10 Essential Tools to Build Your Authority

Yesterday, I spoke to a group of 26 CEOs—businesses as small as $1-million in annual revenue, up to $1-billion. One of the CEOs recently bought another business whose strategy was to serve their ideal clients in all the small, out of the way places that the big competitors wouldn’t bother to go. Great strategy, just one problem he shared…

The Internet.

The Internet brought the big competitors to those out of the way places. He was now commoditized. In the group, he wasn’t the only one. Nearly everyone in the room was facing more competition now than ever before.

Maybe you are too.

It’s a real problem and it has two serious consequences that it brings:

  1. Competition from entirely new players (often bringing apples to oranges comparisons, that put you at a disadvantage).
  2. Serious downward pressure on fees.

In most professional service businesses, you don’t have 80% margins, to begin with, so the squeeze can be significant and painful.

The Only Way Out is UP: Using Authority to Escape Commodity Hell

The only real way to escape is to elevate yourself and get above the fray. You’ve got to become THE authority that your market turns to. There are “tools of the trade” for creating authority positioning, that you’ll want to build into your marketing and your business.

Here’s the list, explained…

1. Decision.

You’ve got to start somewhere and in our work with businesses that are going from “unknown” to authority, the very first and most important tool is the decision to create your authority position.

Yes, it’s a decision.

Authority is claimed, not bestowed. So claim it. Certainly, you need to have the requisite expertise to back it up, but in my experience, most business owners have knowledge and expertise in spades.

They just don’t leverage it in a systematic way to create the authority that will attract better clients and bigger fees.

2. Worldview.

Every professional I’ve ever met had very clear and specific ideas about how his or her profession should be practiced. It’s your “this is how we do it here” opinion.

Stop keeping it a secret. Share it with your prospects, clients, and partners. There’s a reason you do it the way you do it…because in your mind it’s the optimal way to deliver your service.

Why on Earth would you keep that a secret?

3. Confidence.

I won’t lie to you, it takes confidence to step out and claim your authority, publicly.

The good news…confidence is a developed capability. It’s easy to grow your confidence daily with a few simple practices.

OK, we got the “soft skills” out of the way. Let’s get practical...

4. Naming to Create Authority

Dan Sullivan of Strategic Coach says “He who names the game, wins the game.” When you begin to name the things you do for clients you begin to create a new, authoritative, and valuable way to describe the value you deliver.

Naming is one outward signal of your worldview. In fact, if you hang around here long enough you’ll find we have an “Unstoppable CEO language.”

Here’s a sample…

  • Referral Kit™
  • The Value Conversation™
  • The Reverse Prospecting Advantage
  • The Ultimate High-Ticket Sales Process
  • The Exponential Network Strategy
  • The Authority Formula

For our clients, each of these names encapsulates a proprietary process and our worldview in that area of our practice. When your prospects start using your language to describe what they want to accomplish, you know you’ve established authority in the market.

5. Authority Selling

Let me ask you a question: Do you consider yourself a natural salesperson? Are you more comfortable with the delivery of your expertise, than the selling of it?

Most of the successful people we work with would answer “yes” to both questions.

The problem is that most of the advice you’ll find on sales improvement requires you to use scripts and techniques that rely on superior sales skills. That’s a recipe for failure. If you’re not comfortable, you won’t use them.

Better to build a sales process based on authority selling. Here are the four essential elements of an authority selling system:

  1. Pre-sales education: Before you’re in a selling situation with a prospect, they’re educated on the problem they face, the consequences of the problem, and on the possible solutions.
  2. A Conversion Window: Getting prospects to move is always hard. The last thing you want to be is the “just checking in guy.” (I hate those calls and you hate making them.) Your Conversion Window gives prospects a compelling reason to take the next step now, without you having to pressure, cajole, or wrestle them to the ground.
  3. Your Out-front Criteria: I’m going to go out on a limb and say, there are some prospects that just aren’t a fit for you. And, there are some who are IDEAL. Say so, “out-front.” You’ll save yourself a ton of time, you’ll remove much of the temptation of accepting a client that doesn’t fit, and your IDEAL Clients will say “that’s for me.”
  4. Your Disqualification Filter: Sales is primarily a disqualification process. You’re really searching for the very best, most ideal, perfect-fit clients. If you build a real system (based on authority) to attract great clients, you’ll have an abundance of opportunity. So, set up a filter—an application, fee for initial meeting, limited availability (there are a dozen ways to do this, get one)—to put a small speed bump right before your sales meeting.Great prospects will gladly go over it, and you’ll have the experience of only talking to excited, motivate soon-to-be clients.

6. Your Service Delivery System

This is a powerful and under-used authority-building strategy. And, the most iconic story of a delivery system used to create authority position in the market is all about BEER!

