We’ve all lost clients. Sometimes it’s our fault. Sometimes it’s theirs. Sometimes it’s out of everyone’s control.
But no matter the reason, there is something to be learned from a lost client. A system to review lost clients will help keep your business improving and growing.
Typically done when you leave a job, an exit interview is also a great way to review what went right—and what went wrong—during your relationship. You’ll want to review:
This is not the time to get defensive. Be open to her criticism (if there is any) and use the information to genuinely improve your business.
Be Honest With Yourself
One of the most common reasons for client loss is that the customer is simply not a good fit. Maybe you suspected it when she signed up, or maybe not, but now that she has moved on, ask yourself:
If you can identify a bad client match from the start and decline the work (or better still, refer her to another professional who is a good fit) you’ll find you have a lot less stress in your day-to-day business.
Sometimes, client loss is as simple as a lack of understanding on your client’s part. Do you clearly state:
Do you also have a system for staying in touch with a client who has gone quiet? Sometimes all it takes is a phone call to get your wayward client back on track. Many client relationships have been salvaged with a simple phone call or email, so if you haven’t heard from a client in a while, pick up the phone.
Here’s the bottom line: Client loss happens. But if you can learn from each client, and use that intel to improve your business, then even a lost client can be turned into new profits.
Share your stories of lessons learned from lost clients, Coach Deb
Ask anyone who has ever offered coaching, training, or other professional services before and they’ll tell you that a certain percentage of clients simply will not (or can not) do the work. Sure, they love the idea of having a professional coach, field expert or trainer. They might know a good coach is the secret to business and life success. But for some reason, they just aren’t ready.
Maybe they aren’t as advanced as they think they are, and they choose the wrong program.
Maybe they’re simply professional students, who never intend to build a business, but instead just like to learn about it.
Whatever the case may be, it’s important that you eliminate these people from your potential VIP client pool.
This is especially critical if you are hosting a group event. It will be uncomfortable for everyone if you have 4 clients attending, and 3 of them are advanced students while one is just starting out. In addition, if you only work with clients who have reached a certain level of success, you’ll need to eliminate those who simply aren’t a good fit for you.
Pro tip: The ability to pay is not a good indicator of success. Many people have (and spend) lots of money on training without ever doing the work required to get a business off the ground.
Design Your Application Process to Self-Select the Best Candidates
The easiest way to avoid clients who aren’t a good fit is to require an application before payment. This can be as simple as a PDF or email questionnaire with just a few questions. You can ask things such as:
These will all give you a feel for the applicant, and allow you to know ahead of time if she’ll be a good fit.
But you can help eliminate applicants who aren’t a good match simply by changing some of the language on your application. For example, you might ask about the applicant’s current income, but rather than allowing her to write in any answer, give her a list of choices. If you only work with people who are earning six figures and up, then a conspicuous lack of those lower income brackets will be enough to make someone who’s just starting out think twice about applying.
You can do the same thing with language on other questions. If you only want to work with people who have a positive attitude about coaching, then you might ask, “Tell me about the best coaching experience you’ve had and what you loved about it.” Negative Nancys will have a difficult time answering that one, and you’ll be able to spot them immediately.
Even if you only invite current clients to VIP days (so you already know and like them) it’s still a good idea to have some kind of application process. After all, VIP days are far more intense than a monthly coaching program, so you want to be sure all applicants know what to expect. And the best way to do that is through a formal application.
What do you think? Do you screen your VIP day participants? Coach Deb
Unlike a 3-day conference or tele-summit, VIP days are generally tightly focused with a single goal. You want your client to walk away having solved her biggest problem (or at least one that’s been holding her back for some time) and be able to jump back into work with a sense of accomplishment.
You don’t want her to go home with a head full of ideas and a notebook full of half-finished thoughts that she’ll never take action on.
