations, I’m getting any information I might need to follow up with those I’m interested in.

Plus, they give me the opportunity to go in-depth with the client in a more private setting, about any sensitive details that may help me determine whether or not I’m a fit.

This call is a perfect no-risk “offer” to make to potential clients, and easy to do, too…

Dan Meredith, who I’ve discussed here before, calls his 15-minute calls “Power Coaching.”  I believe he charges for some, offers some for free, depending on what makes sense in the situation.

You can charge or not charge (there are reasons for both).  You can keep yours at 15 minutes, or make them longer (again, reasons for both).

The thing is, you should have an offer like this that you make to potential clients — whether you’re meeting them in a networking situation, at a seminar, or anywhere else.

They are a simple “process” to implement, and they put the control ball in your court.

Now here’s how to use this, in a super-easy way.

I’ve mentioned before that I use TimeTrade online appointment scheduling software.  It connects with my Google Calendar, and offers available times for an appointment that fits in my schedule.

I can decide my availability, types of appointments (I can have more than one), and all sorts of other things.

When I’m at Bootcamp, I’m going to have the TimeTrade dashboard open on my phone’s web browser.  (Unfortunately there is no mobile-friendly admin dashboard, but I can deal with that.)

When I’m having a good conversation with someone I’d like to continue outside of Bootcamp, I will pop open the “Send an invite email” page.  I’ll enter their email address, and use the pre-loaded email.  It will immediately send them a link by email that they can use to schedule an appointment.

It’s fast and easy.  And it can all happen right there, in front of their eyes.

I send an email to schedule a call.  They get the email on their phone, click a link, and can select from available appointments.  And it immediately gets added to my calendar and sends them an email confirmation.

Again, this totally puts the control of the relationship in my hands.

Which will cascade through to every element of the relationship going forward.

Now, this is actually a great FIRST offer, tomorrow I will share more about what I’ll talk with them about on that call.

Yours for bigger breakthroughs,

Roy Furr

Editor, Breakthrough Marketing Secrets