Specifically, the Schlitz Beer marketing created by Claude Hopkins in the early 1900s.

Schlitz was struggling as the #8 brewer in the country. Every beer at the time was marketed as “pure,” which meant simply saying your beer was pure didn’t have any impact on sales (note: this reality exists in most industries…everybody says the same thing…it still doesn’t work).

In comes Hopkins, hired to create a new ad campaign for the beer. He asks for a tour of the brewery and immediately sees the solution. Make the process of purification visible to the market. Sure, it’s the same process used in every other brewery, but if you’re the only one telling the story, you own it.

 Instead of simply saying Schlitz was the purest beer, he demonstrated why it was the purest by showing the process.

Instead of simply saying Schlitz was the purest beer, he demonstrated why it was the purest by showing the process.

Instead of simply saying Schlitz was the purest beer, he demonstrated why it was the purest by showing the process.

Schlitz went from #8 in market share to #1. Reveal your process.

7. The Fine Art of Showing Up

We give attention to the people who show up in our lives consistently and frequently. Attention is the first and necessary ingredient of authority.

Start showing up in your prospect’s world with something new, useful, valuable using publishing as your medium of authority. (When you publish i.e. speak to many at once, we assume you’re authoritative.)

Show up and be valuable at least monthly (ideally more often).

8. Your Calendar

If you can meet with a prospect anytime the prospect wants the meeting, you’re not an authority. You’re desperate for business.

Control your availability through the calendar. Not only will you be more productive, you’ll have a less chaotic schedule, and you’ll create both the perception and the reality that your time is valuable.

The calendar gives you the ability to subtly apply scarcity and urgency in a very real and believable way.

9. Your Priorities

I see this with business owners that aren’t crystal clear on their priorities…they can get easily swayed into commitments that destroy their authority positioning.

Conversely, because they don’t have clear priorities (one of which being “build authority”), the actions needed to achieve the positioning you want never get done. I know these seem really obvious, but it trips up enough people that it’s worth making it conscious.

10. Your Associations

That brings us to #10…your associations. Or put another way, the crowd you hand out with. An attorney friend once told me, “You are who you travel with.”

And you market will see you as a peer with the people you associate with. Associate with other well-regarded authorities in your market. Not only will it elevate your positioning, it will expand your thinking and give you opportunities to interact with smart people, doing big things.

On the other hand, if you’re always “business visible” with small-time players you’ll be put in that category.

Maybe that’s a sad statement on human nature, but it’s also true. Work with human nature, not against it.

The Key to Creating Authority

Be intentional. You’ve now got the 10 tools of authority, but to bring it into reality, you must be intentional about the process.

Want to organize your thinking and your action? Attend our next free training session on developing your authority position.

The real reason you're not getting referrals

BONUS: Download the exact script I use to ask for referrals.

There is a reason you’re not getting all the referrals you think you should get. The problem is that your clients will never, EVER tell you what that reason is.

You’re probably getting referrals now. Most businesses are. Yet, when we surveyed over 1000 professionals, they overwhelmingly believed they could be doing a lot better.

And for good reason…

The New York Times noted in an article that 65% of all new business in the United States comes from referrals.

That’s a HUGE number. Think of all of the advertising that’s done. All of the money spent on those ads only generates 35% of new business.

So referrals are clearly important.

Nielsen—the research firm—found that referred prospects are 400% more likely to become your client, than prospects from cold advertising.

Yet, when asked, nearly 80% of professionals say they have no system or process for getting referrals.

The 3 Lies Business Owners are Told About Referrals

Unfortunately, the conventional advice we’ve all been given on referrals isn’t very helpful…

First, there’s the ”Do great work and you’ll get referred” advice. It sounds reasonable, but here’s the thing. In our research—we’ve surveyed over 1000 business owners—the second most common complaint sounds like this:

”We do great work. Our clients are happy and they tell us they love us, but it’s really frustrating…they rarely refer.”


The problem with the “do great work and they’ll come” advice is that it relies on the hope that your clients will remember to mention you if it ever comes up in a relevant conversation.

Great when it happens, and it does happen, but it’s hard to build consistent cash flow and growth off of “hope.”

Second is the ”Ask every client, every time you see them” advice. Again, it’s not bad advice, but there’s a problem…

The #1 barrier to getting referrals, cited by business owners, is the fact that asking for them makes both you and the client uncomfortable.

There’s good reason for being uncomfortable using the old referral methods, too…

You’re asking a happy, paying client to give you something…in the form of a connection, a relationship, they have with someone.

You’re “taking” value from the relationship with your client. You’re asking them to swallow some risk (because if you mess up the referral, it’s their relationship that will suffer) and there’s virtually no upside to your client.

