Last updated: 17 December 2015
For most hypnotherapists, the first live contact they have with prospective clients is through the phone.
I say live because your website (or other promotional materials) is the initial contact you make with prospects. However, the phone is the first time you have the opportunity to personalize the experience for them.
Unfortunately, many hypnotherapists see this interaction as going a little something like this:
Prospect: “Hi, I’m interested in having some hypnotherapy sessions. How much do they cost?”
Hypnotist: “Sessions are (insert your fee here)”
Prospect: “Great! Sign me up”
Phone calls rarely go this smoothly, and when they don’t, the hypnotist and prospect could be left feeling disappointed that things didn’t work out.
I used to fall into this trap, and didn’t realize until much later in my career just how important the initial conversation is.
This is because the first conversation allows you to do 3 important things:
- Decide if you want to work with the prospect. Not every prospect makes for an ideal client and you need a way to differentiate them
- There is also an art to closing the deal over the phone and that means it’s a great time to use your conversational hypnosis skills
- The initial call is your opportunity to begin some covert change work with the prospect so that if they do come to see you, you have already laid the foundation for a transformative session.
Here is a simple 4-step process that’ll increase your conversion rates as well as stack the odds in yours and your prospective client’s favor.
1. Get Them In Touch With The Problem
Most prospects that call first ask about the price of sessions. If you want them to book with you, do not answer this question at the start of the conversation.
Prospects typically shop around by price and do not know how to determine who is the better hypnotist except through money. It’s your job to demonstrate your value and create a mini transformative experience for them.
The first step of this is to associate the prospect into their problem. This doesn’t mean induce a full on “freak out.” But you do want them to experience it just enough to feel some emotion.
There are two reasons for this. The first is that neurons that fire together wire together. Later in this article, I’ll be attaching a resource to this problem.
The second reason is you want them to get in touch with their motivation to change. Most people are motivated by moving away from pain so if you want your prospect to take action and change, you need to associate them into the problem.
During this step you want to find out what they want to work though, a particular time and place they experienced the problem, and how is it a problem for them. This associates them in enough to give you some information about the issue so you can decide if the problem is something you can be successful in changing.
This step also gives you a sense of how ready the prospect is to change.
You want to know if they’re changing for themselves, or if someone else is imposing the change. You also want to hear the emotional motivation to change. This is something that you will need to rely on your instinct for, however, you’ll quickly learn how to tell who is ready to change and who is not.
If the prospect is ready and motivated to change then you both have passed through the first gate and it’s time to move onto step 2.
2. Break The Prospect’s State
You don’t want to leave them in a negative state for too long. States drive behaviors and thoughts so you want to give the prospect’s physiology some time to reset before you move forward.
Remember: it takes 90 seconds for a state to wash through the body so you’re going to create that buffer for the prospect.
This is when you’ll explain your approach to solving their problem based on what information they have given.
It is my experience that people like systems. For example in our practice, I have a highly effective smoking cessation program that is delivered in 3 stages.
I highlight all 3 stages in a way that incorporates the information the prospective client has given in step 1.
This builds rapport because the individual feels heard and it still sounds like a structured process. When you have a systematic approach to solving a prospect’s problem it inspires their confidence in you because the indirect suggestion is that you have tremendous experience with solving the issue.
Having a systematic approach does not mean being cookie cutter because no two clients are the same. Having a system means that you understand the working components of an issue. For example, if a smoking cessation prospect called me the system may be described as follows:
“I’ll take a 3-step approach to help you kick the habit.
In the first part of the session, you’ll learn how to control cravings and any emotions that in the past would have led you to smoke.
So no matter what, when you leave your session you’ll know that you are in control and you have a new emotional toolkit.
In the second step, we’ll get your unconscious mind to really understand the cost of smoking and the benefit of quitting. Let’s face it, I know you consciously know how bad smoking is but your unconscious mind hasn’t fully learned that yet. Otherwise you would be smoke free already.
In the third stage, you’ll break free of any of the old emotional and environmental triggers that would have reminded you to smoke in the past.
This means that you’ll be able to have the cup of coffee and yet forget about the cigarettes. This also means that you’ll not pick up any unhealthy habits. A lot of smokers have come to see me afraid that they would quit, only to pick up a snacking habit. During this part of the session I’ll ensure that this doesn’t happen.”
