in Business Development Mindset

7 Mindset Hacks That Will Help You Get More Clients

One of the biggest barriers many consultants, coaches and other professionals have that stands between them and achieving their business goals is their own mindset and attitude towards marketing and selling.

I can't tell you the number of people I meet who absolutely know they need to be more effective at marketing and sales – yet who feel incredibly uncomfortable doing it.

And I have to admit, I used to feel that way too.

In fact, I'm still not a “hardcore” sales person ruthlessly focused on getting the sale. My primary concern is getting the best outcome for my clients. And I'm happy that way.

But what I've found is a way of thinking about marketing and sales – mindset “hacks” – that allow me to remain fully congruent with my primary goal of helping clients, while still being effective at marketing and selling.

I'm not saying you have to share all my beliefs and ways of thinking about marketing and sales. But I have found that the more of these you internalise and believe in, the more successful you're likely to be at sales.

Mindset 1: Taking Control
A lot of consultants and coaches have a very passive mindset about marketing and selling. “If I do good work, people will hear about me”, “Word of mouth is the best marketing”, “Something will turn up, it always does”, “Once the recovery kicks in…”.

These may all be true – but if you let them dominate your thinking, it causes you to be passive. To sit back and wait for things to happen. If you want to be successful in marketing and sales you must decide to take things into your own hands: to choose Action over Hope.

Mindset 2: Focus
We’re so overwhelmed with opportunities and information these days it's very easy to lose focus. Every day I read reports of others “crushing it” with webinars, events, product launches, direct mail…

It’s so tempting to become distracted – to try to do everything. To try out every shiny new method you hear about in the hope it will magically bring you in clients without a lot of work.

But the truth is that if we split our focus and keep trying new things, we'll never get good at any of them. We'll never develop the skills or the reputation for any of them to pay off. The path to success is to pick two or three proven approaches and stick with them.

Mindset 3: The SACI Principle
This builds on the principle of focus – and it's something I've written about in detail here.

The SACI principle is that success comes not from silver bullets or one big amazing event – but from Simple Actions Consistently Implemented.

We all know we should keep in touch with our contacts and nurture our relationships. A simple action. But how many of us do it consistently? The same applies across all our marketing and sales. It's consistency that counts.

Mindset 4: Systematize
This was quite a tough principle for me to get to grips with. I love to try new things, to innovate and play around with my marketing. But once you've found something that works, you need to set it on “autopilot”. You need it to be working day in, day out without having to think about it all the time.

That doesn't mean it has to be automated – much of it can't be. But it does mean that – for example – if you've chosen to write articles or blog posts to attract clients, then you need to have a plan for what you're going to write and you need to dedicate a morning a week to doing it. Rather than just aiming to grab some time when you can and make it up as you go along.

Mindset 5: Client Focus
We all talk about being client focused. But in this context, what I mean is that when you have a sales meeting with a client, you're overriding thought should be “how can I help?” – not “how can I sell?”.

What I mean by that is if you go into the meeting (or if you're on a call with a potential client) thinking that your goal is to sell them your services, that a succesful result from that meeting is to emerge with a paying client. Then the chances are you're not going to sell.

You see, more often than not your potential client will pick up on your motivation. If they think that your goal is to sell them, then they won't trust your advice to be independent and in their best interests. They'll second guess what you're saying and resist your recommendations – unsure whether you're making them because you think it's right, or whether you're making them in your own self interest.

However, if you go into the meeting thinking your goal is to help your potential client – and to discover if working together would be the right option – then things change.

When your potential client picks up that your overriding goal is to act in their best interests – and they will pick up on it – then they'll trust your advice and recommendations. If at some point you suggest that working together would benefit them, they're an awful lot likelier to accept that suggestion as being genuine advice rather than a self interested sales pitch than they would be if they felt your goal was to get the sale.

Mindset 6: Belief in Your Value and Expertise
Hand in hand with your focus on helping clients needs to be your belief in the value of what you do and in the strength of your expertise.

The risk with client focus is that you can become subservient – just doing whatever they ask. That's not in their best interests. You need to have a strong belief in your own knowledge and capabilities – and in the value you bring them.