It’s hard to refer you because it’s high-risk. You’re essentially asking your client to send someone they care about into a sales meeting with you.

I don’t know about you, but I sell for a living, and I don’t like going to sales meetings where someone else is doing the selling.

There’s built-in sales pressure in every referral because the first interaction you’re asking for is usually a 1-on-1 meeting with the potential client. This pressure prevents happy clients from taking action to refer you.

Third, there’s the ”You can’t control referrals” myth. You can absolutely create a process that consistently delivers great referrals to you. The key word is process. If you leave it to your clients and hope they’ll refer, you have no control.

You can proactively create a simple process to generate a predictable number of referrals every month, without killing yourself to attend every networking event in town. (In fact, you can probably cut back and have some more time with your family.)

The Real Barriers to More Referrals

The first and biggest barrier is one we just mentioned—the sales meeting, and the sales pressure it places on the whole process.

Cartoon of business people in a meeting, one says 'I suppose I'll mention the elephant in the room'.

Sure, you want to get a potential client into a conversation about working with you, but putting a high-commitment step right at the start of the relationship guarantees that your referral flow will be disappointing.

To fix it, you’ve got to replace the sales meeting with a low-commitment, high-value first step. Our approach is to use what we call a Referral Kit™—a tool I describe in depth in my book.

If you'd like a summary, download a copy of our "Referral Blueprint."

The second barrier, is that what we’re asking our clients to do is simply too hard.

If you stop and think about it, we want our clients, or as I like to call them, your unpaid and untrained sales force, to find prospects for you.

Yet, the most difficult task in every business is prospecting for new clients.

Most professionals don’t enjoy doing it and aren’t as effective as they’d like to be, and still we expect our clients to prospect for us.

The old way of doing it, which usually sounds like this: “Do you know anybody who needs (insert your service)?” puts all of the prospecting burdens on your clients. The results are predictably bad.

The third barrier is a big one. Let’s say you’ve asked your client to refer you to three people. They’ve agreed and they’ve even identified the people to refer to you.

Now your client must have three sales-like conversations to convince those potential clients to take the high-commitment step of meeting with you.

If you’re naturally good at sales, this may never have occurred to you. But you can bet that, for your clients, this kind of conversation is a difficult one.

So what’s the answer…?

How to Remove the Barriers to More Referrals

The overall answer to more referrals is to make the whole process easier for your clients (and your referral partners/centers of influence). Let’s look at three ways to do that…

Stop “taking” and start “giving”

Remember, we’re trying to cultivate great relationships with future clients, so it makes sense to be the leader, and deliver value in advance of the sale or engagement.

The challenge is doing that in a way that costs you very little in terms of time, energy, and money.

That means, in most cases, whatever value you deliver can’t be packaged in a 1-on-1 meeting with you. They don’t scale up well, and as we’ve already seen, they add unnecessary pressure.

The key is to package up information that educates a potential client on four things:

  1. The problems, challenges or opportunities they face.
  2. The consequences of those problems, challenges or opportunities.
  3. The first step of the solution to those consequences. (This is important…people don’t spend money to solve problems. We all have problems we’re not willing to pay to solve. They only spend money when the consequences are no longer tolerable.)
  4. How to take a next step with you.

By packaging up your “sales message” in a way that can be shared by your clients and partners easily, without the pressure and risk of a sales meeting, you’ll create much more referral opportunities.

In fact, our clients often see an immediate jump from just a few referrals a month, to 20-50 by using this approach.

Do the prospecting for them

The second big success factor in creating consistent referrals is taking over the prospecting from your clients.

The truth is, it’s your responsibility as the business owner anyway. You know who you want as a client. Why leave it to chance.

We use a method called The Reverse Prospecting Gameplan™ to show clients a specific set of prospects that they’re likely to know. This one little “trick” dramatically improves results.

Use it, and you’ll find that clients who’ve never sent you a referral before are suddenly able to connect you with 5 or 10 or 20 people.

Approach the process with “Purity of Intent”

The final piece of the puzzle and the one that clearly tells your clients that you’re doing all of this unselfishly is what I call purity of intent.

Your clients can sense if you’re doing something because you’ll benefit from it. And, they can tell that you’re doing something because you really want to create value for others and have an impact.

They get it…they know you’ll get business and that’s OK. But they can sense your real motivation.

If you’re on a mission to help the types of clients who really need your help, and you’re sharing really valuable information in your Referral Kit to further that mission, they’ll help you. (This takes all the pressure out of the referral conversation.)

BONUS: Download the exact script I use to ask for referrals.

They want to help you. They want to refer you. It’s just far too hard if you’re doing it the old way.

You only need to ask yourself if you’re happy with the number of referrals you’re getting, for proof that the old way doesn’t work.

