Don’t let people take advantage of you and give away free advice.
Picture this: You’re on your way to meet a potential new client and you’re getting really excited at the prospect of closing the sale. You were super flexible with your hours and traveled down to their office. You went above and beyond, and put in a lot of effort to be there. In your head you're already starting to count all the money you’ll make.
But when you arrive, it suddenly becomes clear that all they’re interested in is picking your brain and that they’re asking for all kinds of free advice before committing to anything. You weren’t prepared properly for your intake conversation and find yourself word-vomiting all over the table to prove your worth.
If you’ve been in a situation like this before – and most of us have – you know this doesn’t usually end well. They leave with all kinds of useful information and you never hear back from them again. They’ve taken you for a ride.
It’s a bit like dating: they seem interested, text you when they’re lonely, and when their craving for attention is satisfied, they leave you on read and ghost you.
There’s nothing more frustrating than getting taken advantage of like this. So today, I'm going to dive into my 3-step framework for successful intake conversations to make sure this never happens to you again.
Ready? Let’s go!
1. Lead the conversation
Working with clients is a two-way street.
It’s not just about whether a client wants to work with you. You need to find out if they are a good fit for you too.
What I see many entrepreneurs do is jump on the opportunity of meeting with a new client, without finding out beforehand why they wanted to meet with you and what they want to get out of the initial conversation. And they end up getting pushed around.
When someone has booked in an intake conversation with you, you shouldn’t have to prove yourself, your authority or that you’re worth investing in. Your marketing should already have taken care of that.
Instead, your intake call should be all about finding out whether you’re a good fit for each other.
The only way to do this is by taking the reins and leading the conversation. This can start before the meeting even takes place. You can ask people a couple of questions beforehand or ask them to fill in a form.
When the meeting starts, make sure to set out what you’d like to discuss and above all, explain the objective of your meeting: to find out if and how you can work together. Clearly stating that your call is all about figuring out whether you’re a good fit for each other immediately sets the tone for the rest of your conversation.
Taking the lead and showing up confidently will demonstrate to your new client that you know your worth and what you bring to the table.
2. Find out their pain points
Another thing that you should absolutely do is to make sure you’re the one asking questions and they’re the ones talking.
People are coming to you for a reason: they’ve run into some kind of issue and they need help from you to deal with it. So it’s absolutely essential that you drill down on what their pain points are.
It goes without saying that you should make sure your potential new client has enough time to ask all of their questions, but the focus should really be on them.
To ensure you stay on track, set the tone from the start: “I have a few questions prepared for you. I’m sure you have a few questions for me as well. Is it okay if I start with my questions and then you can ask me your questions?”
Asking the right questions to your potential client will help you understand how you can best serve them. You need to get down to the root of their problem.
And equally importantly, it will help you tailor your pitch so you make the sale at the end of your conversation. If you don’t listen properly to what a potential client is telling you and give a short and generic pitch, they might buy or might not.
Don’t leave things up to chance. Make sure they’re absolutely convinced that you’re the perfect person to help them with their problems: figure out their pain points, explain how you can fix them, and get them to say yes to you helping them.
3. Pitch with confidence
The final step is of course to close the sale. To do that, you have to pitch with confidence.
Imagine you're having a great conversation with a service provider, you've explained exactly what your pain points are and they have told you about how their services can help. The whole conversation has led up to you coming to an agreement but right at the end (when you’re ready to sign up), they tell you they’ll send you an email afterwards with their offer. The ultimate anti-climax.
I see so many people make this mistake and miss out on opportunities: your potential client is right there and they’ve made time for you. They might be ready to say yes, but they can’t without knowing a ballpark figure. So don’t be afraid to give them a number.
Maybe the number is in line with what they’re expecting and maybe it isn’t. But bringing it up during the intake conversation means you can work something out, without it dragging out for weeks and maybe leading to nothing.
The most important thing is to project confidence. Be calm as you pitch your offer. And then you shut the fuck up.
Knowing when to talk and when to shut up is a skill. Talking too much can get in the way of a sale – people sense insecurity when you’re babbling. No one is there to listen to you, doc.
Potential clients just want to tell you about the problems they’re facing and they want to know that you can help them deal with it. That’s it.
So practice it. Get clear on what you want to say and teach yourself to stop babbling at the end of your pitch. Share your offer, get them to sign up, and then stop talking.
Don’t fuck up the yes. When people say yes, you sign the papers, shake their hand, and get the fuck out of there.
If you struggle to convert leads into paying customers, my team and I are organizing a 5 Sales Mistakes Causing Clients to Ghost You webinar to stop clients from ghosting you and help you bring in more sales. Sign up for FREE!