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The Evolution Stage: How to Leverage Your Time and Resources, So You Can Make a Bigger Impact AND More Money

The Evolution Stage: How to Leverage Your Time and Resources, So You Can Make a Bigger Impact AND More Money

by: Melinda Cohan

This article is the fifth in our series, The Success Path. In the first article, we explained that The Success Path is a five-stage path coach-preneurs journey, as they go from coach, to startup business owner, to CEO. To navigate the journey successfully, it’s important to complete each stage before moving on to the next. In the exercise at the end of the first article, we helped you identify where you are now on The Success Path, and what you need to do to continue on this journey to whichever stage you consider your final destination. In the second, third, and fourth articles, respectively, we went into depth about The Declaration, Transition, and Attraction Stages: what they are, what you may face when you’re in them, and what you must do before moving on to The Attraction Stage. We recommend reading the previous articles in this series here, before reading the article below:

Article 1: The Start-Up Entrepreneur’s Success Path: The Critical Process of Mapping Your Route to Success

Article 2: The Declaration Stage: Commit to Creating the Success You Dream About

Article 3: The Transition Stage: Where the Magic—a.k.a. Preparation—Happens

Article 4: The Attraction Stage: Avoid Overwhelm and Prep for the Magic


 

If you’re like so many of the coaches we work with, you’re passionate about making a difference. You want to guide people to creating transformation in their lives, and the more, the better!

But you’ve gone into business for yourself because you’re seeking balance. You want to be your own boss, make your own hours, and experience the freedom of business ownership.

You may wonder if you can make a big impact and experience that freedom, at the same time.

At The Coaches Console, we are firm believers that you can – when you have the right systems in place.

When it comes to The Success Path we outlined in the first article in this series, that’s what the fourth stage, the Evolution Stage, is all about: leveraging and growing your business.

It’s about reaching a greater number of people—expanding your impact—while working less and earning more money.

Your focus during the Evolution Stage is to create and implement the tools, resources, and materials necessary to bring automation to your business, add additional revenue streams, and work fewer hours … all while working with more clients, supporting them in exquisite ways, and earning more money.

Yes! This is the sweet spot!

What you may be experiencing if you’re in the Evolution Stage:

As startup coaches traverse the Evolution Stage, they’re gaining momentum and confidence!

You have your online Client Agreement in place, as well as systems for managing and tracking your payments and finances.  You’re converting a majority of your sample sessions, and you’re supporting your clients. They’re experiencing great transformation, and you’re receiving incredible testimonials and case study stories from them. Things are moving along in your business, and you’re feeling great about the lifestyle and business you’re in the midst of creating.

Now, it’s time to leverage!

The Evolution Stage is all about applying the “wash, rinse, repeat” concept to your business—so that many aspects of your business can run on autopilot.

To illustrate the feelings you may be experiencing, I’d like to share a few snippets from conversations I recently had with startup coaches who are in the Evolution Stage.

“I’m missing upcoming goals and deadlines for clients.”

“I’m starting to lose clients because I don’t have a system that keeps them engaged.”

“If I do my job well as a coach, I coach myself out of a client. I don’t know how to keep clients coming back for more when there are so many other ways I can support them.”

“I just don’t have enough time to get everything done.”

“I love the work I’m doing and I want to keep working with more and more clients, but I just don’t see how that’s even possible; I don’t have enough time!”

“I feel like there are a ton of missed opportunities that I just can’t take advantage of because I just don’t have the time.”

What you should know:

If you want to continue to grow, you can’t do it alone. Leverage your time. Get support!

Many coach-preneurs in the Evolution Stage continue to do everything on their own, from marketing to scheduling to invoicing to meeting with clients. As they begin to offer group programs, they still do everything on their own.

To these people, we say: stop! There simply aren’t enough hours in the day for you to do it all. It’s time to get help.

This is precisely the time in your business when it is critical leverage your time. How? Get help! Hire a certified VA, a bookkeeper, an accountant, and so on.

Now, we’re going to walk, step-by-step, through the three core components of successfully traversing the Evolution Stage, so that you can truly leverage your resources – specifically, your most valuable resource: time.

Here we go!


 

The three core components of the Evolution Stage include:

Giving Your Clients Exquisite Client Support.

Exquisite Client Support empowers clients to create new habits, and therefore, to experience real transformation!

A hobbyist’s approach to supporting her clients is just showing up for the coaching sessions and providing great coaching. As a business owner, you realize there is more to being a coach-preneur than simply showing up for coaching.

You want to provide support to your clients before, during, and in-between sessions.

Furthermore, you want to leverage your time so that you can work with more clients in less time, and earn more money.

So the Evolution Stage is not only about offering Exquisite Client Support; it’s also about doing so in a way that doesn’t take up more of your time. Although that may sound tricky, it’s not.

It’s all about streamlining and automating the support in a secure and confidential way.

The key to streamlined, automated Exquisite Client Support: replace email with a private client portal.

Many startup coach-preneurs use email to share documents and forms, provide resources, and support their clients. Traditional email is not dependable, secure, or confidential. It’s time consuming, too, and it requires you to work harder to engage and support your clients.

That’s why we consider the private portal the backbone of Exquisite Customer Support. The private client portal is a secure, confidential place where your clients can get everything they need (a welcome packet, intake forms, scheduling information, session notes, homework, and more). This allows you to automate the delivery of any and all materials they need, when they need them. Plus, it gets your client organized, which ultimately ensures they get better results on the investment they made with you.

