You must be genuinely coming from assisting them in creating the life they want. You must not appear attached--and hopefully you do the intra-personal work to actually BE unattached. Otherwise you will seem desperate. And in romance, politics, and in business, desperation is not an aphrodisiac.
Whatever the truth of your situation and concerns, you must act as if you do not need them to sign anything. The best way to do that is to put your concerns out of your head, and focus on theirs and theirs alone for at least the time you are together. They are not paying your bills.
You are in service of them. Continue to help people attain what they envision for themselves, and you will eventually have everything you could want--including spiritual fulfillment
The organizing principle and the effective method is simple: you are not trading time for money--you are not really selling a service. What you are selling the prospective client on is their vision for how their life could and will be. If they achieved their stated desired goals working with you, what would that be worth? It is probably priceless. It is certainly worth more than your fees. And that is why I refuse to discuss my rates for services before we meet. If I tell them a number--whether it is $30 or $300 dollars it means nothing. I do not know what they want in full yet--and neither do they until they meet and I ask extensive question--they do not really know what I do as I have not explained it yet. And last I heard there was no "going rate" for an Evolutionary Guide except the one I am currently charging. They certainly have not considered what that would make possible and what it is worth. I have yet to meet someone after nearly 200 clients that has considered it before I inquire specifically.
Not only do the numbers mean nothing at early stages of the process--worse, they are comparing it, in their mind, to commodities they could buy with that amount of money. Are they "worth" the same? Of course not. You can not get more love in your life and connectedness and intimacy by paying a car lease, or buying groceries, or a new suit. You can not improve your embodiment of your spirituality by buying a second house.
Yet that is what we encourage them to do by telling them a number up front.
The outcome is inevitable. They start to price shop.
If you truly want to be of service to them in improving their lives, it is irresponsible of you to discuss money or rates before you meet, AND at the appropriate place during that meeting; near the end of that exploratory session. After they have met you, after you have inquired about their desires and outcomes in full. After you have then explained what your approach is--and how it can assist them in getting what they want. You are not selling there--you are just demonstrating competence and establishing unimpeachable credibility. And finally, after you have addressed any questions they have about the process or your offering, but before they see the agreement and your rates.
It is this approach that has me with a consistently full business of one-on-one clients [over 20 a week] and a 98% success rate of converting prospects to clients.
With the one-one-one clients it is my general policy to only renew them under special circumstances. I am not just renewing them. That means I go through this process at least 3 or 4 times a month with a virtual stranger. It works. And I want you to be able to have that kind of confidence in your results--and to turn your practice into a business so that you can live a financially prosperous life as a result of your spiritual principles and living a purpose filled life. Rather than in spite of or in conflict with your spiritual life.
In nearly 5 years of being in this business full time, I have never once had this backfire on me--no one has ever declined to meet me for an exploratory as a result of this policy. I have twice had people in which were not financially qualified, but they were not financially qualified for anyone. And that is the risk I am willing to take for the benefits of this approach.
So HOW do you use this organizing principle?
- Have a firm and unshakable resolve to not discuss your rates. Put it in your FAQ and declare it to the world on your web site. Then, keep your word about it
- Discuss rates only at the appropriate time--after they say what it would make possible in their life, and right before they are handed the agreement
- Use these formulations to ask that question:
- "If you had XYZ, what would that possible in your life?
- "Once we achieve all of that together in this program, what would that open up for you in
- Your relationships
- Your emotional life
- Your professional life?
Get three or 4 out. Unless they go to something universal and spiritual that brings tears to their eyes--in which case, stop right there, it will not get any better than that. Also--be transparent. I usually add, "and that is the context you hold, and the value you are weighing this agreement against".
The more you hear the mind-blowing answers people give, the less you are fearful about raising your rates for new clients--and finally getting paid what you are worth; getting paid more in alignment with the differences you are making in their lives.
Of course, this is one small component of the larger structures you will need to have in place to become more effective at new client acquisition, but it is an important one. I look forward to sharing more with you and being your Guide as you turn your practice into a business in the 21st Century Marketplace.
Mistake: Having only 1 stream of prospectsMost coaches and solo-preneurs rely on word of mouth. Word of mouth is critical. In the 21st Century marketplace there are hyper-empowered and talkative people. This is good for you. However, it is not enough. Make a decision now to take control--to be the locus of responsibility--for the success of your business. While word of mouth is critical, it is only one of at least three prospect streams the successful solo-preneur must establish for themselves. What are those three? Solution:
- Formalized referral systems [two of them]
- Speaking engagements and free evening talks
- Word of mouth
- An affiliate program with a percentage or fee for referrals
- Write a referral clause into your client contract--requiring two if the client is happy with your services. While you do not want to be heavy handed about this, it does set their intention and focus their awareness on a more formal approach to referrals
- Make it explicit in your marketing AND in your introductory remarks that you are there for two reasons:
- to provide value to their lives--first and foremost
- to expose people to and offer an introduction to your services
- Consider this a great backup and occasional unexpected icing on the cake when those unintentional or random referrals occur. And occur they will.
