At the final day of the Michael Port How to Book Yourself Solid conference in Savanah Georgia, my phone rang in the middle of a group session. Oops, the ringer was on. Michael said “I’ll get that for you.” and so I handed it to him.
He answered: “Savanah Police department, how may I help you?” Let’s just say he has a vibrant sense of humor and luckily my client did also. After all, I was there to learn a few things about expanding my client base right? After getting to know Michael for a few days, I would let him answer any of my calls.
Michael Port and his consulting firm are a beacon of light for solo-professionals / services firms and have reached over 20,000 business clients to date. He is the author of numerous best-selling books and is an internationally recognized public speaking coach.
In this post you will learn about his system for getting more clients than you can imagine and things you can implement, even if you hate selling and marketing. I will also share some of my key takeaways for experts and entrepreneurs that are working at companies, as well as for solo practitioners.
There is so much packed into this system that it would take a huge amount of content to explain it all, so I will intentionally keep my verbiage short, allowing you to scan it as a whole. That is something I had a very hard time finding online.
2 key principles that the Book Yourself Solid system is based on
- There are some people who you’re meant to serve, and others … not so much.Don’t try and please everyone or you will water down your business and yourself. Work with those you like and are meant to serve.
- Book Yourself Solid is a love story disguised as a business system.
When you love what you do, you will be more successful.
Red Velvet Rope Policy
- Dump your dud clients and work with those that energize and inspire you.
Understanding Why People Buy What You’re Selling
- Define your target market and where you can get in front of them.
- Understand their most urgent needs, their most compelling desires or both.
- List ALL of the benefits your clients will get when you deliver them ONE single big result.
- Learn to talk passionately about the benefits they will receive from working with you.
Here’s a nice visual from the illustrated version of Michael’s book:
Develop your personal brand
You are your own Unique Selling Proposition. If you work for a company, your expertise will represent your company and brand in a powerful way that both can benefit from.
- Distinguish yourself from everyone else.
- Develop your “who and do what” statement: Whom you help and what you help them do.
- Develop your “why you do it” statement: Your vision for what you hope to achieve.
- Develop a tagline that says something about who you are.
Below are the 4 personal branding tips visually
How To Talk About What You Do
Every time someone asks what you do, use your “Who And Do What” Statement.
“I help [TARGET MARKET]
get [SINGLE BIGGEST RESULT]”
“I help small business owners get more clients. What about you?”
Or add in the needs and desires:
“You know how small business owners need to generate more revenue and take more time off? Well, I show them how to get more clients!”
Building Trust And Credibility
- Start with standard credibility builders: a decent website, a professional email address, some good headshots, and well-made business cards.
- Make sure you’re a category authority in your area of expertise.
Building A Sales Cycle
Make sure that you have at least three offers, at three price-points. This way your prospects can check you out more for free, try a small paid sample and or invest in a premium service.
So your service offering should look like this:
Option 1: $0
Option 2: $$
Option 3: $$$
The level of trust you build often dictates the level of service people will sign up for.
There are only two ways to build trust:
- Do what you say you’re going to do.
- Deliver what you say you’re going to deliver.
So be on time and don’t say you will follow up and then forget to.
One way to get people to meet with you more is to make the first stage of your sales cycle a free event.
I’m thinking of offering a monthly webinar at a consistent day of the month since our in person events are a bit more all-consuming. Then again an open house / Q & A session might not be a bad monthly thing to start doing.
Michael calls this your “Always Have Something To Invite People To” Offer.
Developing a “Keep In Touch” Strategy
Keep in touch with your prospects in both one-to-one and in a group format.
Use MailChimp, iContact and or AWeber etc. to keep in touch one to many.
The key is to keep in constant contact and to be top of mind for when they do need you.
Brand Building Information Products
Information products, like a book, an ebook, podcasts, or videos, position you an expert and build your brand while you sleep. They might just make you additional passive income as well.
Below are a couple of my information products as examples. Our DVD series was simply made by recording our full day seminar. This led us to being mentioned in The New York Times.
Michael suggest you set prices in a way that will have clients saying, “Wow! At that price it’s definitely worth it!” but at the same time, I have heard many of his clients say a consistent part of his program is encouraging you to raise your price regularly.
When I first spoke with Michael several years ago, it cost $1,000 for a one hour consult. Now he is $2,500 an hour. Anthony Robbins charges one million dollars minimum to work with him.
One thing that is consistent among top experts that dominate a niche and or target market is that they are not afraid to charge a premium.
Super Simple Selling
Michael’s super simple sales conversation goes like this:
Question 1: What is it that you’re looking to achieve?
Question 2: How will you feel when you’ve achieved it?
Question 3: Would you like some help with that?
Question 4: Would you like that person to be me?
If you ask your prospect to buy using a simple system like this you will increase your close rate. Notice that much of the conversation has you asking questions rather than pounding them with details.
In one of the breakout sessions at the conference, I was struck by how we were asked not to give our peers advice but to ask questions that prompted them to find the answer for themselves.
I had a sales call during two of the three lunch hours during this event. In the first one I decided to go deeper with asking questions and the prospect concluded on their own that we should move forward together.