With a great private client portal, you can:

Include a session prep form that supports your clients in preparing to make the most of their coaching session with you.

Provide content and material to clients, to support them during their transformational experience.

Provide a recording of each session, as well as a post-session recap form that supports clients in integrating what they learned into their daily life.

Allow clients to schedule (or re-schedule) sessions to avoid the back-and-forth email nightmare that can sometimes occur.

Provide a secure way for clients to have access to you between sessions for “just-in-time coaching,” whether they want to share celebrations and big wins, seek support on urgent challenges, and upload material for you to review.

The bottom line is that a private client portal allows you to be extremely professional with your clients … and it frees up your time to focus on revenue-generating activities, including coaching more clients.

Here is a real-life illustration of the results you experience when you switch from using email to using a private client portal to offer your clients that Exquisite Client Support:

“I was trying to make it all work with Word and traditional email—or snail mail—and it was too cumbersome and time consuming for me and for my clients. I chose Coaches Console because there were so many details and I needed a single, secure online place to keep track of them. The Coaches Console helped me build my business more easily, and it now allows me to do more of the coaching and less administration. My clients and I stay connected between our sessions, in a way that is more secure and personal than we could with regular email. I don’t have to remember to send them a welcome packet; my system does it for me. And it gives my clients everything they need to know, in bite-sized pieces. It stops the overwhelm for my clients, and I notice they are applying the information more consistently than before, which helps their progress.”

When you’re in the Evolution Stage, you spend less time on the back end, administrative tasks, and technology … and more time on coaching!

Now you’re prepared to work with a greater number of clients in the same amount of time. In other words, you’re prepared to have a greater impact while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of the Entrepreneurial Dream!

 

Getting More Clients.

This is where the “wash, rinse, repeat” concept comes into play. During the Evolution Stage, you continue to research how effective your lead generation tools are, and make the necessary modifications to ensure it’s bringing in ideal clients who are ready to work with you.

You can continue to provide free resources, fill your funnel through various marketing activities, and take prospects through your sales funnel from free gift to sample session to enrollment conversation to onboarding to engagement.

Just keep workin’ it!

Pretty soon, you’ll reach your desired number of clients and/or the level of revenue where you want to be, while working the number of hours you want to work.

 

Leveraging Your Time.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, many coaches go into business for themselves because they want to make an impact while enjoying the freedom and flexibility entrepreneurship provides.

Of course, there are countless definitions of “success.” Some coach-preneurs simply want to supplement an existing income, while others want to make six figures.

That’s the awesome thing about the Evolution Stage: this is where you get to decide what YOUR version of “success” is, and leverage your resources accordingly.

There’s one thing most definitions of “success” have in common, though: making more money while working fewer hours, so that’s why we’re sharing some of the best ways to leverage your time, here:

  1. Hire other people to take on the tasks that are not in your zone of genius. The most common first hires are a bookkeeper and a VA (Virtual Assistant).

When you’re a startup coach-preneur, it may feel difficult (or even impossible!) to think about paying someone else to do tasks that you could do yourself (even if you’re mediocre at doing them). But don’t you want to free up more of your time? When you invest in someone who is highly- proficient at those tasks, it takes them a fraction of the time that it might take you to do it.

I know, because I’ve been there (Melinda, here!). When we first started The Coaches Console, I did all the books and financial tasks for our business. I was pretty smart about it, and I could manage QuickBooks. Initially, this was necessary, because we just didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it.

Then, we bumped into that moment: the moment where we realized I needed to spend my time marketing, networking, and selling. The more time I spent on the books and financial reports (which, of course, are vital), the less time I was marketing. So we were saving money by not paying someone to keep track of our books, but we were likely losing money in terms of bringing in new business.

Long story short, we hired a bookkeeper. And it took her 20 minutes to do what it had taken me half a day to do! True story. Not only was our cost low in hiring this bookkeeper, but it freed up a significant amount of my time to spend marketing, networking, and bringing in more clients and money.

  1. Create leveraged programs.

As you work with more and more clients in a one-on-one setting, you’ll naturally find yourself repeating some of the core, basic teachings and inquiries that you provide to your clients.

This is an indicator that you’re ready to create a group program so you can put multiple people in the same room (literally or virtually) and address these commonalities to the group all at once.

Now, many startups feel stumped when it comes to creating content for group programs.

But once you’ve worked with lots of clients one-on-one, you’ll be gathering research about the best process to move your clients from Pain Island to Pleasure Island effectively. Then you can easily compile that learning into a group program and work with multiple people at once.

That being said, to leverage your time, take the common questions, exercises, analogies and resources you encounter during your one-on-one sessions, and turn them into:

A DIY (Do-It-Yourself) or home study course your clients can take themselves through.

A group coaching program.

Teleclasses or webinars.

Mastermind groups.

Bootcamp programs.


 

Exercise.

The Evolution Stage is all about leverage. So here is an exercise for doing so:

Step One. Review and analyze your last five to ten clients. Jot down what their challenges were, what their desired outcomes were, what kind of challenges they brought to your sessions, which coaching questions you asked them, and which resources you shared with them.

Step Two. Use those commonalities to create group programs.

