written by Paul Keetch
© 2022, all rights reserved
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I have been marketing and selling in some form for most of my life. Starting when I was hand-delivering Regal® Gifts door-to-door. Along with selling vacuum cleaners and long-distance phone packages.
I view selling ... particularly in the context of coaches, consultants and other professionals ... as helping people find solutions to their problems.
And then offering those solutions, when it’s a fit for me to do so.
Like it’s an adversarial conversation or negotiation. Where one person has to “work to convince” while the other has to “object”.
I believe it’s possible for all parties to walk away feeling like they’ve gotten what they wanted.
And feel great about how they got it.
And that it’s possible for every “sales” conversation be two adults having a conversation.
Instead of having to “convince” anyone of anything.
Before undertaking this journey together, I want to make sure you’re in the right place. One of things I dislike most of all is wasting time (mine or someone else’s).
The concepts I share in Say Goodbye to Selling are specifically for people whose business is based around some kind of expertise or advice, whether in the form of 1:1 or group coaching, consulting, online courses, workshops and seminars, or other professional and personal services.
Moreover, they’re for:
Struggling to attract enough leads and clients
Fed up with investing time and energy into Strategy Sessions or Discovery Calls that go nowhere
Done with having to “convince” potential clients to get help and make this issue a priority
Sick of feeling like they have to discount their prices, just to get clients to say yes
It’s likely NOT for you if you’re selling widgets, physical products of any kind or any kind of MLM or Network Marketing.
If that’s you, this isn’t that.
The process of marketing I’m going to share with you CAN have results quickly, depending on your existing business situation. Everyone has their own unique starting point, available time, energy and other resources.
So it follows that each person’s results will vary, yours included.
In order for the information in this Report to make sense, we first have to step back to understand two core premises.
Before you can have a successful "transactional" conversation, you must have a “relational” conversation or series of communications with your potential client.
The degree to which you attempt to “transact” before you “relate”, is the degree to which you will struggle to demonstrate to your prospective client that they should, in fact, choose to work with you.
Please don't misunderstand me:
I'm not saying you need to be friends with your potential clients.
I'm saying you need to relate to them by providing context for the work you do and what it takes to be successful.
When you use The 5 Agreements to inform your relational (ie: marketing) communications, “selling” shifts from Combative to Collaborative.
Imagine instead of having to “answer objections” in order to convince your prospective client to work with you, you were able to collaborate to confirm the best course of action, for them... and for you.
Done correctly, every Potential Client comes to the call specifically to discuss the options for working together and to confirm that you are the right person to help them.
No more “free coaching” or “strategy session” calls.
And no feeling that you’re hijacking someone into a sales conversation they didn’t know they were about to have.
Just two adults meeting to discuss the merits of working together.
Suddenly “answering objections” becomes
“finding solutions to legitimate obstacles” ...
… and you’re in it together.
If you’re someone who fits these criteria and can adopt, at least for the next few minutes, these two Core Premises, read on; I’m glad you’re here.
My suggestion is to print this Report, grab a pen and a cup or mug of whatever you enjoy most, and give yourself 15 - 20 minutes to fully digest this information.
These Five “Pre-Selling Agreements”
Can Transform Your Results
AND Your Experience of Selling
The 5 Agreements that must be in place to sell your services effortlessly and effectively are:
1. They Have a Problem
2. That Problem Has a Solution
3. That Solution Will Work For Them
4. You Are a Credible Source For That Solution
5. The Time to Solve Their Problem is Now
Let’s look at each Agreement in a bit more depth, and consider ways you can create these agreements in your marketing & pre-selling interactions.
More to the point:
They must agree that they have the specific problem you can help them solve.
You might be thinking:
“Of course they know they have a problem. Why else would they want to talk to me in the first place.”
And while it’s true that they have SYMPTOMS they are aware of ... that are affecting their life in some frustrating way ... in most cases your potential clients are not aware of the SOURCE of those symptoms.
You’re likely reading this because you're frustrated in some way.
