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#002. From Friendzone to Endzone: How to Befriend Your Potential Client to Convert Them into a Paying Customer

April 4, 2020

Today we’re talking about befriending your potential client can make them a paying customer. On our last episode, we talked about SERVICE-BASED SALES. This is an approach to working with clients that focus on uncovering their unique needs so that those needs can be met in a personalized way. This not only gives your client the best service possible, but makes them feel known and cared for, leading to an ideal working relationship and very satisfied customer. We talked about getting to know your clients needs by asking good questions, validating those needs by asking clarifying questions and reassuring your client, and then showing how you’re going to meet those needs in a unique way with your own service.

What we didn’t talk about is how to get to a point where you can actually have that conversation. Today, I’m talking about how to befriend your potential client in a way that makes them want to buy from you.

I know my title is super cheesy but it just seemed to fit! This episode is all about becoming a friend in a genuine, authentic way to lead your potential client to want to work with you (AND pay you!). This is something that I think anyone can do! I also think that everyone can benefit from this. You’re always going to be better off if your potential client likes you! This episode is going to get to the heart of that.

Before we get started, there are a couple things I want to say. First, there’s a fine line on this topic between authenticity and being fake. Please keep in mind that everything I’m saying today is really genuine and coming from the heart! I truly enjoy getting to know my potential clients and I also firmly believe that this benefits them. And for that reason, it’s a huge part of my sales process!

In the wedding industry, we are mostly service providers. This means that they aren’t just buying a product from us without ever interacting with us. Our clients get to know us. We have to hear their requests and what they want, and then translate that into the work we do for them. As service providers, we have a great opportunity to build meaningful relationship with the people that we serve. So again, as you hear me talk about this topic today, I feel its VERY necessary to be 100% genuine in this process, and that really can be a fine line. This might be something you need to practice and work on to feel confident in being genuine. I also want to remind you that what we do is ALL ABOUT OUR CLIENT. It’s about them, not us. So we’re going to focus on how we can make them feel the feels of friendship, and it might not necessarily how you build personal relationships in your life, but again – it’s not about you! This is focused on our clients. That’s all I’m going to say about that for now – we’ll continue this conversation as we go!

Oh – one more reminder! Everything that I’m about to say is meant to be done in a real, face-to-face or over-the-phone conversation. Not text, DMs or emails – it’s super important this is a real, live conversation. If you feel like you have no idea how to even get a potential client to this point, no worries! Check out my free guide: 3 Full-Proof Strategies to Turn an Inquiry into a Conversation. I’ll definitely be talking about this topic more in the future, too! It’s super important to get your potential client on the phone or to an in-person conversation. Business happens LIVE. Clients want to hire a real person. Text, emails and DMs are not the way to do business for MANY reasons. Keep that in mind as we go forward and make sure you keep tuning in as share more about this in the future!

Ok: getting to the friend zone which will lead you to the end zone of getting a potential client to become a paying client! Yes, that is super cheesy but I’m keeping it in here so DEAL WITH IT. 

So, what exactly am I talking about when I say “being a friend?” In the sales world, sometimes this is referred to as“building rapport,” but it’s simply the process of developing a connection with someone else by finding common ground, being empathetic, and generally getting them to like you. You might be wondering why this is important. Well, I think there are some obvious reasons why a potential liking you and feeling like a friend would lead to them wanting to buy from you, but to be specific: people are willing to buy from those that they know, like and trust. So you’ve probably heard this before and if you listened in our last episode we talked about it or maybe you even experienced it in your own life! People buy from those they trust, and the best way to build trust is to get your client to know you and then to like you. What we talked about in the last podcast episode is that potential clients also want to be known and liked themselves.

If you didn’t listen to the last podcast episode, go and check it out! I gave three essential steps that will turn potential clients into paying clients. That’s really the foundation for this episode – I’m building on last episode. Definitely go and check that one out first!

Back to this episode, we’re going to work on building rapport (or becoming a friend) to build that relationship and establish an early liking for one another so that when we really start talking business, that potential client is primed to talk to us and already likes us. And liking, again, leads to trust. People buy from who they trust! This makes sense, doesn’t it? Someone you trust isn’t going to lead you to spend your money on something that’s a waste. I certainly hope you don’t think your own service is a waste (in fact, I’m SURE you dont’!). I’m sure, just like me, you’re proud of the service you provide. Now, all we have to do is get our clients to see that!

So, how do we do it? How do we become a friend to our potential client? The answer is that we find a point of mutual connection by asking the right questions. I talked a lot about asking the right questions in the last episode, and these are definitely a different set of questions, but the idea is the same! We are looking to uncover something that we have in common to create a bond and to also show that we care. Asking meaningful questions is really powerful.

Here’s a short story to illustrate this point (although it is not AT ALL business related!). This is the story of my first date with my now-husband, Evan. Evan was interested in me, he asked me out on a date and I was really uncertain (and even a little suspicious!). I had no idea how the date was going to go and I wasn’t sure if I liked him. In the first few minutes of the date, he really directly just said: “I have some questions for you!” He started asking me about my family and friends, things that mattered to me, etc. It was a really simply little thing, but it really changed the course of the date. It’s funny because that was literally the first five minutes of our date, and already, Evan had established this level of trust with me that I had not been expecting and actually had been on guard against. So reflection back on that first date, it was a really basic thing that he did. Any decent guy should want to get to know you on a first date! But at the same time, I sensed that level of genuine care and curiosity about who I was, and that made all the difference in the world! And that’s probably why I liked him so much from that point on!

Asking good questions and making people feel like you really want to get to know who they are demonstrates a certain level of care and starts to build a quick bond. I know dating is totally different then working with potential clients, but the concept is the same.

Step 1 of FRIENDZONE TO ENDZONE is asking great questions. The point of asking these questions is to find a point of mutual connection because having something in common will exponentially increase the like factor. Here are some examples of questions I ask engaged couples who are potential clients for my wedding photography that help me start to quickly get to know them and establish a point of mutual connection.

First, I ask them if they’re local to DC. I like to figure out where they live (not in a creepy way, but to see if we live close to one another!). Many times, I have couples that live in my neighborhood, which is a great point of mutual connection, because we can talk about restaurants we love, things we love to do, places we may have been at the same time!

Another question I ask is about their wedding venue. This is a super easy question to ask because we’re already talking about the wedding. If I’ve been there before, I can comment about my favorite elements of it and they can contribute their favorite things – again, this is just a point of mutual connection that we can bond over.

I have a nice long list of questions and I keep on asking until we find that mutual point. So, every person is going to be different, but think about what kind of questions you can ask your potential client to find that point of mutual connection. Keep the questions open-ended and general, and ask follow-up questions when appropriate.

After you find a point of mutual connection, what happens next? Name it! Point it out and show that you are similar. This shouldn’t be weird or forced – it should come really naturally! Think about when you’ve made a friend in the past and discovered something in common. As you’re talking and asking these questions, watch for that point of mutual connection and make sure you’re intentional about pointing out that you have it in common. I also suggest that you write it down for future reference. This is a great way to make your client feel cared about it the future. Ask them follow-up questions about whatever you have in common. For instance, if I made the point of connection that I live in the same neighborhood as my potential client and we talked about a restaurant they really liked, I might ask if they’ve been there lately or tell them about an event that’s going on there (or something else like that) just as a reminder that I was paying attention – they are unique and special and it wasn’t just a throw-away conversation for me!

Back to finding that point of mutual connection – that is really all there is to it! I never ever skip this step when I’m talking to a potential client because it’s essential in establishing that first step of knowing someone and getting them to like you. Any time that I’ve skipped this step, it’s been really obvious. I’ve felt the lack of connection in corresponding follow-ups, it’s much harder to book those clients, and I just generally don’t feel as connected to them (and I think they feel that too!). Trust me when I say this is a really important part of having an amazing service-based sales process.

This concept is pretty straightforward: just find a point of mutual connection! But as you put it into practice, you’re probably going to discover that it’s a little harder than it sounds. This is something that will likely take practice, and that is OK! Getting the flow of the conversation is just going to take some time. Each time you practice it, you’ll get better. And remember: ultimately, we’re being genuine! As long as you’re being honest with your client and really want to seek out a relationship with them, then you’re going to do a great job. Some people are definitely more natural at building rapport than others, but everyone is capable of finding a point of mutual connection.

Next, a few things to avoid when having this conversation. First, do not bond over complaining about something or being negative. I see people do this all the time, and it’s definitely not a good way to establish a point of mutual connection. You don’t want your client to view you as someone who is negative, but that’s the first impression you’re going to give if you bond over something that you both hate or are complaining about. Don’t do it!