Evolution Stage Mantra. To Leverage My Time, I Need Support.

Complete the exercises in this post, and enjoy the entrepreneurial freedom you work so hard for! If you’re interested in stepping out of your business to work ON it, rather than IN it, you may eventually choose to move on to the next stage, The Expansion Stage. (This is where you scale your business so that you can work minimal hours while making more money and a broader impact! FREEDOM!)

 

Posted in: StartUp Coach

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The Attraction Stage: Avoid Overwhelm and Prep for the Magic

by: Melinda Cohan

This article is the fourth in our series, The Success Path. In the first article, we explained that The Success Path is a five-stage path coach-preneurs journey, as they go from coach, to startup business owner, to CEO.  To navigate the journey successfully, it’s important to complete each stage before moving on to the next. In the exercise at the end of the first article, we helped you identify where you are now on The Success Path, and what you need to do to continue on this journey to whichever stage you consider your final destination. In the second and third articles, respectively, we went into depth about The Declaration and Transition Stages: what they are, what you may face when you’re in them, and what you must do before moving on to The Attraction Stage. We recommend reading the first, second, and third articles here before reading the article below:

Article 1: The Start-Up Entrepreneur’s Success Path: The Critical Process of Mapping Your Route to Success

Article 2: The Declaration Stage: Commit to Creating the Success You Dream About

Article 3: The Transition Stage: Where the Magic—a.k.a. Preparation—Happens


 

To illustrate the importance of preparation when it comes to the Attraction Stage, I’d like to paint pictures of two different scenarios for you.

Scenario One: It’s Monday, and you have a ton to do. You have to take the kids to school, then go grocery shopping. After you get home and put the groceries away, you have to put dinner in the slow cooker, make a few quick calls, and then go pick up the kids and take them to their track meet. Here’s how it goes down: you wake up late because you hit Snooze on your alarm. Then, you rush to get the kids ready, and barely make it to school on time. Because you were running behind, you didn’t have time to clean out the trunk of your car from all the weekend shenanigans. Now, you don’t have anywhere to put groceries, so you have to rearrange the car to make space. When you get home, you realize the fridge is full and you have to throw away some leftovers before cramming the groceries inside. You’re now running behind, so you throw the ingredients in the slow cooker and hope you’ll have time to make those calls tomorrow.

Scenario Two: It’s Sunday, and you know you have a ton to do tomorrow. You have to take the kids to school, then go grocery shopping. After you get home and put the groceries away, you have to put dinner in the slow cooker, make a few quick calls, and then go pick up the kids and take them to their track meet. So, you take a few minutes Sunday to have the kids help you empty out the trunk of your car, so you have room for the groceries in the morning. You set up your slow cooker and clean out the fridge. You set your alarm so you can get up 15 minutes early. Here’s how Monday goes down: Even though you hit Snooze, you still have plenty of time to get the kids ready and get out the door on time for school. You get to the grocery store and put the groceries in the trunk before driving home to put them away in your cleaned-out fridge. You have a few minutes to spare, so you make your phone calls before putting dinner in the slow cooker. Then, you have a few minutes before leaving to pick up the kids, so you check off an item from Tuesday’s to-do list.

So, what is the key difference between these two scenarios? Scenario One forced you to be reactionary, right? Whereas in Scenario Two, you were proactive. You anticipated issues before they happened, and you saved time and energy because of it.

When it comes to The Success Path we outlined in the first article in this series, that’s what the third stage, the Attraction Stage, is all about: proactively attracting clients to your business.

It’s about being prepared to have those enrollment conversations.

Your focus during the Attraction Stage is to create and implement the tools, resources, and materials necessary to enroll and onboard new clients.

What you may be experiencing if you’re in the Attraction Stage:

As startup coaches traverse the Attraction Stage, they’re gaining momentum as they put into place the systems for growing their business.

You have all your contacts organized into one place, and you’re equipped, confident and ready—no, prepared!—to get clients! You’re clear on your commitment to pursue your dreams, and you have a thorough understanding of the best practices you need to set up to start and run your business.

This is where overwhelm can creep in, if you don’t have the tools you need. It’s also where things really get exciting. It’s where you finally get to start working with people, making that impact about which you’re so passionate.

So, ARE you ready?

To illustrate the feelings you may be experiencing, I’d like to share a few snippets from conversations I recently had with startup coaches who are in the Attraction Stage.

“I don’t know how to brand myself so I don’t even know how or where to start to get clients or market my business.”

“There are a lot of ways to attract clients; how do I know which one to choose?”

“I know this sounds silly, but I just don’t understand how to get clients; when someone seems interested in what I’m doing, what do I do next?”

“I’m trying to create a marketing plan that is consistent without being overwhelming.”

“I hate marketing, I just ignore it!”

“I need more confidence and a specific marketing plan to connect with prospective clients.”

What you should know:

It is critical that you’re proactive!

Many coach-preneurs in the Attraction Stage are reactive when it comes to enrollment conversations. This is where they get into the “Oh, Crap! Now What?” business model, and they’re forced to scramble behind the scenes to figure out how to get the results you need. This is a stressful way to find clients and build your business, to say the least.

That’s why the key here is to put your client agreement and onboarding process in place BEFORE you show up for the enrollment conversation, so you’re able to leverage the “yes” when someone decides to work with you.

