One of my favourite clients and colleagues is Russell Scott in Guelph (the handsome fellow pictured here). He is kind, gentle, genuine and just the realest deal when it comes to spiritual mentorship for those with allergies to gurus and dogma. If you’re an independent spiritual seeker, I can’t commend him highly enough. A genuine elder.
But, it’s also a challenge. For someone with such an aversion to selling, how does one sell?
He spoke about his regular living room Wisdom Circles that he hosts for past clients and community members. He has 6-12 people at them every week or so. The evenings sound really lovely. Sharing circles and gentle partner work. And, of course, he has services he’d like to offer them. But how, and when, to do that without it feeling pushy, awkward of gross? How indeed.
For those of us who hate the pitch, how do we share what we do in a way that isn’t pushy but also not apologetic… and yet still effective. After all, what’s the point of having these wonderful offers if no one knows about them?
It can be a sticky wicket.
As we spoke, a thought came to me about how he might do it that could avoid a feeling of pressure in his his living room.
What he doesn’t want is to end a lovely, intimate evening with people feeling like he was trying to ‘hard close’ them to sign up for his workshops or mentoring. That would be the worst. And turn everyone off. But to not ever mention his work would be a betrayal of himself and a sure expression of collapsing.
But, as we spoke, I was remembering how many people I’ve gotten to sign up in my workshops and coaching simply by inviting them directly.
I recall once hosting a party at a loft in London, England. It was filled with local hubs, past clients and their friends. I met four people at the party who I’d not known before who I really wanted at my workshop. They seemed like the coolest people.
So I said, “Can you come to my workshop this weekend?’
‘What workshop?’ they would ask.
‘It’s a marketing workshop for hippies. It’s pay what you can. I would love to have you there! I can email you the info if you like.’ And I did. And I think all of them signed up. There was no clever technique. I just felt a connection. Expressed that. Was sincere in my expression of wanting them to be at the workshop. Was unattached to that happening. And it happened.
I’ve had other moments of sitting with someone as they described their marketing woes and said to them, ‘Hire me. Let me help you with this.’ and they said ‘Yes’. No games. No leading questions. No tricky business. Just a sincere expression of the desire to help. And yet so effective.
So, I said to Russell, “Here’s what I would do… First of all, mention your workshops after the break in the middle or at the end. No pressure. No pitch. Just, ‘Here’s what I’ve got coming up if anyone is interested.’. But then, because you only have 6-12 people I would send them a follow up email after they’ve left. And I would sit and meditate on each name and ask yourself what you might have to share with them. Perhaps it’s just an email that says, “I really heard your struggle tonight about what to do with your marriage and it touched me. Thanks for coming.’ or maybe he’d send a link to an article that he or someone else wrote. Or a youtube video. Part of the idea of slow marketing is to take a pause and sit with things for a bit to see what really feels right. I remember a moment where the right thing for me to say to someone was, ‘Don’t be an asshole. Sign up for this thing. You need it.’ and they totally relaxed, laughed, signed up and were so glad they did. Being conscious and coming from our heart in our relationship to sales doesn’t mean we always speak in hushed, new agey tones. Your style can be much more in your face and still totally authentic.
Or maybe he’d say, ‘I really heard your struggle tonight about what to do with your life and that lost feeling and I would love to have you at my upcoming retreat. I’m not sure it’s a fit but I think it could be just perfect for where you’re at. Would you be open to chatting about it?’ Or something like that. It can be done with no pressure. No guile. Just a heartfelt, considered offer. They might say ‘yes’ and they might say ‘no’. Both are okay. The role of marketing isn’t about convincing people of anything. It’s about giving people the information they need to make a clear choice and see if what you’re offering is a fit for them.
In truth, he might invite them not to come back to the circle if it’s really not a fit.
But each offer would come from a prayerful place, holding their best interests in mind and sensing for what, if anything, he might offer that would be a fit for helping them.
Selling can be about closing deals. But it can also be about opening conversations.
It doesn’t have to be a high pressure, powerful presentation from the front of the room. It can be a personal email after the workshop too. It’s good to be mindful of our context. Were it an intro workshop, I would urge him to make a direct offer and invite people to sign up then and there if it felt right. But this is a lovely living room, drop in session. Context matters.
You can read another example of this kind of thing in action in another post I wrote recently.
Getting new clients doesn’t have to be sneaky or hard. Sometimes you just have to ask.