Let’s call the client Sandy. She was first referred to me by an instructor in the professional training program she was taking. (Hint #1: Develop referral partnerships with people who serve your clients.) Sandy called me in March to inquire about becoming a coaching client. (Hint #2: Referred clients are more ready to buy.)
I asked Sandy about her situation and what she needed, then told her how coaching would help. (Hint #3: Listen more than you talk.) We discussed the cost. (Hint #4: Communicate benefits before quoting prices.) Sandy thought she would be ready to get started in June, so I asked to follow up with her then. (Hint #5: Get permission to follow up.)
I sent Sandy a copy of my print newsletter with a note summarizing our conversation. (Hint #6: Maximize every contact by following up.) I called her at the beginning of June to see if she was ready to become a client. (Hint #7: Follow up when you say you will.)
Sandy returned my call with a voice mail message. It was the wrong time to get started with coaching; maybe six months from now would be better. But could she order a copy of my book? (Hint #8: Capture your wisdom in a way clients can sample it before hiring you.) I mailed Sandy the book with a personal note and sent her an email, suggesting we talk again in six months. (Hint #6 again.)
If I thought I could reach Sandy by phone, I would have called, but she was a busy professional who sent every call to voice mail. (Hint #9: Use any available medium to follow up.) Three months later, I sent Sandy an email, asking if I could subscribe her to my email newsletter. She responded by email saying yes. Three months after that, I called her again. (Hint #10: Find a way to follow up at least once per quarter.)
Sandy replied by voice mail that things had changed for her, and she was no longer interested in coaching. She thanked me for keeping in touch. (Hint #11: Consistent follow up makes you appear professional.) I left a voice mail reply thanking her for her interest and asked her to keep my services in mind for her professional colleagues. (Hint #12: Ask for referrals when prospects don’t buy.)
I continued to send Sandy my email newsletter each month. Three months later, Sandy referred me a colleague, who became my client. I sent Sandy a thank you note for the referral. (Hint #13: Always thank your referral sources.) Later that same year, she referred me another colleague who also became my client, and I thanked her again.
Several months went by, and a third person in the same field contacted me, and became my client. My new client named someone I knew, but wasn’t in touch with, as the person who referred her. I contacted the referrer to thank her, and discovered it was Sandy who had told her where to find me. (Hint #14: Find out who your referral sources really are.)
I thanked Sandy again. It was now two years from our initial contact. At this point, Sandy decided to become my client. The dollar value of my relationship with Sandy — her coaching fees plus those of the people she referred — to date has totaled approximately $35,000.
In addition to the hints I’ve dropped while telling this story, there may be more to learn by asking yourself a few questions. Where in this process might you have given up? Would you have written Sandy off after she told you she wasn’t interested? Might you have considered yourself a failure at selling because Sandy kept saying no for two years?
Notice that in all this time, Sandy and I had talked live only once. Do you stop trying when you can’t reach people by phone? Before she became my client, I sent Sandy a print newsletter, four handwritten notes, three personal emails, and eighteen email newsletters. I never did send her a brochure. Might you have sent Sandy a marketing packet after the first contact, and stopped there?
The next time you get discouraged because a client says he’s “not ready” to get started, or you feel like follow-up is a waste of time, remember Sandy. I contacted her 25 times over a period of two years. Each of the seven personal contacts took less than five minutes, and the 18 email newsletters were sent by an autoresponder. Thirty-five minutes of follow-up resulted in $35,000 in sales. What do you think, was it worth it?