I talk to coaches and consultants constantly, and I always ask what the biggest business challenge is for them. Almost all of them instantly blurt “SALES!” But, as we talk more, I find that being “in demand” is the real challenge. They aren’t in demand and, therefore, sales IS a big problem.
How do you become “in demand?” What determines if you are sought out by customers or remain anonymous? It isn’t luck. A few key areas are critical to being in demand. They are especially important for coaches and consultants who are many times the only person in their business. They need a solution that works reliably and is easy to run.
Delivering great outcomes to your clients is only the beginning and doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get more clients. You need to consider a few factors, which together let you arrange your business around getting new clients and helping them solve their problems.
I call them the 4 Ps of being in demand.
They are Product, Purpose, Path, and Persuasion. I’ll focus on Product and in subsequent articles I’ll cover the others. I’ll walk through each one and how they work together to help you set up a marketing flow that fills your business with clients and lets you focus on helping them solve their problems. As a bonus, you won’t need to work 80 hours a week!
Product covers any product or services that you sell.
Most coaches and consultants deliver a service such as life coaching, graphic design, career coaching, business planning, etc. as their main offering. This service is usually something that they are passionate about and do very well. It is is the starting point and foundation. But, it is rarely enough to build a reliable business around.
Let’s work through a short example to illustrate the challenges of predictably selling services. Bear with me, this sets the stage for understanding!
When you sell services, you must be careful about calculating your time commitment. For example, if you sell one hour of consulting or coaching, how many sessions can you deliver in a week? The answer isn’t 40! Each hour may take you another hour of preparation and follow-up work. If you want to work a typical 40 hour week, you could only deliver 20 sessions a week.
You also have other business commitments. Billing clients, paying bills, correspondence, marketing, sales, etc. are all other important actions that will take time. Again, if you want to work a 40 hour week, you need to consider how much time you must devote to overhead. Let’s say that you need to spend about six hours a week running your business. That will reduce your potential clients from 20 to 17.
You must consider your revenue. How much do you want to earn each year? Let’s say your goal is to earn $100,000 annually. That is about $8,300 per month if you divide the total by 12 months. But, you probably want to take a vacation and enjoy time away from your business. Four weeks is typical for vacation and sick time annually, so we’ll reduce the work year from twelve months to eleven months.
That means that you’ll need to earn $9,090 a month to hit your goal of $100,000 annually. Earlier, we calculated that you could deliver seventeen “sessions” monthly. So, you’ll need to charge at least $500 per client per month to hit your goal ($9,090 divided by 17 clients).
That seems like a reasonable number. You’ll need 17 clients monthly, and each will need to pay about $500 for a month of your service. Now, how long will each client stay with you? Do they need a month of your support? Do they need three months? The answer will tell you how often you need to find new clients.
If your clients sign up for one month, you’ll need to find seventeen new clients each month. Can you do that? What usually happens is that people can’t find enough clients. Many months they will have less than seventeen, but a few months they will have more than seventeen as they try to make up the difference.
This feast or famine cycle leaves you working far more than you want in some months and in other months you’ll not have enough work. Both situations are stressful.
People try to handle these fluctuations by understanding how long it takes to get new clients. Maybe they have to talk to four new people to capture one new client. Then they’ll work out how long that takes and try to time everything so that the new clients sign on as the old clients finish. It is a complex juggling act!
What I typically recommend is that a coach or consultant add a few products to augment the service they deliver. Expanding your offerings accomplishes a few things.
You will have a variety of products and services across multiple price points. This mix enables prospects who just want to try something small and inexpensive to get a feel for you and what you offer. It means that you don’t have an all-or-nothing offer, but instead you have a range that can suit budgets and comfort levels.
The mix of products and services helps your marketing as well. When you have a blend of products and services on an escalating price scale, you can bring clients along at their preferred pace. When they are ready, you can offer your “premier” service.
By creating a mix of offerings, you are also creating a group of people who have purchased from you in the past and who may purchase from you again. You can stay in touch with this group by leveraging simple technology, and many of them will become repeat clients.
Perhaps most importantly, a well-considered product mix lends itself to marketing automation. You can sell with minimal effort once you have a system in place. Additionally, this sales process provides plentiful information about your clients, which means you can improve your products and sales flow to optimize your results.
