The Goal of the 1st Call is Not What You Think…


It’s true…

I just shared this concept with one of my coaching clients — it’s one of the **HUGE-EST** (is that a word?) concepts in sales of services that I have recognized regarding how practitioners go about acquiring new clients either over the phone or when they walk in to your office… take a look… and after you’ve read this post, please leave your comment below.

Deceivingly Simple & Quotable:

“The goal of an initial phone call with a new (prospective) client is not to book an appointment… instead, it’s to see if you are a good match for each other.”

What do I mean? 
It means that most small business owners do it wrong.

Most practitioners think the goal of the first call or conversation is to turn the prospect into a client. It may be what you end up doing after you’ve pre-qualified them, but booking an appointment actually comes AFTER getting to know them.

Most practitioners don’t have enough clients, so they are desperate for the business. They see a new client like a fish on a hook and don’t want to let them get away. So instead of taking their time and really getting to know what the (hopefully) new client needs and wants, they rush through a few questions and then jump straight to asking for the appointment.

When practitioners push hard to close the appointment before knowing if they can help the client, two things happen:
#1- If the client agrees to make the appointment, the business owner still has no idea if the client is even a good candidate for their work because they haven’t taken the time to have a comprehensive conversation about what the client needs, and what their goal is from receiving the work. (Worst-case scenario is the clients comes in, receives your work, and is disappointed because your service was not what they were looking for, or you were not the appropriate service provider.)

#2- The client gets turned off before even making the appointment, by what they perceive to be a ‘pushy sales person’. So the very outcome the practitioner feared happens anyway, because the client walks away.

Neither scenario turns out well.

What To Do?
When you have a new prospect call you or walk in to inquire about booking an appointment, please do not be that pushy practitioner!

If you are anxious for business, remember, it is paramount that you take your time in the beginning to get to know the prospect first.

Ask the appropriate initial questions to pre-screen your peeps and see if they have something you truly can help them with.

There is a 10-step sales process I teach to my high-end coaching clients, that we can cover in another post, but the main thing to remember is you need to be selective of who you offer your services to for both of your sakes.

Only offer a new client the opportunity to make an appointment with you, after you have determined these 3 things:
#1) What is their short-term goal from receiving your work?

#2) What is their long-term goal regarding working with you? (This juicy tid-bit of info will also help you because you will then know if they are thinking of getting on a program with you or interested in just a single session!)

#3) What else have they tried to accomplish their goal?

Once you know their answers (and this can all be asked in a few minutes) only offer your services to the people you truly feel you can help.

After speaking to a prospective client for a few minutes, you will find some people will not a good match for you. It will be very clear, either from their condition, their personality, their history, or for so many other reasons, and in those cases, it is perfectly acceptable to refer them out to a colleague if you have someone who would be perfect for them.

Online Booking?
Now, I know I’m going to hear from many of you who use online booking services, and this is just one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of clients being able to book themselves.

If you use a booking service, please do yourself and your client a favor and call new peeps to confirm they are a match for you, before their first visit.
(They will thank you, and you will see happier clients!)

So, I’ll say it once again, “The goal of an initial phone call with a new (prospective) client is not to book an appointment… instead, it’s to see if you are a good match for each other.”

So now it’s your turn, I want to hear if you agree or not. And, if you do agree what questions have you found to be helpful to ask when pre-screening prospects?
Please share below to inspire others!

About the Author Irene Diamond

Business mentor, Educator and Inspirer to Clinic Owners & Solo Practitioners. Love to hear from you ~ Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • Sandra Johnson says:

    Wow, You said it all.
    This is great info and I will put it to use. Very awesome Thank You Irene and I will be in touch.

    I have my own business (opened since January 2014) and I had been thinking about what you wrote about. this came at the right time. I have claimed a loss for 2 yrs and my CPA asked me why was I doing this business? Didn’t make much I put it all into turning the place into a business, so I need to stop and not have a loss this year.

    I am looking to work part time 2 full weekdays and Saturdays and when I’m not watching grandbaby yes it’s going to work for me.

    Thank You soooo much Irene it was good hearing from you. Take Care and keep up good work you are a blessing to me and many others.

  • Lucy Tomasko says:

    Thank you for reminding me that I am not for everyone. Also, thanks for the three important conversational questions will help me henceforth. I have met these occasions from both sides of the questions and am happiest when I have truly helped someone.

    • Good point, Lucy.
      You’re correct, in every service we receive, when we are the client, we want to be sure the provider knows our goals and wants before they schedule us…. why waste money and everyone’s time meeting with someone who can’t help us?

  • Irene,
    Thanks again for the solid advise. What a great reminder that not everyone is a good fit and how vital it is to know what you can do for clients.
    I am wondering if you could address how to deal with an out of town client who won’t stop talking about how great their practitioner is and never compliments the work they get on vacation.

    • Jody,
      It’s pretty simple, actually. You don’t want to fish for a compliment, nor criticize their appreciation for their home therapist.

      Just say something like, “It’s terrific you have such a great practitioner at home! I’m glad I can provide my services to you while you’re here.”

      And, just as an aside, even though they don’t say it to your face, they probably like your work, that’s why they keep coming to see you when they’re in town. And maybe when they go home they even say the same about you! 🙂

  • André Cross says:

    This, confirms and reiterates what I often tell individuals who, when I share with them what I do for a living and is my calling. “I am not for everyone.” I don’t say this egotistically, however, I do say it with confidence.

    • Andre,
      There is a concept called the “Velvet Rope Approach” (I didn’t coin it) that basically is like at a trendy club, where the bouncer lets just a few ‘cool people’ through the long line, and lifts the rope to let them in…

      In our case, pre-screening is not egotistical, it is truly smart bizniss!

      (I actually think it is MORE egotistical to believe we can help everyone, without recognizing our limitations.)

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