For the first 18 months or so in my coaching business, I never built “sales” calls into my on-boarding process.
Whether you call them sales calls, or discovery sessions, or consult calls, they can usually be a big part of a service-based creatives process when it comes to attracting, booking, and on-boarding clients.
For a long time, I was very nervous and uncomfortable to host them. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to attract and book clients and be consistently booked out without them - my content has played the part of letting potential clients get to know me and feel comfortable enough to hire me as their coach - but during 2016 I’ve started to offer them a few times throughout the year and it’s thankfully been a way less scary experience than I expected.
It may sound strange that I was so nervous about hosting sales call, when jumping on calls with my clients is what I spend every single week doing anyway. But I had this big mindset block around the “selling” side of my business - I felt really uncomfortable jumping on a call with someone with the intent of selling to them, and also that fear that I would start to feel like I needed to hustle for my self worth as a coach.
I love the work I do as a coach - and I truly believe in the work I do too - but selling has always been the area I’ve battled with. I’m sure many of you can relate to this - I just never, ever, want to feel like a sleazy used car salesman.
So even though I never felt like I needed to introduce sales or consult calls into my on-boarding process, I couldn’t deny their value either, especially after seeing how beneficial they are for my clients who are coaches who host them on a regular basis.
Sales calls can give you space to really connect with a potential client, to truly understand their needs, to answer their questions about your services, and give them space to see if you’re a good fit together too. Especially if you have more premium pricing too, it’s a great way to give potential clients an opportunity to make an informed and comfortable purchasing decision, which for me as a coach is one of the most important things. I only want to work with clients who feel comfortable and excited about their investment in our work together.
When you first start to picture sales calls, you may visualise a scenario where you have to pitch, sell, and aggressively market your services in a way that feels icky, salesy, and uncomfortable. That’s what I feared too, and why for a long time I never did them. But I’ve found that there can be another way, and I want to share my own approach with you today in the hopes of encouraging you to develop you own non-icky and soul centered approach if sales calls can serve your business model right now:
I give up control over the outcome
I usually have a conversation with myself before I jump on a sales call and it goes something like this:
“Don’t hold too tightly to the outcome of this call. This is an opportunity to connect with another human, to hear their story, to encourage them along the way, to answer their questions, and to give them space to make a thoughtful decision as to whether or not working with you is right for them right now. Their decision is not a reflection on you - it’s just whatever the truth of their needs and desires are right now"
This helps me so much in being present in the call, in showing up with a whole heart and authentically being of service to this person just by holding a calm and pressure-free space for them. I never ask for a decision on the call, even if the client sounds like they’re ready to book right there and then on the spot. I let them know that it’s been a pleasure to meet them, that I’d love to support them in their journey (if I truly believe that we are a good fit) and then invite them to take some time to think about it and let them know that I will email them a booking link if they do wish to proceed.
Once I jump off the call, I encourage myself to feel gratitude for that opportunity to connect with them, and to then just get on with my day. I try and not obsess over whether or not they will decide to work together - I try and trust that whatever is the right decision for them is the one they will make, and that the most important thing is that I’ve hopefully had a small but positive impact on their day through our call.
I see them as an opportunity to “sow seeds” & connect with an awesome human
Following on from my first point, my overall mindset when it comes to consult calls is to see them as an opportunity to connect with an awesome human and sow seeds, instead of an opportunity to make a hard sell. Sowing seeds has been, in my opinion, my secret weapon in building a coaching business so far that is consistently booked out - and I’m so grateful for this post from Braid Creative who inspired this mindset before I even started my coaching business.
I truly believe that every interaction through my brand is an opportunity to sow seeds that will have two effects:
- That will help me to be of service, support and encourage others, and show up fully as myself
- To support me to continue to build an effective, meaningful, and profitable coaching business
For example, say I have a great connection with someone on a consult call but working together isn’t a good fit for them right now due to finances or other reasons, they may tell a creative friend about me who does end up hiring me, or they may get back in touch a year later once they’re ready to work together. I really believe that every authentic connection we have with someone through our brand will come back to us in a positive way - it’s ultimately about seeing your bigger picture instead of obsessing over a quick win in the current moment.
I prioritise discovery and connection over selling
I usually host consult calls for 30 minutes, as I’ve found this is enough time to get to know each other and explore any questions the potential client might have, without having too much time where we could fall into the “coaching-for-free” trap. We spend those 30 minutes getting to know each other, finding out more about their story, their business, and journey so far. I love to hear about their current goals, their vision for their creative work and life, and ultimately what’s brought them to this call and what they’re looking for in a coach right now.
I’ve found that by prioritising discovery and connection first and foremost, we’re able to really dive deep into the topics that matter most, and the potential client feels heard, respected, and valued. They have a taster of what it would be like to work together as they’re able to see if we connect and communicate well, and they also have an opportunity to ask any questions that are on their mind too. I’ve found that by prioritising this, “selling” doesn’t even really come into the call. Out of all the consult calls I’ve done this year, over half have decided to take the leap and work together and I truly believe that they’ve been so effective because I’ve prioritised connection over selling each and every time.
I have a process that feels good for me and the potential client
The most important thing to me when hosting consult calls is that the client feels good in the process - and that I feel good hosting it too. My process is super simple and fuss free and looks a little like this:
- I open up space for consult calls via my email community and client books a spot OR a client enquiries about working together and asks for a consult call to see if we’re a good fit
- I send them a short Q&A (via Typeform) to find out a little more about them, their creative work and life, and what questions they’d like to explore in our 30 minute call
- We jump on the call and spend 30 minutes getting to know them and answering their questions about my coaching services
- I follow up with an email with a link to book if they’d like to work together and wishing them all the best in their journey moving forward
It’s simple, there’s no sleazy used-care-salesman tactics to be found, and it always ends with one of two outcomes:
- The client decides to book and we have an awesome time working together
- The client decides working together isn’t a good fit for them right now but they feel good about the process and enjoyed this opportunity to connect and in the future may decide to work together or recommend me to a friend or client of their own
If you’d like to cultivate your own non-icky and soul-centered approach to sales call, here are some questions for you:
- Have you been offering sales calls so far? If so, what’s feeling good about them? What isn’t?
- If you haven’t offered them so far, do you think they could be valuable for your business? If so, how would you like to build them into your on-boarding process?
- What kind of environment would you like to cultivate in your sales calls? How can you make this a reality?
- What would approaching your sales call process with a mindset of “sowing seeds” look like for you?
If you’re struggling to find a way to add sales or consult calls into your big-hearted business in a way that feels good, I hope this post can be a jumping off point to help you discover and develop the best approach for you along the way. And if you’d like to jump a consult call the next time I open up availability? Sign up to my Weekly Letters at the end of this post as that’s where I announce them!
I’m rooting for you!
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