I’ve written an entire book on our new approach to referrals called Unstoppable Referrals: 10x Referrals, Half the Effort.

If you’d like a summary, I’ve put together a short “blueprint” presentation of our referral process.

My #1 Tip for Speeding up Client Growth

Ever wonder what single thing is the most important to focus on to attract great clients...? I was just interviewed on The Vinnie Fisher Show and shared the answer...

In the interview you'll discover...

  • My #1 secret for getting faster growth in your business... [6:11 min in]
  • How to go from 1, or 2 or 3 prospects each month, to a healthy stream of great prospects... [7:22]
  • A method for uncovering previously hidden opportunities... [8:48]
  • The best way to unlock referrals that are waiting for you in your network... [11:28]
  • I describe how we create an "insurance policy" against the revenue roller coaster most service firms live on... [15:17]

And so much more (click below to watch the interview)...

The Best Professional Services Firm Marketing Tools of the Year

We’re wrapping up our best year ever and I’ve looked back and realized we’ve published four free tools you may have missed. Each of these is designed to help you get more clients. Now, just in case you missed them, they’re all right here for you…

#1. The Lead Generation Calculator


Ever wondered how many leads you need to generate to hit your revenue goals? Answer a couple of simple questions and this little calculator will tell you.

#2. The Email Newsletter Formula (template)


Our clients have told us over the years, that one of the most difficult and confusing things for them is figuring out what to say in their email newsletter each week or each month. I’ve written several thousand marketing emails at this point. In the process, I’ve found there’s a formula to writing emails that get a response from prospects. As we do in all of our consulting programs, we take complex, confusing things and turn them into clear, easy to use tools. This one will help you keep your 2017 newsletter resolution

#3. The Referral Partner Script

In my book I share a really easy way to turn your network into partners, then into “promoters.” You do it with what I call, “The Johnny Carson Method” (see Chapter 9). If you’re unsure how to get a referral partner to say “yes” to The Johnny Carson Method, use this script.

#4. The Referral Mindset Scorecard

I’m most proud of this tool. We’ve looked at the thinking and attitudes of our most successful clients and contrasted that to entrepreneurs who tend to struggle getting leads and referrals.

We’ve identified eight “mindsets” or ways categories of thinking. And for each, we’ve documented how top performers think.


Now, here’s the really good news… We noticed that when a new client comes on board with us, they often score in the 4, 5 or 6 range in most of the 8 dimensions. After a few months, their thinking expands, and they grow to the 10, 11 or 12 range (the range of top performers).

It’s amazing to watch.

This is the perfect time to download this scorecard, at the beginning of the new year. Honestly, note where you think you are right now. Then in the “Score Next” column, right the score you’d like to have in 12 months.

Just like that, you’ve set your growth path for 2017.

Get these tools now, and supercharge your start in 2017!

The 3 Part Formula for an Email Newsletter that Gets Clients

Bonus Material: Get the Clients You Deserve email course (9-steps to better clients and higher fees, without having to hard sell)

On yesterday’s member’s only Roundtable call (for subscribers to The Unstoppable CEO™ CONFIDENTIAL) we had a couple of questions on email newsletters for professional services—consulting, professional practices, marketing agencies, etc.—so I thought I’d share the formula for an email newsletter that gets clients…

There are three critical pieces:

  1. The goal.
  2. The conversation.
  3. The content.

What’s the goal of your email marketing?

In professional services, we’re publishing an email newsletter to get clients, so getting clients is the “big goal.”

But to get IDEAL Client, your email marketing needs to achieve three other goals…

Email Goal #1: Pull and Push

All clients aren’t equal. The first goal of email marketing for your firm is to pull and push…

Pull your IDEAL Clients closer to you. And push the nightmare clients away…far away.

This is the exact opposite of what most professionals do. The truth is, most fret when people unsubscribe from their newsletter.

As long as you’re not seeing huge percentages leaving all at once, unsubscribes are healthy, and those people are doing you a huge favor…

They’re showing you reality: They’re not a fit.

The way you make the pull and push happen is by publishing your “worldview.” You have opinions about how what you do should be done…don’t be shy about sharing.

Your IDEAL Clients will be attracted to it, and to be honest, most will find your candor a refreshing change to the carefully scrubbed, politically correct blah, blah that most firms call marketing.

Email Goal #2: Repetition

I’ve personally written over 700 email newsletters for my own businesses and I’m often asked how I come up with what to say after that’s new.

The truth is, you’ve probably only got main 5 topics (or principles) in your business.

We teach our clients to plug these into a “content wheel” and rotate through them.

You need to repeat because…

…a world-class newsletter might get 1 in 3 subscribers to read any given issue. But 60–70% should see one of the issues you send this month.

…prospects and clients benefit from hearing the same idea presented in different ways and from different angles.

