Do you want to know one of the keys to creating a flourishing practice with long-term clients and consistent income?
You have to know how to turn away leads.
Yes, you read that correctly.
The way to fill your practice with clients that get the best results from your services and that you love working with is to create the business systems that attract and serve them, and to say no to the people that are not them.
In this episode, I’m going to show you why taking anyone who comes along wanting your help is not a good idea, why it’s so important to identify the right people for your business to serve, and how to go about identifying who those people are for you and potentially what your niche is.
In this episode of the Business (R)Evolution Podcast:
- Why you need to choose your clients as carefully as you choose your friends
- How to avoid getting caught in the freelancer trap and giving up your leadership
- The importance of identifying the bullseye of your target market
- A simple, two-step exercise that will help you figure out who falls into that bullseye
Resources and links Joanna mentions in this episode:
Get the FREE Masterclass:
5 Shifts for Coaches to Get Long-Term Clients & Predictable Income
Full episode transcript
Want to know one of the keys to creating a flourishing practice with long-term clients and consistent income?
You have to learn how to turn away leads.
Yes, you heard me right.
The way to fill your practice with long-term, committed clients – the ones that get the best results from your services, the ones that you love working with – is to create the business systems to attract and serve them….
And to say no to the people that are not them.
You’ve probably heard before that your practice should have a specific niche, that you should specialize in working with a certain type of person, or a certain kind of problem.
And it may feel totally counterintuitive to only work with specific people or to only address a specific problem…
Because there are so many different people out there that you can work with. And perhaps that’s how your practice is currently operating – you take anyone that shows up and wants help.
Well, in this episode I’m going to show you why that’s a problem…(and you’ve probably experienced the things I mention)
Why it’s so important to identify the Right People for your business to serve…
(spoiler alert: this is what the most successful practitioners do and it’s how you build thriving, sustainable business)
And I’ll share HOW to go about identifying who those people are for you, and potentially what your specialty or niche is.
Let’s dive in!
One of my favorite business quotes is from Michael Port, and he says “Choose your clients as carefully as you choose your friends.”
I want to ask you: do you choose your clients?
Most practitioners don’t.
Most practitioners, whether they’re conscious of it or not, will take in any clients ‘for the money.’
Turning away a lead or a prospective client sounds like it’s bad for business, so they accept any clients that show up and want services. That sounds like its good business, that sounds like that’s how you’re supposed to operate.
But it’s not how you build a profitable and sustainable practice.
You are offering transformation, not trinkets. You’re here to work deeply with your clients, and that requires their commitment to themselves, and their commitment to your process. And you need to make sure that your clients are committed.
When a practitioner works with anyone that shows up, and doesn’t do any filtering to make sure this is a good fit….
I call this the “freelancer trap”.
And especially if you’re struggling financially, it seems like you should accept paid work from whomever is knocking at your door.
But when you accept any client that wants your work and will pay, you are essentially giving up your leadership as a skilled practitioner and as the owner and leader of your business.
You’re not leading, you’re following. It’s like you’re the client’s employee, trying to meet their expectations and please them.
When you’re in the freelancer trap, you think that your job is to make your client happy, rather than lead them through your process for healing or achieving the change they seek.
If you fall into the Freelancer Trap, you become a commodity: a person with a particular skill set – and the client is simply paying for your skill set to complete the work they want and need.
They’re not coming to you for your guidance and leadership – which is what we want to happen.
And what happens when you give up your leadership – when you let THEM lead – is that you end with those challenging clients that take advantage of you.
They take a disproportionate amount of time and energy to help…
You end up with those clients that flake, and cancel at the last minute, the no-shows…or the people say that they’re coming back for the next sessions but never do. They ghost you..
Or the clients that are always complaining and never seem to experience any progress.
In the worst case scenarios, you may be treated badly by the client – yelled at, disrespected, not paid according to your agreement.
And this stuff – the no-shows, the cancellations, the people that don’t pay – this happens all the time when we’re in the freelancer trap, thinking that our job is to take anyone, and just provide them what they say they want, so that they’re happy and hopefully come back.
In the big picture, you are getting clients, and you are getting paid.
