Have you ever been at a family gathering and heard your mother speak about what you do? After a few years in business, you should have a finely-tuned elevator pitch, but then mum comes along and flattens the pitch in seconds with a dud referral. What she says might be very flattering, “Rebecca makes websites for a living. She’s really good: she did my neighbor Phil’s website for only $200. You should talk to her, she could help you.” The truth is in there, but it’s not perfect and that’s my fault.
A few weeks ago, we talked about how to ask current clients for referrals and now, we’re going one step further. Today, we are going to talk about how to help mum or dad (or brother/sister) speak about your business in a way that gets you the perfect client.
Turn your family into your best salespeople.
I don’t know about you, but I love when my family wants to talk about me. I can honestly say that my parents go above and beyond the call of family duty to help me, but it’s not always the kind of help I need. So, to make sure that I don’t get the wrong clients I developed a plan (a strategy if you will!) to get the right kind of work from my parents’ kind words.
Now, I know talking to parents about work can be tough, but it’s so worthwhile. Here’s why:
1. Your parents could be your best salespeople – constantly spreading the word, never saying anything bad and never costing you a single penny.
2. Chances are, your parents are already talking about what you do and not getting it quite right. Instead of being all teenagery about it and fighting the process, why not make the most of it and work with them?
To get someone to refer you, usually, you have to answer the question, “What’s in it for me?” The great thing about most parents is that they want you to succeed. They just do. No strings attached (other than more phone calls or better attendance at weekly dinners). To get a good client referral from your parents, you simply have to ask. So, let’s get to how you should ask.
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First, let’s explain the kind of client you want. Be very specific about the kind of client you do NOT want.
Example: if you are a web designer that wants to work with Tom’s Shoes, tell your folks that you are only interested in clothing companies, companies that are heavily invested in charitable ventures, or companies that have a lot of money! Make sure you mention you are not interested in Aunt Phyllis’ cousin’s barber shop, but instead of getting irritated when she makes the suggestion, explain WHY you are not interested in that kind of work.
“Mum, I only want to work with people who’s business will push me towards more clothing companies. That kind of barber shop can’t afford me and it doesn’t look good in my portfolio.”
Next, explain exactly what kind of work you do.
Example: if you are a life coach working with female entrepreneurs, explain what that entails. If you’re bringing up the subject without being prompted, perhaps tell a story about a client and, throughout the story, keep talking about what you like about this client.
“I’m working with a new client, Mum, and I love it. She’s the mother of two and she has a baby bag business. I am helping her get from small business status to medium business status, which entails hiring entire teams, like sales teams and design teams. She gets so nervous about being the boss though, so I help her understand her own power. I’d love to be able to coach more successful women on feeling good about their own success.”
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Then, explain your worth
Example: think about the amount of time you have wasted time talking to a potential client only to find out they can’t afford you. Avoid that scenario by explaining how much you are worth. Don’t give exact numbers – this can only go poorly! Keep in mind that we have all been shocked by the cost of something we know nothing about. When was the last time you said, “You paid how much for it?”
“Mum, if you mention me to someone, it might be a good idea to mention that you don’t know how much I charge. That way, they don’t think they are getting my time for free. I can’t afford to help everybody for free, otherwise I’ll never be able to afford to take you on a cruise!”
Never forget: you don’t work for free my friend – we are here to get you more of the ideal client, not nickel and dime-style work – make sure you are comfortable with that yourself so that you don’t end up accepting a guilt trip.
There we have it! Now, go, call your mother! The truth is that everyone’s parents are different, but if your parents are already talking about you, why not get them saying the right things? There’s nothing to lose!
Let me know if these hints would work for you and if you have any horror stories about parents referring you. I’d love to hear them!