You’re having a lot of ‘tire kickers’ book calls with you, but have no real idea what you do, or how you can help them?
Sales calls often stretch beyond the scheduled time, leaving you mentally exhausted and overwhelmed trying to catch up.
People don’t show up to the call on time, causing you to sit there and wait. Wasting your valuable time. Causing unnecessary admin work, to follow up and rebook the appointment?
Or you get to the end of a Strategy Session or Discovery Call and they “need to think about it” or “can’t afford it right now”?
Or you’re not getting enough appointments in the first place. Which puts added pressure on the ones that DO get booked?
Regardless of what is specifically true for YOU...
In this case, the deeper issue is that you’re not getting these 5 Pre-Selling Agreements in place before making an offer.
Solve that problem and the symptoms will dissipate and eventually disappear.
Is this making sense?
Your potential customers are no different.
Whether your area of speciality is health & wellness, personal development, sex & relationships or money, business & career.
In many cases...
By acknowledging this ahead of time, you can create marketing content that educates and informs your potential clients about the true source of their problems.
As they come to understand what is truly going on in their experience, they’ll come to realize WHY the efforts they’ve been taking to solve their problem haven’t worked in the past.
And they’ll credit you as being the person who “woke them up” to the true nature of their problem.
Think of it like this:
If you have a pressing headache, the natural thing to do is to ride it out or pop a painkiller to relieve the tension.
But the headache didn’t just magically happen… something caused it.
If the headache comes infrequently, or after a known cause (a few drinks or a long day in the hot sun) it’s easy enough to rely on the “solution” of the painkiller.
But if that headache persists and recurs daily, growing worse over time, popping those pills is only masking the problem, at best.
And if you truly want to rid yourself of the regular, persistent pain, you must figure out what is causing it, and fix that problem instead of trying to mask the symptoms.
If I'm the health practitioner that wants to help people eliminate their recurring, chronic headaches forever, it’s my job to make sure you AGREE that you have the problem I can help you solve.
If my solution is an eye-strengthening program, you need to understand and AGREE that you have eye fatigue from looking at screens all day… and that this is the cause of your headaches.
Are you getting this?
Take a moment right now to consider the Mechanism of Change in the work you do with your clients.
HOW do you help your clients achieve the results they’re looking for?
When you know that, you’ll know what the “source problem” is that you’re actually solving for your clients.
At the end of the day, they are still motivated to relieve the symptoms they’re experiencing, but it’s crucial that they understand how and why those symptoms exist in the first place, so they can make an informed decision about how to get the long-term relief they need.
Continuing with the headache example, let’s say that I’ve sufficiently explained to you that eye strain is the actual cause of those pesky headaches.
I have shared professional findings and independent studies that prove the cause, beyond reproach.
Great, so what?
So now you know that the real problem you’re struggling with is eye strain, but your job requires you to sit at your computer long hours, and when you’re not doing that you’re often on your phone, tablet or watching TV.
As the Expert Service Provider, it would be easy to assume that everyone knows eye strengthening is a real thing.
Exercises that can help alleviate this tension and not only reduce or eliminate the headaches, but could actually provide increased stamina for all the time spent looking at screens.
And show them. Ideally, by letting them experience a small part of it for themselves.
Let’s jump back to our “working example”...
We’ve agreed that you’re reading this because you’re unhappy with some aspect of your marketing & sales systems, and the results they’re producing.
I’ve shared that, in many cases, the cause of those problems is trying to have a transactional conversation, before having a relational conversation that establishes these 5 Pre-Selling Agreements are in place.
I’ve helped frame the problem in a new way, giving new insight as to the cause of some of your concerns.
To get those agreements in place, before you ever try and “transact” with someone.
In case it’s not abundantly clear, the “way” that I’m referring to is strategically created, Education-Based Marketing that educates and informs potential clients about the true nature of the problem AND the solution.
Depending on the work you do, it can be very helpful to also share the Framework of how your specific solution works to solve the problem.
