Last week on one of our practice calls for the Heart-to-Heart program, a hands-on practitioner voiced a concern that’s pretty common among the folks I work with.
First let me explain that these somatic practitioners are learning to offer a paid consultation instead of whatever they normally do in their first session with a new client–that isn’t working as well as they would like.
This is a completely new concept to most practitioners, so they often don’t see at all how they can possibly succeed when their experience seems to be completely the opposite, and so they say things like:
“I don’t understand how to convince a client to work with me in a consultation, when it often takes 3 or 4 sessions for them to really see the value of what I do.”
If this describes your practice, you’ve got a problem
It’s not reasonable to expect clients to pay you for 3 sessions without understanding what they’re getting from them — in order to arrive at the magical 4th session, where the light bulb suddenly starts glowing.
I’m not saying you won’t find a few people who will stick around that long because they’re interested in what you do. However…research shows —
The vast majority of clients don’t pay you because they’re in interested in what you do.
They pay you because they want what you can do for THEM.
Understanding the difference is crucial
It has to do with every aspect of getting clients–
- Establishing yourself as an expert,
- Becoming the local go-to person for the problem you solve,
- Being acknowledged as a person worth the fee you charge,
- Getting referrals of people who arrive committed to working with you,
- Getting out of your own way so clients can convince themselves they need you, and
- Hearing “YES! I want to get started now!” instead of “Um, okay, I have to think about it. I’ll call you. Sometime. Maybe.”
If you’re serious about wanting more clients, and you don’t know how to communicate the value of what you do in the first session, you need to make learning that the highest priority you have.
Why? It’s really simple….
Not having enough clients impacts every aspect of your life and practice
To decide whether that’s true–or I’m just saying it because I teach practitioners to do it–ask yourself what decisions you make that are related to how many clients you have. For example, decisions about:
- eating out…
- taking a vacation…
- thinking ahead to retirement…
- whether to buy conventional produce or organic…
- whether or not to feed the birds in your backyard, get a pet, pamper yourself…
- how often you get a haircut or buy a new pair of shoes…
- whether or not you can attend a conference, and if you do, whether you get there by bus or plane and then stay at the hotel or couch surf with somebody you barely know.
It also impacts your clients
- You need to practice on a lot of people in order to fully develop your skill. If you can’t do that, the clients you have get less than they would if you could practice more.
- When you take an advanced training you don’t get the full value–because you already know that most of the skill you’re going to develop will come from what you do at home, when you use what you learned with the people in your practice.
- You might start thinking you need another certification–for most practitioners, that’s the quickest way to having multiple ways of not earning a living if you still don’t know how to get clients.
- When push comes to shove, it may mean that you aren’t available to the people who need you because you can’t afford to live on the money you make, so it’s time to get a job.
- It can even change how you feel about your work.
The quick-start guide to communicating your value
This is how you can make sure you convey the value of working with you the first time–and every time–you see every client:
1. Find out what your client wants. I mean–what she really, really wants. The thing she hardly even talks about, rarely acknowledged even to herself. Moshe Feldenkrais called this “the unavowed dream” and usually it’s not the first thing a person will tell you, so you might have to ask more than once.
2. Find out how it would be for her to have it. Many people may not have a quick answer, because they don’t think about what they figure they can’t have. But when you ask, you’ll find that there’s a deep well of desire in most of the people you’re here to help, and that’s what fuels their commitment to work with you.
3. Empower her. Show her that she’s got the power to get what she wants: Make her aware of one habit she didn’t know about. Show her how it affects her difficulty. Help her change it, then show her she can do it by herself. Then show her again. Make her realize she can do it whenever she wants. Then make sure she GETS it that she’s got the power to get what she wants.
4. Make it clear that you’re indispensable to the process of her transformation. After all, if not for you, how would she have changed that habit that’s affecting her all the time? Yes, she’s got the power now, because you showed her where to look, how to feel something and what to do with it. Can she do that on her own, with every habit that’s interfering with her life? Doubtful. If you want to help her, you have to make sure she understands this part!
Master these steps, and you’ll be on your way to a full practice in which every session leaves your client understanding the value you bring to her life!
Thanks to Loren Kerns for the use of his photo, via Flickr Creative Commons
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