This post was originally published on 10/1/2019 and has been lightly updated.
In episode 16 of the That Solo Life podcast, we were joined by longtime friend of Solo PR Pro, Craig Severinsen, founder of BrightWorksPR. Craig’s specialty is helping Marketing and PR entrepreneurs attract more clients for their business. In this post, we recap some of the wisdom Craig shared about the sales process.
Build it and they will come is a popular saying but a terrible business development strategy. We are seeing this in a new way with COVID-19. As businesses reopen across the country, it does not guarantee an immediate return of past customers. In a crisis or in normal times, every business owner needs a systematic approach to finding and closing new business, and all roads lead through sales. Hanging out the shingle is not going to magically result in clients lining up to hire us. You need a sales process.
When Selling is Scary
Selling can be intimidating for people who have never worked in the discipline. All Solo PR Pros (and in fact, every human being) engages in the sales process, even if you don’t label it as such. If you feel like you don’t know how to sell, or it’s not going well, Severinsen advises it may not be you but the approach. There are many ways to approach sales and part of the success is finding what works best for you.
Before you can sell, it’s important to understand what you provide. In PR, we don’t always connect our service to the ultimate value we are providing people. It is important to have a clear sense of the value of your expertise and solutions you provide. That firm understanding will then guide how you price and who you target. Once that is established the next step is to get in front of those people to make sales.
A Value-Centered Approach
Base your sales process around a strategic consultation via phone or videoconference. This consultation allows you the opportunity to gather information and do some pre-qualifying with minimal risk. Videoconference gives you the bonus of nonverbal cues. During your conversation follow these three steps:
- Find out their goal.
- Find out why they haven’t reached that goal.
- Present your services as the way to get from where they are to what they want.
It’s an approach that is simple and value centered. It also allows you to determine whether this client is a good fit and, even if they’re not, you’ve still provided value in that moment.
“Having a process like this in place is essential,” adds Severinsen, “because job security as an entrepreneur is a mixture of retention and bringing on new clients.”
Value in Pricing
Many PR pros are undervaluing their work and it is reflected in their pricing. Severinsen says, “It’s hard to get to a premium package level if you’re selling ‘public relations’ or a ‘service,’ clients will look at the service instead of the value, the end result and what that means to their bottom line.”
Rather than listing our services as tasks and outputs, we need to frame those activities as leading to outcomes. So, begin with the goal in mind. This raises the value of your activity and expands your value to prospective clients.
It’s Not Personal, It’s Just Business. Easing Retention
This process also contributes to taking the pressure off retention. Make it about the plan and the result, not about you. Have the same conversation with your client, whether quarterly, annually, or at project’s end. This was the plan, this was the goal, did we achieve the goal? What worked, what didn’t, and would you like to continue? Measurement is critical to PR success and every solo PR pro needs to set and track measurable goals.
Landing Clients Using Social Media
Using social media to gain more clients is based on the broader tactic of choosing one or two avenues that have proved successful and focusing in to get results. Severinsen currently uses Facebook and LinkedIn and teaches that in his accelerator program, mainly because:
- It’s controllable. If you need just one client or if you need to fully replenish your client roster, this approach allows you to use the channels as little or as much as you need.
- It’s effective. It allows you to better find the clients that are the best fits for you.
Severinsen says, “There’s that old saying, ‘If you follow your passion the money will follow.’ Well, that’s actually not 100% true. The truth is if you follow your passion within a profitable area, that’s where the magic really happens.” So, no matter if you niche down and offer a limited number of services or if you prefer to grow your solo business into a team offering a variety of services, the potential is there if you create and work the plan.
How do you approach the sales process? Drop your comments below or share with @solopr on social media!
If you want more wisdom on how to grow your business, check out the replay of our webinar with Craig Severinsen, 3 Keys to Master Facebook and LinkedIn to Hit $20k+ Months.
Photo Credit: Fizkes