We’ve all been there. You’ve taken dozens of sales calls, and ‘no’ after ‘no’ after ‘no’ is the response. You expand your pipeline, you follow up, you ask for referrals… and nothing seems to make a difference.
If you’re ready to get honest with yourself and dig a little deeper to figure out what it will take to land your next yes, then I think you will get something out of this post.
1. Beliefs are the bedrock of the mountain you climb.
Our relationship with money is the foundation for every sales conversation. When you are a service provider, YOU are what is being sold and enrolled in.
So naturally, offering your presence, brilliance, and heart is going to be worth something to someone… but how much? In what capacity? What are you able to promise they will receive from you?
In my experience, how much we trust ourselves and believe in our value to others is a barrier to many extraordinary service providers in getting hired. Some people call this “confidence” – but I believe it connects to our integrity (do I believe that I actually help this person?), trust (can I fulfill this promise?), and ability (i.e. practice) in having challenging conversations.
I have been in a “dry cycle,” as I call it, many times as a business owner. It ALWAYS happens when I raise my rates (which is one reason why so many service based entrepreneurs don’t change their rates – it’s scary to put yourself in a beginner mindset over and over again).
I know that when I start quoting a new rate, it will take me twice as long as my previous sales cycle to close new clients. So, in order to get responsible for that, I never raise my rates unless my financial foundation is solid enough to go through a dry spell.
I see many world-class humans go through this as new business owners, and there’s no one-size-fits all advice I have for them.
I can, however, share some of the questions I ask that lead to more clarity and forward movement.
- Outside of your rate “making sense” and fitting your goals, what’s your body communicating about your rate?
- If you notice a lot of fear and imposter syndrome around your rate, what are you afraid of?
- If that fear comes true, what would that mean about you?
At this point in the coaching conversation, we are getting to the root of what tends to be a gap in belief and integrity. If you can’t actually say you believe in your ability to transform someone through your service, or more truthfully, to deal with the wrath of an unsatisfied client, you are going to struggle to sell.
Experiencing integrity in business is when our beliefs, our words, and our actions + results align.
So, if your belief is truly not there, but you keep saying you will get hired and that you are worth $X, and you are having many sales conversations that lead nowhere, then it’s going to feel like you are out of integrity with yourself more and more.
The opposite can be true as well, where you have belief in you, you declare you will be hired, but you lack the skills needed to close a sales conversation.
Beliefs are things we choose (because if you aren’t choosing your beliefs, you’re simply operating from the ones you inherited). But we also need evidence to back up what we hold as truth about ourselves and the world.
Being out of integrity for a prolonged period of time wears down our self-trust and confidence, which erodes our belief systems and foundations as business owners.
So, the advice I give a client in this scenario is two-pronged.
On the front end, they are trying to climb a gradient too steep for progress to occur. If you’re a novice rock climber, and you watch Free Solo once and think you can scale El Capitan, you won’t make it more than the first 10 feet before you are paralyzed with fear or you fall.
That is not self-confidence or a strong sense of belief – that is magical thinking.
So level with yourself – what rate can you confidently stand by that represents your skill level and track record?
If urgency is key (i.e. you need to be hired tomorrow, because you have bills stacking up), then lower the gradient of your challenge by shifting your offer. It doesn’t have to mean lower your rate to something that doesn’t feel good – it just means consider downsizing how much of your time or value you give to match a lower price point. Offer a shorter contract, smaller package, a group instead of individual, or charge for a one-off session so you can get in the practice of delivering what you say you can deliver. (I.e. get back in integrity with yourself)
On the back end, if you have some savings and time as a buffer, then practice is the name of the game while you do some deep inner digging.
If you are the kind of person who is determined to make their first rock climb on El Capitan, then make sure you have a guide and safety ropes – because you will suck at it for a while.
With the help of a coach or mentor in doing the inner work while continuing to practice, you will get hired because you will build the foundational beliefs, gain the necessary skills to back up your promise, and fail your way forward into yeses galore.
2. You have to know your people to find your people.
For YEARS in my business, I refused to niche into a specific market and was positively terrible at describing my ideal client in a way that got me qualified leads or referrals.
But listen – if I can make it past the six-figure mark without that, then hear me when I say that you can find your people even when you are still in the process of figuring out who they are.
Here are a couple things that helped me along the way.
- Get to know your people. Do some market research by reaching out to people you know now who would make a dream client. Find out what unites them, what language they all use about their struggles, and what they say they want.
Some basic questions you might explore with them to find this common language and identity include:
- What are your biggest strengths?
- What are your biggest struggles?
- What do you think you need to grow?
- What do you really want to achieve?
There’s that old saying I’ve always found annoyingly true — sell them what they want, give them what they need.
As a life coach to entrepreneurs, business growth is what my people want — but personal growth is what I see they need. The ironic part is that my clients rave about our work to anyone who will listen, but rarely do they measure our success in income growth because of the overwhelming sense of fulfillment they gain in their lives.
Almost every client of mine has raised their revenue and income dramatically, but they all share about loving and trusting themselves on a totally new level, becoming more intimate and connected in their relationships, and approaching life with more perspective and possibility. (Trust me, go read my reviews and you won’t see anyone talk about money, even when they went from $0 to their first $100k with me.)
That being said, marketing those qualitative results take a long time to convert leads into clients, in my experience. It’s important to share those so that people understand what you truly do – but it’s equally important to share the external measurements of success that paint the picture of their dream lives becoming realized.
Find out what they want. Give them what they need. Evolve your messaging and offer until you find that beautiful space between your zone of genius and their zone of need (the middle of the Venn diagram!)
3. “Fish in the pond you wish to swim in.”
This analogy was said to me at the beginning of my business, and I remember finding it utterly unhelpful.
Listen, I’ve been there — trying to enroll people in my current network who are uninterested or unable to afford my services is a maddening experience. I felt like I didn’t quite belong in my current community or the community I aspired to serve.
If you’re like me and started your business after pursuing another career (for those new here – I was a professional opera singer for 10 years), it’s totally normal to bloom where you are planted and serve the community you come from first.
At some point in scaling a service-based business, however, I find our ideal clients will evolve.
Just as you evolve, so will your people.
Your pond may start to feel small and uncomfortable, and you find yourself dreaming of rivers and oceans where bigger fish live. This can be hard for us to accept and let go of old identities we carry, so have grace with yourself if you feel stuck in the in-between.
You belong, always. You just might not know where your people are right now.
So how do you find your people? Join new shared-interest communities and meetups. Enroll in masterminds or networking groups. Swap workshops for an adjacent audience with another business owner outside your industry. Ask for referrals from colleagues or peers in a community you aspire to be a part of.
Ultimately, just go BE YOU in the world. Meet humans, notice who you’re drawn to, and build authentic connections.
Whatever you do, forget any advice you’ve heard about “fake it til you make it” when you’re trying to network and get hired.
What I know to be true is that when we wear a mask, others will respond to the dress code accordingly by wearing theirs – and that makes the journey MUCH harder to find your people.
If you take nothing else away from this, know that going through “dry spells” or struggling to get hired is a normal aspect of entrepreneurship.
Look within at how you might be getting in your own way, and allow your intuitive clarity to guide you towards the people you seek to serve.
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