Keeping your VIP day tightly focused is beneficial to you as well. Chances are you’re the go-to person in your market for one (or maybe two) things. Perhaps you’re known for helping clients break through their money issues to earn more than they ever thought possible. Or maybe you’re a genius at building an affiliate marketing empire. Or you might be the 4-hour workweek type, able to set up systems and processes that get your clients out of the office while still growing their income.
Whatever your area of expertise, by offering a VIP day centered around it, you’ll be able to command a much higher rate than a general “coach with me” kind of day where anything goes. After all, you’re the expert, so it’s time to show off your stuff.
You’ll find that attracting your ideal client is easier when your day has a strict focus as well. It might seem counter-intuitive, but when you offer buyers lots of choices, they’ll often become confused, and end up buying nothing. The same is true for coaching. When faced with many ideas and potential programs, there’s a tendency to become overwhelmed.
By remaining focused, you have the opportunity to show potential clients exactly what you can help them accomplish, rather than using vague words and empty promises such as “take your business to the next level” or “overcome your roadblocks to success.”
Instead, your clients will know that after their VIP day with you, they can look forward to having a “step-by-step personalized action plan for becoming a super affiliate” or a “new attitude towards money and how it can work for you.”
Focus makes your sales page easier to write, ad targeting clearer, and testimonials more powerful, too.
Of course, all that means that you really do have to have the focus (and have enough expertise) to teach for an entire day on a single subject. If you don’t feel you can pull that off, consider bringing in a guest expert who can speak about a related topic. For example, if your VIP day is all about money mindset, then a brief meeting with someone who can offer tips on budgeting would be a perfect fit.
Here’s the bottom line. The more focused your goal for your VIP clients, the more they will get out of your event. And the more value they receive, the more raving fans you’ll have, who will happily share you and your programs with their friends and colleagues.
Have you been part of a VIP day? Did the event you attended have a single focus? Coach Deb
How many hours per day do you spend on the phone with clients?
If you’re like most consultants, the answer is often “more than I want to.”
Let’s face it, consulting can be exhausting. Sure, you love working with different clients, and you get a real charge out of being able to help someone overcome their issues and achieve their goals.
But it’s still taxing to be on the phone all day, every day. And add to that the need to constantly be looking for new clients, and you’ve got a recipe for burnout.
That’s why so many consultants are beginning to offer VIP days. Simply put, a VIP day is a whole day spent with a single client (or maybe two or three, depending on your preferences). Rather than jumping from call to call and trying to keep up with multiple clients and their various issues, you can simply focus on a single client and a single goal.
Even better, with consultants routinely charging as much as $10,000 for a VIP day, you can see that scheduling just 4 clients per month can bring in more than a whole week’s worth of one-on-one calls.
Here’s how VIP days work: Typically, clients will travel to your location. You might choose to meet in your home, in a rented meeting space, or in a hotel. You can also host virtual VIP days via Skype or phone, if you prefer.
Your VIP day will be tightly focused and have a single goal. If your market is online business owners and you are a genius at book writing, your VIP days might be designed to get a client to plan, outline, and begin writing her first book. If you work with working moms in search of balance in their lives, you might focus your day around creating a workable schedule for the family, with planners and other organizational tools created by the end of the day.
Your VIP clients receive the benefit of your expertise, your undivided attention (no texting with the kids during a VIP day!), and a day spent simply focusing on the task at hand. It’s a powerful way to get things done, and unlike conferences and other training programs, it encourages clients to actually do the work on site, rather than going home with a notebook full of ideas she’ll never implement.
VIP days also make for a great opportunity to upsell your client into an ongoing group consulting program. After all, she’ll likely need support after she gets back home, and regular sessions with other VIP clients is a great way to get the support she needs to continue working towards her goals.
Ready to offer your own VIP days? Start by asking your current clients if it’s something they’d be interested in. Chances are they’ll give you an enthusiastic thumbs up, and you’ll be ready to start putting together a plan to offer powerful, focused VIP day
Are you ready to start offering VIP days? Comment below, Coach Deb
If there’s one mistake that new—and sometimes even established—business owners make, it’s this: failing to develop a clear vision of her ideal client.