If you don’t have these things ready to go, a new client may have to wait hours – or even days – until they’re officially onboarded. That means you risk creating a time gap that allows their gremlins creep in, causing them to get cold feet. On the other hand, when your client agreement, welcome packet, autoresponders, and client portal are in place and automated, everything is seamless, and your new client experiences immediate engagement … and you can leverage his or her, “yes.”

This stage is all about the enrollment conversation. While some startup coaches refer to this as a “sample session,” “discovery session,” or, “initial consultation,” the focus of this session is to get them to a solid, confident decision about what their best next step is.

Yes, you will provide some coaching and value during this conversation, but the point isn’t necessarily to get them to hire you; it’s actually to tap into your greatest skills as a coach and support these people in gaining clarity on their next steps.

Specifically, it’s about you guiding them to clarity about where they are now, where they want to be, and identifying how committed they are to making the decision to get the results of which they’ve dreamed—which is the heart and soul of an enrollment conversation.

So many coaches show up for sample sessions thinking all they need to do is great coaching. But this is more than just a conversation! There is more to be done behind the scenes to facilitate an effective enrollment conversation.

That’s why, now, we’re going to walk, step-by-step, through the six things you must have in place during the Attraction Stage, to ensure you’re fully prepared for kick-ass enrollment conversations.

Here we go!


 

Six things you must have in place to move through the Attraction Stage effectively:

An easy way for prospects on your contact list to book a sample session with you when they’re ready.

An ability to send appointment reminders. These appointment reminders should:

Be branded, so you create brand consistency.

Be specific, so there is no question about who is contacting whom, at what time, and in which time zone, as well as on which platform (phone, in-person, Skype, Zoom, Bridgeline, etc.).

Include a quick link to an easy session prep form to help your prospect get organized in advance, so they can make the most of their session (this also serves as a filter to ensure you spend time only on those people who are committed to showing up!).

An ability to file the information from the session prep form (above) into the prospect’s client notes so that you, as the coach and sales person, can be prepared in advance for the upcoming conversation.

An online client agreement at the ready, in advance of the sample session, so you can leverage a “yes” when your prospect is ready to get started. This client agreement form should include:

An electronic, “I agree” button, so when a prospect says, “yes,” you can immediately move him or her into action, supporting the decision to go for getting the results they most desire.

An easy way for you to ask for and receive money from your new client so you can leverage his or her “yes.”

An automated onboarding sequence that gets them engaged. This should include autoresponders that deliver the welcome packet and any other welcome emails!


 

Exercise.

The Attraction Stage is all about getting organized before you attract clients. So here are four steps to doing so:

Step One. Set up an online calendar where prospects can book their sample sessions. Be sure that it incorporates automated, branded appointment reminders that are time zone specific.

Step Two. Create a session prep form that asks your prospects five simple questions, so they can prepare, and so you can prepare (by reviewing their answers).

Step Three. Set up an online client agreement with an electronic “I agree” option.

Step Four. Integrate an easy, automated payment option for your new clients to get started as soon as they accept your online agreement.

One quick note here, before you take action on this exercise: when you use various technologies to implement each of these elements, overwhelm can get pretty intense. The more technology platforms you use in your business, the more of your time, money, and attention is put into managing the back end of your business, into being the go-between for the different technologies that don’t talk to each other. That’s why we recommend using one, integrated platform that can accomplish all of these things, so the back end of your business can operate like a well-oiled machine.

Please allow us a moment to brag:

The Coaches Console is that platform: it integrates all these elements in one place and makes it so easy for coaches to streamline and automate all of these very important pieces—without overwhelm!

Attraction Stage Mantra. When Preparedness Meets Opportunity, Success is Inevitable.

Complete the exercises in this post, and then move on to the next stage, The Evolution Stage. (This is where you onboard your clients and give them the exquisite customer support they need to create the results they want—and to become your raving fans!)

Watch your inbox for the next article in this series, which gives you everything you need to know about navigating The Evolution Stage.

 

Posted in: StartUp Coach

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The Transition Stage: Where the Magic—a.k.a. Preparation—Happens

by: Melinda Cohan

This article is the third in our The Success Path series. In the first article, we explained that The Success Path is a five-stage path coach-preneurs journey, as they go from coach, to startup business owner, to CEO.  To navigate the journey successfully, it’s important to complete each stage before moving on to the next. In the exercise at the end of the first article, we helped you identify where you are now on The Success Path, and what you need to do to continue on this journey to whichever stage you consider your final destination. In the second article, we went into depth about The Declaration Stage: what it is, what you may face when you’re in it, and what you must do before moving on to The Transition Stage. We recommend reading the first and second articles here before reading the article below:

Article 1: The Start-Up Entrepreneur’s Success Path: The Critical Process of Mapping Your Route to Success

Article 2: The Declaration Stage: Commit to Creating the Success You Dream About


 

 

If you were going to build a house, how would you start? Would you declare, “I’m ready!” and then run out to the unimproved lot and start nailing boards together? If so, you’d probably have a pretty ramshackle shelter, right?

The truth is, if you were going to build a house, you would first create a plan. Then you’d lay a foundation, right? A foundation gives your house a solid base on which to stand, so that it will be sturdy and safe!

When it comes to The Success Path we outlined in the first article in this series, that’s what the second stage, the Transition Stage, is all about: building a foundation for your business. It’s about getting prepared.

