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Converting a Hesitant Prospect

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Everyone is wary of the unknown. Some of our potential therapy clients have concerns. These people need your product or service, but you must convince them that you can be trusted and they should work with you.

Often their concern comes from limited understanding of what you do. Or, they may have a friend or family member that had a bad experience with a therapist. There are bad people in every profession and unfortunately there are times when others have to overcome problems caused by these “bad apples”.

Understand and Appreciate Their Concerns

Never say “You can trust me”, “You are silly to be worried”, or to “Put yourself in my hands”. These are condescending and won’t win over the potential client. Keep in mind that the potential client has every right to be concerned and to request more information. Instead of dismissing these concerns, you need to address their worries. Confirm that you can help them and that you want to gain their trust and confidence.

These are a few examples of comments that you can use.

  • “It’s understandable to be worried…”
  • “I understand why you have concerns…”
  • “You’re obviously not a person who takes risks…”
  • “I remember you mentioned your friend who…”

These comments show that their concerns are justified and that you understand them. However, you shouldn’t make these comments if you don’t believe them.

Give Power to the Client

When you communicate with potential clients, share your knowledge with them. You can do this on your website or Blog with educational articles and useful content. In other cases, you can share information with them face to face or through your promotional materials, such as: flyers, brochures, etc.

It’s important that you use wording that the person will understand. Using big technical terms can be frustrating to others and especially when you should be helping them understand your therapy and your practice in more detail.

You give the potential client power through the additional knowledge. Educate them about your products or services and help them understand why you are the right person to provide the therapy or products that they need.

Through this knowledge, you give them the power to make an educated decision about whether to deal with you. This is also a great way to show that you respect them and are willing to put forth the effort to overcome their concerns.

Repeat the Important Points

When any customer asks a question – listen to them. This is true whether they ask you in person, on the phone, through email or an online comment. Listen to what they have to say and give them a complete and accurate answer.

Share the additional knowledge that they need to understand more thoroughly. Repeat the important details and be sure the customer understands. Understanding is critical in helping a hesitant and concerned potential client move past these concerns. 

You need to provide enough details so that they get the point. Every client has different needs and it is up to you to give them what they need. These concerns are usually a big part of the reason they are hesitant to visit a practitioner for the first time or to go back to a therapist.

Their own negative experience or the experiences of friends or acquaintances that were bad can be a powerful deterrent and it will keep them out of your office. You can accomplish similar goals through your website by providing a series of articles.

The clients who need information can click on additional articles if they need more details. Always remember you learned more over time. Your customers are on the same learning curve. Help them understand and they will be appreciative.

About the Author:

Kim Richardson is one of the few people in the United Kingdom who specialises in coaching complementary therapists, counsellors and psychotherapists. He is also an accredited counsellor and a successful author, with nearly 40 books to his name.

To download your FREE 7 Part mini course ‘Seven Steps to Marketing Success’, go to www.therapysuccess.com.

Six Steps to Connect to People

The Contributor Forum Comments Off

The skill of influencing is universal and useful for managers, leaders, professionals and supervisors. It is also of extreme value to those seeking to find clients. To influence you need to connect with people. Once you connect with people you are in a position to empower them. This is not as simple as it often sounds. Connection is not merely meeting people.

Here I outline some easy steps to learn to make that deep connection. Take time to work through each one and practice them over and over. If necessary work with a coach to help you accelerate the process.

Measure your current connection

If you do not know where you are at, you cannot know how far you need to improve in this area. Get feedback, check your relationship levels and determine what you would like to see in your life.

What impact is this having on your business or life?

Are you frustrated or lonely or doing a lot of work yourself without help? These could be signs that you are not that connected to people and they are not on your side.
Consider other impacts that come from not connecting with people.

Look for common ground

Finding common ground is one of the most important steps to connecting with people and one on which a foundation can be built. Asking questions in some of the key areas of life, such as family, sport, work, hobbies, religion etc. can elicit this. When you have found some area, seek to build on this to gain rapport. Make sure you go at the pace of the other so you are not imposing on the other.

Do you know some questions that work for you to establish common ground?

Find the key to others lives

Finding the key to another’s life or what drives them, is often the way to connect at a deeper level. When you have found this you have great topics for conversation. Finding this is usually through questions such as what their major achievements are and their aspirations for the future.

What questions can you ask to find what drives a person?

Communicate from the heart

When you share from your heart and not your head you stand a much greater chance of connection. Connection from the heart usually involves feelings, or dreams and not just facts. It often involves sharing more detail and not being afraid to share deep issues.

To what extent do you communicate from the heart?

Share common experiences

When you share a common experience you often get a strong bond that does not form otherwise. This was seen prominently in the war when soldiers shared a deep experience that bonded them for life. Your experience does not need to be as profound and can be as simple as travelling with someone or doing a simple task together. Times of adversity can be great times to offer to help someone.

About the Author:

Jane Johnson is one of Melbourne’s leading Performance and Life Purpose Coaches. She has worked with many solo entrepreneurs, consultants, coaches and executives, to enhance their success in their career/business and improve their income levels.

She has also helped many find more fulfilling work. She is the author of the Home Study Course “Growing your Business in 90 Days by one hour a day” and “Finding your Life Purpose”. On top of that, Jane is the founder of the International Life Purpose Institute.

