How to Turn a Prospect into a Paying Customer

How to Turn a Prospect into a Paying Customer

I’ve owned a successful online business for nearly a decade, and if I’ve learned one thing in all that time, it’s this:

There are people who agree with what you’re doing – and there are people who believe that you’re the only one who can do it right.

Paying clients don’t come from the first category. The first category is a mishmash of your regular readership, fellow colleagues and competitors who respect you. They all feel you know what you’re doing, but they’re also confident they can do the same or similar themselves.

Your clients come from the second category. They agree with what you’re doing, and they don’t think they’re capable of doing it without you.

To get the clients you want, to build a base of people from the second category, you need to create content that persuades this group that you know a lot more than you’re letting on.

Here’s how:

Show Them Your Hand

QuickSprout is one of the most popular marketing blogs for one reason: the owner, Neil Patel, backs up every single one of his posts with a plethora of data.

Charts. Graphs. Profit numbers. He’ll explain seven strategies for increasing conversions and break down exactly how many new sales he made from each of those strategies.

You might say he gives away the farm, but his insanely high profit margins say otherwise.

Why does this strategy work? Neil offers so much information that we’re overwhelmed.

I’m a smart person. I’ve built two businesses from scratch. I’ve marketed them both, I’ve reviewed the data, I’ve examined strategies and experimented with tactics.

But I’ve never had as much data about my business as Neil does. I haven’t literally tested every new strategy that pops up on the web and measured results. I simply don’t know as much as Neil does about that level of in-depth testing and analysis, nor do I care to learn.

The more I read from Neil, the more confident I am that while I might get overwhelmed trying to put a handful of these strategies into place for my business, Neil won’t. He’d knock my socks off.

I don’t want to try to challenge Neil’s smarts. And I definitely don’t want to bust my brain trying. I’d rather hire him to be smart on my behalf.

How to Create that Feeling with Your Prospects

You don’t need to be Neil. All you need is to know more than the people you want to have as clients – and let’s hope you already do, or else you’ve got bigger problems than how to market to them.

The biggest mistake many make is that they try to show they do know more than their targeted audience, but they try to avoid giving away the farm.

The result? They accidentally downplay how hard their job really is.

As a copywriter, quite a lot of small business owners believe they can do my job – until I break down exactly what goes into a great sales page. Or an engaging message. Or a clickable headline. Or even a well-crafted sentence.

If all my blog posts were titled “8 Easy Writing Tips”, it makes it sound like this is a job anyone can do.

That’s great if I’m trying to encourage fellow writers, but if I wanted to entice paying clients, I’d be better off writing a long-form post explaining, step by step, exactly what to write for your website’s about page.

Go into detail. Point out all the little things that you, a professional, would notice, but that your prospects probably wouldn’t. Show them that they’re out of their depth.

Then give them an obvious way to hire you, because that’s what they’ll want next.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. This is one of the most important business lessons you’ve taught me, James.

    There’s no such thing as giving away the farm because there will always be people who don’t have the time to do what you do. There will always be people who simply cannot stand the subject you’re the expert on. There will always be an audience that would eagerly pay you to take care of a problem for them.

    You just have to find them and convince them that you’re the answer to their prayers.

    • There you go – you’ve just summed it up so beautifully for me that I’ll just nod, grin and agree with you!

      Actually, I just ran down a mental quick-list of all the things I don’t like doing, even though I know how (laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping…), and for every single one, I could think of at least one person who can be hired to do them for me.

      Point proven!

  2. Mike Wilke says:

    Hi, James


    Like you said, you cannot hold back.

    If you do hold back, you risk not sharing the specific knowledge that proves you really know your stuff.

    Mike Wilke

    P.S. One of the many traits I love about you is that you don’t just “tell” us what to do. You “show and tell”. And when you correct us, you don’t just say that something is wrong . . . you show us how to fix it.
    It is no surprise then, that this post is a perfect example of sharing the good stuff.

    • It’s interesting, because I think a lot of people hold back unintentionally, thinking they don’t know enough or that they don’t know as much as so-and-so, and they don’t want to look silly.

