Client-Getting Tips from a “Madam”

Today, I’m going to “walk on the wild side” a bit.

However, if you stick with me, you will learn some extremely valuable lessons about how to find prospects for your own business. Plus, you’ll discover how to design a plan that will continually deliver new ways to add paying clients to your business.

Recently, I’ve been reading the book Uncensored Sales Strategies, XXX-Rated Secrets by Sydney Biddle Barrows.

A successful sales consultant advising top companies and entrepreneurs, she is probably best known for her reign as the "Mayflower Madam," during which she operated New York’s most elite premium-priced escort service.

Her autobiography and best-selling book, Mayflower Madam, was recognized by Fortune Magazine as one of the best business books of its year and has been used as a textbook in prestigious business schools around the country.

However, despite all this, many dismiss her wisdom …

In fact, you may be thinking to yourself, “Learn something about marketing and selling from a Madam? No way!”

But, Barrows makes a good point — she says, “It’s not called the ‘world’s oldest profession’ for nothing! The ‘Ladies of the Evening’ have had centuries to test every conceivable marketing and selling strategy, adapt to challenges and changes, and devise innumerable, creative ways to cater to more niche and sub-niche markets than any other business I can think of.”

In your own life, there are places and circumstances you can get tips on how to get clients — if you just open your eyes to them.

For example, in Barrows’ book, she tells the story of how she took an idea from the cosmetics counter. She said, “Cosmetic companies, more than any other business, use the gift-with-purchase approach to encourage sales, to boost a higher transaction amount, and to introduce new products or acquaint purchasers with products they might not already be familiar with.”

She goes on to tell how a free vial of perfume with her purchase turned her into a “customer for life” because she loved the scent so much. In fact, she loved the scent so much that she wanted everything they had in that scent — from bath powder to body lotion.

Barrows suggests you can learn lessons from every place you’ve ever worked and the businesses around you.

So, what can you “steal” from other businesses and apply to your own to win clients?

To get started, make a list of every place you’ve ever worked, going back to the place you flipped burgers in high school. List two things each company did to make sales and gain clients or customers. Now, write down how you can apply these techniques to get clients in your own business.

For example, when I worked for a regional magazine as an advertising executive, we each had a bio that gave strong credentials for how we could help our clients, along with a little personal information.

Once we set up an appointment with a prospect, we would send an email to confirm the date and time of our appointment and include our bio. The idea was to “pre-sell” ourselves and give a little personal information to start building a relationship before we ever had our first meeting with the client.

Using the cosmetics counter example as a model, what “extra” can you give your clients to reward them and introduce a new service they will love … and increase the amount of work they hire you to do?

If your client hires you to write a landing page, perhaps you could throw in a service they've never gotten from you before, like a set of Pay-Per-Click (PPC ads) or an email to drive people to the new landing page. If they’ve never tried these types of copy before, it could show your client how effective those services can be. The result could be additional orders for those services down the road.

Another example: If you worked at a burger joint, “Do you want fries with that?” might remind you of the importance of upselling your clients when "the iron is hot."

Whether it’s from a Madam, a burger joint, or cosmetics counter, every business can teach you ways to be more successful at getting clients. You just have to be on the lookout for the lesson. When you are, you’ll find new ways to win all the customers you could ever want.

What have you “borrowed” from another business to gain new clients? Share them with your fellow Writer’s Life readers below.

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Published: February 10, 2012

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