Mistake: Failure to leverage contact points and the opportunity they holdSolution: many
- Consider any contact point you have with a prospect [be it an initial session, an email, or a phone call] an opportunity for you to leverage them beyond their current limitations emotionally or mentally--an opportunity for your to expand their world. An opportunity for you to be of service.
- Do not give "free initial coaching sessions"
- Many coaches and many prospects think it is beneficial to give away services or to experience the practitioner directly. I have never found this to be effective in a prosperous business. If you want to turn your practice into a business then offer a complimentary exploratory session--and consider it an information gathering session for you and a sales presentation for the prospect. Let them get a sense of you, but do not give them free coaching. You are not part of a buffet. You want them to commit to a more fulfilling experience. A full 3 course meal. Be sure to show them the menu and explain the dishes and presentation--be sure to demonstrate your competence, but be careful you are making sure your contact point is leveraged to its full potential--for their sake in finally having a better life--and for yours in creating a sustainable and prosperous business.
- Have them make a decision one way or the other in that exploratory session. If you let them "think about it" then they will get less and less clear on what you presented, and therefore less and less clear on what it will make possible in their lives and their fear and limitations kick in. The very habit patters of the mind that they are coming to you to resolve take over. It is your duty to guide them to a choice in that session. Yes and no are both fine answers--but require an answer. I will often ask a prospect who wants to "think about it" if that is the thing that stops them elsewhere in their lives. That is usually all I have to say in those situations for them to sign the agreement in front of them.
- Be respectful with their experience--set context--and make sure when you chat with them on the phone for the purpose of setting up the exploratory session that they are aware of the process--that they know you will clarify what they want, then explain your approach, and then if it is a fit--have them review a contract. Those contact points are critical for your guidance of the client to changing their lives.
- When a client sends you an email raving about your contribution--or when they acknowledge you verbally communicating the difference you have made for them--ask them if you can quote them. Turn that acknowledgment into a testimonial for your marketing materials.
Mistake: Considering Your Service a CommodityThere is a reason I do not publish my rates. My services are not a commodity on the shelf to be price-shopped. And no one else does what I do, really. And consider that you offer something unique that no one else does. In discovering that you will not only feel better about your "fees", but you will also have take the first step in being able to communicate the value of your services to your clients and prospects in such a way that your fees seems insignificant and nearly irrelevant when measured against the value your service will bring to their lives. And really--just between you and me--do you really feel that a number, no matter how reasonable or how unreasonable it may seem communicates the scope and richness of the difference your service can provide in their lives? Unless you have nothing unique to offer--you do your prospects a disservice by buying into their mindset that they can price shop. I have never lost an opportunity or had a client not want to work with me as a result of this approach. In fact, it is one of the secrets of my success--selling from vision and value and having the money be a formality--but an afterthought.
Mistake #7: Did I say 6?
I guess there is at least one more: "Healing" that which you need to resolve in your self and in your own life by healing othersI am going to say something harsh here and say that I consider it unethical--yes, "unethical" for coaches, therapist, or "healers" to work on the same issues with clients that they have not resolved within themselves. While you may still be able to provide solutions--at least be honest with your client that you have not handled it in your own life. And make a choice now to only provide services that you feel competent, resolved with, and apply to your self in your own life. If you are a relationship coach--have a great relationship. If you are a coach around self-esteem, have a well developed ego [in the positive and healthy sense]. If you are an addict who is still smoking, drinking, or doing drugs, do not counsel others on that. Do not look to heal your wounds through the wounds of others. There is a danger of projection, and even more so--how can you charge someone to solve something you have been unable to demonstrate as being solved in your own life? I hope this article helps you in your desire for sustainable prosperity. Read, listen, learn, and thrive.
It is amazing how many coaches, solopreneurs, massage therapists, lawyers, etc. are competent at what they do--yet suffer financially. They are doing good, but they are not doing well--that is, they are struggling financially, mentally, and emotionally.
There are reasons for this. I have identified the top 6 reasons--and their solutions-that I have found in my experience in my own business as well as observing those who still have a "practice".
The first 3 are presented to you below. The next three will be in Part 2 in a couple of weeks.
A Lack of Integral Thinking: "Money and Spirituality are in Conflict"
For some, "capitalism" is a bad word. Which makes sense. "Capitalism" was a phrase coined by the biggest enemy of the free market and free enterprise to ever live--Karl Marx. Yet, we keep that inaccurate and pejorative moniker. We were taught for thousands of years that to profit was bad--and then this meme was punctuated by the evils of capitalism laid out by a failed mathematician who had no foresight into the services industry--never mind respect for private property and Natural Law and was therefore essentially a thief on a grand scale. Even though with the rise of capitalism in the mid-1800s, our standard of living has more than trebled, never mind that our life expectancy has doubled in a short time as a result...it...is...bad.
