Chris Lema is no stranger to the WP Elevation crowd or the WordPress community at large. This is his second time joining Troy on the podcast; the first was to discuss the secrets to growing a business. He also recently stopped by WP Elevation Live to explain why storytelling is essential when it comes to marketing your business.
If you missed the opportunity to see Chris in Santa Monica or you simply want more juicy tips on how to use storytelling to get the right clients, give this episode a listen.
Chris Lema is the VP of Products over at Liquid Web, a company that specialises in managed WordPress and WooCommerce hosting.
Beyond his work in the WordPress hosting space, Chris is known as a masterful storyteller. You can find links to all the places where he shares his words of wisdom below this post.
If you’ve ever tried to argue the point that you’re not a storyteller, Chris will set you straight. As he says in the podcast:
“Fundamentally, stories are important to us as humans.”
And it’s not just because they’re entertaining. It’s their memorability that enables us to connect to other human beings — which is the kind of thing you should leverage in business.
Chris likens your job as a business owner and WordPress consultant to that of a late-night talk show host.
Although the host has a cheat sheet with some notes about the guest sitting on his or her stage, the guest needs to be willing to engage the host during the interview. It might be up to the host (you) to do the research, ask the right questions, and lead the interview, but the guest (your client) has to be willing to play along.
This is when you know that you have the right client.
You won’t know this, though, unless you start telling stories. Chris has four different story types WordPress consultants should be prepared to use.
This is one of the first stories you should tell prospects.
It goes like this:
You: You’re probably dealing with [this problem] right now. I had three clients last quarter who were experiencing this exact issue.
Prospect: Nope, we’re all good here.
You: Well, congratulations! If you were in that situation, you’d be [describe the pain], so I’m happy to see that all is well.
[3 months later]
Prospect: So, remember that thing you said was gonna happen?
Prospect: You were right. We need your help.
Now, it won’t always look like this. You may predict the pain of a prospect, at which point they’ll say something like, “How did you know?” and they’ll beg to get started right away.
Either way, you’ve changed the conversation. They’re no longer telling you what to do or what they want.
This is the kind of client you want.
They’re out there. You just aren’t telling the right stories or pitching the right prices. Sign up for this free course to learn how.
In essence, you tell a warning story so that people understand the reality of their situation while also quickly realising you’ve been down this road before.
It’s your honesty about how complex and difficult the implementation of their solution will be that’s going to help you seal the deal.
It goes like this:
Prospect: I want to move my store to Shopify. It’s the most logical and cost-effective choice at this point.
You: Why do you say that?
Prospect: To be honest, I already talked to a few developers before you and they all said Shopify was the best choice for e-commerce.
You: Right, but you’re bringing your own payment gateway with you. If you move to Shopify, you either have to move all your sales to their gateway or incur the additional costs it charges customers to use an external one. So, not only do you have to pay the payment gateway fees, but you have to pay Shopify’s high fees on top of that.
Prospect: What? Why didn’t they tell us this?
And that’s when you get them. Your honest and realistic approach, no matter how scary it may be, lets prospects see that you can be their trusted guide.
The Empathy Story can be used before you send a proposal, though Chris says it’s most effective after they’ve seen your quote and have objections.
Basically, you demonstrate why you shouldn’t be their vendor. Instead, you convince them why you should be their partner.
It goes like this:
Prospect: I don’t think I understand this note in the proposal. Just to clarify: you’re saying you’ll give me access to my site’s code at the end of the project, right?
You: No. What I’m saying is that starting on Day 1, the code of your website will reside in a Github repository that you have access to. We worked with a developer in the past who tried to hold the code of our website hostage, and we’d never want that for our own clients.
It’s a simple enough exchange, but one that shows how well you understand their pain and that you aren’t just here to take their money. You talk about the shared pain so that they walk away from this thinking:
“You’re not just a vendor; you’re a partner. I trust you.”
The last story Chris encourages WordPress consultants and developers to use is the Inspiration Story. This is one you use to overcome pricing objections.
It goes like this:
Prospect: I need a membership site to sell my courses and ebooks through. How much is that gonna cost me?
You: What is your budget?
Prospect: I don’t really have one. I just want to know how much you’re going to charge.
You: Well, you’re going to want the informational part of your website to wow prospective members. A free lead gen front and centre will help with that. Then, the gated membership site should have different areas for… [Really paint the picture of what you plan to do. Then, provide estimates and show examples from similar projects you’ve done.]
Prospect: Nah, that’s way too much. I figured I could get it for maybe half the price.
You: Okay, so your budget is [half of the estimate you gave]. Great. Let me draw up a quote.
You send the quote over, which includes the essential elements that fall within the budget. The other things they asked for — which they’re going to need, too — are included as “just in case you still want them” extras.
The prospect will see that the website of their dreams can be built and that you should be the facilitator of it. You just need to paint a picture of what you can do and show them the value of their investment.
Over the next month or so, WP Elevation is going to publish some highlights from the Live event in Santa Monica. Be sure to keep an eye out for those posts as you’ll get a chance to see what Chris Lema brought to the stage — including his “Bridge” framework.