If you don't believe in the tremendous results your potential clients will get if they work with you, then you'll be unable to convincingly communicate that to them. You'll be tentative. You'll feel uncomfortable quoting the high fees you deserve.

In many ways, the first marketing battle is to sell your value to yourself.

Mindset 7: Make “No” An OK Answer
In other words – take the pressure off.

A lot of sales techniques involve putting subtle (or not so subtle) pressure on your potential clients. Deadlines, scarcity, the risk of others getting this deal if they hesitate.

All designed to put a little pressure on your potential client to overcome procrastination and get them to make a decision.

And they work – in their place.

But with complex, costly, intangible services, there's a lot of risk and uncertainty for your potential clients. they need to see a lot of evidence that this will pay off and that you're the right person before they'll be ready to buy.

If you pressure them before they're ready, it'll backfire. They'll feel manipulated and uncomfortable – and they won't buy.

One of the best ways to overcome this – and to build trust – is to make it clear early on that them saying “no” – choosing not to do this – is an absolutely OK option and not one you're going to fight. Going back to our Client Focus mindset – your goal is to figure out whether working together is the right thing for both sides – not to try to force them to say yes.

Take the pressure off by saying up front that it's absolutely fine if you come to the end of the meeting and either of you decides it's not the best option.

Without that pressure, your potential clients will open up much more, you'll be able to build a more trusting relationship, and you're more likely to get the sale.

Next Steps

Review some of your own beliefs about marketing and selling.

  • Are they helpful or counterproductive?
  • Would it be possible to change them?
  • What should you change them to?

Drop me a note in the comments to say what mindsets – either helpful or unhelpful – you have towards marketing and selling.

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11 Comments

  1. Nice post Ian – I like point 7 – Interesting how the frequent reports of government/NHS IT system collapses on TV often focus on how they were “sold” or who bought them. TV likes to make things simple and comparing buying/selling IT infrastructure is not the same as buying/selling a new piece of gadgetry.

  2. Indeed Jonathan,

    I suspect one of the problems is simply that these projects are too big. With so much riding on an x billion pound implementation, the salesperson simply can’t take that “no is an OK answer” attitude. If he sells, his bonus will set him up for retirement and he’ll be ahero in his firm. If he doesn’t, his firm will have blown possibley hundreds of thousands on the bid.

    So you can essentially never trust salespeople on big bids. There’s too much riding on it.

    But if you were to split up projects into itty bitty chunks. Where each individual bit would never make or break a business. then you might get some truth into the relationship.

    ian

  3. Hi Ian,

    I agree with these points. I think many people are even afraid to try and sell. One thing a sales consultant said to me once, remember a cold call is only a cold call once!

    On a side note with the NHS IT project – the real problem was the project was won by different companies for different sections of the country, it’s my understanding that they effectively started building different solutions that didnt talk to each other!
    All the best,
    Ian

  4. All great points, but my favorite is number 7, “Make NO an OK answer.” Being unattached to the outcome gives your potential client the space to make a decision that doesn’t feel forced or coerced. In this space, I’ve found that prospects will often talk themselves> into working with me (and hire me on the spot).

  5. A laser-like focus on the prospective client and their issues is my favorite sales secret. You’re right — it’s all about “how can I help?” — versus fixating on getting the sale.

  6. Hey Ian,

    Great advice, I will be sure to pass on the information to my peers.

    Just a heads up, Under Mindset 4: Systematize, the 2nd paragraph you have spelt does as oes.

    Pablo

  7. Great article… and it applies to other service based business too: such as photography.
    Good to have a fresh perspective (I like the idea of balancing ‘client focus’ with what’s in their best interest).
    And I love the novel idea of ‘not putting pressure’.
    So often doing this can secure a sale yet leave a bitter taste afterwards: both on the customer and, I am sure, on the business owner (by hindering repeat business).

  8. I’m going to add making No ok to a couple of approaches to potential clients this week, one this evening. All of these make sense. I’ve got 5 & 6 down and am very excited about what I can do for my clients. Am trying to figure out the once a week scheduling for writing blogs – I need to get ahead on this because it is working great but I have trouble being consistent. Thx for the great tips!

  9. Everything iss very open with a clear explanation of the challenges.
    It was definitely informative. Your site is very helpful.
    Thanks for sharing!