Chapter 3 of Make ‘Em Beg To Be Your Client!

It was freezing in the theatre. We got the space after hours. Rehearsals started at 11pm and would go until 1 or 2 in the morning, but it was also January in Washington DC. The temperature inside the theatre had to be in the low 60s, best case.

I sat in the middle of the audience and watched as the cast of the musical Baby sang and danced. As each one of them drew my focus, I would pop into their characters. I knew each character’s back story intimately, why they were there, where they were going, what they wanted. And I knew what they would do.

As a director, I wanted the experience for my audience to be authentic – even if it was just a silly musical about having kids. When an actor would do something that I knew the character wouldn’t do, I’d take a note.

I wanted to do work that legendary acting coach Sanford Meisner would appreciate. His standard is for the actor to “get out of their head” and to behave instinctively with the people and the environment the way a real person would. The character had to be a whole person on stage, not just a two-dimensional representation of a person.

Meisner was more interested in how people behaved rather than what they felt or said. (It’s kind of the stage analog to Maya Angelou’s teaching: “When people show you who they are, believe them.”) Playing a feeling is really boring to watch but behaving truthfully in an imagined or created situation is captivating.

I got good at jumping in and out of the characters as they appeared on the stage, therefore knowing when the actor made a choice that was in their own head, versus when they were truly aligned with their role.

Years later, when I was ghostwriting books, I realized I was using those skills I’d learned as a theater director in college to get into character as the author who I was representing. It wasn’t me crafting the book, it was me, in character, as the author whose byline the finished book would feature. I cast myself in the role of my employer and wrote from there. Somehow, when I wrote in character, my writing was faster, and the author who had hired me as a ghostwriter was happier.

I know this is not what Meisner intended to happen with his work, but what I realized is the skill of being able to get into character was essential to making my clients happy. When hiring a ghostwriter like me, the author still wanted the book to sound like them. Looking back now, I can see how this was a disservice to the reader, but it made my client happy!

You can make your clients happy with this technique, too. If you can master this, it will make clients beg to work with you.

Most authors write what makes them happy, what they want to talk about, what they want to share. I call it an ego-fest. You can get a finished book this way, but it will not be a book that makes a difference, or gets clients banging down your door to hire you. This is because everyone has their personal radio dial tuned to “What’s In It For Me” FM.

Your Ideal Reader

Now don’t worry, I’m not going to have you doing scene work as part of this exercise, but I do want you to create a character you could play. And I call this character your “ideal reader.” Now, your ideal reader isn’t just anyone who could read and enjoy the book, your ideal reader is the person who finds the book by searching specifically to solve a burning and urgent problem, then reads the book in full on the day she gets it. Before she even finishes reading it, she googles you and signs up for anything she can. By the time the book is read, she has already decided to hire you to work with her, and she has bought five more copies of the book to send to her friends because it has started to change her life. She signs up for your program within minutes of your first call and does everything you teach. Her results are amazing, and when you offer her the opportunity to continue working with you more intensively (or on her next problem), she doesn’t hesitate. A couple of years later, she has spent $20,000 working with you, and she would spend more if she could. You have changed her life forever, and no amount of money invested could reflect the impact you have had on her.

Your ideal reader is one person who you could be cast to play in a story about her life. One person has a specific age, they are not in an age-range. Tune in to a specific name, a specific job, a specific house. And I want you to be able to describe whether there is dirt in the corner in her bathroom or not, because you know her so well. Remember, Meisner is interested in your ability to behave authentically in a given situation, and to do that you need to know everything about your ideal reader. Does her knee hurt? Does she have a tooth ache? Does she secretly have a favorite child?

The more you know about your ideal reader’s back story, inner feelings and thought patterns, the more effectively you can project how she will authentically behave in a situation.

Get into Character

When you write your book, or any of the other marketing copy about your book, you want to read it back, in character, as your ideal reader.

I actually do a script analysis exercise I learned in a Meisner class. I take the manuscript, and for each line or paragraph, I write what my character is thinking and doing. When I do this, it’s easy to see in my writing when I am instead in my own ego, excited to share something, but my ideal reader isn’t ready to hear it.

If you take it back to weight loss, for instance. There was a point in my life where I had lost 100 pounds, four times, on four diets: Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Nutrisystem and with a nutritionist. Diets work. I just couldn’t keep the weight off. I found a book called If I’m so Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight? by Brooke Castillo. In the book, what Brooke actually teaches is how to uncover hidden thought and belief systems that are leading you to overeat. But if she had said that, I would not have been interested in the book. Instead what she said was, I know you’re super smart, I know you’ve done everything right, so why hasn’t it been working? Let me help you unlock the key. It’s not that you’ve been doing the wrong stuff, it’s just that you haven’t had all the information.

Of course, the information she helped me unlock was that I had poisonous belief systems that needed radical rewiring, but if she told me all that before I bought the book, I never would have bought it! I would not have accepted it, been interested in it, or believed her. I was still believing in my problem.

One of my clients was telling me about someone who tried to sell her new search engine optimization services for her website. The way the consultant tried to sell it was by telling her everything he observed that she’d done wrong with her website. Now, he didn’t ask what she’d tried before, didn’t ask how much money she’d spent on it, or even ask how important it was to her to get better search engine results. It turns out she had spent quite a lot of money as well as time and energy trying to get her search engine optimization right. Essentially the sales person was saying, “You’re an idiot, you’ve done everything wrong, and you wasted a ton of money. Hire me.”

You cannot make your client “wrong,” and then ask for their money. It would just be an unnatural behavior for that person to hire you. You’re invalidating their judgment, putting their belief in themselves into question so they already feel like an idiot, and now you’re virtually calling them names and then asking them to spend money with you. Most people don’t realize they’re doing that, because they’re talking in their words. In this guy’s mind, he’s just expressing what he’s learned, i.e., “Everyone knows you have to put meta tags on the home page,” or whatever tactical truth he’s thinking.

