Tuesday, July 27, 2010

A Spiritual Teacher with an Important Business Lesson

A Spiritual Teacher with an Important Business Lesson

This weekend, I will celebrate my first-year anniversary with the man I will marry. Nothing remarkable, on its face. People meet and fall in love every day. But it was remarkable for me, because until I met John, I had a pattern of making bad-for-me choices when it came to men. If there were 99 available men in the room, I'd find and connect with the one who was unavailable.

So what changed? Well, I did. But not on my own. Oh, I did a lot of introspection and self-growth, to be sure - but I also met a man, my spiritual teacher, who helped me recognize my transparent patterns (beliefs and behaviors that were so ingrained, I could not even see them), disengage from them, and allow myself to make new choices.

I met Sunil Ahuja in my Toastmasters club. He is - by any standards - a tiny, soft-spoken man from India with a most unusual occupation: helping people dismantle the beliefs that hold them hostage so that they can make real, lasting changes in their lives. Many coaches claim to do this - Sunil actually has the experience, expertise, and tools to live up to those claims.

That's a nice story, Laura, but what does any of this have to do with my business?

The thing about Sunil is that I saw him, week in and week, out for nearly two years, heard him speak at length about his spiritual development work, shared many lunches with him, celebrated with him at my 40th birthday party - all of that, before I actually understood what he really does. Once I got it, signing up to take his classes and programs was easy - but I couldn't possibly have signed up before I actually understood the real value of what he was offering and how it would impact my life.

Which brings us to you. How well do your prospective clients really understand the value you bring to the table? I will grant you that Sunil's work is more challenging than most to explain - but a two-year client cycle is a long time for any business.

I think there are a number of lessons to take from my experience with Sunil.
  1. Know your work inside and out - but be able to explain it in the simplest terms possible. Spirituality and personal development are esoteric fields that often defy explanation by even the most adept writers and marketers - but the old adage is true: When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. 
  2. Be ready, able, and willing to describe the benefits of your product or service. This involves understanding the difference between a feature (characteristic) and a benefit (anticipated result). The features of Sunil's service include a nine-day seminar, personally taught by him. The benefits - for me - were a brand new perspective about myself, my family, and my life that allowed me to learn to choose differently. And, fundamentally, the ability to allow myself to meet the right guy.
  3. Gather testimonials from satisfied clients - and, where possible, turn them into raving fans. Nothing is more powerful than an enthusiastic, unsolicited endorsement from someone who knows how good you really are.
  4. Understand that tenacity pays off. Just because someone doesn't buy from you today doesn't mean that they aren't hearing your words, discerning the benefits you describe, and considering working with you. It simply means that they are not buying from you today. Don't cut yourself off at the knees by writing off might-be clients. Stay with them. Touch base with them regularly - via your newsletter, blog, postcards, phone calls, social media, and best of all, face-to-face interactions.
Is a re-evaluation of your client cycle in order? Where can you tighten it up and perhaps shorten it a bit? How can you re-language your 30-second commercial, Web copy, and blog posts to better explain the benefits clients will receive from working with you?

John and I will be ever-grateful to Sunil. Yes, I did the work that got me to the place where I was able to choose well. But I had a remarkable teacher at my side. I'm glad he stuck with me - and that I eventually heard his message.

This is Day 7 in the 60-Day Content Challenge. See you tomorrow for the next post!


Sign up today for Laura's next workshop, Want to Charge More? Start Writing! Or e-mail your  questions on any aspect of marketing or the client cycle - to Laura.

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