Giving a Framework, or an overview of the process they’ll need to take in order to solve the problem gives clarity and demonstrates that you understand both the problem and the solution.
It also helps your Potential Client see, in a broad sense, what it will take for them to solve the problem they’re facing.
In my case, I’m using Say Goodbye to Selling as the primary framework, which can then be applied across pretty much every marketing channel you can think of.
From Special Reports and Webinars, content marketing (whether written or video marketing), email marketing, speaking engagements, business cards, websites and brochures, podcasts, online challenges and more!
You name it, no matter how you’re interacting with new potential clients, you can use Education Based Marketing to help assure these agreements are in place, well before ever inviting someone to work with you.
You’ve heard the phrase:
Essentially it means that when someone has a bad experience, they are more uncertain about attempting the same or similar undertaking again in the future.
Well, when it comes to trying to get their problems solved, it’s likely that your potential client has already tried a number of options, with varying degrees of success. Or rather, a lack thereof.
It could be that they don’t believe they have the resources or the wherewithal to apply the solution.
They may even have evidence of this from their own past experience.
Or they’ve been burned in the past by someone claiming to be able to help them, but who was only trying to help themselves.
Or they have a belief or worldview that may prevent them from believing it.
If someone believes that it takes years and years of hard work and that they have to “pay their dues” in business, before they can reap the rewards of their efforts in the later years of their career, that belief could prevent them from accessing a solution that competes with that belief.
They may believe that they’ve tried the solution you’ve outlined or that it only works in circumstances that are dissimilar to the ones they face.
Or that they (or their circumstances) are unique in some way as to render the solution ineffective.
Instead of trying to “convince” someone that you’re right, try to understand and reframe their beliefs about the world, so that they can see their problem from a fresh perspective.
You can do this by sharing how the Framework you outlined is new, different or unique in some meaningful way, compared to other solutions they may have tried.
Or sharing stories of people who found themselves in a similar situation, took action and were able to solve their problems, efficiently and effectively.
Or disproving a common myth.
Case in point:
… content marketing
… online challenges
… speaking engagements
… email marketing
… intro nights
… strategy or discovery sessions
… and long-format articles, like this one
… are all forms of Education-Based Marketing.
And just about every Online Marketing Expert out there will tell you that you need to have one or more of these in place, if you want to capture leads and make sales online.
And they’re right.
It’s just that many of those Online Marketing Experts approach the process with an overabundance of urgency to make the sale, which results in a mostly transactional conversation.
One where the person “selling” is trying to extract the highest amount of value from their efforts, as quickly as possible.
This often leads to customers being temporarily influenced to take the action of purchasing a product or service…
...but does very little in the way of influencing their likelihood to actually use and complete whatever course of action is being recommended.
After all, why would I buy something from someone a second time, if I didn’t use the thing I bought from them the first time?
The corollary of this is that they have to work ever harder to “convince” people to buy their stuff once, because they know there is little to no loyalty or longevity in the vast majority of their customer base.
Instead of taking the time to have a Relational approach to their marketing and pre-sales interactions.
Helping to frame the problem correctly, clearly mapping out the solution approach ahead of time, so that when the time comes to have a transactional conversation, it’s about confirming the decision they’ve already made and handling any logistics.
That’s what the Say Goodbye to Selling approach to Education-Based Marketing is all about and how it differs from other purely transaction-oriented approaches.
I want to work with people who are ready to dig in and do what’s necessary.
And if it’s not the right time?
Then let’s figure that out before wasting each other’s time talking about something that simply isn’t a priority right now.
This isn’t about you bragging about your “Woe to Wow” story of triumph over daunting obstacles. (If you have one, be aware that it can either help or hinder your credibility, depending on how it’s told.)
This is about you demonstrating that you are in a position to help them.
Remember, this isn’t about getting one client, one time.
It’s about helping people solve a problem that’s been plaguing them for some time, so that the next time they need to solve a similar problem (or know someone who does) you are the first person they’ll call.