Too often we think our service or product is “for everyone.” And while it might be true that everyone could use your help, it’s simply not possible for you and your brand to appeal to everyone. Your prices might not be in line with what some can afford. Your branding might not resonate with others. Your story may not touch everyone with the same sense of urgency.
And when you try to reach everyone, rather than narrowing your focus to your truly ideal client, you dilute your message, making it even less likely that those perfect customers will find you.
But if you’re just starting out, it can seem an impossible task to know who your ideal client is. Start with these three points.
1. Gender. Is your audience male or female? While men and women might both read and enjoy your content—and even buy your products—you will most likely find that your market is skewed heavily one way or the other. Men and women are different, and they are affected by stories and branding in very different ways, so what appeals to a man will not always appeal to a woman. Look around at some of the brands you buy, and you’ll quickly see how they form their messages to appeal to one or the other, but very rarely both.
2. Goals. What does your client hope to achieve, and how do your products and services help to realize those goals? Whether she’s trying to build a profitable crafting blog so she can stay home with her children, or he’s working to create an online resource for muscle car fans, if you don’t know where they’re going, you can’t help them get there.
3. His or her point in the journey. Is she a beginner or well along on the path? How you speak, how you write, what marketing methods you use, and even what prices you charge will all be determined by your ideal client’s level of sophistication. Whether you’re teaching beginning knitters how to cast on, or helping couch potatoes train for their first 5k, their level of commitment (and willingness to spend) is far different from a long-time knitter who is discovering intarsia, or a runner working up to a triathlon. And you will not reach your market effectively if you don’t know exactly where they are and what they need at this point.
Of course, if you’re just starting out, you might not yet know who your ideal client is. That’s okay, too. But pay attention, because they will tell you. They’ll tell you through the products and services they buy. They’ll tell you by following you (or not) on social media. They’ll tell you by commenting on your blog and asking questions that are relevant to them.
Watch your interactions, study the businesses of those who contact you for help, and take a look at what your competition is doing, and soon enough you’ll have a clear understanding of who your ideal client really is.
What do you think? Leave me a comment or questions below, Coach Deb
At one point, every business owner will find herself in a troubling situation. Revenue is down. New clients are scarce. Profits are falling, and a peek at the financials is enough to bring on a full-fledged anxiety attack.
Unless you’re Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates, chances are you’ve experienced that sinking feeling of a business that’s trending downward, too. But how you handle it can mean the difference between continued success and business-killing burnout.
Here’s where a lot of entrepreneurs get it wrong. They start to worry about money, and that worry leads to poor decisions that ultimately have a negative impact not just on finances, but—maybe more importantly—on morale, too. Maybe you know what I’m talking about.
You Take On the Wrong Client
When business is down, it can be tough to keep your ideal client avatar in mind. Instead, you jump at the chance to work with anyone who comes along. The trouble with this scenario is you can find yourself with a roster full of clients who:
You Stop Creating
And who can blame you? With profits down, you have to pull back. You can’t afford to spend time and money creating new programs, so you recycle the ones you’ve already produced.
Now, this would be ideal if you were re-purposing with a positive intent. Turning your blogs into online course or eBook? Perfect! But that’s not what your fearful brain is telling you.
Your fearful self is saying, “Just re-release this same product again, so I don’t have to have new sales copy written or record new videos.”
And while this might help bring in a bit of cash short-term, it won’t do anything for your reputation or your self-esteem.
Yikes! That’s no way to operate a business, but that’s just what a fear-based mindset can do to you. Better (much better) to hold out for that perfect client. And while you’re waiting, take what you’ve learned from your drop in sales and create the killer program your audience is clamoring for!
As always I look forward to reading your comments below, Coach Deb
We’ve all done the exercise. It’s the first thing you’re taught when you first start your business: Create an ideal client avatar.
