Most practitioners are missing the most powerful thing that they can do for business success–a process to convert leads. In business speak, this is called a sales process.
You should have a consultation with every single client, whether they’ve come to you ready to get started immediately or they just want to learn more about what you offer. A consultation isn’t about convincing someone to book with you but rather diving deep and getting to know them to determine if you’re a good fit.
In this episode, I share helpful tips on how to lead your free consultation and why you shouldn’t just “wing it.” You’ll learn how to be the interviewer and lead the consultation like the practitioner that you are.
In this episode of the Business (R)Evolution Podcast:
- How to lead your free consultation
- Why you should have a consultation with every single client
- Why you need a structured process for consultations
- How to ask questions to dive deep and get to know your client
- And more!
Resources and links Joanna mentions in this episode:
Get the FREE download:
The Business Strategy Scorecard
…which of these nine ingredients do you need to get high quality
long-term clients & steady, predictable income?
Full episode transcript
[JOANNA SAPIR] (00:01):
In this episode, I’m covering what is actually the most powerful thing that you can learn how to do for your business success. Yet, so many practitioners, I’d say most practitioners are missing this. Whether you’re a solo practitioner that works with your clients one-on-one, or with groups of people, or if you’re a practitioner that has a team of practitioners under you that provide one-on-one services or group services, whether you’ve been in business for three years or 20 years, whether you see your clients online or in-person, you need to have a process, a mechanism, some way to turn your leads into paying clients.
Before you launch any marketing campaign or advertise or promote your services on Google or Instagram or Facebook, before you even develop a full website, you need to have a process, a mechanism, some way to turn your leads into paying clients and like I said, most practitioners don’t have this. In business speak we call this a sales process and building an effective and repeatable sales process in your business is easily the most powerful thing you can do for your business success and the most important part of the sales process for a wellness practitioner is the consultation. In this episode, I’m going to give you 10 tips to lead your free consultation so that you can predictably and repeatably get high-quality committed long-term clients.
Welcome to the Business Revolution Podcast, where practitioners and coaches that provide services in health, wellness, and education, come to learn the business side of things like marketing, pricing, hiring, finances, all the things you need to streamline and organize your business, create steady and predictable income, serve your clients even more deeply and reach your full potential as a business owner. If you are a skilled, experienced practitioner of your craft that has or wants to have a profitable and sustainable business doing the work you love, you’re in the right place. I’m so glad you’re here. Let’s get into this episode.
Hello, hello. If you are a regular listener or a super fan that’s listened to every single episode I want to thank you so much for being here. I love getting your messages and hearing about the impact that this podcast is having on your business. Thank you. If you’re new to the podcast and this is your first episode, welcome, it’s great to have you. If you like this episode, I want to encourage you to go back to season one. There’s 10 episodes there. In season one, I lay out some of the really foundational pieces to help you get long-term clients and create steady, predictable income in your business. So I really recommend that and of course, if you like what you hear today, subscribe or follow this podcast in your podcast player so you can get notified when new episodes are released.
Okay, let’s get into this episode. So whenever I speak with a practitioner about their business in a discovery call with me, I ask them to tell me about where their leads come from and how leads contact them. So I ask where do they come from, do they contact you by phone, text, email, by filling out a contact form on your website? Practitioners often will say, well, all of the above. So then I ask, okay, what do you do then? How they usually answer is they mumble and grumble because generally they don’t have any specific process for that. What happens is they respond to the inquiry in whatever way seems right in the moment, or just based on what that lead said in their inquiry.
For example, if a lead sent a text and said something like, “My friend told me about you, and I’d like to book a session,” then the practitioner might respond and get into a back and forth. They might offer them times for a session and then maybe they nail down a time and then they hope that person shows up for the session. The practitioner might send intake documents ahead of time and hope for the best. Or a lead might fill out the contact form on a website on the practitioner’s website. They might even share a little bit about what’s going on with them and why they’re reaching out and asking this would be you, if you can help. So you come up with some email reply and say, “Thanks for reaching out. I’d love to help you. Here’s the link to book a session.”