…you’ll improve the clarity and effectiveness of your messaging with repetition (which benefits the readers).

You’ll know you’re succeeding when you’re sitting in a sales meeting or initial consultation with a prospect and they’re explaining your worldview to you, using your language.

Want to get clients, without having to hard sell…? You need to use your email newsletter to setup the sale.

Email Goal #3: Leading into The Next Step

Contrary to what you see from the Internet marketing crowd, it’s really hard to sell direct to a high-ticket service using email.

Usually, you need some personal interaction—a sales meeting / strategy session / initial consultation—to close the client.

Email works really well to push prospects into that meeting.

The key is to offer it in different ways—sometimes very direct, sometimes subtle. Offer it in EVERY issue.

How “The Conversation” Gets Clients

Most of the newsletters I get from firms sounds like a robot drafted the thing. Ever have an interesting conversation with a robot…?

I didn’t think so.

The key to getting your newsletter read is to make it easy to read. There are three easy ways to do that.

  1. The tone.

  2. The pace.

  3. The brain dialog.

What’s the Right Tone for Your Email Newsletter?

Let’s make this simple: Drop the formal business writing tone you learned in school (I know…it’s hard to do).

Your email marketing is more like a conversation with a friend than a business letter. Make it read like you talk.

A bit informal. It also makes writing easier, ‘cause nobody ever got stumped by “talker’s block.”

How to Pace Your Newsletter for Consumption

My wife and our oldest daughter are huge Game of Thrones fans—they’ve read all of the books. And they kept prodding me to read them too.

So, sitting on the beach, with Book 1 in hand I tried.

The first chapter was like trying to sprint through quicksand—tough slogging.

So, I gave up. All I can tell you is “winter is coming.”

Don’t do that to your newsletter readers. Keep them moving…

Short paragraphs. Short sentences.

Dull, dry, hard to read newsletters won’t get you any clients (‘cause nobody’s reading it)

Keep it punchy…

It helps the pace.

Engage in “Brain Dialog”

Your prospect is experiencing your email marketing in their head.

Understand that, and give them an interactive experience in there.

Leave room for your prospect to enter the conversation with you, mentally, as they read, by asking them questions in the copy.

Know what I mean?

It keeps them engaged and helps prevent the “eyes glazing over syndrome” that happens just before they delete you.

How to Come Up with Endless Topic Ideas for Your Email Newsletter

I’ve already talked about the “content wheel” approach—identify the four or five main topics related to your business and rotate through.

That gives you the framework, but not the specifics.

Here’s how I’ve come up with topics for over 700 email newsletters…

  1. The Q & A.
  2. The Contrarian.
  3. The Mistake.

Turn Client Questions into Gold

One of the reasons I find working with our clients so valuable (aside from the obvious) is that they’ve got an endless supply of questions.

But, not just any questions…

Highly relevant questions (like the ones that inspired this article)…

Questions that our prospects have, too.

They ask them. You answer them, and…

Whamo! You’ve got content.

The Great Value of a Difference of Opinion

Most of the really great consultants, professionals, and advisors I know have “their way.”

A unique approach to the practice of their profession that’s more effective than the average approach.

I’ll bet you’re in that group, so stand up and tell your prospects why the “standard practice” isn’t good enough for them…

…and why, your approach is better.

Have an opinion, and don’t be afraid to use it.

Capitalizing on Mistakes

Prospects make mistakes. If they could do what you do perfectly, they wouldn’t need you.

So, point out the common mistakes.

You’ll help them identify what they’re doing that may not be working for them.

You’ll demonstrate your expertise.

And, you’ll drive home the realization that maybe, just maybe, Mr. Prospect, shouldn’t be writing his own contracts, or doing his own taxes, or… (you get the idea).

So, what have we covered?

We started with three things to focus on in your firm’s newsletter if you want it to produce clients:

  1. The goal.
  2. The conversation.
  3. The content.

And, we covered three parts to the goal—the pull and push, repetition, and the next step.

Then we covered the importance of “the conversation” in your email marketing. There are three essential pieces to the conversation—the tone, the pace, and the brain dialog. And we talked about how to optimize each one.

Finally, we covered the content of your newsletter, and the three sources of endless topic ideas—the Q & A, the contrarian, and the mistakes.

I’ve put together a simple spreadsheet to make organizing your email newsletter really simple. Use it to plan your goals, the conversation, and your content.


2 Steps to Improve Your Marketing Results

It’s so easy to chase the next big thing, thinking that’s what will finally make all the difference…

Yet, the next “new media” is just that…it’s media. It’s only one of three pieces you need to attract clients.

It gets everyone’s focus because it’s the easiest to deal with.

