At the last Professional Consultant's Meeting, our guest speaker was Jon Denney, former owner and founder of Avalon Printing Services who's now the president of both Jon Denney & Associates Consulting as well as the Professional Business Coaches Alliance. He spoke to the group about different types of mistakes that both businesses and business owners regularly make. Even if they're not all big mistakes, each mistake can cost a lot of money both short and long term.
The first thing he talked about was how to make money by putting on seminars, something a great majority of people absolutely hate to do to begin with. Yet, many of our members have had the opportunity to speak in front of others and make the mistake Jon warned us about. His point was that people go to seminars listen, then go back to their offices with a lot of good intentions that they never follow through on.
His suggestion was to have an immediate takeaway, something that costs nothing but gets people at the seminar to take immediate action. He offers anyone who approaches him after his presentation a free 60 minute counseling session to see how he might be able to help them, with the offer good only then. He finds that there's usually a significant number of people who will take him up on that offer and he'll usually end up signing one or two of them to coaching contracts, which more than makes up for the free sessions he gives.
The second thing Jon talked about was how to introduce pain points into conversations with potential clients. Too many of us call and start talking about what we do and how we can help our clients, who have probably heard it all before. His suggestion was to begin by asking specific industry questions that most people struggle with, which he says will usually get them talking, and if the pain points are significant enough then introduce the possibility of a meeting to look at the issues and discuss what might possibly be worked out. His belief is that if you can start a conversation rather than looking like a sales person that you'll ultimately be more successful.
The final thing Jon talked about was not waiting for prospects to "think about it". His point was that overwhelmingly people use that phrase to get you off the phone and really aren't going to think about it. Instead, he likes the idea of offering up front money back guarantees where, if people feel they're not getting their money's worth after the first month he'll give them back whatever they paid and move on from there. He said that he's never had a single client who's ever decided he didn't help them in some way and that you not only have to have confidence in what you bring to the table but be willing to go above and beyond to address client issues, whether personal or business related.
This last issue generated a lot of discussion because it's a scary prospect. As consultants, we put a lot of time and effort into what we do and, even when we're confident that we can help improve things, we unilaterally hate making guarantees because clients might tell you one thing up front that you deliver on, only to have that issue change midstream or even take what you've proposed and attempt to do it themselves without you. Jon believes that success takes risks and that you'll end up having more success than failure by trying things this way.
All in all it was a spirited discussion on a bad weather day and Jon's presentation got us all juiced up and ready to let loose what we'd learned that day.