Creating Strong Relationships

Getting Clients vs. Enrolling Clients
By Peleg Top

Most marketing and sales programs will teach you how to "get" clients. That's what every business owner wants, isn't it? Without clients you have no business. A successful business requires that your attention always stays focused on "getting" the next client. Right?

But "getting" clients feels like fishing from a leaky boat. It is very unpredictable. You cast your net hoping to catch a client while praying that the client you catch is actually a healthy one. Meanwhile the bottom of your boat is filling with water.

I meet many agency owners who continually cut bait and cast lines desperately trying to "get" a client. Some even give their work away just to prove they are worthy to do the work. Proposals become auditions and RFPs feel like the next request for a dog and pony show.

No one wants to work like this. And no client wants to be "caught" either. Healthy clients want to be led, guided and served. So rather than trying to "get" your next clients, change your mindset. Look for clients who you can enroll in working with you.

When you enroll a client the relationship shifts immediately to positioning YOU as the expert. You become the attractive commodity the client needs, not vice versa. Your client's thinking shifts from hiring you to engaging with you. You call the shots of how much it costs to work with you, what the results will look like and how long it takes to do your work. In other words, you get to truly lead.

The idea of "getting" anything comes from fear-based business thinking that, sadly, is rampant in our creative industry. Fear stops us from truly leading and is ultimately the core of all our business development problems. Fear based thinking is not only destructive; it's contagious. Not only do we manufacture it ourselves, but we can catch it from others. Just attend any design conference and you can sense the fear in the room.

Getting clients is a reactive approach and reactive thinking is the hallmark of fear mode. If you are "getting" clients you have to persuade them that you are the best choice for the job and often times you have to compete for the work. Your marketing becomes reactive, desperate, and unfocused.

Fear-based sales and marketing is what most creative people know and it is the chief reason that business owners hate selling and avoid marketing. When you "get" a client, you are positioned as a vendor, someone who can be replaced at any given moment. Your fear of being replaced then causes you to work in people-pleasing mode leading to stupid decisions that ultimately cost you more than you bargained for.

So how do we get out of fear? Fear is simply the absence of love. When you love your business, love your clients and love yourself you work from a totally different, love-based, approach to your business development and leadership. Your sales and marketing stops being about you, your accomplishments and your awards and starts being all about serving your clients and transforming their world.

When you create programs for your clients to enroll in you become one of a kind. You show up as someone with unique expertise and a whole new playing ground for you to lead your clients into. You now have something different to offer, something unique and valuable. And oh, yeah, you also have the wherewithal to charge a lot more for your work.

Enrolling clients becomes an invitation not an audition. Now, what you sell is not simply the outcome of your work but the experience of working with you and your unique point of view.

It's a simple distinction to remember: "getting" comes from fear; "enrolling" comes from love. Projects become programs and clients become your followers. Bring more love into your business and create the next big program for your clients to enroll in.

Peleg Top is a leadership development coach and a business advisor to creative business owners worldwide. He will teach you how to build an awesome profitable business while living a creative, well-balanced life.

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