Your focus during the Transition Stage is to create the components to identify, find, attract, and engage prospects, and implement the funnels, strategies, and best practices to grow your list. Why? Because your list is the foundation for your coaching business.

Many coach-preneurs in the Transition Stage pursue their business—specifically—try to go out and get clients—without knowing, in advance, all the pieces and best practices they need, which results those pieces and best practices drive, and why they’re important.

With the right systems and processes in place, you can lay the foundation—incorporating the various pieces and best practices—for a successful business that is profitable and allows you to make that impact you dream of.

What you may be experiencing if you’re in the Transition Stage:

As startup coaches traverse the Transition Stage, they may begin to gain confidence. Although you know you have a lot to learn, you’ve put in place the pieces necessary to transition from full-time J-O-B to full-time coach-preneur. (Woohoo!)

You’ve got some cash reserves set aside, you know WHY you’re doing this whole coaching thing, and you’re READY to hit the ground running!

If there’s one word to describe you, it’s “enthusiastic,” and that’s great! (But, proceed with caution! More on this in a moment.)

To illustrate the feelings you may be experiencing, I’d like to share a few snippets from conversations I recently had with startup coaches who are in the Transition Stage.

“I don’t know how to reach people or start building a list from the start!”

“I don’t know how to reach people that I don’t already know.

“It seems like I’ve been spending a lot of time doing things for my business every day. I mean, I’ve been busy ALL day. But I dread each week that I still have a lack of prospects, and I don’t have any momentum in this area, so I just keep myself busy hoping something will make a difference and somehow, someone will want to hire me.”

What you should know:

 

There’s a difference between being ready and being prepared.

Preparation brings order to the otherwise chaotic, overwhelming task of building a business. This means you take time, up front, to know what needs to happen, when!

If you don’t, everything feels urgent. You spend a lot of time just keeping busy, hoping something will pan out, and you feel pressured and fearful—and your investments in terms of time, energy, money, and resources may not pay off in terms of the business-building results you want to see.

The very first thing you must do during the Transition Stage is to find and engage prospects so that when you are ready, you can effectively convert them into paying clients. How do you do that?

List building. Your email list is your goldmine: your Number One Business Asset. Hands down, it’s THE Number One Most Important System when it comes to laying that foundation we talked about.

But we’re not talking just any email list. You see, your list is only effective to the degree that its members are:

Made up of your ideal type of client.

Excited and ready to receive the wisdom you have to share.

Organized.

Responsive.

If your list is sloppy, created for the sake of having names in a database or a bigger number about which to boast, or if it’s scattered across multiple platforms, you’ll struggle to have enrollment conversations that lead to paying clients.

Now, we’re going to walk, step-by-step, through the four elements of effective list building, which will ensure you move through the Transition Stage efficiently.

Here we go!


 

How to move through the Transition Stage effectively:

Build a great list! Here are FOUR elements of a great list that converts.

Element One of a Great List That Converts: It’s Made up of Your Ideal Clients.

We mentioned above that the Transition Stage is all about growing your list. To be specific, though, we want you to keep in mind that you must focus on the QUALITY of the list you’re growing. That old adage—quality over quantity—is certainly true, here.

Let’s play a game!

I have built out two mailing lists, and you get to choose one of them to start sending communications to.

List A: The list size is 5,000 contacts, made up of a collection of people who may or may not be similar to the type of ideal client you’d like to work with. It’s in the general ballpark, anyway. These people may not be spot on, but there are 5,000 contacts! When you send out an email offering a free resource, 120 of them might open the email and click through to check it out. And about 60 unsubscribe on each send.

List B: This list has 1,800 contacts. It’s a solid list made up of the exact type of person you’d love to work with. When you send out an email offering a free resource (the same one as above,), 420 of them open the email and click through to check out the resource you’re sharing. And because this list is made up of exactly the type of client you want to work with, facing the exact challenges you can help transform into results through your coaching, only six unsubscribe.

You’d choose List B, right? (Right?!)

Yes, your ego may want the bigger list. It sounds so impressive to say you’ve got 5,000 people on your list! But, what’s more important at the end of the day? Size, or results?

Results!

(If you’re thinking size, you may want to do some self-coaching around your need for your ego to take charge of your business – and I say this with LOVE.)

Transition Stage Pitfall: Letting your ego get the best of you. In an effort to alleviate the fear they’re experiencing during the early stages of their business, many startups allow their ego to get the best of them. They want to make themselves look better by boasting that they have a larger list. But if that list is doing more harm in the long run, who does that really serve?

Bottom Line: When you focus on quality, when you put your time and attention into adding ideal clients to your list, and you’re fierce in protecting the types of people who are on your list, you end up creating a strong list that grows quickly. The people you add to your list want what you have. They tell their friends, and you grow your list faster, with less effort.

You CAN have it all: quality and quantity!

 

Element Two of a Great List That Converts: Its Members Are Excited to Receive What You’re Sharing.

This is where preparation is absolutely critical. You want your list to be filled with your ideal clients, right? Well, how do you make that happen?

You offer them lead generation tools that are aligned with addressing the exact challenges they’re facing, and the transformation you help them experience when it comes to those challenges.