It’s delivery. If he had worded it more like, “I love what you’re doing, and you got a lot of great stuff in place already. I see some really quick wins that we could get for you, I’d love to show you some simple and effective ways to make the SEO you already have in place pop.” Now, all of a sudden, he’s complimented her, and observes she has the problem which is, bluntly, the shit she’s done isn’t working. She’s well aware of that. This time, he said it in an affirmative way where it’s like, “you’ve done a bunch of stuff we can leverage. There’s just a few little levers we can change.” Even if there isn’t much in common between his SEO solution and hers, he has framed it as though he sees her as competent and capable of integrating some upgrades, and worth investing in. This is the magic of how your message will naturally shift when you can get into character as your ideal reader. It is the key to being able to make a difference and actually help people.

Your Testimonials Probably Suck

This is also why many of your testimonials aren’t very helpful because your testimonials will say something like, “I learned what it was to love myself.” Nobody’s signing up and paying much money for loving themselves. They’re signing up for answers, i.e., “How do I deal with my toxic boss?”

If all of your marketing is talking about “you’re already good enough, nothing’s wrong with you, and you don’t have to change your toxic boss to be happy,” you’re going to have trouble selling your program because that’s not what people are buying. If I were to write a testimonial for Brooke Castillo (the author of If I’m So Smart, Why Can’t I Lose Weight) right now, I might be tempted to say something like, “I’ve realized the reason I was overweight for so long was because I wasn’t willing to take accountability for my thoughts.” That is the truth, and that insight is what was worth all the money I spent on integrating it, but that testimonial would not help her sell anything! What Brooke’s prospects want is the result, so they want to hear me say, “When I started working with Brooke, I was over 315 pounds and hadn’t looked at the scale in over a year because I was afraid of what the number would be. Today, I’m 167 pounds.” That’s also true. It’s what they can relate to at the point they might purchase.

Your prospects need to know the result they can obtain, in terms they can actually hear, before they understand the real problem that is causing the symptoms or circumstances they want to change.

Don’t Talk to Strangers

One of the things your wee portal needs is a latch. You need to have a way to only spend time and energy talking to people who have the problem you solve. You need to spare your energy and resources from the people who aren’t likely to be a fit.

I recommend that you have an application process that helps qualify the people you will talk to, and at the same time, sets you up as the authority on the problem. You offer their dream come true, which is the results they have not yet achieved on their own. Here are the types of questions I recommend you ask on that application:

  • Are you serious about getting the (dream come true)?
  • How much longer are you willing to not have the (dream come true)?
  • Why don’t you have the (dream come true)?
  • Why are you committed to working to get this (dream come true)?
  • Are you looking for a coach to make sure you get your (dream come true)?

If they don’t want the dream come true, what is the point of you spending time on the call with them?

If they actually want a different dream come true, even if they are not aware of that in themselves, you can learn to recognize those patterns. What they’re going to tell you, go ahead and believe…their behavior will not lie. For instance, they’re going to spend an hour with you, they’re going to have a lovely chat with you. Then they need to ask their husband, or they need more time, they don’t have the money right now. It doesn’t mean they’re asking their husband or they can’t get the money right now, or that next week would be a better time to decide. It means I either don’t have that problem and that dream come true, I am not ready to do the work, or I don’t believe you could get it for me.

Remember to get clients begging to work with you, you want to limit your language to things that will make your ideal reader respond. If you tell them how you are going to solve the problem with them, you will see your ideal reader will lose interest. You want to focus on all the aspects of one problem and one dream come true, worded many different ways!

What it Takes

For your readers to beg to work with you, there are only two things that will matter:

  1. The clarity of the wee portal – and the result you will help them achieve.
  2. Your confidence in who you are, and that you are going to get them there.

If you know someone else who can do a better job to get them the result they want, then you should refer them to that person. If you do not know anyone else who can do a better job getting them that result, congratulations! You are the best in the world at solving this one problem for this person. Claim that position! I can tell you the best in the world never has to say, “I’m the best in the world.” They just are that person, and their prospects can tell by their demonstrated results and their confidence. This isn’t being an impostor, or having a big ego, it’s just the facts.

If you are confident that they’re going to get a 10X return on their investment, that their life is going to be 10 times better, if they’re a good fit for your program, that’s what matters.

Don’t Charge What you are Worth

Most of you assigned a dollar value to your hours, at some point, and you have no problem with this. You have no problem assuming you’re worth $50 an hour or $100 an hour or $25 an hour, and your proof is probably that people pay you these rates. If somebody directed you, Give me your hourly rate, you might go back to your last job and do some quick math and say, “Well, I was making $60,000 a year which is roughly $30 an hour, but if this is on a contract, I’m going to charge $60 an hour.” You could figure out your hourly rate backwards from experience. That’s how most people choose what to charge. I don’t want you to trade time for money anymore, though. I want you to trade results for money. Instead of having an hourly rate, I want you to have a value rate.

It is time to stop thinking like somebody whose time is worth money and start thinking like somebody who creates results that are worth money. I talk all the time about your best client should be able to easily get a 10X return on his or her investment.

A lot of you who don’t have business coaching or experience directly related to it under your belts just heard, I’m going to help you get a better job that pays 10 times as much or something. You just gloss this over. I realized that the part most of my clients were missing is you’re unsure about charging for your value, not your time.

What are you afraid of? What do you think you need to know in order to sell? To charge what your result is worth to your ideal client?

Continue reading the rest of Make ‘Em Beg To Be Your Client! here