This vision of your ideal client guides everything you do, including pricing (you can’t charge that single mom as much as you can the CEO of a Fortune 500 company), pain points (mom probably isn’t worried about shareholders), and even the color of your logo.
So you spend a few hours considering things such as:
Maybe you even write up a nice little story about your ideal client. You give her a name, a couple of kids, a husband who just doesn’t get it, and a load of student loans. You know quite a bit about her, you think.
But you would be wrong, and if you stop there, you may be missing a huge piece of the puzzle—and losing out on the best clients because of it.
Here’s something that’s rarely considered in the “ideal client” equation, and it’s arguably the most important part: personality.
If you’re snarky, sarcastic, fun-loving and loud, then a quiet, middle-aged mom who spends her time volunteering at the church is probably not a good fit for you. Sure, she might need your help, and she might love your products, but for one-on-one consulting, this match-up is a disaster. Either she will be uncomfortable with your style, or you’ll be miserable trying to reign in your natural exuberance.
Better to pass mom on to a consultant who is a better fit for her, personality wise.
Drive Determines Success
This one can be difficult to calculate from the start, but once you recognize it (or the lack thereof) it’s worth paying attention to. The client without the drive to succeed will—more often than not—only end up frustrating you both.
Better to end your relationship as soon as you see the signs of this than to waste your time going over the same material and exercises again and again with someone who simply won’t do the work.
If you look at your current and past consulting clients, you’ll begin to see patterns. You can easily look back and see what made some clients a joy to work with, while others were a struggle. Think about what those differences are, and add them to your ideal client profile. Then compare any new potential clients to this ideal profile, and you’ll never again sign on with a less-than-perfect client.
Looking forward to reading your comments below, Coach Deb.
Here’s the number one question I hear—not only from new product creators, but even from seasoned business owners: “How do I find a good idea?”
What they really mean, of course, is “How do I find an idea that will sell?” No one wants to spend days or weeks or more planning, developing and launching a course only to hear crickets on the big day. You want to know you’ll have at least some measure of success.
But don’t overthink it. The answer is simple. Just give your audience what they are asking for.
Check out the competition. What are they creating? If you serve a similar audience, then what sells for them will very likely sell for you. Now, before you break out the “But it’s already been done!” line, keep this in mind: No two experts are alike. You may create a similar course, but your voice, your experience, your teaching style, and your personality are all very different. No one else is you, and for some customers, YOU are the only one who will resonate with them.
Pay attention to your ideal client. What questions does she ask in private groups, in your help desk, and elsewhere? What posts is she reading on your blog (check your Google Analytic stats)? These are all valuable sources of intel about exactly what she needs and wants from you.
Ask. Still not sure what your dream client is looking for? Ask her. Create a survey and ask her to tell you what she struggles with, what keeps her from realizing her success, and even what she’s tried before in an effort to solve her issues.
Check the bestsellers list. Which books in your niche are outperforming others? These are the ones that offer answers your clients are seeking. Flip through the table of contents and read the online reviews to dig deep into the topics that really resonate with your audience.
Read the FAQs. Check the frequently asked questions section on competitor blogs and in forums and Facebook groups. Also, check blogs for “Start Here,” and “Quickstart” pages. Many times, the most common questions and concerns are addressed here.
Review the available resources. Which are the most common resources your colleagues and competitors are recommending? There are often questions surrounding the use of software and other tools, and these can be great ideas for eCourses.
Check your email. If you’ve been in business for more than a few months, chances are you receive questions from friends, clients and even strangers on a daily basis. What are they asking about? Look for common themes and trends.
Revisit your keyword research. Review the terms and phrases that your community most frequently searches on, and use them as a basis for your own research.
Check your search terms. Google Webmaster Tools allows you to check which terms are sending visitors to your website. Since people often search on questions (“how to design a logo” or “how to start a business”) this can be a rich source of ideas.