Lead generation tools are free gifts that you give people in exchange for their email addresses. They may take the form of downloads, checklists, free reports, or blueprints. They’re also a great opportunity for the people you DO know—your existing contacts—to refer their friends to you, to give people you DON’T know a taste of the transformation you provide.

Here are five components of an effective lead generation tool – the tool:

1. Clarifies the steps necessary for the ideal client to get out of the challenges he or she has felt stuck in.
2. Conveys an understanding of why those steps are critical.
3. Provides the promise of a different possible future … and how creating those results in their life will positively impact their world.
4. Paints the picture of what it would look like NOT to pursue a path of change (and how this will negatively impact their world).
5. Gives social proof that what you’re sharing actually creates the transformation, or the end results your ideal client desires.

Transition Stage Pitfall: Telling them the HOW. Your lead generation tool should never include the HOW. Explain the WHAT and the WHY. If they want to know HOW to actually go about making the changes, well, they have to hire you to get that information. 😉

Bottom Line: The more clarity that’s present in your lead generation tool, and the more effectively it conveys the information to your contacts, the more ready they’ll be to receive and engage in what you share with them! And, as a sweet bonus, their life will be better for having read it, even if they never hire you!

 

Element Three of a Great List That Converts: Your List Is Organized.

This almost goes without saying … almost. It is SO important that you have your list of contacts organized in one place. You’d be surprised how many people overlook this simple, but major element of list building.

For example, one of my private clients had her contacts scattered across seven different platforms (her smartphone, an old email account, a spreadsheet, Facebook, and a couple others).

This type of disorganization in the back end makes it extremely difficult to communicate with your people … and consider how much time it takes to repeat a single message seven times and send it out seven times in seven platforms!

There are two general ways to organize your contact list when you’re first starting out (and keep in mind that as your list grows and your business evolves, you’ll likely add a deeper level of organization to this segmenting):

1. By status type:
Prospects: your ideal clients, or those who may know your ideal clients.
Hot leads: people who have booked a sample session, are very curious and interested in what you’re doing and how it can help them transform, but haven’t made the commitment yet.
Active clients: paying or pro-bono clients who are actively working with you in some capacity.
Inactive clients: former clients who are no longer working with you.
Buyers: people who have purchased other programs from you, beyond your one-on-one coaching packages.

2. By segment.
• Demographic
• Marketing/networking events
• Referral source
• Niche

The more organized your list is, the better you can communicate the right information to the right people to get the best conversion possible.

Transition Stage Pitfall: Diving into emailing your contacts without first putting the systems in place to organize them and streamline your communication process. Again, this is where preparation is key! The time you take to put all your contacts into one program, and to segment them appropriately will pay off in huge time, money, and energy savings almost immediately.

Bottom Line: Get organized! You’ll be glad you did. Not only will you be able to reach the right people at the right time, but you’ll continuously improve the quality of your list as you tell people only about the things in which they’d be interested.

 

Element Four of a Great List That Converts: Its Members Are Responsive.

A responsive list is a healthy list!

But what does it mean to have a responsive list? It means that when you send out communications of any kind—resources, promotions, referrals, content, a video—you get the best response. People open your emails, click through to the pages you’re linking to, and take the call to action you provide.

Creating a responsive list is centered upon your ability to send them quality, varied information, consistently. That means sending emails that:

1. Are different from one another, and arrive regularly.
2. Share great content.
3. Share great resources (created by you or someone else).
4. Introduce them to another helpful resource—one that helps them overcome challenges that impact their success in the areas where they’re working with you.
5. Provide fun, inspiring, or challenging personal stories so people get to know you outside of business.

Transition Stage Pitfall: Many startup coach-preneurs don’t want to seem “pushy” or “too salesy,” so they shy away from creating regular follow up. They fear being overbearing, so they go to the other extreme, and it’s radio silence, instead.

Bottom Line: While we recommend mixing up the type of content you share with your list (to keep them intrigued and engaged), we also want to remind you that consistency is queen! Send regular communication to nurture your list and build your relationship with its members.


 

Exercise.

As you now know, the Transition Stage is all about preparation.
So here are four steps to getting PREPARED!

1. Go to the various places in which you have your contacts scattered (consider them all: Gmail, Yahoo, Excel, Outlook, your smartphone, Facebook, LinkedIn, that pile of business cards on your desk). Put those contacts all into one central place. For Coaches Console members, this is as easy as importing the contacts from various platforms into one organized, segmented list in your Console System.
2. Group your newly organized contacts/prospects by status type.
3. Group your newly organized contacts/prospects into segments, as outlined above.
4. Send a “Dear Jane” letter, telling all your contacts what you’re up to, the ideal type of client you’re looking to support, and the transformation your services provide. Then, ask them to opt in to your free gift or sign up for your newsletter, if they’re looking for what you have to offer!

Transition Stage Mantra.

Benjamin Franklin said it best: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

 

Confucius said it pretty well, too: “Success depends upon previous preparation.”

Choose one of these and live by it!

In the Transition Stage, the more you can focus on growing a quality list—one that is organized, engaged, and responsive—the deeper you’ll build the know-like-trust factor. When people know you, like you, and trust you, they’ll book a sample session! Then they’ll hire you, re-hire you, and refer you to their friends, colleagues, and family members.

So many startups rush straight to trying to get clients, without taking a bit of time to build a quality list and build the relationships necessary for that sense of trust. After all, that’s what great coaching is – nurturing and supporting and being of service to those we love … and that especially includes the members of your list.

