“The personal checks that I cashed were not the most valuable part of my business. The real heart of what I was creating was a turnkey system that propelled my business and income every month.”
Book Yourself Solid, page xvi
Many people are great at what they do. They love the craft of their profession and some will even turn that passion into a business. But when you’re running the show, you suddenly have to take on all the other tasks of running a business – including sales. For many business owners, this is the most dreaded part of running the business. Many people fear rejection, failure or coming across too “salesy.” But without new clients, most businesses won’t last very long.
Michael Port calls out every business owner who has ever uttered the words, “I hate sales” with practical advice in his book, Book Yourself Solid. The approach that Port has developed for sales and marketing is almost more spiritual and mindset based than anything else. It starts with the belief that you have important work to do and that there are people whom you are meant to serve in the world. From there, once you find the right clients and provide them with outstanding service it is easier to build momentum and a community of loyal fans. But first, “You need to learn the skills necessary to promote your work and become the go-to person in your field before it’s too late”.
Your Ideal Clients Are Everything
"There’s nothing wrong with your dud clients, of course. They’re just not right for you."
Port’s Book Yourself Solid system hinges entirely on the concept of only working with ideal clients. Why? Many businesses will make the mistake of working with people who don’t have the qualities of their ideal clients. Thus, frustration arises more often and the quality of the work can suffer. This kind of situation does not lend itself to endless referrals of more ideal clients.
To combat this, Port suggests creating your “Red Velvet Rope Policy” in order to let in your ideal clients and keep out the rest. This process begins with developing a description of who your ideal client really is. Focus on listing their qualities, values or personal characteristics. Once you’ve done that, Port recommends pruning your current client list and getting rid of anyone who does not meet this criteria. It’s a radical step, but one that will put you on the path to long-term prosperity and happiness.
Learn to Speak About What You Do in a Compelling Way
"We hear the question, 'What do you do for a living?' all the time. Your professional category alone is the wrong answer."
It’s a classic cocktail party question and there’s nothing worse than feeling that you don’t have a good answer to it. But when you have a confident and interesting way to tell people about your work, you can hardly wait until someone asks you the question. Port says that the best way to answer is the following: I help (summarize your target market)… (reveal a deeper core benefit of your clients’ experience).
Over the years, I’ve wrestled with this challenge, too. When I first started, I made the mistake of telling people that I did communications consulting work for non-profits. Not really that intriguing. But as I’ve gone along, I’ve realized that what I do is help non-profit organization articulate their impact in a way that inspires and engages their community. Saying that definitely raises a few eyebrows and usually gets a few follow up questions.
Become and Establish Yourself as an Authority
"Like it or not, becoming a category authority, an expert in your field, isn’t optional if you want your business to be as successful as it can be."
Every successful business has one thing in common: they are known in the industry for something specific. Something that makes them stand out from the pack and draws ideal clients to their door. Even if you don’t feel like you’re an authority on a certain category, it is easier than ever before to become self-taught and gather social proof that establishes your credibility. Port asks readers to consider the following questions in order to identify and hone their authority and expertise:
- In what areas are you currently an expert?
- In what areas do you need to develop your expertise?
- What promises can you make and deliver to your target market that will position you as an expert?
- What promises would you like to make and deliver to your target market, but don’t yet feel comfortable with?
- What do you need to do to become comfortable at making and delivering these promises?
Port provides readers with a truly step-by-step approach to develop their sales and marketing system. The book includes many activities and questions to encourage the reader to practice what they are learning, which ultimately makes the book an even more valuable resource for business owners.