“Sales is an outcome, not a goal. It’s a function of doing numerous things right.” ~ Jill Konrath
In this post, I wanted to talk to you about something I haven’t seen talked about too much online, but that is actually very common, especially amongst the kind of service-based business owners I work with and that is the feast and famine phase many young businesses go through.
You might know what I mean. One month you get a new client (or even 2!) and you have more than enough money — what a high! Then a few months pass by and nothing. If you have some lower priced offers, maybe you scrape by with a few hundred dollars or pounds but other than that you’re firmly in famine status. Then at some point down the line, bam a new client and all is well again. The only problem is that the income for this new client is needed to cover what the last few months of famine cost you and so you’re right back to square one again.
Before you read on, I want you to know that I’ve been there, several times in my years as a coach and business owner, and it’s hard. On one level we’re grateful to be getting any clients at all and on another, we can’t seem to figure out how to get to the holy grail of consistent and sustainable income. We have some idea how to get clients, but we haven’t yet reached that stage where we know deep down inside that if we do more of X, we’ll get more of $$$.
Getting clients still feels a bit hit and miss and, when we do, it can feel more like luck than by design. Having started two different business, one in life coaching and one in business coaching, I’m here to tell you that it is definitely possible and I’m going to share with you 3 key ways to make it happen in your business.
1. Identify what works
Despite the fact that getting new clients can at times feel like a lottery, if you take some time to examine how the clients you have already created came to be, you’ll see a pattern emerge.
For example, nearly every single one of my clients came to me, either because of a referral (someone else told them I was great!) or because of some outreach I did to deepen a relationship with a member of my audience. The bottom line for me is that no 1:1 coaching client I have ever enrolled was created outside of a conversation. Which means I know deep in my bones that if I need to make more money, I need to be having more conversations.
The key is to find your X. The one thing that you know if you do more of, will inevitably result in more sales. I’ll give you a hint, it pretty much always involves cultivating deeper connections with your audience, but the method can vary. For some it might be podcasting, for others creating videos, for others it might be virtual coffee dates, for me it’s complimentary sessions — there are plenty of ways.
2. Clear your paths.
We’ve all heard the term sales funnel. Personally I hate it, the idea of leading my ideal client through an increasingly narrow funnel — resulting in the squeeze (yes the squeeze is an actual marketing term!) is alien to me. The analogy I prefer to use (hat tip: Tad Hargrave) is that of a path.
Imagine your business as a house that sits in a thick and overgrown forest. In order for people to find it, there has to be one or several clear pathways to your front door and once people get there, you need a doorbell that works so people aren’t left on the doorstep wondering why you’re not opening the door.
How do you create and clear these pathways? You look at the journey people need to make from finding out about you to knowing and trusting you well enough to buy from you and you need to make sure that the journey (or path) is free of obstacles.
To give you one example from my business, one path that works very well for me is my content. I create, publish, repurpose and promote content regularly, which then gets shared and found by more people, as a result readers begin to engage with my content, which sometimes means they subscribe to my newsletter (which results in them receiving a welcome email from me with an invitation to have a complimentary session) or I see someone regularly liking and commenting on my content so I reach out to make a deeper connection, usually by offering my support which also will more often than not also result in a complimentary coaching session.
So can you see how I’ve identified my X (complimentary coaching sessions) and I’ve created several paths (content and outreach) for people to access them?
For more on paths, read this post: How Easy is it For Your Ideal Clients to Find You
3. Refine your business model
The third piece of this puzzle is to look at and refine your business model. To illustrate this for you I’m going to give you a concrete example of a change I made to my own business model early last year that has resulted in a huge increase in consistent income.
The income stream in question was my 1:1 coaching packages. 1:1 coaching was (and still is) my main source of income and something I had been steadily creating more clients in (as a result of working on 1 and 2), what I realised during the earlier part of last year is that as a result of my fixed length packages, I would see a boost in income for the few months while my new client paid their instalments and then that revenue would drop off.
This wasn’t working for me on a few levels. Firstly, the time I needed to truly help my clients make a difference in their businesses was significantly longer than the length of my most popular package (3 months) and I was only guaranteed income as long as I was enrolling premium clients every single month. This I realised was not only time-consuming but led to a lot of pressure to be constantly in conversation with people (something, that as a busy and introverted business owner, wasn’t serving me).
After a great deal of thought I switched to a subscription model. This is where clients subscribe to a rolling coaching program that (after a 3 month minimum commitment) they can cancel anytime. The price point is much lower but the income I am now generating from this service is dramatically higher. People are also working for me for much longer – on average between 6-12 months. A simple tweak to my business model (as well as some other key changes) has resulted in more consistent, sustainable and recurring income for my business!