So you came up with a brilliant idea for a new service offering, you’ve shared it with the world, and…
If it’s an online program, the purchase confirmations aren’t coming in. If it’s a 1:1 program, people aren’t signing up for consultations, or your conversations are ending in “no” for a variety of different (and very legitimate) reasons, but you wonder if there’s something else going on.
The worst thing about this situation is that it’s amorphous. You have no idea what’s wrong, so you don’t know how to fix it. You don’t know if you’re an inch off or a mile off, whether to make tweaks and stick with it, or scrap your brilliant idea and try an entirely new direction.
Your first sale will be sweet confirmation that you’re not crazy, and that your new offering is truly valuable to someone. For this reason and more, the distance from zero to one customer is as great as the distance from one customer to many. But that elusive first sale isn’t coming, and you’re getting nervous.
Let me shake up your thinking a bit.
There are two types of people – people who are motivated to get away from suckiness, and those who are wanting more awesomeness. And in truth, we are all both of these people, although we may favor one mode or the other. Neither is better. A great service provides both.
In my experience, here are the things that could be contribute to your service not selling. If just one of these elements is missing, it can ruin your chances of making that first sale. If multiple elements are missing, well, you can imagine…
The 10 Reasons Your Service May Not Be Selling
1. You’re Missing the Big Challenge.
Does your service help your clients with a big, hairy, nasty challenge in their life that they’re motivated to solve? This is what marketers refer to as “the problem” or “the pain point,” although I don’t love that language. I prefer to think of life as a series of big challenges or struggles – in work, in relationships, with our health, etc. – that we overcome, usually with some help, which feel great to overcome and grow us into the people who will meet even bigger, badder challenges tomorrow. If you’re missing the Big Challenge that your ideal clients care about, you’re missing the mark.
2. You’re Missing the Big Dream.
Does your service help your clients have more of what they want in life, so that they get closer to or even achieve a Big Dream? A Big Dream isn’t something someone “should” have, or a means to an end, but an intrinsically exciting and viscerally compelling dream that you don’t need to convince your clients to have because they’ve already been dreaming of it, investing in it, making vision boards about it, and can’t keep their mind off it.
3. You’re Missing the Path.
Can you tell the story of how your clients will get from “Once upon a time…” to “Happily ever after?” As their transformational guide, you may not know exactly how it will go for them – because every story is unique – but you need to be able to articulately describe some intermediate stops along the way. Show them they can trust that you know the path because you’ve been there and helped other people along it.
4. You Don’t Believe.
It takes a certain irrational confidence to be a transformational service provider. Even if you’ve led clients down a similar journey thousands of times, there are still times when you doubt yourself, or, on darker days, doubt that change is even possible. Most of us have far less experience than this, and we’re still expected to stand tall in our value and tell potential client that what they want for themselves is possible, and that we can help. Knowing when it’s in integrity to make such an audacious claim is learned through trial and error. So my advice – stretch a little.
5. You Left Your Heart at the Door.
Is there heart and soul in your service? Is it coming from a deep place inside you that is yearning to be expressed through service to others? Have you brought all of you – your personality quirks, your superpowers, and your values into the service? Or are you offering something generic out of fear of being seen? Or are you just trying to make some money? Is something out of alignment in the way you’re doing business, or marketing your service? If anything is off on a soul level, your clients can feel it, even if they can’t articulate why they feel that way.
6. Your Ecology is in the Way.
There’s an immensely useful concept from NLP called “ecology” – which is everything that would prevent you from having what you want. If you’re reading this, I assume that you want to sell your service, and there are also parts of you, perhaps outside of conscious awareness, that have reservations about this good thing happening. Repeatedly ask yourself “What might I lose that I value when I sell my new service?” and be open to some strange answers, ranging from “Well, then I’d have to actually deliver the services” to “My dad was never successful in business, and I can’t leave him behind.” It may not be rational, but it’s still stopping you.
7. Your Price is Off.
Which doesn’t necessarily mean your price is too high. It could also be too low. If your price, or the details of your pricing (i.e. payment plans, any discounts you give, etc.) aren’t resonant with the system that includes you, your service, and your clients, your clients won’t buy. The way to know if your price is off is to say it out loud and notice how you feel. If you leave your body and start making justifications, that’s probably not a good sign. If you feel resentful or dull or terrified, that’s also not good. You’re looking for a nice warm buzzy feeling.
8. You Suck at Sales.
We’re all doing sales all the time, whether we like it or not. When I started selling my coaching, I hated it and I sucked at it (perhaps there’s a connection between these two things!). When I started weeding my mind of all the crappy beliefs I had about sales and selling, I began to find my authentic way of being in conversation with potential clients. I started to actually enjoy sales and now I even teach an approach that I call Sensitive Sales that is gentle, respectful, and effective. The more I practice, the simpler sales is – we’re just having a conversation about whether we’re mutually inspired to work together. And remember, a “yes” is not the end but a tiny slide in the middle of a journey – before “yes” was a history of positive impressions and interactions that led to trust, and after “yes” is a deepening of that trust through fulfilling on promises. There are many “yesses” and “nos” over the course of any healthy relationship. What matters is that we stay open-hearted and connected no matter what.
9. You’re Talking to the Wrong People.
You can have everything else right and still not make your first sale because you’re talking to people who are not your ideal clients. They don’t have the Big Challenge or the Big Dream that you’re so great at helping people with, so of course they don’t see value in your service, and they’re doing you a favor by not buying it from you! Get clear on who the right people are. Hopefully you’ve had them in mind from the start. If not, it’s not too late to identify the characteristics and qualities that distinguish your people. And please don’t say “willing to invest in themselves.” Dare to get more specific (like “visionaries who want to give birth to their businesses”) and get in conversation with them.
10. You Just Haven’t Sold it Yet.
If everything else checks out, chill out. Chances are you’ve got a winner of an offering — your work is to keep having conversations with the right people, refine your approach each time, and in the universe’s timing (which I do hope is soon) you’ll have more clients than you can handle. If a voice in your head is telling you to quit as you get close to that first sale, don’t trust it. You’re probably hitting an upper limit. Breathe. Stick with it. If not for yourself, do it for your brilliant idea who wants to be born through you, and for your future clients for whom your new service will be the perfect medicine.
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Well, now that you’ve read these 10 reasons and had your thinking shaken up a bit, time to roll up your sleeves. Go back and identify which of these seem to be getting in the way of making your first sale. It might be one, it might be all 10 – whatever you discover, it’s better to know, right?
And if you’d like some help sorting it all out in one fell swoop, I’m here for you. It’s always nice when that first sale happens sooner rather than later. Woohoo! Then onto the next mountain…