Imagine...it’s the last Friday of the month.
You look at your list of client proposals and contracts still pending client approval - 12/14. Not good.
If you could only "close" a few deals today, then you'd hit your revenue goal for the month, but...
For some deals, it's been WEEKS since you've heard from your prospective clients.
So, you pick up the phone and call one of your prospects that still hasn't signed the contract.
RING. RING. RING.
Almost immediately, your call is sent to voicemail as if it was intentional. As in your prospect doesn't want to talk to you.
You think, "Was I just sent to voicemail on purpose?"
Then in a FLASH!
The voicemail message begins:
"Hi, this is John from Acme Inc. Please leave a message, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible."
You know John isn’t really going to get back to you. At this point, you think to yourself; it's pointless to leave yet another message.
You don't even think about emailing John again. You've done that too.
Two months ago when you met with John, you thought the initial meeting went well. John was optimistic about getting the project done, and was ready to get the deal signed so you could get started on the project...but weeks passed, and it never happened.
What went wrong?
In your head you begin to question how this could happen:
"Was the pricing of my service too high?"
"Did John not like the proposal I submitted?"
"Was the sales presentation off the mark?"
The sales process....
The most significant sticking point for many freelancers, consultants, and agencies.
Like it or hate it - to thrive as an expert service provider you need to master the art of selling.
We can be the BEST at our craft and yet if we can't master the art of selling our services in the 21st century, then we're stuck with getting just "jobs" from Upwork, Elance, and Fiverr platforms that commoditize service providers.
We can get inbound leads and grow our agency business, but it's the execution of a sales process that will be the engine of revenue growth and the key to business expansion.
For many, selling is a chore, something that has to be done - out of necessity. As freelancers, consultants, and agencies we just want to get the work, do it, and not worry about sales.
We view selling and the art of sales as dishonest, sleazy, and slimy.
It’s manipulative at best, right?
Is there a way to sell our services from a position of strength, integrity, and transparency that doesn’t use hard sell manipulative tactics?
But we nee
Why We Distrust, Dislike, and Disavow Sales People
Whenever we hear about sales, most of us think about a used car salesman. Right?
That slick, sleazy, and slimy person who is going to lie to us, manipulate us, and "close" us on buying a car at the highest price possible without our best interests at heart.
We think to ourselves, "What's the sales person concealing? Am I being deceived and I don’t know it?"
And guess what?
This is the EXACT same thought process that your prospective clients go through when you discuss selling your services to them.
Decades of unscrupulous selling tactics have made many of us distrust, dislike, and disavow selling in any of its forms. Our prospective clients know this too because they're just like us. Even if someone is an honest person, we’re naturally suspicious of them. We’ve been conditioned to be skeptical of anyone who sells because we expect to be lied, manipulated, and pressured into buying. We’ve heard stories of high-pressure, manipulative, and unethical "closing" tactics cajoling people into buying something they don’t need.
Assumptive close? Ben Franklin Close? Wolf of Wall Street close?
Unethical sales tactics from dishonest vulture-like salespeople have ruined selling for EVERYONE.
Especially freelancers, consultants, and agencies who work in the services economy looking to build a sustainable business that scales from six-figures to seven-figures in annual revenue and beyond.
Selling our services is an uphill battle because our clients (and ourselves) have been exposed to unethical sales practices that don't work anymore in the 21st century.
And the biggest unethical sales practice that doesn't work anymore is the gold standard of sales proverbs.
“Always Be Closing.”
Old School Sales Tactics Don’t Work Anymore To Sell Services
“Coffee's for closers” - Blake, Glengarry Glenn Ross.
The image of the ideal salesperson is an extroverted, talkative, and likable person whose ONE goal is to...
CLOSE. CLOSE. CLOSE.
"Always Be Closing"
The mantra of salespeople around the world. Either the client buys, or they buy. Period. The goal is to close and close FAST regardless of the outcome for the client.
Closing is so sacred that according to Wikipedia there are 13 different types of closing tactics...and guess what?
They don’t work anymore.
But did you know that all those closing tactics were created before the Internet was invented?
Closing tactics are a relic of the 20th century.
A time when prospective customers and clients had little to no access to information…
But that's changed.
