You undoubtedly have no fewer than 984,985,983 thoughts running through your head at all times. So many hats to wear, action items to finish, clients to delight. And, although I’d never expect you to monitor your every inclination, I highly recommend you keep your eyes peeled for these 10 assumptions – assumptions I’ve seen waste my clients’ time, money, and sanity time and time again.
1. Don’t assume your friends and family have the vaguest clue what it is you do. Case and point, my very own godson says I boss people around for a living. While he isn’t far off, I certainly can’t expect any referrals to come flooding in off his word. Even if you’ve told them your comings and goings over more than one tipsy family dinner, they’ve subscribed to your mailing list, or “like” the random Facebook post it doesn’t mean they can confidently communicate The Big 3 – whom you serve, how you serve them, and how you serve them better than your competitors. Those that love you are eager to help – don’t gum up the works with vagueness and false modesty!
2. Don’t assume potential and current clients understand industry jargon – or the full weight of the value you provide. We are all educators as well as providers. Avoid the temptation to baby-fy your language, opting rather to periodically check-in that you’re being understood. In extremely confusing cases (or if your client expresses a glaring lack of knowledge), consider providing a quick glossary, or defining the terms the 1st (and 2nd) time you say them.
3. Don’t assume you will stay top of mind just because you left the customer satisfied. You’ve done most of the heavy lifting – that’s true. But, your customers also have 9 billion things on their minds. If you want your relationship to continue, you’ll have to put in the work (and I’m not just talking about a monthly newsletter). A simple, friendly but professional “follow-up email” will suffice. Holidays, birthdays, and other special events also provide great reasons. But here’s the critical kicker – the point of this email isn’t selling, so keep it personal.
4. Don’t assume asking for referrals and/or testimonials will irritate or alienate your clients. Social credibility is the cream of the crop when it comes to building trust and authority, yet so many are hesitant (if not horrified) to ask. Although the numbers vary from study to study, the research shows that upwards of 70% of people would be delighted to refer someone – yet fewer than 30% actually do. Why? Because either they are never asked or the request was too vague. So, chase the compliment! Ask for the referral or testimonial when they are already feeling loving and generous. If they are singing your praises to you, surely they wouldn’t mind telling others. And, for heaven’s sake, be specific! Tell them exactly what kinds of clients you’re looking for and for what services. You didn’t do all that Avatar work for nothing!
5. Don’t assume, however, that they will refer or review you without being prompted. You want the favor? Ask for it.
6. Don’t assume your budget matches your clients’. $500 to you may mean something very different (positively or negatively) to your audience. We all have different means – and different perceptions of value. A high-ticket coach may shy away from selling a $2k package to a woman who gladly spent more than that on a purse she’ll use once. An aggressive salesperson may chide someone that they are being offered the “steal of the century,” within 24 hours of them learning of a massive, unexpected expense. Price your products and services fairly, considering industry standards AND your fabulous value. This will reduce the risk of putting your foot in your mouth or blowing the sale.
7. Don’t assume that a customer service flub is the end of the road. Although your client may be seething, underneath it all they know you’re human. How you own up to a mistake, remedy a situation, or soothe hurt feelings is critical. More often than not, a crisis handled masterfully and humbly wins the day, and reinforces your dedication to the relationship. Need proof? Search Yelp for angry reviews that received a direct, honest, compassionate response from the business. You’ll find quite a few adjusted star ratings!
8. Don’t assume your competitors’ products and services are better, sexier, more effective, or more beneficial just because they aren’t yours. Heart-centered business women are quick to downplay their own value – especially to themselves. Don’t let your ego fool you – this is just painted up Imposter Syndrome! Reassure yourself by focusing on the aforementioned Big 3 and keeping your eyes on your own paper as much as possible.
9. Don’t assume flashy, trendy (and often exorbitantly expensive) marketing tools will out-perform the tried and true methods of yesteryear. Relationship marketing, permission-based selling, word of mouth, and yep – even good old snail mail – are all still proven effective if not superior. Allocate that time, money, and energy to delighting the clients you already have and to increase your visibility. Everything else will go the way of Crystal Pepsi or MySpace eventually, no matter how shiny.
10. Don’t assume that being present and asking for money are the same thing. Yes, “Know, Like, Trust” paves the way but no one is going to hurl money at you just because they think you’re swell. If you want to make the sale, you have to ask for it – boldly and plainly, confidently and compassionately. And if the idea of that terrifies you, don’t worry. Just reach on out to me. I’ll set you straight.
Content provided by Women Belong member Annie P Ruggles