Media is everywhere, you can get it free, you can buy it and mostly, it’s just a giant distraction from the two things that matter more…

#1. Who you’re trying to attract (what we call your IDEAL Client).

#2. What you’ll say to them once you have their attention (your message).

You can try every media known to man…and every new one invented tomorrow and you’ll fall flat until you figure out these two things.

But the unending search for “new media” marches on…

I hear it in the voices of firm owners who wonder “should I try posting on LinkedIn…maybe SnapChat…oooh, what if I can have LinkedIn auto post to SnapChat…? That’ll get clients…”

Media is important, but it’s a useless tool until you know who you’re trying to reach and what you’ll say to them (that they’ll actually care about) when you get there…

We’ve got a brand new webinar on how to attract great clients consistently, without paying for advertising…

We’ve got several opportunities to see it, register for the next available presentation at http://unstoppableceo.net/webinar

Playing the percentages in the client game

I love “first wins”…

I was on the phone with one of our Accelerator clients last week, who’d just started using his new Referral Kit™.

In about a week, he’d pulled in 25 referrals.

Not a bad week…

And a great “first win”…many more to come.

Putting a system in place that delivers 25 (or more) new leads a week changes your mindset.

Most of our clients come in, struggling to get 1 or 2 or 5 leads a week. When you’re getting so few, there’s extreme pressure to make every one count.

You have to have super-human closing ability.

All of that changes when you start playing the percentages. Instead of 1 or 2 leads a week, you jump to 25 or 40 or more…

You can be a horrible “closer” and still double your business, because you’ve improved your odds.

But you’ve got to make the shift to consistently getting more leads.

Until you do, you’d better strap on that sales-superhero cape, because the pressure’s on…

If you’re ready to lay down your cape, and start putting the odds in your favor, we should talk…

This week, we’ve opened up a few appointments for 1-on-1 calls to help you get clarity on what you need to do next, to get to 25+ high-ticket leads a week.

The calls are free, but we only have a few available this week.

Book your call here >>

Three ways to set your fees

I have to tell you…

Getting the “market rate” when you’re a professional sucks.

There, I said it. (You know you’ve thought it.)

The problem is the “market” is happy to settle.

The “market” is filled with firms who know no other way of getting clients, other than to be the cheapest.

So, they drive down the “market rates.”

It’s the financial advisor willing to do all the planning without a fee, just the commission…

The attorney, so desperate for clients, he’ll work for half what he should…

The CPA, or engineer, or architect, who BELIEVES that average rates are good guides.

Today, I’m going to show you three ways to come up with your fees. Each of them superior to pegging yourself at “average.”

So Why are Premium Rates So Important?

Why all the fuss…?

Aside from the obvious, you charge more, you make more (isn’t that reason enough?), there are three reasons you NEED to be charging higher prices.

1. You’ll attract better clients. Clients that flock to you for a low price, will leave you when the next guy drops a dollar lower. Higher prices force your clients to choose you for reasons other than money…reasons that will keep them with you longer.

2. You can spend more to get clients. Low fees are usually driven by desperation. I remember back in the engineering world, firm owners actually taking work at break even or a small loss, “just to keep people working.”   
I get what they were hoping to do, but the minute you start down that road, you strip your ability to spend to attract new clients. The winner is the one who can spend the most to get a new client—and still be profitable.

3. You can invest in high-end experiences. Whether that means spending to get the brightest, most innovative professionals to come to your firm, or having the big luxurious office that your clients expect, or delivering a higher level of service…  

Premium experiences require premium investment. You’ll need the added profit.

How to Set Higher Fees

There are three methods you can use to set your fees. All three work. Just pick one…

The Dartboard Method for Raising Fees

This one is my preferred method (really). I first heard this from Sean D’Souza.

It works like this:

1. Get a dartboard and darts.
2. Write a bunch of fees that make you happy on slips of paper.
3. Tape the slips to the dartboard.
4. Throw a dart.

The point of the exercise is to get you to make a decision.

Let’s say you’re currently charging $150 an hour and you’d really like to get to $300. You don’t know if you should go to $200 or $250 or $285 or all the way to $300 first.

Put them all on the dartboard. Throw the dart. The dart removes the fear and uncertainty around choosing the “perfect number.”

There isn’t one.

Get a number. The specific number matters a lot less than you think.

How to Justify Charging More with The Value Method

Value-based pricing has been around forever. It’s an excellent way to get a lot higher fees, but requires you to do a little detective work with your future client.

You need to understand exactly what they’re getting (value) from working with you. What’s their return on investment. Often in professional services this can be difficult to uncover, but it’s there.

Once you have your fee, set your fee at a fraction of the value your client is receiving (get them to tell you what that value is).

Your fee might be anywhere from half to 1/10th the value they receive. Or, from the client’s perspective, they’re getting 2-times to 10-times more return, then the investment their making with you.