We’re in the 21st century now. Using the sales tactics of the pre-internet age is like trying to start a fire with just wood and rocks instead of a Bic lighter…
As the times change, we have to change our approach. Our clients are smart. They can see unethical selling from a mile away. We have to change our approach to selling our services.
It makes ZERO sense to use sales ideas, tactics, and strategies from the past when the present is radically different.
The good news is that the core foundation of selling is the same. It always has been.
Selling is about connecting, and anyone can do it with right process.
The Client For Decades Sales Model For Service-Based Businesses
The emphasis is on connecting with prospects to develop and maintain a potential client relationship that lasts for DECADES.
A client relationship that lasts for decades is the ultimate and #1 driver of profits for ANY service-based business.
Phase 1 - The Qualification Phase
The Client For Decades Model starts with identifying whether a contact is a good lead then you run through your bad client checklist to weed out clients who are not a good fit for for your business model and you do it gracefully without being an a-hole about it.
Phase 2 - The Advisor Phase
After the qualification phase, you transition unqualified leads into qualified leads with the potential to convert into a good client. You understand your prospective client’s needs deeply and here's the game changer - even if we have to invest 5 free hours of consulting time to do this.
Jeff are you crazy?
We do this because we know it’s a well-qualified lead, so we invest the time to build a relationship to earn trust.
Listen here to my friend Dan Shures take on his SEO consulting process - from the Jumpstart Podcast.
The goal in the Clients For Decades Model is to establish trust when you first meet with prospective clients. You do this by understanding your prospects deeply then you establish authority during the sales meeting with a Rock Solid Sales Presentation to convey your credibility as well as communicate the potential solution always acting as the trusted advisor to your prospective clients even if no money has ever been exchanged yet.
Phase 3 - The Follow Up Phase
In phase 3 we draft a proposal based on what we discovered during the sales meetings and our conversations with our prospective client. We loop in all the contacts whom we've spoken to and all the key decision makers to understand any obstacles, challenges, or threats to our proposed project proposal.
We use the Balance Beam Follow Up Strategy to follow up with prospective clients, but we’re not pushy. Our goal is not to close our prospective client but to educate them and help them make an informed, intelligent, and sound decision.
Selling is about getting our prospects intellectually and emotionally invested in a result or outcome that is good for them.
As service professionals, we are THE trusted advisors to our clients. We recommend what is in their best interests, not ours. We pinpoint real problems that will have an impact on our potential client's life. In the old sales model, the seller does what is in HIS or HERS best interest. They don’t care about their prospective clients just the quickest path to the transaction, and the money pocketed.
The Client For Decade's model is the same process that I’ve been using for decades, and after getting over my imposter syndrome. I’ve decided to share the process to help both one-person freelancers and consultants as well as agencies not to close more one of sales but to develop long-term client relationships for decades that serve as the foundation of your service-based business no matter how big it is.
But, I’m sure you’re wondering, does this process work?
Keep reading to discover....
Behind The Revenue Growth of My Agency
If you’ve been receiving my emails, you’ll know that I mentioned Mr.D, the mysterious IBM and Oracle sales person who taught me about sales. His name is Dan. Dan is also a founder of Three Deep Marketing.
The Client For Decades model of establishing, and maintaining client relationships for decades is the exact sales approach that our agency Three Deep Marketing has taken to develop their book of business over time.
Our agency is one of the fastest growing agencies in the United States according to Inc. 5000. We are also a Hall of Fame Inc. 5000 agency inductee and 5-time Inc. 5000 award winner.
This is not by accident.
Our agency consciously decided to make client relationships that last for decades the secret sauce to our revenue growth. Without our enduring client relationships and maintaining those relationships for years, our agency would not have been able to grow as fast as it did.
The Clients For Decades sales model is also the same exact sales model that I use privately in my consulting practice. I have clients whom I've worked with for years, and they're the main engine of my revenue. I learned this from my Dad who operates a one-person consulting practice where he has clients for decades too, and it's his secret to an enduring six-figure income.
If you are a service professional, clients for decades is the key to riches in the service business.
There is no way around it.
Here's the best part about the clients for decades sales model: anyone can do it.
You don’t have to be an extrovert.
You don't need to have to put pressure on prospects to buy.
You just need to be open to implementing a step-by-step process and do what is right for your clients always acting as their trust advisor throughout the process.