You Know the Best Way to Sell a Service? GATEWAY DRUGS, MY FRIEND.

“She said yes to the $500 offer!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Soon as I got that text this morning I screeeeammeeddd back in an audio message, “YESSSSSSSSS!!!!! OF COURSE SHE FUCKING DID!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

I knew she'd get it done. I knew it: the system that I've been teaching her, an old friend of mine from college who's starting a coaching business, is damn-near foolproof for closing new clients. There are a lot of things I know absolutely nothing about—the mating habits of worms, who these people are that actually understand how to use Photoshop, why Comic Sans is still a font on any 2021 font menu—but one thing I'm better at than anyone else in the world is selling a damn good service to a damn awesome client.


I love how it feels; love how it tickles your titties in the moments leading up to The Call. I love the butterflies; the anticipation; the possibilities on the horizon. I love the tango; the dance you do around one another to determine if it's going to work; the back-and-forth of yes versus no. I love the tension. Love the way it feels to make another person say, “ahhhhhhhhhhhhh.” Love how words can place you worlds apart—or sitting thigh-by-thigh on the side of a cliff, ready to jump…together. I love the togetherness of it all: the feeling that you are, in fact, embarking on something as a team. I love a good team—which is why I also know how important it is to have clients with hearts that match the size of yours. You are doing this together. You are making something, together. It is not merely “a job,” but a personal creation. This is one of the most beautiful things about working for yourself: everything you do is a work of art, made by you. Refined by you. Polished by you. Lit on flames by you. It is not just work, but obsession in motion.

At least, the only kind of work I want to be doing is, anyway.

And that is my friend: big-hearted, and so, so passionate about her new coaching business. It's an honor to be able to guide her thinking; to counsel her approach and teach her the things that you only know when you've been creating this way for a hundred years. (In internet years, obviously—which is absolutely a thing!)

One of the things we have talked about at length is what I refer to as offer design.

A person's success is the result of many factors, but one of the factors that often gets overlooked is whether or not you've actually baked strategy right into your offers—or if you're taking an old lump of coal and trying to sell that.

Coaches, creatives, consultants, and anyone who charges a good chunk of money for their services would benefit from more strategic offer design. Most of the time, their services are priced in the thousands, and that's kinda…that. So of course what happens when your service is priced in the thousands?

It's the literal equivalent of you walking into the Chanel store one day, thinking you're hot shit, only to discover that a single bobby pin costs ONE TRILLION DOLLARS. So you do the move, right?! You calmly turn the price tag back over, yawning as if you expected it all along, and then move onto the other display cases, carefully looking over every item AS IF YOU COULD AFFORD ANY OF THESE ITEMS, but in reality you're like, “get me the fuck out of hereeeee (!!!)” except you can't just turn around and hightail it out because that would be embarrassing and you have to save face. So you stand there perusing everything you have no intention of buying, and guess what?!?!

That's exactly what your clients are doing to you when you get on the phone with them and then they hear this shocking rate they weren't expecting. They pretend like it was totally expected—and then they hightail it outta there and never come back. (Hence all the calls you do that you thought went so well, but then you get ghosted.)

The solution to this is what I call: The $500 Gateway Drug.

This worked for me consistently for years and years and years, nearly without fail, and here's what it means:

It means that you give your clients a warm-up drug service before pitching them the full monty.

And the number that seems to work best across industries to both minimize their fear and maximize your profits is $500.

Five-hundred dollars is what the average person realistically seeking these types of services can swallow, at max, to take a chance on something. (When they're not really sure if it's going to work out and won't want to commit to X number of months at X expensive rate.)

So you do them a favor: you take the pressure to buy the ONE MILLION DOLLAR BOBBY PIN off. Instead, you create a special, strategic starter package for new clients that helps them achieve a specific goal in a specific, contained period of time.

You give them a gateway drug.

And you let them get hooked on you all by themselves—without you even having to pressure them into it.

Next thing you know, they'll be committing to your expensive packages and signing retainer agreements and agreeing to do business with you over the long-term, because now the other objections are out of the way: whether or not they'll like working with you, whether or not you'll be any good, whether or not they'll actually commit, whether or not it's “the right timing.” Remove all of those objections, every single last one of them, and then you can talk real business, and make them a real offer, without the haziness of all the mental anxiety bullshit in the way.

Three tips when you do this:

  1. Avoid making your package for “one month” because it's too easy to equate “$500” and “one month”—and in most people's minds, this will register as expensive (it goes back to how most people are paid by salary, and how we pay monthly bills.) Instead, try charging $500 for a package that gets X accomplished, Y accomplished, and Z accomplished, and give a deadline by when those things will be accomplished, at which point you will take stock of how you're doing and make a decision from there on how to move forward.
  2. Do make it known that this is a very special starter package for new clients only, priced at a special rate, so they know they're getting a deal. Human psychology loves deals. They're hard to resist, especially if they'll have to pay more later if they wait. So put a time-limit on the offer and let them know that they can jump in with you this way, via this special package, that's good through X date.
  3. End with: “How does that sound? Does that sound fair?” It's a great transition phrase that's very effective because of the word “fair.” It implies integrity and also compromise. When you ask this question to anyone, whether it's a client or a friend, nine times out of ten they're going to have a positive response. It's a disarming mechanism that can help clients get out of the defensive “they're trying to take my money” mode and put them into a mindset of collaboration and teamwork.

The $500 Gateway Drug WILL WORK.

Try it out and experiment and let me know how it goes!

Because here's the good news: after they've said yes to working with you in this capacity, the rest is alllllll gravy, baby—because they will fall in love with you, and they will love working with you, and they will trust you, and now you have a much higher chance at getting the full rate that you charge, for a very long period of time, with clients who feel like you're actually on their side…not trying to nickel and dime them outta the gate.

Sometimes, selling is less about selling, and all about helping.

And sometimes, selling is the most beautiful way you can help another human being.

…So long as you know how to get their guard down long enough for you to do your job.



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