If you’re billing by the hour, this can be a quick way to “justify” your way to higher fees.

Using The “Market Multiplier” to Triple Your Fees

The third method is the “Market Multiplier”. This one requires no special equipment…just multiply the average market rate by any number.

2, 3, 4, 10…whatever.

I used this approach when running my first company to go from “average” to triple the market rate overnight.

Now, the next trick is getting clients, and prospective clients to pay your higher fees.

What are you afraid of?

Wait! We’re all business owners, how could we possibly be afraid of anything…? Except, in call, after call, after call we listen to business owners—successful ones—who are afraid of clients.

Afraid to call the client (or future client) on their B.S.

Afraid that if they don’t “prove” their worth in the first 30 seconds that the future client won’t buy…

Afraid to test the future client’s commitment to doing business…

And more…

So why are they afraid, and what can be done about it…?

The fear is the easy one to understand. It comes from lack.

When you lack leads, you’re afraid to run any one of them off. No matter how bad they might be.

You need them.

And there’s the problem. Neediness can be sensed.

And your prospects know when you need them. You’d think they’d use that information against you—force you to cut your fees.

Sometimes, yes. But the more common response is just to leave.

Most didn’t come to you looking for the lowest price. They came looking for leadership.

And instead, they just get your neediness.

So they move on. In search of someone to lead them out of their problem and into a better future.

So how do you fix this…?

Well, there are three ways to fix it.

#1. Create more leads. Most businesses think it takes years to get the lead flow going. And, if you approach like most do (without any focus) it does take years.

Yet, we’ve found in our Unstoppable Referrals™ Accelerator program that, in a month or two, we can have a serious impact on a client’s lead flow. And without them having to put in a ton of work (some, but not a ton). Seriously, with 60 days of focus, you can have this fixed.

#2. Put up small barriers that force prospects to demonstrate their commitment to solving the problem they face, and their commitment to having you do it.

Most are so desperate to talk to a prospect that they’d never consider making that prospect “prove” that they’re real.

Now, before you assume that I’m talking about business beginners or the unsuccessful, let’s get clear.

We hear that from businesses that have been operating for 5, 10, even 15 years. Businesses where the principal is pulling in something north of six-figures. And yet, they might only see one new prospect a month.

And so there’s fear and lack.

#3. Build those small, but important barriers into a process. A system that works outside of you.

So, when you’re feeling the fear and lack, the prospect just sees the process working. Not your emotion of the day.

Oh, and if you want to talk about fixing your lead flow in the next two months, you can book a time here.


Photo, originally in color, courtesy of: JBLM MWR

Two Unusual Tricks to Get Clients from Speaking, Plus One Thing You Should Never Do

  Everyone knows that speaking is a great way to get clients, right? Yet, so many professionals go and speak, and go home without any clients. And it's all very preventable...

So, today, I'm going to share with you two tricks to making every speaking event deliver the clients you want. Plus, I'm going to show one thing you should never, ever do, if you want to get lots of new clients from speaking.

So, here we go...

Why John Fills the Room with 74 Prospects in a Seminar

One of our clients, John, puts on seminars 6 to 10 times a year. And in each one, he fills a room...

With as many as 74 prospects at a time.

Now, you're probably wondering...how does he do it? Is it Facebook ads...? Direct mail...? Calling...? Referrals...? Offline advertising...?

And the answer is yes, he uses most of those. But that's not why he fills rooms again and again.

No. The real reason he has rooms full of eager prospects is that he's cut the B.S....there's no yada, yada, yada. And that's what most speakers deliver, just a bunch of yada, yada.

The Secret is in the Transformation

To fill rooms consistently, your topic needs to be more than a collection of information prospects can read on the Internet somewhere. Instead your presentation needs to deliver a transformation.

What Do We Mean by Transformation?

Very simple...you need to move them from Point A to Point B. That requires more than just information. You must transport them from their current situation and deliver an experience that connects emotionally to motivate action. Without action, there is no change...no transformation...and no sale.

Transformation Leads to Perpetually Filled Events

Transformative events are referable events. And this helps you fill the next event, and the next and the one after that. And that's one of the secrets to John's many years of success with seminars and events.

So How Does Transformation Turn into Clients?

Well, it doesn't happen all on its own. In fact, what I see most people do is leave the next step--the meeting you want the prospect to attend, where you'll turn them into a client--to later.

No mention of it at all during the event.

And this is a BIG mistake.

But I'll Just Follow-up

That's how the thinking goes...I'll just follow-up and book the appointments. But you won't. I've seen enough businesses "plan" to follow-up with all the attendees at a speaking event, but then something happens...

They return to the office. Life gets in the way and the best of intentions is out the window.