By helping people understand the true nature of their problems, an alternative, deeper, more nuanced and wisened perspective...
...and by helping them see how this solution could fit into their current circumstances, you’ll have already gone a long way towards having them agree that you are a credible and viable option to help them.
After all, you’ve done so much to help them already.
Your willingness to be forthright with them about the realities of their situation… the causes and the effects…
Your ability to articulate the Framework you’ll use to help them demonstrates your knowledge of the subject and gives them insight into the process…
Your sharing of the experiences of others, similar to them, who you’ve helped in the past, offering some assurance that since you’ve done it before, you can do it again…
And, yes, your Professional and/or Personal Experience, training, and education...
Weave these additional elements - your formal and informal credibility factors - through all of your marketing and pre-sales material, as you educate and inspire your potential clients to finally take decisive action to solve the “upstream” problem, they didn’t even know existed, until you came along.
Oh, and by the way… it’s very likely that some of your potential clients will already know a bit about the underlying source problem that’s causing their day-to-day frustrations.
And they will equally appreciate your help in deepening their understanding of the problem and the solution, while “vetting” you as someone who can potentially help them.
Which brings us to…
Everyone has priorities.
And there is no reason I can give you for why you should prioritize something in your life differently than you already are.
Well, I probably could give you reasons, but they’d be my reasons.
And I think we can agree that me telling you what my priorities are will have just about zero influence on how you prioritize the things in your life. Unless I somehow convince you otherwise.
It is their priority to make the sale... and so, to create urgency, they offer discounts or bonuses to make acting now seem more attractive to people who aren’t sufficiently motivated to prioritize it otherwise.
And guess what?
Those buyers usually don’t get value from whatever they bought, simply because it wasn’t important enough.
Even though they prioritized the purchase, they didn’t prioritize the work.
I’m more interested in working with people who know what needs to be done, and why… and are willing to do what it takes.
Whether that’s exercising or taking vitamins, developing (and implementing) a marketing strategy, or learning to communicate better with a spouse or partner ... it’s way more fun to work with people who are taking consistent action and making consistent progress.
These people are intrinsically motivated to do the work that’s needed.
They don’t need a “cheerleader” (except occasionally).
They need guidance and support.
It is possible to help someone reprioritize buying the solution you offer.
But if your work has anything to do with them following through, you cannot prioritize the “getting it done” part for them.
They have to do that on their own.
You help them by making sure they understand the “range of ramifications” of not getting the problem handled.
Not in a way that relies on extreme doom and gloom, but that accurately reflects the natural outcomes of their decision not to make it a priority.
This isn’t permission to shy away from the “worst case scenario” when discussing ramifications, just that you need to temper it with “usual case” comparisons.
A good doctor doesn’t shy away from telling their patient that if they don’t quit smoking, there’s a strong chance it will make them sick or kill them.
You help by letting them see a vision for what’s possible when this problem no longer plagues their days and nights.
Not your vision for them… but their vision for themselves.
Not their commitment to work with you, but their commitment to solving the problem, sooner rather than later.
Otherwise, there’s simply no good reason to spend either of your time talking about a solution that they have already committed not to use.
At least, not right now.
Which, by the way, is 100% fine.
Who am I (or you) to tell them what their priorities should be?
But we don’t have to invest our time in their non-priorities, either.
So there you have it. The Five Pre-Selling Agreements that must be in place before your conversation with potential clients goes from relational to transactional.
1. They Have a Problem
2. That Problem Has a Solution
3. That Solution Will Work For Them
4. You Are a Credible Source For That Solution
5. The Time to Solve Their Problem is Now
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading along with me, and hopefully you’re starting to see how you can apply these concepts in your business.
I’d love to hear from you with any questions, thoughts or feedback.
Until next time,
Paul Keetch is author of the 2010 Amazon bestseller, Make My Marketing Work and has been worked "in-the-trenches" with businesses ranging from start-ups to multiple millions in sales.
He specializes in helping coaches, authors and course creators build thriving businesses using education-based marketing.