Or maybe you do that manually and give them sometimes you’re available or you might even ask them when they’re available to come in and you send that email back to them and you hope for the best, but you may never hear back from them. I know that happens a lot. Or maybe they call you and you’re on the phone with them and you’re still playing it by ear. You see what they’re saying, you respond with a little bit, you hope they like you, you hope they book a session. You say the things hoping they’ll book a session. Maybe sometimes they do. Maybe sometimes they say they’ll think about it and often when they say, they’ll think about it, you don’t hear back from them and you’re not sure should you follow up?
How many times do you follow up? If you follow up once and they don’t respond, do you just keep following up? Occasionally, I do talk with a practitioner that offers a consultation as part of their sales process. Usually practitioners that offer consultations are offering programs or some package and usually they’re online businesses. But when I ask how those consultations go, it’s the same thing as those other situations, often the prospective client ends up saying, okay, I’ll think about it and then ghosts the practitioner or the person doesn’t want to enroll in the package or program and says, they just want a session. Can they just try it out first?
So some practitioners have a consultation to enroll clients, which is a hundred percent what I recommend and teach, but they don’t know how to do them well, in a way that’s repeatable and predictably enrolls new clients. You might be in one of those camps, either you don’t have a consultation that prospective clients are required to come through in order to enroll with you or you do have a consultation, but they are not, your consultations are not predictably and repeatably enrolling new clients. Now, of course, I’m not here to create any shame or embarrassment around how you do your business. I’m here to help you do your business better. I want to say that those scenarios I just described are totally common. I mean, that’s what I hear all the time. There’s nothing for you to feel ashamed about and yet that way of trying to get business and trying to get real paying clients is also totally ineffective. It’s unpredictable, and it doesn’t help you build a successful business.
The great news is that you can learn a repeatable step-by-step process that effectively and predictably converts your leads into high quality long-term clients. That’s what our practitioners get to do inside the Business Revolution Academy, which if you don’t know is my six-month program for practitioners to streamline their businesses for long-term clients and steady predictable income. One part of the academy is that we build that sales system with each practitioner. We create automations for several parts of it, like how a prospective client books a consultation with you and how you pre-qualify a prospect for your services and how you nurture the prospect before a consultation.
We teach you exactly how to lead a great effective consultation. So the consultation includes establishing expectations, interviewing your prospective client, assessing their situation, naming the problems that you see, teaching the solutions for them, answering their questions, collecting payment, and enrolling them in your services and starting the onboarding process. It’s an in-depth step-by-step process that can truly transform your business and right now I’m going to share with you 10 tips for your consultation that I hope will help you so that you can start leading more effective consultations right away. Of course, if you want my help in building a streamlined step-by-step sales process in your business, I invite you to schedule a discovery call with me and we can look at your business and see if or how I can help you. That link will be in the show notes.
Okay, let’s get into the 10 tips.
Tip number one, have a consultation with every single perspective client. It doesn’t matter if it’s your best friend or your cousin or your mom. It doesn’t matter if it’s a referral from your favorite client. It doesn’t matter if they already know or they say they already know they want to work with you and they’re ready to book, ready to pay. Have a consultation with every single prospective client. To say that you don’t need a consultation because somebody’s ready to pay already what that implies is that the consultation is just a mechanism for I’m going to do air quotes here, “convincing” the prospect to say yes, to make the sale, to collect the cash. I want to be clear that the consultation is so much more than that.
A consultation is not about convincing a client or convincing a perspective client to book with you. When done right your consultation does the heavy lifting that will make your business better, your clients more successful, and it will, too, increase your income. So the real purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you know that you can help this person meet their goals, because they need exactly what you offer. That’s something you should be determining in the consultation. It helps you find out if they are actually committed to the time and energy and effort and money it will take to meet their goals. It helps you see whether they’re a person that takes personal responsibility for their health, versus are they just wanting you to fix them without them doing anything.
It’s where you figure out whether this is going to be a great fit client that you actually love working with. The consultation is also where you communicate and establish your boundaries, what you do and don’t provide in your services, how to communicate with you, when you do and don’t respond to communications, et cetera. It’s where you communicate and establish exactly what you expect your client to do every day, week, month they work with you. It’s where you communicate and establish the promises that you can make and the promises you can’t.
