From lead to SALE: Taking a Client Relationship to the Next Level

If you are struggling with how to avoid the “Friend Zone”…

If you are getting ghosted when you send proposals and don’t know how to follow up…

If you are spending time “getting visible” but it’s not translating into new clients…

Then this article is for you! Read on for practical advice and tips that will make sales simple and fun and help you grow your business.

What happens once you get the lead? This is a question that I get all of the time. Some people call it the friend zone. Have you ever felt like, well, we’re friends and I don’t want them to think our connection is all about making a sale. Maybe you wondered whether to extend an invitation or make an offer to that person, worrying that they would reject it or worse, that it would end your friendship. Those are indications that you’re experiencing the friend zone. I’ve been in the same situation. I’ve thought to myself, “You got the lead. Now what?”

So let me share the journey that I took when I first brought my business online. When I came into the online space, I had 20 years of professional experience selling. I didn’t have courses. I didn’t have a “freebie” to entice clients. I didn’t have a website. I just had me and my knowledge and the clients who wanted to work with me.

Many of my clients take a similar journey. I often initially start working with people when they first come into the online space and, just like I was, they are experienced in their field and have earned their stripes, if you will, but they may not yet have a website or a funnel or a freebie or an e-mail service provider all set up and humming. Many of these clients also fall into the category of done-for-you service providers, which means that what their business sells is doing work for someone else. So, if you’re in the situation I just described, what do you do with the leads that you get? The lead could be a referral. But, what if the person who was referred to you isn’t ready to buy from you today? What do you do? If you’re not reaching out through email marketing regularly or putting out content consistently, don’t worry. That’s where I was when I first began working online.

I was getting referrals because I would meet people in Facebook groups or at in-person events. But then where did I send them? Giving someone your business card or sending them to a website is so passive. It’s like waving on the highway as you pass each other. What good is that going to do either of you? And the reality is, when you initially meet someone the likelihood of that person being ready to buy immediately is slim to none. So then how do you cultivate that lead or, as I like to say, how do you nurture the relationship? Or better yet, how do you move the relationship along so that you don’t go into the friend zone but you do stay connected.

Just to be clear, follow-up can be accomplished without badgering. It doesn’t have to be reaching out repeatedly to ask if someone is ready to buy yet. That can get annoying really quickly. That’s what we don’t want to do. So if my story so far has resonated with you, you may want to think about doing the same thing that I did next: I created a Facebook group, which could serve as a container to continue the conversation. Then I started posting weekly on Facebook live. I called my show the S-Word LIVE show. Each week I would share a story, some information, or some interesting things that came up with my clients during the last week. Social media can be a low pressure and relatively low tech way to connect with clients and keep the conversation going. Especially if you don’t have a freebie, if you don’t have an email list, and if you’re looking for a low stress way to create content.

I started my Facebook group with only eight people. The first members of my group were people that I just found interesting who I had interviewed recently. I started the conversation, then I continued to ask them questions. Many of them became my first clients. And if they didn’t become clients, they became connectors. And whenever I was introduced to someone new I would invite them to the Facebook group. And so it really became a place where I could continue the conversation and show up as myself because I’m more than just what I do for a living. I’m also a mom and a wife and a New Yorker. And I’m Italian and I talk fast. I was able to share all of that with kindness and confidence and the other people in the group could share about themselves. So when I did revisit that conversation with a prospective client, I wasn’t asking them “Hey, do you want to buy my thing yet?” Instead, I could say “Hey, how’s it going?” And then we would talk about life and about business. And when we spoke about business, it was two mutually respecting business women who could speak about a topic and offer possible solutions to solve it. Often, these conversations would turn to struggles that I could help with, like trouble closing a sale, and that opened the door for me to offer my services when there was a real need. Organically, we’d start discussing what the client needed and how I could help. From there, the discussion typically would move to rates, how often we’d meet, and when we’d get started. And just like that, I had a new client.

