Sales pitches, enrollment conversations, discovery calls - whatever you call them and whether you hate them or you love them - are a critically important part of a successful coaching business.
When it comes to selling your coaching services, do you find it difficult, embarrassing, or downright unbearable to pitch to a client?
In talking to coaches about sales for years, I’ve heard all kinds of reasons why they find sales difficult. From a fraught relationship with money to fear of rejection to PTSD from being on the receiving end of an aggressive sales pitch, these hang-ups get in the way of building a thriving coaching practice.
Shed your preconceived and unproductive ideas about sales and read on to change your perspective. I’ll also give you a framework for sales conversations that feels good to deliver (and works). Even if you’re someone who loves to sell, keep reading for some ideas to strengthen your performance.
Let’s start with what a sales conversation shouldn’t look like
A sales pitch doesn’t have to pressure your prospect or make you feel like you’re compromising your integrity. In fact, stay as far away from the smarmy salesman archetype as possible. Your passion should fuel your pitch. You’re an expert at what you do and you want to help your clients achieve an ideal result.
A bad sales conversation feels manipulative, pushy, or plain lazy. This should be obvious, but... anything that manipulates or pressures the buyer is, at best, a short term strategy guaranteed to burn a lot of bridges. Not a good approach if you plan to be in business for a while.
Then there’s the laziest tactic, the “non-pitch.” It’s the one where you believe the value and reasons to buy are self-evident and basically sit around and wait for people to throw money at you. Good luck with that…
What should a sales conversation look like?
A good sales conversation is simply an offer to effectively solve a client’s unique problem and make a case for why they should work with you.
A great sales conversation does three things:
- Exposes the gap between where a prospect is today and where they could be
- Clearly demonstrates how your offer gets the prospect form where they are to where they want to be
- Shows the prospect why now is the time to take action
Let’s look at each of these elements.
A large part of your sales conversation should focus on the prospect and their problems and desired outcomes. During this part of the conversation, you and your offer are irrelevant. So don’t bring it up. Instead focus on the prospect.
Where is your prospect now?
Start the conversation by getting the prospect to talk about the current problem or challenge they are facing. This is as simple as asking “Tell me about X.” or “Tell me about your current situation…”
Be sure to ask follow-up questions that get below the surface to how they feel about the situation. Ask things like “How does that make you feel?” or “What other problems is this causing?” etc.
What do they want?
Next, ask your prospect about the outcome they want. Again, you only need to ask straight-forward questions like “What do you want with respect to X?” And follow-up with questions to get at how they will feel when they get that outcome.
Make them feel the gap.
At this point in the conversation, your prospect should naturally be feeling a gap between where they are and where they want to be. Now, you want to bring those feelings into sharper focus.
These would be questions like “What’s stopping you from getting the result?”, “What have you tried to get the result?”, and “Why do you think it didn’t work?” or “Why haven’t you tried anything?”
Now, your prospect likely feels there is a gap between where they are and where they want to be AND that crossing that gap requires help.
Introduce your solution.
Now, and only now, is the time to talk about you and what you offer. Did you notice how far into the conversation you are before you say a word about yourself?
At this point, you’ll want to concisely describe the results your program can deliver and show them how you’ve designed it to help them overcome all of those obstacles they just told you about.
You want to keep your comments focused on benefits and outcomes, not features. No one cares that they will have a weekly 1-hour session until they have decided you can solve their problem.
Be sure to check in with them along the way with questions like “Can you see how this helps you to get the result?” If they say yes, you are strengthening their agreement that you can help them. If they say no, it’s a chance to handle an objection.
If your program is a good fit for the prospect’s situation, they will feel that you are someone who can help them at this point.
Create urgency to solve the problem
Knowing they need to act and knowing they need to act now are not the same. To win a prospect’s business, they need to act now.
That’s where urgency comes in.
Urgency comes in two flavors, natural and artificial.
Artificial urgency is easy to spot and often comes across as insincere. Artificial urgency can be things like “This discount goes away if you don’t say yes right now.” It can also be fake deadlines or availability restrictions. Avoid using artificial urgency.
Natural urgency could be a real deadline (registration deadline for an event that happens at a specific day and time) or a real availability restriction (there is only room for 5 people at the retreat).
The most effective form of natural urgency is the cost of inaction. The cost of inaction is the price the prospect will pay for not acting. It is usually a continuation or worsening of the pain the prospect is currently experiencing. You could also frame it as continuing to go without the benefits of achieving the result.
You can bring this up by asking questions like “How much longer are you willing to put up with X?” or “How much longer can you continue if you don’t make a change?”. It could also be a financial cost. “How much income will you miss out on if you don’t change?” or “How much will it cost you to keep the status quo for another year?”
Once your prospect sees they need to act now, the only thing left is to invite them to get started.
Not sure how to put this into action for your sales conversations? You can get our annotated Sales Script for Coaches and Course Creators here. It walks you through the sales conversation from start to finish and shows you exactly how to implement what I've just covered here.
Ed Erickson is the CEO of Pitch Perfect Digital, a digital marketing agency serving coaches, consultants, and other service providers.
For more information, visit his website (https://pitchperfectdigital.com)