It’s the marketing method that’s been around for a while. It has come up for air and is still going strong: to sell your service or product, you have to find the client’s pain point, push it, then tell the client you can cure their pain.
After a short stall, the idea has been picked up as a method of connection on Linked In. For the last three months, I’ve received more requests for connection on Linked In than I have in years before. The requests progress down a similar path.
First comes the sugary request, generally using “I know you are busy, but . . . ” and “I want to meet exciting entrepreneurs who are not afraid of putting themselves out there . . .” followed by some sentence including the grammatical tooth-grinder, “Experts such as yourself . . .”
If I connect, I can do the Denzel Washington count-down (from The Equalizer) and know that I will get, within minutes, a sales pitch promising me incredible results if only I follow their method, rent their lists, and do what they say.
Most of the people who connect immediately drop any interest in my clients, what I’ve already tried, or what my goals are. They just leap into the idea that I am not making enough money, and that is a sign I’m not quite good enough, and money is within my reach if only I send them some first.
I wrote back to one of the pain-point-peddlers and said that my coaching focus is not on C-suite executives. I’d rather help people on the way up who need some writing or communicating help. That’s what I do. In my mind, I’m setting a healthy boundary. In the seller’s mind, I’m presenting an objection, which has to be proven wrong. Sigh. Not interested in those methods.
Here’s what works for my clients:
- I become interested in them, in their work, ask questions about their business.
- I listen to what they want to achieve.
- I check in with them, to make sure I heard their needs correctly.
- I ask what they have already tried, what worked and what did not.
- I toss out a suggestion, usually connected to something I can do.
- If the potential client is interested, I encourage them to ask me questions.
- I’m clear about what I can do and what is not my area of expertise.
- If I can’t deliver what they want, but I know someone who can, I offer to connect them. I’m willing to help, even if I’m not the right person for the job. And helping is the point. Clients remember who helped and who just sold.
Not every client presentation ends in my getting the contract, but listening always helps a conversation work. Most clients know where they are hurting. I don’t want to press on the pain and turn it to anger or desperation. I’m better off seeing if I have a skill that matches a need. It’s worked for 15 years. I think I’ll keep doing it.
–Quinn McDonald is a corporate trainer who teaches business writing and problem solving.