Your business can earn money without your direct and constant involvement. Because you can monitor your success and make small tweaks when needed, you will have a reliable income flow to augment your services.
Perhaps you can make $3,000 a month selling your products. I’m being very conservative, but doing so highlights the impact that adding a few products can have on your business! In our example, you are targeting earnings of $9,090 a month. If your product sales funnel earns $3,000 a month, you only need to earn $6,000 with your services. You have the option to earn more, or you can work less. Either way, your stress will drop considerably!
Don’t forget that in our example, you are only working eleven months of the year. Your automated sales funnel will work all year, which means you’ll get an extra $3,000 that month even though you are on vacation.
I’ll talk more about the marketing flow in other areas, but it’s important to understand that having a good mix of offerings is a path to stability and growth for coaches and consultants. But, what is a good mix?
I find it is useful to have three or four offerings. If your business is just you, this number is manageable, and you don’t get overburdened trying to create and manage more. Even if your business is a bit bigger, I like this number for each service you offer.
A nice mix is a short digital book, videos, and worksheets that augment the book, a simple course on the same subject, and then your one-on-one service. Each offering is worth a bit more, and clients can move up the path, purchasing as they go, or they can buy your service immediately. People will also move down the chain if they buy your high-end offering. They may follow it up by purchasing your book to have some of the lessons in a different format.
Your pricing will depend upon your offerings, but here is a general price structure for our example. You can price your book at $7, your videos and worksheets at $17, and your simple course at $47. In our example, your one-on-one service was $500. This mix works very well with both automated selling and with your more personalized selling associated with your high-end service.
You’ll find more on how this works when I discuss “Path” later in the article.
Purpose: do your products match a need that your clients have?
In reality, you’ll consider Products and Purpose together to avoid creating products that nobody wants. Purpose unites the two critical considerations that determine what products and services to create and sets the stage for successful sales.
People buy for two reasons. They are trying to eliminate pain points, or they are trying to reach a compelling desire. If your product doesn’t focus on one of those two issues, success is going to be elusive. It isn’t enough to have offerings that address one of these two needs. You must understand those needs from your customers point of view and be able to articulate that need in language they understand.
I’ve written an article on this topic, which you can find by clicking this link: The Only Two Things Customers Will Buy.
It’s also essential that you know who your ideal client is. Your products might solve problems for a huge group of people, but marketing to millions isn’t effective. Instead of people seeing themselves in your marketing, they simply see something generic.
Once you have your product mix created and understand clearly how it benefits your clients, you have to build a way for them to find and purchase from you.
Path describes how you generate traffic, create leads, and capture sales.
Automation is our best friend at this stage! We’ll create a system that covers the flow of prospects from learning about you all the way through purchasing from you and beyond. Taking the time to set up a system with the right pieces and messages in place means you can spend your time where it matters – on creating value.
Marketing systems aren’t difficult to build, but it takes a bit of knowledge and experience. I’ve written an article that goes into more detail about effective automation, and you can read it here: 5 Keys to Revolutionary Lead Generation.
A great friend of mine, Chris Windley, has also written some great articles that simplify the understanding of digital marketing and automation. Here is a wonderful primer: Brand, Presence, and Monetization.
Persuasion is how you create the messages that your prospects find compelling.
It is the key to drawing prospects in to learn more. They must have a need that matches one of your solutions. They have to be in the ideal set of circumstances that compels them to seek out a solution. Lastly, they have to be able to see their goals reached or problems solved through your offering.
The product mix I mentioned earlier works wonderfully. If you have a book, you can give a chapter away to attract prospects. They have a chance to learn more about your solutions, and you have a chance to engage with them to personalize the messages you deliver.
I also wrote another article and created an infographic that illustrate how to combine these to areas with a third element – circumstances. Click here to read and view the infographic. Your offerings must not only address your clients’ issues, but you need to know which circumstances they find themselves in when your solutions are just what they need.
If you have primarily focused on services, which many coaches and consultants do, I’ll share some ideas on products that flow naturally from your services and how to create them. Look for those articles following this series.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and picked up some useful information for your business. I would appreciate it if you shared the article by clicking the social media buttons on the left side of the page. Thanks in advance!
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