Would we have remained friends if she said she wasn’t interested? Yes. And are we friends if she says yes? Yes. So we’re able to be business colleagues, peers and friends and buy from each other. That is what I meant when I referred to the group as a container. The container is the environment that a group of supportive peers can create. Not just for me but also for the other members of the group who could connect with clients or service providers in an authentic way.

Now, that’s one scenario. Another way that creating a container can be helpful is if you do have a freebie or you do have a whole working funnel then the group is a place to ask more questions, to evaluate what’s working, and to get honest opinions. All the while, the container continues to offer opportunities for you to connect with potential clients and for them to connect with you and for them to connect with each other. Now, if all of that feels strange or uncertain or overwhelming to add to your busy schedule just keep it simple.

I have a program called Best, Most Profitable Group on the Block that can help systematize and structure the process of hosting a Facebook group so you don’t spend two hours a day doing it. But, putting that to the side for a moment, the goal here is that you look at a group not as some place where you have to show up and be a dancing monkey. No, a group is a place where you can show up and have it be whatever you need it to be that day. If one day you want to show up and talk about sales conversations, do that. If another day you want to show up and talk about why you like the color blue, do that. The content is entirely up to you.

What I’m encouraging you to do is create that container where you get to show up and just be yourself and let people know you and let people see you and take days off and don’t post anything for a week. You can do whatever you want with it. What it is more than anything else is a container to continue the conversation, to continue to get to know your clients and for them to continue to get to know you and each other.

I hope that this explanation has helped you feel better about the possibility of inviting people to continue the conversation with you after they become a lead. Because once they become a lead, that is the first step in a thousand mile journey. People ask me all the time, how do you always fill your program so quickly? How do you come up with your offer so fast? I don’t have some muse or some electrical current to the divine. What I have is a Facebook group. I have people around me who I can go to for feedback and who will give me an honest opinion. Because I have that community, because I have those trusted people that I can talk to in the Facebook group, I don’t get it wrong that often because I’m not guessing.

So, again, I just can’t say enough how important a Facebook group has been in my life. And it can be in yours, too. And not just for now, but for years. I have had my Facebook group since 2016. I started it before I started to create anything else. It was the next place I could invite people to connect because I knew from being in sales for 20 years that you can’t just meet somebody and hope it all goes to plan. You can’t just get a lead and hope they’re going to follow your funnel and buy your product because only a few people will. Even with the best copy, even with the best images, even with the best of everything, there’s still that other group that is not ready to buy right now. What do you do with them? It could be email sequences. But what if you don’t have that set up yet? Or even if you do? Don’t you want some other place to continue the conversation, to continue to get to know your potential clients?

This network that you’re building can help you not only grow your business and sell your products and services, but it can also be a place where collaborations take shape or it can lead to speaking invitations or other opportunities for exposure. I have gotten so much benefit from the network that I’ve invested in by having a Facebook group. So I can’t encourage you enough to at least give it a shot. So if this feels right for you and you’re ready to take the reins and reignite the group you already have or start a new one yourself, I encourage you to do it now because what happens after the lead? You need to continue the conversation and further the relationship.

If you are struggling with HOW to avoid the “Friend Zone” you need to find an organic way to continue to continue the conversation while also leaving the door open for a business relationship to develop.

If you are getting ghosted when you send proposals and don’t know how to follow up take a look at the relationships you’ve built and assess whether the folks you’re trying to sell to are ready to buy. Also, make sure you’re not badgering your potential clients!

If you are spending time “getting visible” but those leads aren’t translating into clients you need to create a container that can keep the conversation going. A Facebook group is a wonderful way to do this. Sales should not be hard or complex or confusing. And if it is, reach out. Let me know. I’m here to help.

About the author:

Renee Hribar is a sales strategist, TEDx speaker and author.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Renee Hribar - Sales Coach for Women

Million Dollar Sales Strategist to Coaches, Freelancers & Agencies , TEDx Speaker, Get my FREE Sales Training