But that's not the only reason to do something different in your event...

When the Sun Comes Up the Prospects Lose the Mood

Not only do you get caught in the busyness of life...so do your prospects. Plus, all that emotion you created is now gone. It peaked in the moment, but just like date night with your spouse...you have to strike while the iron's hot!

The solution is to sign them up on-the-spot at the end of your speech. Have someone there, in the back of the room, with a calendar. Ready to book appointments.

You'll have a full calendar soon, because of the power of the herd...

Starting the Stampede

When you wait to book appointments, you rob yourself of the most valuable advantage you have with a room full of people:

The Power of the Herd.

The herd follows the leader. It doesn't matter who is the leader. They'll follow anyone. So, all you need is one prospect to go book an appointment and BAM...they'll all follow and stand in line to book a meeting with you.

When was the last time that happened for you?

There you have it...the two tricks to getting clients from speaking:

1. Focus your topic on delivering transformation

2. Use the Power of the Herd to fill your calendar at the event.

But I promised to give you one thing never to do when speaking for clients. And it is, by itself the single biggest mistake made by professionals who speak for business development.

The Big Mistake with Speaking

Unfortunately, I see it a lot. Firm owners decide to put on a seminar for prospects. They book a room, order some food and send out the invites.

Then only three people show up. They're disappointed. They wanted a bigger crowd. They assume that this speaking thing won't work for them...won't work in their market...won't work for their business...

So they quit.

Never, Never, Never Give Up. -Sir Winston Churchill

And they don't realize that we have all given presentations to 3 people...sometimes fewer

My client John once did a seminar for one prospect. That prospect has been a client of John's for years

Persistence Guarantees Success

Our most successful clients get in a rhythm--delivering a seminar, webinar, speech--every 4 to 6 weeks. That kind of persistence can't lose.

4 Steps to Read Your Prospect’s Mind

Do you know what makes the difference between a GREAT client…an IDEAL Client, and a client that you’d wished you’d passed on…?

One thing.

How they think.

Let me illustrate:

In my first company we had a 25-year client. We’d worked with them for two and a half decades and it was the most ideal client relationship you can imagine.

We did all of their work in our discipline. They relied on us to solve problems that came up outside our discipline, because of the great trust we’d developed.

And, importantly, they never questioned an invoice and happily paid premium fees.

Then, the leadership started to change. Our high-level contacts retired, all within a short time.

And it quickly turned from “dream client” to nightmare.

We went from trusted advisor to rank commodity…and all with the very same client.

So what changed?

The mindset of the client…

They replaced the “brains” of our IDEAL Client, with new brains.

The new “brains” in charge viewed the world, and in particular, our service differently.

Same company.

Very different thinking.

Which is why, when you look for prospects and only look at what you can see on the outside—demographics (how big, what industry, location, etc.)—you still can’t tell which prospects will be IDEAL Clients.

You have to go deeper…

You have to understand how they think. Specifically, how they think about buying what you sell.

And to do that, you need to step inside your IDEAL prospect’s mind and see the world the way THEY see the world.

Here are four dimensions to look at…

1. What they think about. What’s on their mind? What’s stressing them out? What charges them up?

2. What they see—from the prospect’s perspective, what does she see…what other offers, what messages, what situations is she seeing in her world?

3. How does she behave—how does she present herself to the world? How does she act when presented with an opportunity like yours?

4. What does she hear…from friends, family, peers, experts, advisors, influencers, she pays attention to…?

Answer those questions and you’ll have a start at understanding the mindset of your IDEAL Client.

It can be the difference between the client of your dreams and the nightmare you wish you’d wakeup from…

Why we turn away clients, and why you should too

There’s so much noise out there about “always be closing” and so many people who beat their chest, bragging about high close rates as if, closing the prospect was the only positive outcome.

We take a different approach.

Today, we turned away a $5+ thousand-dollar client, who was ready to buy.

But here’s the thing…

We weren’t the right fit for him, right now.

We will be in a year. But if we take him today, we know he wouldn’t be as successful as we want.

And still…he was ready to send money.

For a lot of businesses, that’s hard to walk away from.

But taking a wrong-fit client is short-term gain, for long-term pain.

We take the definition of the word “client” very seriously…

“One that is under the protection of another.”

In other words, we have a duty to guide the business owners who come seeking our help to the right solution.

Often that means working with us.

Sometimes, it means sending them somewhere else for help…even when doing so costs us in the short term.

The long-term accrual of trust and authority is priceless.

I have no idea if, as you read this, you need help attracting clients or if you’re even a fit for what we do.

If you are good at turning prospects into clients, but aren’t seeing enough prospects to hit your goals, then, it *might* make sense to talk.

We have VERY FEW remaining openings to talk next week. Grab yours here…