But you’re shaping yourself to fit their needs and demands…
And that’s just not a profitable or sustainable – or joyful – strategy. Ultimately, when you run your business this way, you end up with a job working for your clients.
…rather than owning and leading a business that provides you with good income, and time freedom, and the joy and fulfillment and sense of purpose that you feel when you’re working with the right people.
So this podcast episode is all about understanding who you are here to serve – the Right People, for your business.
I call this the Bullseye of your target market.
This is one of the 3 pillars of the Client Champion Formula. If you’ve never learned the Client Champion Formula, my framework for practitioners to build a business with long-term clients and steady predictable income, I’ll put a link in the show notes on my website so you can get free training on that.
The goal here is to work with people that you love working with. People that are fully on board with your process. People that fire you up. People that you’re excited to help. People who have exactly the pains and problems that you know how to solve – easily – and the goals and desires that you know exactly how to help them achieve.
That’s how you’ll do your best work…
And, when you’re clear about who the bullseye of your target market is, you can design your entire business – from your programs, to your sales process, to your marketing – based on calling in those people and helping them achieve their big goals.
You are no longer simply an acupuncturist, or massage therapist, or nutrition coach. You become THE person that helps THESE SPECIFIC PEOPLE solve THESE SPECIFIC PROBLEMS and ACHIEVE THESE SPECIFIC GOALS.
You become easily referrable, and known for something.
This is the path to more revenue for your business, greater client successes, and an intense sense of joy and fulfillment for you as a purpose-driven practitioner.
You may think that you love your work now, but this feeling of love is amplified 10 times when you only work with the Right People.
So, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to identify the bullseye of your target market, and deepen your understanding of their pains, problems, goals and desires, so that you can design your business – from your marketing to sales to fulfillment systems – to call in, and serve these people.
It’s time to get clear on who your people are, and therefore what your specialty is.
When it comes to identifying the bullseye of your target market, you’re going to have to explicitly leave some people out – and that’s where you might feel some resistance.
You may think “But I want to help everyone who needs me!”
Many of us in helping professions think it’s our job to help anyone and everyone that comes our way. It’s kind of ingrained in us.
But what’s the point of trying to help someone when they suck your time and energy, and aren’t actually going to see great results?
That’s not a happy client, nor a happy practitioner. That’s not a match. Not a happy marriage. You really want to stay in that?
It’s a total drain on your energy and time, feels defeating, and additionally this is not a person that is going to sing your praise or refer others. Taking clients like this does not contribute to a flourishing business. You simply can’t flourish with them in the mix.
To build a profitable and sustainable business, you have to decide on your favorites. Who are the people you love the most? Which ones are truly invested in themselves and their results? What are the problems they have that you love solving and that you do best?
So let’s come back to the target metaphor and make this visual.
The term ‘target market’ is used widely in business and marketing, and refers to who you serve.
And often, marketers will define a target market by demographics.
- Income level
- Education level
- Marital Status
- Stage of life, or stage of business, or job title
Any of that kind of data.
So sometimes when I’m on a discovery call with a prospective client, I’ll ask “So who’s your target market? Who’s your ideal client?” and occasionally I’ll get someone that starts listing demographic data (“women between the ages of 45 and 55 with a household income of $150k or more”…)
And the problem with that is demographic data really says very little about who the actual people are, and what they think, and what they feel – which is what we really want to know.
It’s my stance that you don’t need to pay attention to demographics unless they’re relevant to your service or there are very clear patterns that you’ve identified amongst your best clients.
So for example, if you’re a coach that helps women through divorce, obviously their gender and their marital status matter.
Or, for example, a former client of mine who is English and Accent Coach…
She noticed – through the exercises we do in the Business (R)Evolution Academy – that her best clients were often in high-level positions in Silicon Valley companies.
Those are examples of when demographics matter. But they’re still just a piece of the whole picture that we’re trying to get here, about who the Right People are for your business.
So back to the image of the target. You might think of the demographics as what makes up the whole target.
But…we want to aim for the bullseye of that target. That’s how you win the most points, is by hitting the bullseye.
When you’re aiming for a target, you aim for the bullseye.