Being in business is a long-term game, and when it comes to coaching, it’s all about taking time to intentionally create a solid, kick-ass mailing list that will bring you results now and in the future.

Complete the exercises in this post, and then move on to the next stage, The Attraction Stage. (This is where you finally get to go out and attract the clients who need your life changing work! It’s going to be epic!)

Watch your inbox for the next article in this series, which gives you everything you need to know about navigating The Attraction Stage.

 

Posted in: StartUp Coach

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3 Steps to Building a Responsive, Engaged List – Authentically

So, you want to build your mailing list. And not just build it, but also take steps to make its members engaged and responsive. You know authenticity, readership, and engagement are crucial to growing your business.

But.

You’re just starting out, and you don’t have any contacts! Even if you did, you aren’t sure if it’s okay to start contacting them. And even if it was okay, you don’t know what to say to them.

Hold it right there.

Help is here!

The contact list you create in your business is a gold mine. You should treat it as such: mindfully create it, cultivate it, nurture it, and protect it. Fortunately, I’m going to show you how.

First of all, chances are you have more contacts than you realize. And there is a way to have them “opt-in,” officially, so you can start sending them emails. And … you guessed it: I’m going to give you a template for what to say when you reach out!

Ready? Let’s do this.

First and foremost, you have more contacts than you realize. They’re just scattered across the many facets of your life and the many platforms on which you’ve collected them. From your high school and college classmates to your colleagues from previous jobs, to all the friends you’ve made along the way, it’s likely that your contact list is already pretty decent.

As technology has evolved in the past couple of decades, you’ve probably stored your contacts in different places: that old Rolodex, Outlook, your personal email account, your smartphone, your address book … you get the picture.

 

Collect Your Contacts and Organize Them into a Central Platform.

This is the groundwork. Go through Outlook, your smart phone, Facebook, LinkedIn, your business cards, old email accounts, maybe even old spreadsheets. Enter ALL your contacts into one central list.

Once you see this new, central list, you may be surprised that you have several hundred contacts!

The problem: they’re not official business contacts. They may be family, friends, colleagues, co-workers, or people you’ve encountered at various events.

A quick note here: even though you may be thinking these people don’t necessarily seem like your ideal clients, don’t be too quick to cull them out! Your existing contacts may not be your ideal clients, but they could provide a stepping-stone to people who are.

Ok, so you have your list of contacts. But none of them have officially opted in (signed up) to receive emails from you about the services you offer through your business.

So, let’s talk about the next step.

 

Ask for Permission to Send Them Emails.

Once you’ve got your contacts organized into one big email list, it’s time to let them know about your transition into starting your coaching business.

I call this notification the “Dear Jane” letter.

It’s a quick and easy way to get in touch with your existing contacts and give them the opportunity to opt in to your business mailing list.

It serves a secondary purpose, too, as a networking tool: your contacts can refer their own contacts to you, now that they know what you’re up to.

The “Dear Jane” letter includes seven components:

  1. The positioning and personalization statement. This is where you connect with those you know in a simple and personal manner.
  2. Your announcement. Let readers know you’re launching your coaching business, and tell them about your specialty.
  3. Your 5-Part Connection Conversation to create engaging dialog and response.
  4. An invitation to opt in and receive your lead generation magnet (also known as your free gift).
  5. The Ask. Ask directly if they are interested in what you’re up to or if they know someone who is. Ask for the referral.
  6. An invite to “Coffee.” Bring it back to a causal connection and show interest in what THEY are up to.
  7. The opportunity to unsubscribe. Including this option in every email ensures you meet spam regulations.

This “Dear Jane” letter will help you cultivate a specific contact list for your business, full of people who are interested in hearing what you have to say.

 

Take the “Quality over Quantity” Approach.

List building is not about getting a name on your contact list for the sake of having a greater number of “subscribers” and the bragging rights that come with that.

(The “Quantity over Quality” approach will get you high unsubscribe rates, frustrated people, and a list that isn’t responsive when you promote your services, events, or programs.)

When you cultivate a list of interested people, you’re then able to communicate the right message to them, quickly, prompting action.

When you share messages, tips, and resources, the members of your list will be more likely to take the next step toward reaching their desired results.

YOUR result: a mailing list that is engaged and responsive … and a business that continues to grow.

 

Posted in: Networking

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I Went to a Networking Event. Now What?

You’ve heard that networking is a great way to build your business.

“Just get yourself out there.”

“Go out and meet people.”

“You never know who your friends know.”

That’s what they all say, right?

So. You just went to a networking event. You had some great conversations. You met some really nice people. And you collected a ton of business cards.

And now you’re home, and you’re thinking … “Now what?!”

Should you follow up? Does the fact that someone gave you a card imply that it’s okay for you to contact them? Can you add them to your email list? And what do you even say when you DO follow up?

All these questions may leave you paralyzed with indecision. So you wait, which creates a time gap, and then you’re embarrassed because you don’t know what to say or how to follow up

Which leads to wasted opportunities.

It’s all so overwhelming!

Okay, stop right there.

There’s no need to panic.

I’m going to walk you through how to know whether you can email or call someone whose business card you got at an event, and how to follow up in a way that’s effective, authentic, and fun.

Okay, let’s dive in!


 

Do you know where all good follow-up starts?

