[This four-part article is adapted from a 2010 Natural Touch Marketing blog series by Eileen. These important points are still very relevant today.]I had a real eye-opener this Monday. Well, a mind-opener, really. I now have to rethink my attitude, or at least dial it back a notch. What happened? Lemme tell ya…
See, I have started going to a boot camp style workout group three days a week. The woman who teaches the class is strong, confident, and loud. She wants the class to be strong and confident, too. Loud is a bonus. (My kind of trainer.) With all this confidence, strength, and volume, she was hesitant to remind me my payment was due. This surprised me. I gave her a little grief. (… Okay, a lot of grief.) And I challenged her on her reluctance to ask for what she was owed. I was brought up short by her returns to my arguments:
- I’m not a salesman.
- I like to play to my strengths.
- [Army wives] always expect stuff for free.
- I don’t want to want it more than “they” do.
Wow. Do these sound familiar? They do to me; I hear them practically every. Single. Day. From massage therapists, bodyworkers, yoga teachers, and other healing arts practitioners. And honestly, I thought it was just the kind of people that are drawn to healing arts that made these arguments. I thought it was just gentle healers that felt sullied discussing fees for their Work. Oh, my dears; it’s not just you. I’m starting to think it’s 85% of people trying to run their own businesses. So here’s what I think: It’s time to take control. Personal control. Your work has value. That value has a price. People need to see the value in order to pay that price. If you don’t show that you value your work, you get discounted. The best way to begin? Confidence.
- And how do you get confidence? Practice.
- How do you get clients to see your strengths? Practice.
- How do you protect your practice’s capital? Practice.
- How do you attract clients who “want” as much as you? Practice.
Are you sensing a theme here? So, let’s pick apart each of my trainers arguments, and hopefully you will find a way to change how you think and talk about your Work.
I’m Not a Salesman
I have to admit my knee-jerk reaction was to give my trainer grief when she said this to me. How can she not remind me to give her money that I owe? Her response was that she just isn’t comfortable talking about money for her services. This brought me up short. I hear a variation of, “I am not a salesperson,” every day and I need to remember that most people are not confident about the fee side of their business. So this brings me to two issues: sales, and confidence discussing money.
SALES. I know you’re not in sales. Thank goodness you’re not in sales. Thank goodness I’m not in sales. Asking people to part with their money is exhausting. What you need to do is to show the benefits of your work. That’s not sales. It’s marketing. And the best marketing you can do is when you use your voice to talk about your work. Not my voice, not your mom’s voice, not your mentor’s voice. You. Talking about your work.
This is sales: “I’m selling massage gift certificate packages: three one-hour certificates for $160.” That’s selling a product.
This is marketing: “Save $35! Buy two one-hour gift certificates, save over 50% on a third.” That’s making a purchase sound like a good idea — giving it a benefit.
This is my marketing: “I have an excellent gift certificate package for the holidays this year. Three gift certificates for under $55 each. You can give two good friends a great experience AND keep one as a recharge for yourself.” That’s me talking in my voice about what I think my customers would be interested in hearing. You will find conversations with potential clients more comfortable when you present your work in a voice that is your own. Take some time. Think about what your customers need to know about your work (the benefits). Write it down. Edit it. Edit it again. And one more edit. Then practice saying it. Practice some more. I swear it gets easier and more comfortable with practice.
“Do you have gift certificates?” asks a client. “Why yes, in fact I have a nice deal going on now where I put a coupon for 50% off their next session in the certificate envelope. It’s like giving your friend a gift and a half.” OR “Absolutely. They are so beautiful, they actually look like a rich gift. And I can include any information on specific treatments that you think your friend would be interested in.” See? You can do this without squirming. Speaking of squirming, let’s talk money.MONEY. You need it. Money is important. It’s part of the equation. It’s how you eat and pay rent. It is also a symbol of your confidence in your work. Telling people what you charge is not going to turn you into a caricature of a used car salesman. Promise. This is where believing in the value of your training and your work comes in. Did you not study hard? Did you not struggle through personal doubts? You know what? I’m not going to try and convince you. Just get over it. Really. You are worth it. You are licensed or certified in the Great State of Whatever. Look people in the eye when they ask your rates and clearly, strongly say, “My rates are $70 an hour. Here’s my card.” Don’t even think apologetic, cringing thoughts when you’re talking about your fees. If they don’t want to pay a fair price, then you don’t really want them as clients. If you think someone needs convincing, tell them the benefits of working with you; do not lower your price. Rise up, rise up!