Next, avoid asking about anything that is over-stepping unless they offer it up freely (in which case you’re not the one initially asking about it anyway). I’m going to guess that you have enough social awareness to feel this out on your own, but you do need to be careful about that! You don’t want to offend someone by accident right away!

The last thing I want you to avoid is disagreeing with their opinions. It’s totally fine if you don’t agree with something they say, but this is not the right time to let them know that. This also doesn’t mean you should lie about something – if they ask you about your personal opinion and you give it (even though you know it’s disagreeing with them), that’s OK (but honestly I don’t think that’s going to come up very much!). If they give an opinion and you disagree with it, just keep your mouth SHUT! You don’t always have to give your personal opinion. I think most of us have enough tact to know not to do this, but as someone who can tend to have a big mouth, I know that things just kind of slip out sometimes, so if you’re prone to do this, work really hard on not disagreeing with your potential client! There is no better way to get on their bad side than to do that!

So again, the guidelines for getting from the friend zone to the end zone of your potential client buying from you but I do have a couple more tips to share!

#1: Be really genuine! I have said this a bunch already, but I think it’s worth saying one more time: if you’re faking it, it’s going to show! Be yourself. Yes, this might mean that sometimes you talk with someone who just isn’t a good fit for one reason or another, that’s OK! The right people are going to find you.

#2: Show real interest in your potential client. I’ve also talked about this on the show already, but I want you to really enjoy getting to know them! For some of you, this is super easy and you already enjoy getting to know people. But for others, it may be a little more challenging and it’s going to take practice. You’re going to be so much more successful as a creative business owner AND you’re going to serve your clients so much better if you’re really enjoying this process. If this isn’t something that comes naturally do you, you’re going to want to keep it in mind and practice little by little.

#3: Keep it positive. Like I said before, no complaining or bonding over things that you don’t like. This doesn’t mean that you can’t acknowledge their own negativity or pain points, but I don’t want you to be a negative person!

#4: Give genuine compliments when it’s appropriate. Never, ever give a compliment that’s not genuine. But look for things that you can compliment on genuinely, and then, when the timing is right, give that compliment. Everyone likes receiving a compliment! This is an easy way to get your potential client to become a friend.

#5: Be extra attentive in reading the conversation. Again, this comes naturally to some but not others. Be attuned to  the conversation and where it’s going and know when to ask a new question or change the subject.

#6:  BE CONFIDENT! This one is so hard for most of us, but here’s my pep talk for you: first, ask yourself – Why am I in business? What do I have to offer? I’m going to guess that you’re pretty proud of what you have to offer. I’m not saying that you are a pro that’s been in the business for a long time. I know that when I was a new photographer, I didn’t feel super confident in my portfolio. However, I knew that I was passionate about what I was doing and I’d work my butt off to serve my clients really, really well. That is something to be confident about! You have something to offer and your client is going to be really lucky to work with you. A few other reasons to be confident: YOU ARE LIKE-ABLE! If you have any doubts about this at all, I want you to go to one or two of your closest friends and ask them what is likable about you. Write those things down, keep it on a post-it next to your computer so you can see it every day so that you can remind yourself that you’re capable of being a GREAT friend! Finally, remember that you are trustworthy! That gives you every reason to be confident in your service. We’re working on getting our client to trust us because we ARE, in fact, trustworthy! We have a great service to offer and our client can trust that we’re going to do an awesome job. So, be confident when you’er talking to your potential client. Even when it’s hard, remember these things. Give yourself a little pep talk and remember that YOU ARE WORTH THE INVESTMENT that your client is making in you!

One last comment to add: don’t make this process more complicated that it needs to be. Keep this really simple. Ask basic questions, don’t over-think those questions, and just ENJOY getting to know them!

So, that’s how I get from the FRIENDZONE to the ENDZONE with my potential clients – getting them to become a friend so that they’re ready to invest in my service. Thanks so much for tuning in to this episode! I hope it’s been super helpful to you and that you’re excited to go out and be friends with your potential clients.

Just a reminder that I post a new episode every single week! Please subscribe so I can drop it in to your Apple podcast app (or wherever you listen), and if you enjoyed the show, please leave me a review!

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