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Suzanne Banta

#030: “I Need To Leave Because of this Coronavirus Stuff”
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Listen to Episode 30

It’s What to Say Wednesday, and today, we’re answering the question of what you say when your client says, “I need to leave your program or pause services because of this coronavirus stuff.” Stay tuned.

Welcome to the The Client Whisperer™ Show. I’m your host, Tony Banta, and I am the Client Whisperer. I’ve spent over a decade running multiple six- and seven-figure client businesses, and I’ve learned that the secret to success and a client business comes down to one thing: leadership. Bad client behavior is the enemy and with the right curriculum, infrastructure and mindset, you can lead your clients to great success and scale your business the easy way.

Oh, man, is it a tough time. Whew. We’ve had to even pause the podcast a couple weeks because our state government actually locked everything down. So we built a makeshift studio in our home. This is the study in my home if you’re watching the YouTube version of the podcast which you can get to by going to clientwhisperer.show/30. There’s a link right there for the YouTube episode, but you can see all of my books, all my library, some of them are even out of order.

But this has been a tough time for so many people. One of my best friends, his dad is actually in the ICU with the coronavirus. 

And for as many people are affected by the disease itself, there are millions more worldwide, affected by what has essentially been a global economic change. Shut down, at least in traditional markets, a lot of online business owners are much more insulated from that. In the case of our business, we haven’t lost a single client, we haven’t lost a single dollar of revenue due to the coronavirus, which puts us in a very lucky place. That might not be true as time goes on, but for right now, that is true.

And that’s some of what we wanted to talk about today, is how do you lead your clients through this time? Because clients need leadership more than ever.

This is a really tough time. Not even because of the specific changes or the threats or the things that people are scared about. It’s a tough time because humans don’t often deal well with change. And there’s so much change, from eating habits – we can’t eat at restaurants in so many states across the United States, in so many countries across the world. We can’t visit friends, we can’t spend time doing the things that we’re going to do. We can’t – we were supposed to leave in a couple weeks to go to a mastermind in California. Some phenomenal friends. I was really looking forward to that. 

Up until a couple weeks ago, I was still planning on going, we even knew that the coronavirus stuff was happening, and I was still planning on going, but I don’t think that’s going to happen now. Whether air travel is shut down or not, I think it’s probably just not prudent to be doing that. 

So there’s so many changes. And all of these changes mean that people need help from leaders even more. They need help to contextualize what’s going on. They need help to be able to – I’ve needed it myself. I’ve called advisors, friends, mentors, and I’ve had conversations to say, “Okay, what is this new landscape?” You know, “How do I need to think about this?” We were actually going to be launching a new product this week, we were about to be launching a new program. And a couple weeks ago when some of the lockdowns hit, I actually pulled the brakes. I pulled the ripcord and paused all of it. 

And I paused it because I was scared. I was scared that it would seem like I was greedy, talking about business and sales in this time, I was scared that no one would pay attention and that we would do all the work to launch and we wouldn’t get anyone in our program, right? Have these fears – have you felt any of these fears? Not just recently, but have you felt any of these generally, as well? These are the games that our minds play with us. So I’ve had to lean on my mentors and my advisors and friends in this time as well. 

I’ve talked about him on the show before – we’ll work to get him on as a guest – but one of my best friends is a professional magician and comedian. He has a comedy magic mind-reading variety show that he travels all around the world doing. And he’s been shut down. He’s been completely sidelined. Because that’s the kind of business that you need gatherings of people, you need to be able to travel. 

Now he’s been doing something interesting with that, and I’m gonna circle back to this in a little bit in this episode, but the point of this episode is what do you say to your clients when they say, “I need to pause my subscription, my services, I need to leave your program.” For that matter, even people that you’re on sales calls with who say, “I don’t know that I can make a commitment right now,” this is the same answer across the board.

And the answer is, broadly, generally speaking, you need to be the voice of reason. You need to be the leader that they want, that they need in this time. So you need to step up and be the kind of leader that they may not even know that they need. And the way that you do that is a few things. I’m gonna give you three steps to be able to lead them effectively through this:

Step one is, you need to be the calmest person in the room. You need to be unwavering by what’s going on. Now, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have your own emotional reaction to this right? When I’m on with a client I’m as calm as calm can be. When I’m on with a client – you can ask my wife. I had a little bit of breakdown this last weekend. I had a little bit of a moment myself where I was like, “I just – everything feels terrible. Like, everything feels awful.”

And that’s okay. I’m not ashamed of that. I felt my feelings, that’s part of the process for me to be unwavering when I’m on the phone with people who it’s my job to lead, is that I have to feel my feelings in those times. I have to lean on my family. I have to lean on my advisors. That’s the right place, that’s the appropriate place for me to have those conversations because when I’m on with clients, I’m locked in. I’m dead set. I’m serious as serious can be.

For me to help them, and this is thing number two, is that – thing number one, calm, calmest person in the room. Thing number two, you need to care about them. Not them that’s freaking out, not them in the moment. You need to care about the the broader version of them. You need to care about the version of them that was on that original sales call with you, that said that they wanted a better future, a better business, a better life, a better relationship with food, better relationship with their health, a better relationship with their teams at work, better sales numbers, better whatever your program does, that’s who you need to stand up for. 

You need to care about that person, a person who wants more of what you know is possible for them. And then you need to make some really careful decisions. You need to check in and see, what is this really to them? Are the changes really affecting? Do they have opportunities that are in their blind spot because of the spot that – is it the position that they’re in right now because of how they’re feeling, because of the state that they’re in? Are there solutions that are trapped inside of their blind spot? And you need to highlight that to them. 

This is the tough work. It’s a lot easier to just say, “Okay, yeah, you’re pausing. Bye!” It’s way easier than to really engage with them and have a conversation. But if you’re a longtime listener of the show, then you know engaging with them gets you the best client results. It also gets you the highest client retention, the highest referrals, raving fans, and a business that you genuinely enjoy having. 

And that brings me to thing number three – is, you need to protect you and your business. If you have a contract that says that they’re not allowed out of the contract, then – and you should, you should have standards, you should have boundaries, you should have contracts with your clients – then that should be the first layer of the conversation. Not that you want to reference the contract all the time, but it’s good to have those so that clients can’t just cut and run, so that you can pull them back on the phone and do the first two things so that you can set a boundary. And you can have the conversation to find out what is right for them. 

I’m super generous with clients, letting them out of contracts, giving them extra time. I try to be super generous when it’s the right thing for them. When it’s not the right thing for them, I don’t care if they hate me. I don’t care if they leave a bad review. I don’t care if – I don’t care about any of those things. I’m not afraid of any of those things. You know what I’m afraid of? I’m afraid that out of fear, I won’t show up and be the leader that my clients need. That’s what I’m afraid of. That’s what is really there to be afraid of.

Because everything else, if you show up, you protect those boundaries so that you can determine what the client really needs and stand up for that better version of your client, and you’re the calmest person in the room, you will lead them to the best decision for them in the program, you will also retain the highest number of clients. 

This isn’t about retention. This is really about service. This is really about, for the vast majority of you, clients are not better off to leave. Now that, you know, look, if you run ads for my friend, for my friend Danny, if you run ads for a performer and they have no way of doing anything, of selling their services of, you know, getting out there – So, if you’re an agency and you have a client and they have nothing to do, they have absolutely nothing to sell. And you’ve tried to have the innovation conversation with them of how can we innovate in this time? Standing up for that higher version of them, that best version of them, what does that look like? What does that mean in terms of where you get to go from there? What does that mean? 

You have to let them pause. But there were a few layers in there, and one of the layers was the innovation conversation. I mentioned Denny. You know what Denny started to do? And he’s already sold – last time I checked in, he’s sold 15. His goal was to sell 20 off the column today. You know what he’s done? He’s sold different venues and clubs and places that he would usually be flying out to to perform in person, he sold them a new kind of service where he would do a Zoom magic show, he would do a magic show on Zoom, virtual, they invite all their people, he only charged a couple hundred dollars and even let them put it towards an in-person event within the next 18 months.

And then he’s going to get all the people on Zoom, they’re going to be able to see him, he’s going to even teach them some magic tricks that they can whip out at a party and things like that. And he’s actually going to interact with them on Zoom, have them pick a number, you know, pull that number out of a hat, all the cool things – that’s not really what he does, but things like that – you’ve seen fun magic tricks like, you know, pick a card, and then he does something with the card, all of that on Zoom, live, with groups of people, socially distanced.

That is the kind of thing if, if he can do that in his market, then I guarantee there’s opportunities for your clients to be able to do what they need to do, and it’s your job to lead them towards shining a light in their blind spot and figuring out ways to get through this together. That’s what’s gonna get you amazing client results, amazing client retention, and clients who thank you for standing up for them when it was way easier to just let them go. 

I hope this has been helpful. We’re getting back now that we have our home studio, and we know that our editors are in good shape and that everyone is okay and healthy. We’re going to be resuming our regular posting schedule. So please stay tuned, please stay safe, andthanks for tuning in to The Client Whisperer™ Show. Talk soon.

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