BEFORE the meeting.

The very first step to successful networking follow-up is to get prepared in advance.

One of the biggest mistakes people make when it comes to networking is to fail to think about follow-up before the meeting. When this happens, you’re in reactionary mode. You’re behind the 8-ball.

The solution: shift your mindset. Go from reactive to proactive.

With decisions made ahead of time, you can network and follow up with confidence.

Before you even begin thinking about follow-up messages, you may wonder whether you’re even supposed to follow up with the people you’ve met (or the people whose business cards you’ve collected) at an event.

How to Know if You Have Permission to Contact Someone

Wow! That stack of business cards you picked up at the networking event is huge! But are all of these prospects actually prospects? Is it okay to reach out to them?

My answer: it depends how you got the business cards.

If you just went around and picked them up off a table, then, no, it’s not okay to reach out to them. The point is not to collect cards, just for the sake of collecting cards.

But, if you had a conversation with people, and they said they’d like to learn more about what you do, then yes! Reach out to them.

It’s okay to do so for two reasons:

  1. They asked to learn more.
  2. Every email message you send will include an “unsubscribe” link, which will allow people to unsubscribe or to adjust the settings of their subscription – so they choose which types of messages to receive. (By including an “unsubscribe” link, you’re also adhering to spam regulations. This means you can follow up with confidence.)

The best way to reach out to them is with a pre-written, automated email series. Even better, when you’re prepared and proactive, you can actually let people know, while you’re talking with them at a networking event, that they’re going to receive your free gift in your follow-up series, and what else to expect.

Follow-Up Email Messages

Before you even attend a networking event, create a series of follow-up emails you can send out to the people whose business cards you collect.

Keep in mind that the purpose of this follow-up is clarity (not necessarily to get a client). You want the reader to self-identify as one of your potential clients, and refer people they know who may be potential clients. It’s a great way to get people in touch with you.

The First Message

Obviously, since you’re creating this message ahead of time, it will be generalized, and it will include:

  • A “Nice to meet you” statement, for the people with whom you talked or interacted.
  • Information about the transformation you provide through your services.
  • An invitation to get your free gift. I recommend adding people to your prospect list and giving them access to the gift, without requiring them to do anything else. This will give prospects a better idea of how you serve the people with whom you work, and the transformation they experience.
  • A Call to Action, asking people to download the gift (yes, it’s best to actually spell it out – people are more likely to download your gift if you say, “Download my gift.”) Or, you can ask the reader to forward the link to the free gift on to a friend or family member who may be a good fit if he or she isn’t.
  • A Secondary Call to Action in the PS. This Call to Action will provide a link to a scheduler where people can book a sample session with you. It may say something like, “If you’re ready to overcome your challenges and experience results, book a sample session to get started today.” Of course, it’s best to be specific about which challenges they’ll overcome, and which results they’ll achieve.

The Second Message

In this message, share the top questions people have about working with you: specifically, about the transformation they experience, and how you answer those questions.

This may read like an FAQ question. The point of sharing questions and answers is to overcome common objections someone might have to hiring you (or any coach!).

Here’s an example:

Q: I’m so busy! I don’t have time for coaching. How can I justify this time investment?

A: During our work together, I’ll show you how to choose your priorities and get more of the important items done in less time, while providing accountability you may not otherwise hold yourself to.  So while you may feel short on time later, you’ll soon find that as a result of the focus and accountability, you have more free time and an increased sense of calm.

As with your first message, this one should include a Call to Action. Let readers know that if they’re ready to overcome challenges and achieve results, they can click on the link to your schedule and set up a complimentary session with you. Or, alternately, to send the link to someone who may be a good fit.

The Third Message

A few days after you send the previous message, send a third in which you share the success story of one of your clients.

I recommend this message focus on a case study or testimonial that shows your client’s before and after.

This provides social proof—evidence that you’ve walked your talk and that what you’re promising is real.

As with your first two messages, this one should include a Call to Action. Ask readers to click on the link to your schedule and set up a complimentary session with you if they’re ready to overcome challenges and achieve results. Or, alternately, to send the link to someone who may be a good fit.

Bringing It All Together

So many coaches love the social aspect of networking, but find the conversations and follow-up intimidating.

The good news is that knowing how you’re going to follow up and what you’re going to say in advance brings clarity on what to talk about and how to guide the in-person conversation at the actual networking event. And when you know the sequence of your follow-up messages, you can minimize the time gap between the networking event and their receipt of your first message, which keeps them interested and engaged.

One quick note, here: be sure to enter new names and contact information into your database within 24 hours upon receiving them. If you can’t find the time to do this, it’s a great project to outsource to a VA.

Being prepared and proactive can change the way you feel about—and approach—networking so it’s effective!


 

So remember:

  • Be proactive rather than reactive. Create your follow-up messages ahead of time.
  • During networking meetings, let prospects know what to expect. Give them a hint about what they’ll get from your autoresponder series (like your free gift!).
  • Enter new contact information within 24 hours of receiving it.
  • Assign and send your autoresponder series with a Call to Action on every message.

When you follow these steps, you’ll find networking is effective, because you’ll be growing your community, whether these new contacts sign up for strategy sessions, refer their friends to you, or just remain a part of your list. And guess what? You’ll find this process fun—and way less intimidating!

Posted in: Networking

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