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Rethinking Results in Your Business

Results is a word that’s thrown around all the time in business, but what does it mean? Is it about what makes us successful? It is about what we do for our clients? The answer is yes, and yes…but in this episode, we’re going to talk about how to rethink the role of results in our business, and how we untether from toxic narratives about what results really are.

If there’s one question I always get my back up about from potential clients, it’s when they ask “can you tell me what results you get for your clients?”

On one hand, it’s a valid question. I would ask the same thing. After all, I tell people to do their homework all the time and know what they’re getting into.

But here’s why I get a little twitchy.

In the online business world, results are often a shorthand for “how much money can you help me make?” The entire culture of sales and marketing around coaching and related services is rooted in income claim marketing.

People have been conditioned to look for me to claim they can hit a specific revenue goal if they work with me. And they’re also trained to look for me to make claims about how much money I make as “proof” that I can do what I say I can do.

Do some of my clients make more money when they work with me? Absolutely. But is that the only result I help my clients get? Not even close.

That’s a big reason why I wanted to dive into this conversation around results in our business, as this relentless focus on money as the most important result does all of us a disservice.

Doing What You Say You’re Going To Do

First, I want to talk about why results aren’t something we can simply skip over when it comes to our businesses. I know for me, at times when I’m unclear about the results I help my clients achieve, I tend to want to avoid talking about results at all.

The truth is that results are one of the core reasons that our communities and clients come to trust us. In the context of TrustDNA, I define results as “doing what you say you’re going to do.”

As usual, when I talk about trust and TrustDNA, it seems simple, but when we look at the big results being promised by celebrity entrepreneurs, there’s a mismatch between their promises and the actual results people get. Sure they use testimonials in a way that makes us think otherwise, but these testimonials are literally the best-case scenario, and often are atypical results.

That leaves the rest of their clients landing not even close to what was promised in their marketing and sales process. It leaves consumers with a lack of trust, and it makes things that much harder for those of us who are not making these bullshit promises.

For us to have trust, we need to be consistent in our delivery of the results we claim we’re going to provide to our clients. It also means we need to think very carefully about what results we get for our clients because once you break that trust around results, it’s hard to recover it.

Refining What Results You Really Get Your Clients

Now, you may be thinking about what results you help your clients achieve, especially beyond money.

Money is only one measure of results, and it’s time for us to go a little deeper into looking at the actual outcomes of the work we do with our clients. And before we look at tangible and intangible results, I want to quickly touch on the fact that making more money may be a result you want to include.

There’s nothing wrong with that, just don’t let it be the only result you ever highlight. And definitely avoid overpromising how much money people can make and use it as the cornerstone of your marketing and sales.

When you rely too heavily on unrealistic outcomes and income claim-driven marketing, you’re setting the bar at a certain level. And that may lead to you being unable to do what you say you’re going to do, which will breach trust with your clients.

Now, let’s talk about tangible results. Beyond making more money, there are a number of quantifiable results that you may help your clients with.

Tangible, quantifiable results are ones that can be measured such as: 

  • Time saved 
  • Working fewer hours 
  • Saving money 
  • Increased website traffic 
  • Higher email open rates 
  • More leads generated 
  • Lower cost per lead 

In my experience, these results sometimes are hard to come by with our clients, as there’s an element of measurement that may not be something that your client is tracking. I believe this is a big reason that we often default to money as that’s one metric most people are tracking.

While tangible results make things concrete, intangible results are just as, if not more important. Consider the value or reputation of a brand. That’s hard to quantify, but for many businesses, that brand is critical to their success.

Many times, intangible results can do more to convey the true impact of the work we do with our clients.

As an example, here are some intangible results: 

  • Feeling calmer
  • More organized
  • Greater creativity 

Those have a significant impact on the well-being and lives of our clients, yet we often don’t see them as “real” results because it’s not money earned or time saved.

That’s why when it comes to intangible results, let your customers do the talking. Let them explain how the results that you’ve helped them achieve have impacted them in a testimonial.

I talk more about testimonials of Episode 6 of my limited series podcast, Trusted, and you’ll definitely want to check that out. 

The key when talking about results and your clients is to ask yourself: Is this a result that I could reasonably expect most of my clients to achieve?

You want any results you speak to in your sales and marketing efforts to be reflective of the typical experience your clients have.

See Results as a Partnership: Collaboration Over Claiming Client’s Successes

Not that long ago I did a training on trusted testimonials in my program, TrustDNA The Lab, and one thing that came up was the fact that people felt like asking for testimonials was awkward.

I’m the first to admit that it absolutely can be. But the thing that makes it awkward for most of us is that we’re reluctant to take credit for our clients’ successes. We feel like it may be shady to say “you did this because of me.”

That’s why we need to see results as a partnership. I approach this as a collaboration with my clients, as if they don’t do the work around it, the results aren’t magically going to happen because they pay me.

We need to see ourselves as contributors to the results our clients get, and be committed to helping them get those results within the container we’re providing.

Let me break that down a little bit more.

One thing I’ve seen a lot in online business is that celebrity entrepreneurs and their wannabes are extremely adept at the bait-and-switch around results. They promise one thing, don’t deliver, and then promptly blame your limiting beliefs as the reason you’re not getting what they promised.

This isn’t anywhere close to okay. They have a responsibility to provide the support and tools they promised in their sales pitch.

That said, they’re very quick to take the credit for the successes of their star students. When a select few manage to get results (many times because of outside factors related to the program/coach/service) they unabashedly attribute success to their amazing offer.

On the flip side, we’ve all had a client who didn’t do the work and then blames us for their poor outcomes. That’s where the “results within the container we’re providing” part of this comes in. If you have a well-structured offer or service, and they phone it in, you can’t be responsible for their lack of results.

Ultimately, results are a partnership where buyers need to be responsible for doing the work required. And sellers need to deliver on their promise and be accurate as to potential outcomes during the sales process.

Results are a two-way street where the service provider (or coach or consultant) contributes to the results of the client, but the client actually has to do said work. 

Rethinking Results in Your Business 

When it comes to the results you get your clients, I encourage you to define what results you get clients, and understand the nature of the contributions you make to their business.

And for your own business, if you’re constantly looking at your “results” in terms of revenue, it’s time to rethink results so it’s not just about the money. There are so many ways you’re likely making strides in your business that go far beyond revenue, and honestly, many times making more money doesn’t lead to greater happiness or comfort.

Other measures of your progress, both tangible and intangible, are likely going to provide far more satisfaction in your life than more money ever will.


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Maggie Patterson Abou the Author

I’m Maggie Patterson (she/her), and services businesses are my business.

I have 20+ years of experience with client services, am a consultant for agency owners, creatives, and consultants, and vocal advocate for humane business practices rooted in empathy, respect, and trust.

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