When you make a sale, that’s really what is called in business speak and take on a new client. It’s an agreement between the two of you and your consultation is where you make sure that you are in agreement with each other about your services. So it really doesn’t matter whether someone shows up and is ready to buy. It doesn’t matter if it’s your cousin or your friend. The consultation is never about convincing a prospect to sign up. It’s about making sure there’s a fit between their needs and your services. It’s about making a connection. It’s about setting expectations and it’s about establishing a strong and honest relationship with each other. So do a consultation every time even if somebody already knows they want to buy that’s tip number one.
Tip number two, invite people to your consultation. If everyone goes through a consultation, then that’s what you’re inviting them to and nothing else. You’re not inviting them to anything else. On your website, for example, don’t offer a bunch of classes and programs and sessions that people can sign up for. Offer a free consultation, where you can meet with an individual and recommend to them which of your services is right for them, that is if you offer multiple services. Your call-to-action on your website, on your social media platforms, even when you’re standing up at a networking event where you get to do that little spiel and share what you do, you’re call-to-action should always be an invitation to schedule a free consultation. This is how you get leads into your sales pipeline.
That invitation is the first step in this step-by-step process that you’re offering them. Remember how I keep calling it, a repeatable step-by-step process? Well, that’s it. This is the first step. Invite people to a consultation. So that’s always your call-to-action whether it’s in print online, or in-person. If a prospective client emails, you invite them to a free consultation. If a prospective client texts, you invite them to a free consultation. Understood? Whenever you’re talking about your services, that’s what you’re inviting people to. You can mention the different things that you provide, but you’re not inviting people to book that. You’re inviting them to a free consultation to talk about how you may be able to help them.
Tip number three, you are the host of the consultation, so act like a host. Imagine you invite someone to your house for dinner. What do you do? They show up, you greet them at the door with a smile, you welcome them in, you take their coat for them. You show them around, you offer them a drink, you show them where to sit and you start conversation. That’s the role of a host. Now, can you imagine inviting someone over to your house for dinner, they show up at the door, you open the door for them and the first thing you say is, what do you want me to make you for dinner or what do you want? Like you have food in the fridge, sure, but you made no plan for dinner and now you’re asking your guest to figure that out for you.
That scenario may seem farfetched, but it happens in consultations all the time when practitioners don’t host the consultation. They don’t step into leadership of the conversation and they let the prospective client lead and for some reason expect the prospective client to lead. I’ve experienced this as the prospective client, myself in many, many consultations where a practitioner has opened the conversation with me by asking me, so how can I help you? That’s actually a terrible question to start a consultation with. I don’t know how you can help me. That’s why I scheduled this consultation. That’s how I feel when I’m asked that, I don’t know. I don’t know how can you help me.
Giving up your leadership like this and putting your perspective client in the driver’s seat of the consultation is part of the freelancer mindset. I’ve talked about this before on the podcast. The freelancer mindset is when you think that your job and your role is to just give people what they want, to bend and shape yourself to give them what they want. When we don’t act like leaders of our business, or are simply not confident in our services or our role as practitioners, this is a pitfall. It’s a hole we can fall into. Where we don’t lead our clients we just think that the way to make money in our business and the way to get clients is to give people what they’re asking for. One of my mantras, if you’ve been following me you know this is don’t give people what they want, give them what they need. The thing is that our clients and prospective clients often don’t know what they need. That’s why they’re coming to us. They might think they know, but they’re coming to us to find out how do I solve this problem or reach these goals? They don’t have the expertise that you do. That’s why they’re coming to you as an expert.
It’s your job as the practitioner to assess their situation and identify what they actually need to reach their goals or solve their problems. What they actually need may be very different from what they think they want. For example, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard body workers complain about clients that want deep tissue work. I hear this one all the time and the clients ask the body worker to go deeper. The complaints that I hear from the practitioners are that the clients just don’t understand that that’s not what they really need. So that’s your job as the practitioner, to discover, to find out, to assess what your perspective client really needs and to explain that to them.
In your consultation, you are the host, you are the guide and you are the expert so you need to act like it. You need to lead the conversation. I do want to know that, I hope you realize that your perspective clients see you as an expert. You have expertise, they do not, and they are seeking your counsel. They’re seeking your help. So don’t ask them what they need, because they don’t know. Don’t ask them what they want, because what they want may not be what they need. What they think they need is rarely what they actually need because most of the time, they don’t understand what’s going on with them. They don’t understand why they haven’t been able to solve this problem on their own or reach these goals on their own. That’s why they’re coming to you. Be the practitioner you are, do your job. Assess their needs. This is your house, your business. So you need to lead the consultation. You are the host so act like a good host.
Tip number four, have a plan, have a structure for your consultation. Don’t wing it. Your consultation, it’s not a friendly chat. It’s not just a little meet and greet where you see if this person likes you and wants to move forward. You need a structure to your consultation. You need a process that you’re leading your prospective client through to determine whether you can help them and how. What happens when you don’t have a structure is the conversation goes every which way in any direction.
You may have heard me share my fairly recent experience of trying to find an executive function coach for my son. My son was formally diagnosed with ADHD in his junior year of high school. I learned that there are executive function coaches that help teens, just like my son learn exactly the organizational skills he’s missing in needs. So I was really excited about getting him this help. I was ready to invest in it and I went looking for one of these people. I went looking for the right fit for him and our family. In this case, I started with a Google search and I got this whole list of practitioners. Then I went to their websites one-by-one to check them out and I chose a few to contact. Well, it happens that all of them had on their website, a call-to-action to schedule a 15-minute consultation call, which is great. That’s what I recommend, that’s being the call-to-action. They all had that.
That’s what I did and I ended up having three of these consultation calls, but every single one of them were meandering conversations that took way more than the 15 minutes that the call was supposed to make. It’s like, why call it a 15 minute call if you actually take 30 to 45 minutes? That’s one issue. So in these calls, the first one was a practitioner that just talked and talked and talked about their services. They were essentially pitching. They didn’t get to know me first or anything about my son. I don’t even think they got his name. Instead they were just talking about what they offer and so it seems that their perspective of the call, the purpose of the call was to pitch their services so I would choose the services. That’s not what we want in our structure.
The second practitioner I talked to, it was like, we went in one direction and then another direction and it’s like, I might ask a question and then she’d go in a whole different direction. That conversation was just all over the place. Then the third one opened with the very question that I tell practitioners not to ask, it’s in the same vein as, so how can I help you? The question is, so what services are you looking for? Again, we don’t do that because we’re trying to assess their needs and make a recommendation for what they actually need, not what they’re looking for. Not one of these three practitioners pre-qualified me on price beforehand so we had these long conversations and it wasn’t until the end of each conversation that I even knew whether their services were within my budget.
That means that they spent a good chunk of their time with me when I might not even have been a legitimate prospect for them. In all three of those consultations, I asked the practitioner, so can you tell me about your process? How do you work with your clients to help them? I was really trying to understand, what does this look like. How does this work? What does this look like? Not a single one was able to lay this out for me in any organized way. They did share examples of students they’ve worked with, but they were these roundabout unorganized stories and I was looking for a clear framework for how they do the work they do. None of them had that. It just wasn’t clear to me like, how does this work?
I need to point out that these were all experts. These were highly skilled practitioners with master’s degrees in educational therapy, with lots of experience. I didn’t doubt that these people could help my son. They just didn’t have any structure to the consultation, any clear process to one, determine whether my family was a good fit for them and then two, if we were a good fit to show me how exactly they could help us.
So remember that the purpose of the consultation is to determine that you can help this person meet their goals, because they need exactly what you offer. It’s where you determine whether they’re committed to the time and energy and effort and money it will take to meet their goals. It’s where you determine whether they can and will take the personal responsibility for their outcome and the things they need to do as part of the work. Overall, you’re determining whether this will be a great fit client that you actually love working with. So you need to have a structured process that helps you accomplish these things. As I mentioned earlier, in the episode, several of the steps needed in the consultation, I’ll just list a few of them that I teach my clients. We establish expectations for the consultation. You interview your prospective client. It’s not the other way around. They’re not interviewing you. There is a portion of the consultation where they can ask you anything they want so that part you could consider them interviewing you but that comes towards the end.
In the beginning, you are interviewing them to determine what’s going on with them, whether you can help them and what their needs are, what would be your treatment plan? What would be the program that you’re laying out for them? So you’re assessing their situation. For them you are naming the problems that you see from the perspective of you, the expert practitioner. You’re not simply saying the symptoms they’ve told you about. You’re actually naming the actual problems, which is the stuff that they don’t know. So that’s very enlightening to them and then you’re laying out the solution for them. I call it teaching the solution. You’re laying out what they actually need and at that point, if they’re a good fit for you can invite them to work with you. That’s when you open it up to questions from them and you answer them. They’re asking you questions in order to determine whether they’d like to work with you or not. When they say yes, you collect payment right there in the consultation and you start the onboarding process. So all of that’s to say, you need a structure, don’t wing it, have a plan for your consultation.
Tip number six, interview and assess. Now I’ve mentioned this several times already in this episode, but this is a huge piece of your consultation. You are the interviewer. It’s not the other way around. You are here to really get the information from your perspective client, to assess what’s going on with them to establish a open trusting relationship, and to really dive deep into how whatever they’re facing right now is impacting their life. Whether it’s pains and problems they have, or goals and desires they have, what’s really underneath all that? What is this really about for them? So the way I recommend doing that is by starting with broad starter questions, I call them, that’s how you begin your interview. Then you move into more factual investigative questions, which are really you as the practitioner, really trying to understand what’s going on.
You also do deep dive what I call, peel the onion, follow-up questions. You’ll need to ask questions about their goals and desires and where they want to be that they’re not right now and you’re going to need to ask questions that help you determine their mindset and their responsibility, like how ready and willing and able are they to do whatever’s necessary to reach their goals and potentially get out of the pain that they’re in, if they’re in pain. This is much deeper than I find practitioners usually go. Just for example, when it comes to physical pain, I work with a lot of body workers and you may be with a body worker, and often you might ask your perspective clients or clients, so what’s hurting and you’re just focused on the physical pain.
I want to encourage you here, the interview process in your consultation is where you get to go a lot deeper with that. Just to be clear, this portion of the consultation, the way I teach it in the Business Revolution Academy is 20 to 30 minutes long. It is a meaty section of the consultation because you need to go deep. So for example, I happen to right now be suffering from a pinch nerve. It’s origins are in my cervical spine. So I might go to some manual therapist or body worker, somebody to help me and the usual way that practitioners do this is they find out, okay, you’ve got this pinch nerve, it’s originating C five, C six. It hurts here, it hurts here, and then that’s it. They’re like, okay, I got it. But it’s so important that you get to know me on a deeper level than simply that.
You may know that I’m an Olympic style weightlifter so this pinch nerve is actually preventing me from doing the sport I’ve done for the last decade plus. Not only that, but I just competed again for the first time in several years, less than a year ago and I found myself hooked. I was like, oh, I’m going to go back to competing. This is awesome and over the next several months after my last competition, my performance was really increasing and I was really happy with the way things were going. Then I experienced this. So this pinch nerve I’m experiencing, it’s so much more than just the physical pain. Here I am, 48-year-old woman that does this sport that I really strongly identify as, it’s a huge part of my life. It has been for many, many years. I think of myself as a strong woman.
There’s this ego involved, identity involved and for me to be experiencing this pain and not be able to do my sport is impacting me in far more ways than just physically. It is absolutely impacting me emotionally. The fact that it’s impacting me emotionally is also contributing to the pain, the physical pain, I feel. This is the information that you should be diving deep with for every prospective client, to understand who that whole person is. We are whole people, we’re not body parts or just our minds. Who’s this whole person, what’s going on with them and why does that matter? Why does this injury matter to them? Why does this problem matter to them? Why do their goals matter to them?
I want to encourage you to do an in-depth interview where you get to know the whole person. This is how you start establishing what will be a very strong relationship in serving your client more powerfully. Also, as I’ve said, all along in this episode, you need to make sure that whatever issue this person is coming with or whatever goals they have, that you absolutely can help them with those pains and problems or goals and desires. You will get people coming to you who have something going on that’s not quite your wheelhouse, and you need to be able to identify that so you can refer them elsewhere to someone who does have that wheelhouse, who does have that expertise that you don’t.
You’re looking for great fit clients. You’re not looking for anyone. You’re not here to help anyone who comes along. So your interview is a meaty, lengthy, actually portion of your consultation and it’s where you are truly assessing what’s going on with this person and their needs, making sure that you absolutely can help them. You have the journey to take them on, to reach their goals and to get to know them as a whole person so that you can serve them as a whole person. All right, so that’s tip number six. You are the interviewer, not the other way around. You interview and assess.
Tip number seven, shut up and listen. Excuse my language or my tone of voice but that is the tip is to shut up and listen, or the nicer way that I say it inside Business Revolution Academy is put a piece of invisible tape over your mouth. So particularly this is during that interview and assess portion, is that is not the time for you to be offering advice or coaching. You are there to let them speak and you’re guiding it. You’re guiding that process by asking them questions and then you put a piece of invisible tape over your mouth and let them talk. When you do that, your prospective client will talk. You need to be relaxed here and this is not like firing away with questions that have simple answers. These can be fairly big questions and you need to give them the space to respond and answer and share.
So much of the consultation is about listening. I made this a tip because I think it’s really important that a lot of people, when they hear consultation, they think that it’s going to be this big pitch. I shared a couple minutes ago about the executive function coaches and how the first one I talked to just talked and talked and talked about their services. That’s not what a consultation is. We’re not talking about a sales pitch, nothing like that. Your consultation should be all about your perspective client. It’s not about you. It’s not about your business. It’s not even about what you offer. It’s about the person in front of you and what’s going on with them, how they’re feeling, how they’re dealing with it, what they’ve tried, what they’re looking forward to, what their goals and their desires are.
Ask the questions, then be quiet so they can share those things. So particularly the tip here though, is that during the interview portion where you are interviewing them, you may find that you want to start responding to things they’ve told you. They might tell you something they tried to fix their problem, or to reach their goals that didn’t work and you may find yourself wanting to say why it didn’t or telling them what they should have done instead, or what they should do instead. But that’s not where we do it. We just want to ask the questions and give the space for them to share.
And the way you create that space is by holding a safe container, which is part of what we do in the established expectation step by asking the question, and then just being quiet. There may be silence at times and they will start talking. Give them that space. There’s no rush here. You be quiet, you don’t respond, you don’t coach in this period. In the next tip I’ll talk about what you do respond with after the interview. But during the interview, just ask your questions and then put the piece of invisible tape over your mouth and listen, provide that space. Most of the talking in your consultation should be done by them and not by you. I hope that that actually feels like a relief to you that a good consultation is not a pitch Fest. A good consultation is not you talking about yourself and how great your services are at all. A good consultation is almost all focused on your prospective client and what’s going on with them. So tip number seven, shut up and listen.
Tip number eight, teach don’t pitch. This is actually a really important part of the consultation. It’s actually a part of the consultation and it’s an important concept. The way I teach this is that after you interview and assess their situation, you share what you see is really going on for them. This is a teaching moment and we call it name the problems. Based on those problems, you lay out a solution for them. That’s basically what you think as the practitioner expert that you are, what their treatment plan is or what their journey would be to reach their goals. This is you recommending for them the path that they would need to take to address their problems and reach their goals. If you haven’t already designed programs, that’s what we’re talking about, this is you laying out the journey of the program or programs you’ve developed for your ideal clients.
If you haven’t listened to the episode called Stop Selling Sessions and Start Creating Programs, you’re going to want to do that after this, to understand what I’m talking about. So you are teaching them the journey. You’re not pitching and saying, okay, here’s my program and this is what you need. No, you are laying out for them what that journey entails, whether it’s linear and it goes first you would need to do this and second, you would need to do this and third, you would need to do this, or whether it’s totally non-linear and you bring together multiple modalities and ways that you help your clients. You’re still laying those all out.
So in my business, for example, if you come to me on a discovery call, which is my free consultation, I’m going to do an assessment of your business and I’m, then I’m going to lay out for you; here’s what I see you need to do in your business in order to reach the goals you told me about. I’m not pitching my program. I’m laying out the pathway for you. I’m showing you that. So this is super valuable, regardless of whether you join my program. And you are going to do the same thing for your clients, lay out for them what they need. If you are, let’s say a manual therapist, a body worker who does manual therapy and you teach people stretches that they should be doing and maybe you even do exercise programming in there. That’s what you’re going to lay out is all those pieces that they need.
If you are a coach or a therapist, and the journey that you know this person needs to take includes some talking, talk-type therapy, some coaching, some somatic experiencing, some meditation, that’s your expertise and you are laying that out for them. You can even be teaching them what those things are. You may have heard me say, many times don’t lead with your modality. Don’t promote your modality because people don’t know what that is. Well, now this is your opportunity to explain those modalities that you know help your ideal clients. You get to explain here’s one piece of what you will need to reach your goals and this is what that is. This is what somatic experiencing is. This is what norm is. This is what ART is. Whatever those pieces are that you bring together to help your clients reach their goals. So you’re laying out the journey for them.
Again, this is super valuable for them. In many ways this is the climax of the consultation because you are showing them how to reach their goals and you’re doing it without pitching. You’re not saying join my program and this is what you’re going to get. You’re laying it out for them and then it becomes a very smooth and obvious next step to say, and this is exactly what we do in my programs with clients. Your solution for them should match exactly what you provide in your program. If it doesn’t, then it means this person isn’t one of your bullseye clients that you’ve identified. There should be a match there that exactly what they need is how you’ve designed your programs to meet your clients’ needs. So in your consultation, teach your perspective clients what they need. Don’t pitch, but teach them after you have interviewed them and assessed what’s going on for them and know here’s the plan. Here’s the plan for you.
Tip number nine, watch the time. I mentioned earlier how I had had several consultations with practitioners that offered a 15-minute phone consultation, but those consultations actually went way over. It’s your job again, as the host to lead the consultation and you should be able to lead the consultation within the container that you set. I will let you know that my clients, students in the business revolution academy, our container is a one-hour long consultation. That may seem like a long time, but that’s, what’s needed to do all the steps that we get someone through. Then remember that in the Business Revolution Academy, practitioners are always enrolling their clients in in-depth programs.
So it sure wouldn’t make sense to do an hour-long consultation if you are still selling sessions. But if you’re enrolling people in programs, you need ample time to do all these pieces and you still need to watch the time and make sure that you are fitting within that container. You are the host, it’s your job to really watch the time and make sure you’re on track, to complete all the steps and even collect payment and start them in their onboarding if they’re moving forward. Watch the time since I gave you some of the pieces of the consultation, know that I think that your interview should be ending by about halfway through your consultation. So that’s a good time check for you and that’s where you move into these other pieces, like teaching the solution. Watch the time. It is fairly disrespectful, I would say to schedule something like a 15-minute consultation that ends up going 30 or 40 minutes. It’s also a lack of integrity. Why call it 15 minutes if that’s not what it’s going to be? Set the container and then stay within that. That’s your job to do that.
Tip number 10 and our final tip is always get closure. What I mean by this is first of all, looking back at that last tip about watching the time is you want to provide, you need to provide enough space and time in your consultation for your perspective client to make a decision about working with you or not. The “or not” is the really important part of this tip. You want to finish the call knowing whether someone is enrolling, in which case you take their payment and start, or they’re not. So you need to make it totally okay for them to say that they’re not going to move forward. What that means is that you need to be really okay with that inside yourself. This is an energy. This is you needing to detach from outcome and know that this person has to take that step forward on their own.
You can’t ever go into a consultation or be in a consultation with the feeling that you need this client or want this client, or you need to convince them to say yes. If you do all these other previous parts, you are already laying out for them what the pathway is for them, that’s very specifically and individually matched to them. At this point they need to make a decision and you need to make it okay for them to say yes, of course, or to say no. And part of getting that closure means establishing the expectations from the moment that they schedule their consultation with you, that you will be expecting them to make a decision, yes or no and that either answer is fine. It is fine for them to say, I’m not going to move forward. You need to give that space and make that really clear that it’s okay.