You don’t aim for one of the rings around the bullseye, you aim for the bullseye.
And even if you don’t hit the bullseye with your shot, you’re still stoked when you get close to it.
It’s the same in your business.
You aim for the bullseye. So you need to know exactly who your bullseye clients are.
And that includes their emotions. Specifically, we want to know how they talk about the pains and problems they’re experiencing, and the goals and desires that they want to achieve.
In their own words.
And this goes deep. We want to go deep here.
Many practitioners I work with have clients that are in physical pain. Let’s say, someone has back pain.
When I say that you need to know their pains and problems in their own words, I don’t mean, “My back hurts” or “I injured my back.”
That’s just the very very top of the surface…
What we want, and need to know, is: Why does that matter? How is your back pain impacting you – what are you not able to do? How does it feel to not be able to do those things?
When you ask those kinds of questions – which you do in your initial consultations with prospective clients, that’s your enrollment process, how you sign new clients up for your programs and packages – you’re going to get really deep answers, that point to identity, how people see themselves in the world, that illustrate what they’re experiencing.
It’s the same on the goals and desires side. You need to go way deeper than the surface.
You know I used to own a gym…and in my consultations with prospective clients I might get someone that would say, “I want to lose weight” or “I want 6-pack abs.” And really tells me nothing. What I need to know is, why? Why does that matter to you? And when you start peeling the onion, asking more questions, asking why – going into deeper layers like that, you get some really interesting answers and a much deeper understanding of your clients, and who they are.
Which is what we’re trying to do here. Understand – at a deep level – who the Right People are for your business. Who is the Bullseye of your Target Market?
This isn’t stuff to make up or assume or propose or guess. (pause)
There are a lot of marketers out there that teach business owners to “create” an ideal client avatar, or customer persona…
And I want to emphasize…that if you’re an experienced practitioner, you don’t make this up. You look for it in your business, it emerges out of your own data.
So I’m going to give you a very simple and effective way to start that process right now. Ok?
You’re going to need a notebook, paper or digital, whatever you use.
If you’re driving or walking and can’t do this now, I recommend pausing and shooting a message or reminder to yourself to do this when you get to a place where you can.
So here’s the exercise:
Write down the names of the 3 best, most favorite clients you’ve ever had.
Then, I want you to write down the names of the 3 worst, most challenging clients you’ve ever had.
That’s step 1.
Step 2, for each of those names, write a list of WHY they were one of the best clients, or WHY they were one of the most challenging clients.
That simple exercise is going to tell you so much about who to welcome into your business, and who to turn away.
It may even start to show you what your specialty is…
You might notice that all 3 of your best clients had something very specific in common…maybe they were all women dealing with perimenopause. Maybe they were all weekend warriors. The commonalities may be more nuanced that those…look into that data, spend some time thinking about this and noticing whatever you can.
So start with that exercise. It will be very empowering for you, I promise, and at the very least it will show you some red flags to look out for regarding leads that come to you that you might NOT want to work with…people that would be very challenging and would likely be better served by someone else.
You do not have to take any client that shows up and wants services.
You’re not a freelancer. You don’t work FOR your clients.
You are a skilled, experienced practitioner that has incredible knowledge and experience that your clients do not. It’s your responsibility to lead them and provide for them what they actually need to resolve their pains and problems and achieve their goals and desires.
The most successful practitioners have built their practices around their ideal clients.
When you identify the bullseye of your target market, you can design your programs, your sales process, and your marketing all around calling in these amazing people you are here to help.
You become easily referrable. You become known for who you help and the problems you solve.
This is an essential piece of building a practice with steady monthly income, streamlined systems, more client success in your business – and the best part, a deep sense of fulfillment and connection to your purpose.
That’s it for this one. I hope this inspires you to make some changes in your business.
If you’re interested in working with me on implementing this, and the entire Client Champion Formula in your business, you can apply for a Discovery Call with me using the link in show notes.
If you have a specific question you want to ask me about identifying the bullseye of your target market, then join us at the next Practitioners Business Roundtable, which is a free monthly event I host, where I’m available for Q and A. Again, the link will be in the show notes on my website.