While there was a a time when one could only profit by exploitation and manipulation or by inheritance or plunder, this has not been accurate for nearly 300 years.
Maybe we should consider throwing off the chains of thinking birthed centuries before the Enlightenment and even before the founding of this Country and came to a head--and have been proven to be inaccurate, ineffective, and fundamentally broken in the last Century.
The truth is, it is not only possible to come from service and contribution in a "for profit" environment--that is to live a purpose-filled life--but also to profit well from it and to live prosperously. It takes some personal work--being mindful of your thinking, cleaning out your unconscious imprints of guilt and shame, and to constantly be of service while having sufficient esteem for your self to recognize the value you are bringing to another's life and to have them provide that value monetarily in exchange. It takes a lack of attachment to "closing that deal" and being more focused on service and "opening relationships"--and much more.
Actually, I have found what can be provided to our clients lives is priceless to them. Fees are insignificant when weighed against what the work we do in their lives will make possible. It is not a commodity. It is a gateway to greater freedom and happiness. We can live a spiritually oriented life--and integrate free-market, service-based principles into that.
By doing so, we integrate our spiritual and our financial life. This frees us from guilt, shame, and allows us to flourish spiritually while prospering financially.
Lack of Skill: Sales and Marketing
We have all had negative experience with sales people. Not sales professionals, but sales people--that is, people who want to "close a deal" rather than open a relationship. And most sales trainers teach techniques with little regard for a philosophical base or grounding. I do not support that.
I used to think sales was a dirty word. That was until I realized that until I could influence people to take action in their lives--leverage them beyond their limitations--I could never really do much good in the world. You can only be a positive agent for change if you can inspire others to move beyond their current thinking--the thinking that has them in their current life situation and has stopped them from being fully free and thriving.
Therefore--if you truly want to do good in the world, it becomes your duty--yes, your duty--to assist others in overcoming their limitations. That means learning to sell and market your services in a compelling way that comes from service and contribution while combining that with powerful tool of influence.
You must gain those skills if you want to make a difference and be prosperous.
While it may be hard to swallow at first [took me years to accept] you must be a sales person first--that is you must be able to enroll others in a vision--to live your purpose and prosper.
Error in Structure: Service, Sustainability, and Packages
One you are coming from service and contribution, you begin to consider what would best serve the client. Most practitioners have session-by-session practices or monthly packages, but they do not have comprehensive packages that have stages and phases in them. How many people out there have dabbled here and dabbled there and never really bucked down and did the deep work to reveal greater depths within themselves? I have found most clients approach their personal development this way. "Well, I have tried this and I have tried that...", [but I never really got what I needed that was deeper].
The best thing you can do as a coach or a practitioner is to find a way to create a compelling 3-stage or 3-phase offering that allows the client to reveal greater and greater depths or to attain greater and greater heights. For a massage therapist, this may mean something like:
- Tool Gathering/Education
Practical Steps to Emotional FreedomYour practice, if you want to develop choice, facility, and ultimately, personal freedom and mastery over your own subjective experience, is the following: Make a decision right now to take 100% responsibility for your subjective experience. Every bit of it. Your interpretations, your feelings, your emotions, your beliefs—accept that 100% of your subjective experience is generated by…you. This will give you power and access to choice and freedom. It is also a spiritual and emotional truth with over 2600 years of testing, verification, and validation. There are certainly things you will have to give up, self-righteousness and blame being to two big ones, but you have to decide if you want to be right, or be happy. If you want to be happy and free from the emotional matrix of self-generated misery...make the decision now. Having made that decision, then:
- Notice when you are agitated
- Notice how you are characterizing the events [is it descriptive, scientific, or is it a judgment or characterization?]
- Ask yourself what other possible interpretations there are [generate at least three alternative interpretations, making at least one fun] this will build in interpretive flexibility and assist you in taking on multiple perspectives--a critical faculty to build for your personal evolution
- Ask yourself what you know—scientifically, descriptively—and what you are making up or imagining—and separate the two
- Verify your interpretations directly with the party involved
- I am _________.
- People are _________.
- The world is _________.
- I will never _________.
- They always _________.
- Men [are] _________.
- Women [are] _________.
- Finish the sentence in writing as many times as possible within 90 or 120 second—that is, 1.5 or 2 minutes.
- No less than 10 completions, no more than 20 is a useful range
- All answers are acceptable; no filtering, no reframing, no changing of any answers
- Let it flow—that is try to complete the exercise as much as possible without thinking about the answers.
- If they start to get “strange” or unexpected, you are on the right track.
- If they are all happy and shiny, redo the exercise focusing on the shadow side