The next call didn’t close on the spot but it went from a near heated debate, where my answers to objections were not working as well as normal, to my questions in response to objections leading to us to set another time to meet. Asking questions is often one of the most powerful parts of your pitch.
Book Yourself Solid Summary from Michaels cheat sheet
“Sales is NOT numbers game.
Marketing doesn’t get you clients – it just builds awareness about who you are and what you have to offer the world.
When you build that awareness, people are going to check you out. They’re going to check out your Red Velvet Rope Policy, and see if you truly understand them, and can give them a solid result that talks to their needs and desires.
If you can talk clearly about what you do, and your personal brand makes sense to them, then you’ll have the opportunity to earn their trust, and keep in touch with them while they consider what they want to buy from you.
When your pricing is perfect, and you know how to have a simple sales
conversation, you will BOOK THE BUSINESS!”
Book Yourself Solid Checklist
Here is a checklist that Michael created that makes it even simpler to see his system at a glance and make sure you are on track.
And a visual overview of the system
My Personal Takeaways from the Book Yourself Solid conference
90 day sales and marketing plan
- Create a one page 90 day sales and marketing plan. List your to do’s and not to do’s. Your to do’s must have dates associated with them or it won’t work.
- Also list what to do’s will be done manually, what will be automated and what will be outsourced, so you can be more efficient and realistic.
- List your revenue goals with the specificity on exactly the number of the various products you will sell and their price points, to get you to your goal.
- Your unique value proposition may be less important than how you express how you see the world and who you believe we can be.
- Stick with what you’re good at and that no one can do better than you, even if someone can do it as good as you.
- Clients only will hire you if they feel secure that you can help them get what they want.
- Only make sales offers in line with the trust you have earned.
Ann Sheybani on book marketing
- Clients want to know that we have gone through the same pain as they have.
- Your dirty laundry sells books better than generic tips and you must illustrate success stories. If you are vulnerable people connect with you more.
- Stories help people make sense of the world and it’s important to have a hero in your story.
- You must bring to light your potential clients problems and pain and then show them the path to pleasure island, where you can fix it.
- An example of a book title that expresses a big result that you would provide to a client or reader is: The life changing magic of tidying up
Walt Hampton on unpaid consulting
Avoid coaching the gap, which is when you solve all of your prospects problems in the consulting phase for free and then they take three months to go work on what you gave them to do.
Matthew Kimberly – 16 Incremental changes that can make a huge difference in sales
Mathew’s talk on sales was inspiring and I will try again to find the SlideShare of it soon. These are his main points on improving your sales process.
- Control the situation
- Be likable
- 3rd party endorsements
- Identify and exaggerate the problem
- Provide a solution
- Show benefits not just features
- Social proof
- Pre-emptive social proof
- The offer
- Have a “but wait there’s more”
- Risk Reversal
- Force a timeframe
- Make it easy to close
Matthew Kimberley’s blog post promotion strategy
- Write 3 blog posts a week
- Create a unique LinkedIn pulse intro for each blog post
- Pay $20 or so for Facebook sponsored posts
- Read each post into a video for YouTube
90/20/5 – Create an attainable number of contacts
- Create a network of 90 important contacts you know
- A list of the top 20 people you want to know
- A gang of 5 potential referral partners.
Spend 15 minutes a day networking even if it is on LinkedIn is required.
Six core self-promotional strategies
- Direct out reach
- Speak at events
- Write content
- Marketing tactics
Michael believes that if you focus on networking, direct outreach and referrals, you can succeed without marketing. I like the sentiment here that staying focused and connecting with people to close deals should be your main focus because that is what I have done to grow my business over 20 years.
My father sold numerous $100 million a year marketing projects before there was ever a blog. However, times of changed and I think it is worth considering the following in my industry:
85% of advertising agencies according to an AMI study are the ones finding an agency to work with and not finding an agency from the sales person calling them.
This is the radical change in the world of sales that Daniel Pink talks about where the prospects are now able to research you and other options in greater detail than ever.
Michael makes a great point that a lot of service professionals spend so much time freaking out about their marketing that they miss the opportunity to close deals in the process.
With that said, I would adjust this to make some writing mandatory because having thought leadership content to send prospects in your sales process makes it so much more effective.
Additionally, if you get behind the eight ball and don’t have a blog, you will miss out on a huge amount of prospects that aren’t going to hire you because of sales methods. Blogging also takes a year or two to fully get off the ground and is getting more competitive, so it is best to start early.
Michael Port and the Book Yourself Solid System have helped thousands of small business to stand out from the crowd and get more of the right type of clients.
Whether you are a solo practitioner or an expert working for a company, these principle can help you, if you apply them consistently.
Michael said something in one of his talks that I think applies quite well here. I’m paraphrasing: “Apply the concepts you are studying from me or anyone else like a 13 year old and you will find you don’t have to reinvent the wheel”.
He gave an example of a client of his whose child started using the system and did the steps exactly and the results were better than the parents, who found lots of adult reasons to only apply certain parts of the program!
At some point, as experts, we have to stop gathering information and apply what we learn diligently. Are you ready to dive in like its 1999?
If you do want to jump deeper into the weeds here are a couple resources: