Listen To This Episode
“Deep down inside, most clients, they have so many projects and so many things going on, they want someone who’s going to be proactive, that’s going to take the initiative, that’s going to take leadership of this project.”
This video will give you “a structured, systematic process for actually closing the deal” with your potential clients.
Learn the one question you should ALWAYS ask when you start a conversation with a prospect.
How to write a winning project proposal on a napkin… and why you don’t need anything more than that.
Watch the video to see the full training.
It seems to me that the number one problem that most writers face is how to get clients.
How to actually close the deal and to have ongoing revenue streams from clients who consistently hire you and pay you top dollar.
My name is Joshua Boswell and I want to show you over the next few minutes the simple process that I have used to get tons and tons of clients, closed contracts signed, and huge deals inked so that I can have a great, wonderful lifestyle as a writer.
I want you to have the exact same thing. I’ve worked with thousands of writers just like you and helped them start their business, grow their careers, and have an amazing success ratio.
Why? Because I know a handful of very simple basic skills like what I’m going to show you today that really, truly move the needle.
So the question is how do you close more deals?
It’s not enough just to get clients to come to you. It’s not enough to figure out where they’re at. I’ve had tons of my students figure that whole process out.
They’ve done great content. They become experts in their industry. They’ve got people who want to use them and want to use the writing services and yet they’re not closing deals and some of the really big projects are going off to other writers.
Why is this happening? It’s happening because they don’t have a structured, systematic process for actually closing the deal.
The problem with that is, is that even when they do find systems, a lot of times they draw from old, outdated sales techniques or power positioning or all kinds of different things that go on out there to try to figure out how exactly to get the client to say yes and to send you the first check and to start working with you.
How do you do this? Well, there’s a multiple step process involved. Today, I’m going to show you the core fundamental process, the number one key that makes this whole thing work.
If you get this right, then there’s some other steps involved, but really you can bumble your way through the other steps, if you get this right, it transforms everything.
Now, I first discovered this when I was a new writer and I didn’t have any experience. I had a small, anemic portfolio and I just wondered why in the world would anybody want to hire me?
I got on the phone one day with a large international nonprofit organization, the executive director of this organization, and they were looking for a writer to hire to do their annual fundraising appeal letter. At least one of them. They were out there interviewing and I had contacted them. They had followed up with me. Everything was going swimmingly.
And as soon as we got on the phone, now remember, at this point in the game I had done maybe one or two other writing projects and they weren’t that big. That was it, that was the whole jalopy.
They got on the phone with me and the gal’s name, I don’t remember her name, I think it was Susan. This was a number of years ago. But Susan said to me, “Okay, thanks for taking some time to be on the call.”
And I’m like, “You’re welcome. I’m really looking forward to potentially working with you guys.” And she said, “Tell me about your past clients.”
And then the nightmare started just with that one sentence. The nightmare started for me. And I started answering question after question after question after question after question after question after question.
I later learned a phrase from my mentor Bob Bly, who when I told him about this experience, Bob was like, “Oh well you became the dancing monkey.”
I was like, “Dancing monkey?” He goes, “Yeah, like you know, the client was just up there and they’re like the marionette person and they’re just making you dance all over the place and you’re hopping and jumping and skipping, just trying to do everything that they say. Yeah, you fell prey to the dancing monkey syndrome.”
And I was like, “Oh, I don’t want to be a dancing monkey anymore.” Because it didn’t pay very well. It wasn’t very profitable. It didn’t earn me a lot of respect. So I had to figure out a way early on as a brand new writer, how to change the equation, how to turn the tables so that I was actually in control of the conversation.
So much so that I could get the client to follow my lead when I told them, “Hey, it’s time to get started. Go ahead and send the check and sign the contract and let’s get moving.” I wanted them to follow my leadership, to follow my suggestions in putting this project together.
I had to figure out how to do this as a brand new writer, and what I discovered was, “Oh my goodness, not only does this work as a brand new writer, but as a middle-of-the-road writer and as a seasoned writer. I’ve taught this process that I’m going to show you right here to writers who are doing seven figures and they walked away going like, “Oh, yeah. That’s how I can improve my close ratio.” Right? They saw that not only …
By the way, this not only helps with closing deals, but also is going to help you in your writing. This is multifaceted. Very, very powerful.
So what’s going on here?
Let’s look at this.
The number one key that makes all of this work is this phrase right here.
And again, if you don’t remember the four circles and all the other stuff that I’m going to talk about, that’s fine. The high leverage thing, the most important thing that I’m going to share with you right now is this right here.
If you don’t remember anything else, please remember this. It’s simply this: the person asking the questions wins the best contracts.
The person asking the questions wins the best contracts. That’s simply the way it is.
I find so many writers, they’ve got one question: Will you hire me? That’s it. Then the person hiring starts in on the questions of, “What have you done? Can I see your portfolio? What kind of projects things, have you got any training, have you’ve done this, have you’ve done that, have you’ve done this, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.”
And pretty soon the writer has done all the talking and none of the listening and the potential client stays in control.
But the problem with that is, is that when the potential client asks all the questions, their respect level for you ends up being substantially smaller because what it does is it signals to them that they’re always going to have to lead you along, that they’re going to have to nurse you that they’re going to always have to be in control.
Deep down inside, most clients, they have so many projects and so many things going on, they want someone who’s going to be proactive, that’s going to take the initiative, that’s going to take leadership of this project.
You can show that leadership, you can show that confidence right off by asking questions.
In addition to that, think about writing an effective promotion or a piece of content or white paper or business communication. Isn’t it true that you need a ton of data? Just an enormous amount of data to really be effective in your writing?
For me that’s very true. I don’t have a crystal ball, I’ve got to do a bunch of research. So in that research process, I’m asking a lot of questions. I’m being very curious and I’m following up and I’m digging deeper and that is what allows me to be super persuasive in my writing.
I started realizing like, “Wow, doesn’t it make sense that if I’m more curious and dig deeper and have better research in my communications with the client, I’m going to be more persuasive?”
And the answer of course is, yes. So how exactly do you structure that? What kinds of questions do you ask and what’s the sequence that you ask them?
Because it’s like baking a cake, right? You can’t bake the flour and then add the eggs and milk. It doesn’t work that way.
That’ll turn out to be a sloppy gloppy mess. So what’s the sequence here and what are the kinds of questions you should ask and how many times do you ask them and all that kind of good stuff, right? What’s the recipe for making this work?
Well, I tried tons of different stuff and I got pretty good at it, but a couple of years into this, I hired a guy named RC Peck.
And RC gave me a framework, which I’ve modified a little bit, you’ll see I’ve modified it a little bit. He gave me this framework for asking questions that really taps into human emotion, desires and persuasion.
I want to share my modified version of that with you right now so that you can begin immediately using this the next time you have a conversation.
The next time you do research, the next time you sit down to write something, you can think about this framework and you can say, “Oh, that’s how I can roll this forward and make a big difference.”
So let’s start over here with this circle right here. This is the first step. You always begin with this step. Always, always, always with this question. And that is this question of: What do you want?
Now there are lots of different versions of the “What do you want” question.
“Hey, what projects are you working on right now?”
“What’s on top of your plate?”
“What’s really keeping you up at night?”
“What’s the next big project that you’ve got coming out?”
Whatever it is, there’s a lot of different variances of this question, but: “what do you want?”
You need to find out what their need is. What their goals, what their hopes, what their aspirations and ambitions are.
Every client’s got it. They’re in business for a reason and there’s always the next thing on the horizon. And the next thing on the horizon, the next thing on the horizon.
What is that next thing on the horizon? That is your goal to figure that out. You’ve got to be good at asking that question and then asking follow-up questions.
So the very first question is: What do you want? And they might say: “We contacted you because we need a set of emails, or we need a sales letter, or we need consistent content, or we need a white paper, or we need a case study”, or whatever it is that they’re looking for, they’re going to have something that they want.
You need to find out exactly what that is.
And a lot of times, writers start and stop the conversation right here. What do you want? “Oh, we need a series of emails.” “Oh, I can totally do that for you. Should I send you over a proposal?”
Bah! That’s where they lose the contract. Gone. Done. History. Hasta la juego, baby. That’s not the best way to close a deal. So you start here finding out what they want.
And a lot of times the writer doesn’t even get an opportunity to actually ask the question. They’re just told, “Hey, we’re contacting you because we need a writer to do weekly content posts. Can you do that? Here’s the budget.” And then that’s the end of the conver-
Like, “Yes, I can do it.” “No, I can’t do it.” “That budget’s fine, that budget’s not fine”, and then that’s the end of the conversation.
But there’s a much better way. That’s to go on to the second stage of this process. What you’re going to do is you’re going to come down here and you’re going to ask the very, very, very powerful, very valuable question of: What else do you want?
In other words, here’s one thing that I know. I’ll put a question mark on it. Here’s one thing that I absolutely know for sure about every prospect, every client, everybody that I ever talked to, I know they’ve got more than one need.
They don’t just need an email or a case study or a website or a whatever-it-is. The need to communicate and the need to persuade and the need to get people to take action is endless for every single client, every single prospect that I’ve got.
What I want to do is, I want to go beyond the first thing that they say that they want and I want to dig deeper into their business and find out what else do they want? What else are they working on? Where else are they doing? Going to this level is revolutionary for most writers.
They just don’t think like, “Oh, I should ask another question. Like, what up?” “No, no, they’re wanting me to do an email. I’m just going to focus on that because if I get into a big long conversation, then maybe they won’t want to work with me, or maybe they’ll,…. or maybe I’ll offend them or I don’t want to pry too much.”
Ahh. Hey, it’s okay. They’re going to love the fact that you went a little bit deeper. Then you do something that I call … That is like this cycle. The What Cycle is what I call this. You call this the What
Cycle because I’m going to come back here and I’m going to rotate back through here until I peter them out. So this is the What Cycle.
Here’s how that looks. “Hey Mr. Client. So tell me what it is you’re working on right now.” “Oh, we’re working on this email and we’re doing the blah blah blah.”
“That’s awesome. So you’re working on emails.”
Notice how I mirror and reflect back?
“You’re working on a set of emails and that’s really why you talked to me. That’s cool. Where are those emails going? What else is going on here?”
“Well, the emails are going to a sales letter.”
“Tell me about the sales letter, what’s that all about?”
And notice that I’m just going to go with the What Cycle. I’m going to go around and around until they’re like, “That’s pretty much what we’re working on right now.” And I’m going to take careful notes about what that is. That’s going to be important as we get up into the further cycle.
So what do you want?
What do you want?
What else do you want?
Anything else going on?
What else is happening?
What else are you working on?
How else have you used writers in the past?
What are the kinds of projects have you done?
What have you found to be effective?
What, what, what, what, the What Cycle. Just keep being super, super, super curious and that’s a major piece of this puzzle right here.
Questions obviously stem from curiosity, so this piece right here, you want to have major curiosity. You want to be like a five year old. Ask a ton of questions. The What Cycle. What, what, what, what, what. Are we clear on that part?
At some point when you start to taper off and you can tell they’ve told you four or five or six or seven or 10 things about what they’re doing and what projects they’re working on, now it’s time to go to the next thing.
So you spin out of the What Cycle and you drive up into the next phase of the game. That’s another question that says this: Why do you want it?
Why do you want it? See, what I’m going to do is, the first thing that they’ve said to me, I’m going to take the first thing and now I’m going to carry that on and say, “Okay, so you told me that you’re doing these emails. Why are these important? How does that play into the bigger picture? Why are you doing this at this time? What’s going on in the marketplace that makes this really important for you right now? How does this play into the bigger goals in the pictures of what you’re trying to accomplish in your business?”
I’m going to ask them a series of “why” questions.
Why do they want that email series, that sales letter, that case study that whatever it is, why do they want it? There’s always a reason why. The reason why is one of the most important things that you can discover. When you know their why, then you have a major key to closing the deal. Don’t be afraid to cycle that why back into the conversation as you get further into the dialogue.
Once you know their “why”, you need one more piece of information to ensure you can close the deal every single time and get paid top dollar for it.
That is this. You go to this last piece here. Now in this circle right here, you’re going to ask a very important question. That is: When you have it, what does it look like?
This is one of the most powerful questions that you can ask in any kind of a sales process. Because here’s the problem: everybody in the universe, when they have trust and confidence that you can meet their needs and deliver on that, whatever it is they want, then they’re going to hire you.
If your client knew that by hiring you and paying you $5,000 or $10,000 or $20,000 or $50,000, if they knew that by hiring you they could make $20 million, let’s say. So they had a campaign objective of $20 million, they hire you for $50,000, is that a good investment? Does that make sense business-wise? The answer is: Totally!
The only thing stopping them from hiring you is a trust or a confidence that you can actually get the job done. What they need to know is, that you understand with total clarity about what they want, why they want it, and what it looks like.
Here’s why this question is so important. Let me give you an example. I can say, “Okay, so it sounds like you need a series of emails to promote your new widget. Because right now these widgets are super hot in the market and there’s a limited window. We’ve got to move on this really fast. So if we were to just knock this out of the park, what would the end project look like? Or the end results look like that you want? What would an ideal campaign look like for you?”
What you’re doing is you’re seeking to know what the picture is inside their head of their expectations of you. Their expectations of you.
You need to be able to have a clear picture of that because you know, they might be thinking, “Oh, if we sold 50 of these widgets, it would be an astonishing success.” Or they might be thinking, “We’ve got to sell five million of these widgets to have this really be a success.”
If you want to have ongoing relationships and ongoing success and ongoing projects with a particular client, you’ve got to know what the success looks like, what the outcome looks like that they’re after, and get them to explain that to you. It will re-emphasize everything right here.
Then of course this leads into a proposal, into the project and then inevitably back into the “what” question. You follow these sets of questions and you will be able to have one project and then another project and another project.
Here’s the great secret to my success as a writer, and that is, I don’t hardly ever do one-off projects. If I do one project with a client and I get to know what they want and what else they want and what do they want and what else do they want and then why they want it, and then what it looks like to that. Then I come back to, “Well tell me you said you wanted this. Is there anything else? Tell me more about that. Why is this second project so important? What does it look like? And then you said you wanted this, so tell me more about that and what does that look like and how do you have it?”
And I just keep going over and over and I keep coming back to them. I do have a very specific process for doing that, but we’re not going to get into that right now.
The most important thing is, master these questions: What do you want? What else do you want? Why do you want that? And when you’ve got it, what does it look like when you’ve got an ideal outcome or what are your expectations of that are? And get them to paint a picture for you of that.
Now, here’s the thing, if you will ask these questions, then you might be saying, well then how does that turn into a proposal? Look, you can write the proposal. Once you know this, write the proposal down on a napkin and just basically say, “Hey, I’m going to write these emails for you to help you sell these widgets because it’s really timely in the marketplace right now. And the goal we’re shooting for is 50,000 widgets to be sold by this deadline. Sound good? Great. Here’s the price. 50% up front. Go.”
You could literally write that on a napkin, it’d be fine. Send them a short little email would be fine.
I see people who put these long complicated proposals together and the problem is they have disconnected from the what they want, the reasons that they want it, and what the final outcomes were, the desired outcomes need to be.
So it doesn’t matter how glossy and cool and sharp looking and perfect and line items and detailed the proposal is, the core fundamental reason why they would hire you to write the project is actually missing. The proposal itself becomes irrelevant.
Is it important to put a nice looking proposal together? Should you always just send a short little email? No, there’s templates and there’s processes for all this stuff.
But again, if you gut it for the most important part, it doesn’t matter. Cool?
So my challenge to you is to go out there and ask a lot of questions. Practice this on your spouse or your loved one or children or your neighbor or somebody at school or somebody at work, and just get used to asking them questions.
“Hey, what’d you do this weekend? Really? Did you do anything else? Really? Wow. Why did you go do that? That sounds like it was really cool. Tell me about it. Wow. Wow.”
“So when you got done, were you like super pleased with the results or where you’re expecting something else? Really? Tell me about what you were expecting.”
I mean just have a conversation with people, be super curious and ask them a whole bunch of questions and just run through this cycle. I think you’d be amazed at the information you gather and then how you can use that to be highly, highly persuasive in all of your communications, especially in closing top writing clients.
It’s been a pleasure talking to you today. I’ll talk to you later. Bye now.