What happens usually is that we, as practitioners are scared of a no, that feels like rejection. So that’s something that you have to address inside yourself to not feel rejected, to not see this as rejection. It needs to be about empowering them to decide for themselves. It’s not about you. The other piece here is that many people, perhaps most people are uncomfortable saying no to someone else. So again, that’s why you need to create the space and the permission for them to say no. What people will do in order to avoid saying no, because they feel bad about it in some way is they’ll say, okay, let me think about it.
Unfortunately, let me think about it usually doesn’t really mean that they’re going to go think about it. Usually, it means one of two things. One is that they don’t want to move forward and don’t have the confidence or empowerment to be able to simply say that to you, which is why you want to create this space and make it okay for them to say that to you. Or they say, let me think about it because they don’t actually want to think about it right now. They don’t want to deal with their decision. They don’t want to deal with this decision for them. That’s all about them. They may be lacking confidence that they can really do this. So your job here is to provide whatever support and permission and sense of empowerment to them so that they can make a decision, yes or no. And either answer is okay.
Now, occasionally very occasionally somebody really does have a process that they want to use in order to make sure this is the right decision for them. If your consultation has been set up where there’s a lot of openness and honesty and trust, if you ask them, they will likely share that they have a specific decision-making process. If they don’t have a specific decision-making process, then it’s one of those other two things that they just don’t want to say no to you, or they don’t want to think about it. They just don’t want to make that decision. It’s scary to take that step forward. So if they happen to be somebody who has a clear process for their decision-making and they tell you about that, then that’s when you can schedule a follow up time and you can just say, great, how long do you need for that process and when are you going to get back to me?
The tip here is about always get closure. You do not want to ever leave a consultation where there’s potential for the all too common ghosting. You can totally eliminate that scenario where people don’t leave you hanging. That is by making it okay to say no, as well as yes and supporting them, coaching them, empowering them to be able to make a decision either way. All right. So those are my 10 tips for your free consultations.
A little recap, tip number one, have a consultation with every single perspective client. Tip number two, invite people to your consultation. That’s how you get them in your sales pipeline. That’s your main and only call to action. Tip number three, you are the host of the consultation, so act like a host. You’re the one who leads it. Tip number four, have a plan, have a structure for your consultation. Don’t wing it. This isn’t a friendly chat. It needs to have a structure. Tip number five, interview and assess. Interview your prospective client and get deep and assess their situation so that you can teach them a solution later on. Tip number six is shut up and listen or the nicer way is put a piece of invisible tape over your mouth and listen. The consultation should be about them not about you talking. Tip number eight is teach, don’t pitch, teach them the path for them to reach their goals. Tip number nine, watch the time and tip number 10, always get closure.
Having a repeatable predictable sales process to enroll clients is the most powerful thing for your business success. You need to have some kind of process, a mechanism to turn your leads into paying clients. In business speak we call this a sales process and the most important part of the sales process for a wellness practitioner like you is the consultation. There are other parts to the sales process. In my predictable sales system, the consultation is stage four of a five-stage sales process and I do have a free guide for you that lays out that whole system. So you can see what a great predictable sales system looks like in a wellness practice. The guide is called how to turn leads into high-quality long-term clients and I will drop that link in the show notes. Of course, if you would like to work with me to design and build a predictable sales system in your business, I invite you to schedule a discovery call with me and see how I can help. Bye now.
Hey, if you enjoy listening to this podcast and you want to apply what you’re learning here in your business, did you know that you can meet directly with me and ask me questions and get my help when you come to the Practitioner’s Business Round Table? The Practitioner’s Business Round Table is a free gathering for innovative practitioners that I host each month. We meet live via Zoom and when you sign up for a spot, you have the chance to submit your questions beforehand, to get them answered by me at the round table discussion. You can grab a seat for the next Practitioner’s Business Round Table by going to joannasapir.com/roundtable. Let’s go deeper. Come learn more about how to build a fulfilling and profitable practice with long-term clients and stable income. I hope to see your face there.