What are your values? And how do you avoid temptation?

People talk a lot about how important values are to your business. But do you actually stick to them? Or do they (inadvertently) go out of the window when someone offers you a big contract?

I was struggling a bit last year so I did a little exercise with myself, and came up with five questions that I need to ask before I take on a new client.

Those questions are:

  • Do we connect?
  • Can I see your purpose in life?
  • Do you like other people?
  • Will I improve your life?
  • Will you improve my life?

If you don’t get 3 out of 5, I will try to help but I won’t take you on. Ideally you should get 4 out of 5 and then I know we’re a good fit.

Looking back at my previous clients, it was a perfect match – the projects that had gone badly also had clients that scored 2 or less.

It’s not a perfect system; I took on a client the other month that was only a 2.5 and I regret it already. But that’s my fault for breaking the rules.

If you’d like help in coming up with your own set of questions, the exercise I used for this is part of my Five Day Challenge. Registration is free and we start on Monday (the 2nd of March), so this is your last chance to get involved.

Meet your clients where they are today

Even if your positioning statement describes your potential client perfectly, there’s still a reason that they may ghost you before you make the sale.

And it’s down to a thing called the “Curse of Knowledge”.

You see, clients are on a journey.

Some clients don’t even know they’ve got a problem.

Others know they’ve got a problem, but aren’t sure what the solution is.

Some know the problem and have a choice of three or four potential solutions.

And some have chosen which solution is their ideal; they’re just looking for someone to help them with it.

Very very few will know the problem, know their ideal solution and will have settled on you as the person to fix it for them.

That’s Five Levels. The Levels of Marketing.

If you’re talking to a client at Level 1 (they don’t know they’ve got a problem), it doesn’t matter if you can see the problem a mile off – they will not care.

If you’re talking to a client at Levels 2 or 3 (they know they have a problem but don’t know about solutions) and you’re talking to them at Level 4 or 5 – it will be an extremely animated, lively and compelling conversation. The client will be excited – they know they have a problem and you’re obviously an expert here – but most of what you say will go over their head. So when it comes to closing the deal, they won’t actually be that interested; they just wanted to learn more about their options .

It’s only when you talk to a client at Levels 4 or 5 that you can actually close the deal. But you’re very unlikely to meet someone at that point – especially if what you do is quite technical.

So trying to close the deal at this point is going to lead to the social awkwardness I mentioned the other day. Which in turn is going to result in you being ghosted.

Instead, you need to gradually lead them from their current level – wherever they are today – through to Level 5 – and only then, try to turn them into a customer.

Push to early and you scare them away. You’re the ghost, not them.

Why most sales go wrong

Most sales fail long before you have the sales call.

They fail because you’ve not set the expectations correctly.

They fail because the client doesn’t believe that there’s any urgency to getting involved.

They fail because the client doesn’t fully understand why they need your service.

If you look at LinkedIn (please connect with me – I do a lot of good stuff on there), you’ll see a lot of people have a headline in the form “Helping X achieve Y through Z”. For example, “helping redheads achieve mindfulness nirvana through 3d printed furniture”.

This is a positioning statement – it explains, in one sentence, who your ideal client is (redheads), the problem you solve (mindfulness nirvana) and how you solve it (3d printed furniture).

If the potential client doesn’t feel like they’re not a good fit, that what you offer isn’t what they’re looking for or that the way you solve the problem doesn’t work for them – then the sale has gone wrong before you even begin.

They might sound genuinely interested – matching two out of the three criteria means you will have an extremely compelling conversation with them.

But not fitting your positioning exactly removes all urgency from the client’s situation. They will just have a nagging doubt in the back of their mind, which translates into “I don’t actually need to act today, it can wait“.

But even if your positioning is perfect, there’s one more reason the client may ghost you