(Note: italics indicate embedded commands)
As you can see, I’m intentionally vague to respect each client as an individual, that said, this is a step-by-step process that instills confidence in the prospect and allows me to embed some good suggestions.
This is covertly a second measure as to whether or not they’re ready to change. Do they get excited as you explain your approach, or do they try to argue with any part of it?
3. Step Into The Resource
As you explain your process, listen to hear if the prospect is getting excited. You want to hear them begin to add things into the conversation like, “That’ll be great!” You’re also listening for state changes as marked out by their tonality and breathing.
As they step into that good state it’s your job to amplify the experience. At this point begin to feedback to the prospect any positive hot words they may have given you for wanting the outcome.
This is about deepening the positive state. A great question to ask the prospect is “How will you be as a person when you have this change?” You’re listening for them to get in touch with a value.
This step speaks specifically to those who are more motivated by moving towards an outcome, while showing those who are further away from making this change that they can step into a bright future.
In this step you’re linking the old problem triggers and states with a more positive outcome.
4. Call To Action
Throughout the conversation so far you’ve had plenty of time to determine if the prospect is a good fit. You’ve been listening for their reasons as to why they want to change. You’ve noticed the moments when they have expressed resourceful states, and you’re sure that you want to take them on as a client. Now it’s time to book the session.
This is the moment where you finally give your price. This will do a few things for you.
First, it’ll break the strong positive state and bring them back to the here and now, making them responsible for the next step. You may be wondering why you want to break the positive state? Well, this is simply because you don’t want any buyer’s remorse, so you want them to make a decision in a slightly more neutral state.
You also want the prospect to realize that they need to make the change in the here and now so that they can more easily step into that strong positive state.
Next this provides the second to last gate they need to cross to prove to you they’re ready to change. If they squabble about the price, something has gone awry somewhere else in the process and you need to become curious about that.
One issue might be that they believe they can’t afford it. I have found this to not be a reality in most cases. What they’re actually saying is “I don’t believe this change (or me) is worth my investment.” You then have some more work to do with them.
The other issue that interferes with closing the deal is on the end of the hypnotist. The prospect may not really be committed to changing and the hypnotist moved too fast in their eagerness to take on the client. The hypnotist may also have not established herself as the authority and taken control of the conversation. Therefore, they have failed to elicit big enough states.
However, of course there are some circumstances in which prospects genuinely cannot afford therapy. That said, if they’re having financial issues, they’re less likely to call a hypnotist to begin with. That is of course unless you work with issues around wealth and money management, in which case you’ll already have your own way of working around this.
Or you can decide to refer them on, or do what my good friend does. He lets them know about his sliding scale for those in financial hardship. Clients sign up, but very rarely ever take the discount.
Once the client agrees, you can cross through the last gateway to success and give them the terms of payment as well as finally schedule the session. I recommend having the new client at the very least pay a deposit (if not the full fee) before the session so your time isn’t wasted with “no shows.”
When you lead your prospects through this process you make it easy for them to sign up to work with you. You also ensure the quality of your cliental. It’s important to have a process so you can filter prospective clients.
Not every client is right for every hypnotist and this process is just as much about effortlessly closing deals, as it is about you ensuring that you’re working with the ideal client.
Regardless of what your target niche is, chances are you want highly motivated clients with whom you know you’ll have vast amounts of success. Each step of this process gives you the opportunity to decide whether the prospect on the other end of the phone is right for you.
This process pre-frames the client’s unconscious mind for the process you’ll take them through in the session. It shows them at all levels that change is possible. After all, they have experienced a number of different states with you on the call.
Finally it establishes you as the professional so that your client is compliant when they come in which means you get to spend more time on the actual change work.
One final thought: the more successful you are at the business side of your practice, the more people you’ll help. Success with business and success with client are interconnected!
Do you have any other tips for booking prospective clients over the phone that’s made all the difference to your success as a hypnotherapist? If so, please share any tried and tested techniques in the comments section below.
And if you’re a hypnotherapist or have an interest in hypnosis, and would like to submit an article like Jess has, find out how you can also get published here.