The next time you field a call from a potential client, throughout the conversation reflect on “What am I afraid of?” What do you avoid saying? What assumptions are you making about the motivations of the caller? If, like many, you find it difficult to ‘close the deal’, what is the fear holding you back?
A crucial conversation might be loosely defined as any verbal exchange with the potential to push one or both party’s buttons, leading to a negative outcome. As you talk to potential clients you may think you are locating their buttons as a prelude to some therapeutic purpose. But if you cannot persist in gaining agreement that your services are valuable and necessary, you are allowing your own buttons to be pushed. The negative outcome is not anger, but disappointment; which both arise from fear but present in different ways.
In most conversation a certain amount of button-pushing is inevitable. Among friends and people we trust, we attribute positive intent to potential buttons; whereas with strangers and people who have a history of violating trust, we attribute negative intent. As a hypnotherapist you use language skills to influence clients’ behaviors. While you like to think that makes you an effective communicator, as long as you allow fear to degrade those skills, you cannot rise to your true potential. Bottom line, if you do not trust your own skills, how can you convince clients to trust you?
Client = Payment for Services
I only provide hypnotherapy services to clients, people who pay me for that privilege. I do not work on family or friends. I do not work pro bono. This initially sounds harsh; particularly to hypnotherapists more accustomed to gifting their services; but I find that clients get more benefit after having been required to give up something in order to receive a blessing.
My office operates on $0 Accounts Receivable. Everyone who enters my therapy room to participate in iChange Therapy has paid my full fee up front. Therefore, I can concentrate on giving my best work to my client, without the distraction of wondering when or if I might receive payment.
I learned from my own mentor, Gil Boyne, to ask, “And how would you like to take care of this (fee)?” Such expressions enhance trust by addressing the client with respect. Asking at all means I respect Myself.
A fear I uncovered early in my practice was that I might be abetting a thief; as in theft of services; that I might, through good intentions on my part, yet still create karmic debt for the supposed client; i.e., whether or not my fee was paid in this lifetime, the Universe would collect. To overcome that fear, I resolved to work only on clients who paid my fee; or at least gave up something of value for the privilege of working with me; and that they would trust me enough to make that commitment prior to the onset of the work.
Interested Party = Pre-Client
I also had to give up the notion that ‘everyone’ could benefit from my services and, therefore, every rejection represented a lost opportunity for income. As my understanding matured I came to realize that the majority of people have no interest in hypnosis or hypnotherapy. Of those who do, a relative few are well suited to the work I do. Could others benefit? Of course! Can I force it on them? Of course not!
In the course of my day I talk to many interested parties. I educate them about hypnotherapy and express compassion for whatever issue led them to call me. I consider it community service. A small percentage emerge as pre-clients; subjects that appear to be a good fit for the work I do; whom are likely to experience a good result if they commit. A relatively small percentage of pre-clients take the all-important step of scheduling a time and paying my fee; at which point I now consider them a client.
As the conversation with an interested party concludes, I hope my time with them has made a positive contribution, and possibly helped them to start thinking in a new direction. I immediately release them to the universe; acknowledging that, although I could help them, they are not a good fit.
It is tempting to let a pre-client go with some disappointment; but I don’t. I prefer to see it as just be an issue of timing. And, indeed, some almost-clients call back 1 year, 2 years, even 5 years later to tell me they have assembled the resources and are now ready. They become a client and magic happens.
Exceptions = Flexibility
Now, if I discern a pre-client with true desire, and who appears to fit my services well, but who has no obvious resources; I can still exercise compassion, “What part of this responsibility CAN you bear?” The response can be both delightful and heart-rending. A young lady at the local battered women’s shelter proudly opened her wallet and offered me everything she had - $20; explaining she had no savings and this was meant to last until her next paycheck. With an assurance that she would not go hungry, I accepted it as handsome payment. She experienced great results. As Gil Boyne taught repeatedly, “The greater the need, the greater the results.”
To conclude this article, my counsel is that you can be successful at whatever level of skill you possess if you merely concentrate on separating pre-clients from interested parties, with an eye to identifying those for whom your skills are most relevant. Finding resolution for your own fears puts you in control of crucial conversations and makes you a better hypnotherapist.