      Thing is, you’ll *always* know more than someone else. And you’ll *always* have smart things to say – even when you don’t feel so smart saying them.

      I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve said something I believe to be trivial or common or absolutely basic, and people have stood wide-eyed, all ears. It’s easy to assume others know more than us… but it’s usually the other way around 😉

  3. I’ve heard this concept multiple times, and always nodded my head in agreement. But you’ve Just helped make it click. The lightbulb is officially on 🙂

    “They agree with what you’re doing, and they don’t think they’re capable of doing it without you.”

    And the cool part is that you’re still serving your larger audience, those who may not be buying at the moment, by giving them enough detail to take the next step. Everybody wins!

    Thanks James!

  4. Paul Back says:

    Hey James

    I think there is a lot of hesitation to “show your hand” as people are worried that their customers will expect too much and they wont be able to deliver.

    But they don’t realize that challenges help us grow as service providers, and to be at the top of your game you have to do things that scare you sometimes.

    In the end of the day you could show people everything you know and it’s still not that easy to get results. To get that level of expertise one goes through so many challenges and so many failures, no one can match that on their first go, no matter how much theory you give them.

    And to be realistic, if they can then they probably would not be your customer anyway. There really is nothing to fear – and there is everything to gain.

    This is a great post on a very polarizing topic.. but I for one totally agree with you.


  5. What an interesting point of view, that someone would try to show they know more than their target audience but wouldn’t want to seem that they’re giving away the farm. What pressure to put on oneself! I just try to have a normal conversation with someone on a topic, and if and when it becomes clear my knowledge is greater, then I know I have a potential client who might be attracted to what I have to offer. But I have that interaction in a natural, organic way, not through a calculated attempt to lure a buyer. That seems too artificial and more likely to fail. Thanks, James, how reminding us how much we all already know!

  6. I love this…

    “Go into detail. Point out all the little things that you, a professional, would notice, but that your prospects probably wouldn’t. Show them that they’re out of their depth.”

    This reminds me of advice I heard years ago from Dan Kennedy where he talked about not caring about his competition knowing every step of his complicated campaign structure? Why? Because he knows the majority of people are lazy and cheap and so once they look at the 48 steps and the investment it would take to implement, their eyes glaze over at the thought of all the work it would take and *GULP* the money they would need to ask the client to spend to effectively roll out.

    This is why a complex and complicated (to the lazy and lay person) system is an asset.

    I recently heard Frank Kern give a brilliant example of why he doesn’t mind giving rock solid how to content to his market . . .

    He made an awesome case with the use of metaphor in three minutes for why consulting is incredibly desirable.

    He drew a three-tiered pyramid on the white board and at the pinnacle he wrote DFM – Do it For Me. He explains that when it comes to getting results, no one wants to do the actual work it takes to get them. Liposuction thrives on this universal law. People would prefer you to stab them and suck the fat off their body over the option of doing everything involved with becoming a healthy human being who walks around at their body’s ideal weight. This is the same reason the whole stomach stapling industry is alive and prosperous.

    He then writes DWM – Do it With Me – in the next tier. He reminds you of the time when you learned to drive and how you’d had 16 or so years where everyone was driving you around and how you were ready to gain the independence that comes with being able to drive yourself. So, you went to a driving instructor and they sat with you in the car and made sure that while you were learning, you didn’t kill yourself or someone else.

    He then writes MANUAL in the next tier. He points out how crappy it would be if you’d had wanted to learn how to drive and someone just handed you a manual and said, “Have at it kid! Good luck!”

    The point he makes is that the sweet spot when it comes to getting results is DWM – Do it With Me and that people are tired of just being handed the manual and being left to their own devices. Consulting lets you sell this sweet spot but it can also lend to you also doing some lucrative DFM – Do it For Me work.

    Thank you James for reminding me this awesome example and sharing your wisdom. It is very important stuff for the trusted advisor to keep near and dear to their heart. 🙂

  7. I love it James,
    I think the idea of “giving away the farm” is the thing that holds a lot of us back. The idea that if I give away every thing I know, my readers won’t need me. I appreciate that you made it clear that by “giving away the farm” I will be showing just how valuable I am because my farm is so complex.


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