Ideas are everywhere. Your potential buyers are sharing them with you every day, if you just know where to look. So, don’t let your insecurities hold you back. Develop the course they are asking you for.
I look forward to hearing below, how you come up with eCourse ideas, Coach Deb
How well do you know your potential clients?
Chances are you’ve developed at least a simple client avatar. You know your client’s business, age, income, and education levels. You know where your client lives and how many kids your client has and what their biggest dreams are.
But do you really know what drives her?
We’re not talking about just what she wants (we all want more money and free time) but more importantly, you need to know what her biggest pain points are. Figure this out, and you’ll not only be able to better create programs to help your clients, but your sales copy will dramatically improve as well.
Think about it—if you’re uncomfortable with technology, and once in a DIY mood you destroyed your website during a simple update, then website management becomes a huge pain point for you. Now imagine you find a VA who not only works with WordPress, but who calmly shares examples of how she’s rescued client websites after such disasters.
She’s clearly addressed your biggest pain point, and you’re sold!
The same is true for your potential clients. Show them you can help them avoid those pain points—or better yet, eliminate them completely—and you’ll forge an instant bond.
Now you may already have a good idea what causes your clients pain, but if not, you have plenty of ways to find out.
Once you’ve uncovered your ideal clients’ biggest pain points, you’ll have a powerful tool that you can use not only in your sales copy, but it will also help define your programs and service offerings. If you can help your clients overcome the most painful issues they face—whether it’s a lack of self-confidence or a fear of public speaking—you’ll instantly become a more valuable resource in your niche.
And when you incorporate those same pain points in your sales copy, your conversions will dramatically increase as well.
Go get em ladies...Much love as always, leave me a comment below, Coach Deb
Beyond SMART: Goal Setting for Entrepreneurs
If there is one thing we know about goals, they have to be SMART, right?
After all, that is what we have been told for years. The only thing that matters is that your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
While that looks great on paper—and clearly it is easy to remember—it does not go far enough for those who want to achieve big things.
Think about it.
Do you want to be stuck with “attainable” and “realistic” goals when what you really dream about is a 3-day workweek, frequent international travel, and enough money to fund a mission trip (or two or three). Seems pretty clear that those safe, smart goals are not going to get you there.
In fact, they might even do worse than simply “not get you there.” They may actively hold you back.
Consider what happens when you set an “attainable” goal of earning 10% more than you did last year. You might work 10% more. You might spend 10% more on ads or product creation. You might even reach out to 10% more potential clients.
And you will likely earn about 10% more.
“Not bad!” you say. After all, that was your goal.
But did that 10% goal inspire you to work harder? Or did it create a subconscious ceiling on your earning potential that you’re unable to break through?
Rather than focusing on goals that are attainable and realistic, savvy entrepreneurs know that the key to incredible success lies in creating lofty goals that feel out of reach—maybe even UN-attainable.
They do not strive to earn 10% more than last year. They want 50% or even 100% more. They stretch themselves. They find new—and better—ways to do things, so they don’t have to work twice as hard, but they remain open to the possibility of doing so—at least in the short term—when it’s necessary.
Of course, you cannot simply declare crazy goals and expect the universe to hand them to you. And that is exactly why putting aside those smart goals is so…smart. When you shun the attainable in favor of the “holy cow, how will I ever do THAT?” goal, you push yourself beyond those self-imposed limits and reach for the stars.
Sure, you might not double your income, but you are almost guaranteed to do better than a mere 10% increase. So, push your boundaries. Set big, audacious goals. Even if you fail, you will be much further ahead than those smart goals would leave you.
I look forward to reading what some of your big hairy audacious goals are below in the comments, Coach Deb
If you would like to use any of our blogs on your blog sight, please do contact us. We would be happy to share with you.
What do top coaches, industry experts, and media superstars all have in common? They've all written a book. You can too. It's easy!