Website: www.internationallifepurposeinstitute.com 
Free Resources: www.aspectcoaching.com  
Phone: 61 (3) 9817 4787
Email: jane@aspectcoaching.com

What is Solution Focused Coaching?

Professional Development Comments Off

The solution focused approach is characterised by being goal and action orientated; a shift away from the previous therapeutic focus on the past and the problem.

Solution focused coaching is based on the assumption that clients know the best way to approach the achievement of their goals. It is the role of the coach to assist clients in developing effective goal setting strategies and to help generate alternative ways of approaching goal achievement.

Main Concepts

The solution focused approach is underpinned by twelve (12) assumptions that are interrelated and guide the coach’s conversations and interactions with their clients.

Assumption 1: Focusing on the positive facilitates change in the desired direction

As solution-focused coaches engage in conversation with clients about what they are doing that is working or about what they will be doing, the clients are able to form mental pictures of themselves solving their problems. By focusing on positive situations rather than negatives (such as problems) a client is more likely to be energised into making changes.

Assumption 2: Exceptions help to build solutions

This assumption highlights that people sometimes get stuck into only one set of expectations of what the solution will look like. Exceptions may be seen as inconsequential because, to their way of thinking, the ‘exceptional’ times do not represent ‘real’ solutions or because the ‘exceptional’ times are inconsistent.

The solution-focused approach emphasises the benefits and significance of all exceptional times. By identifying instances when a problem did not occur the client can develop a more positive outlook and may begin to see the potential for building solutions.

Assumption 3: Nothing is always the same

Clients are not ‘stuck’ in the problem situation but every moment their problems are changing and they are able to move from one state to another. A solution-focused coach can use change, whether positive (in the direction of the goal) or negative (moving away from the goal), to generate client awareness.

Assumption 4: Small changing leads to larger changing

People usually use the same attempted solution for all problems. By making a small change in the attempted solution to the problems, clients can change in several different situations simultaneously. Recognising their previous exceptions or changes, clients are empowered with the belief that they can find solutions to other, more difficult issues.

Assumption 5: Clients show us how they think change occurs

If clients don’t do what coaches say, or if they do something else instead, we do not believe that they are ‘resistant’ but rather that in their thinking this is the best thing to do at the time. Coaches take clients ‘at their word’. Coaches are in touch with the client’s ‘approach to change’ not their own.

Assumption 6: People have all they need to solve their problems

The emphasis of the Solution-Focused approach is not upon the cause or maintenance of the problem, but upon the faith that each individual is capable of solving their problems. The responsibility is upon the coach to be flexible and to facilitate change toward what the client wants. The client is not dependent on the coach, but has within themselves the ability to reach their goals.

Assumption 7: Meaning is created through our interactions

Meaning is created through interaction with the environment. Meaning changes depending on the context. Meaning is not imposed on us but is rather a result of interpretation.

Assumption 8: Actions and descriptions are circular

There is a circular relationship between how one describes a problem or goal, what action one then takes, how one describes these actions and results, what further actions one might take, and so on.

Assumption 9: The meaning of the message is the response you receive

Despite the sender’s intention when sending a message the actual meaning of the message is found in the response that s/he (the original sender) receives back.

Assumption 10: Coaching is a goal or solution-focused endeavour, with the client as expert

The Solution-Focused approach assumes that the client is able to decide what it is that they want or, at least, what they don’t want. The client has the store of data which will be examined in coaching for traces of solutions that have already worked. The client is the expert who finally decides what they want to work on.

Assumption 11: Any change in how a goal is described affects future interactions with all others involved

The meaning we ascribe to a problem, solution or goal affects the way in which we approach it. By conceptualising a problem, solution or goal differently we can modify the approach we take with it in the future.

Assumption 12: The involvement of external parties is dependent on whether they share the same goals and desire to make something happen.

This Solution-Focused assumption states that membership of the treatment group is dependent upon whether the individuals share the same coaching goals and the desire to make it happen.

Techniques

A coach using solution focused techniques works with the client to identify goals which then guide the coaching/counselling process. The coach focuses on what the client wants, not what the coach thinks he/she needs. In using solution focused techniques, coaches are encouraged to be flexible with their approach.

The use of appropriate language is an important factor in the success of the solution focused approach. In particular, the coach should remain enthusiastic about the clients’ exceptions and accomplishments.

We will be focusing on three of the techniques used in the solution focused approach:

  1. Miracle question
  2. Exception question
  3. Scaling question

Miracle Question

The miracle question is a technique used to paint a picture about what the client wants. Here is an example of the miracle question from a coaching session.

Coach: So you are thinking about leaving your current occupation as a firefighter to do something else. However, you are not sure what you want to do?

Client: That’s correct. I’m just not sure what I want to do anymore!!!

Coach: “Suppose you were to go home tonight, and while you were asleep, a miracle happens. This miracle means that when you wake up tomorrow, everything will be different. How will you know the miracle happened? What will be different?”

Client: Well, I suppose I would be waking up and leaving for work happy. I would not have to work different shifts anymore and could feel like I’ve got time to have a social life.

The miracle question has been adapted from: Bertolino, B., & O’Hanlon, B. (2002). Collaborative, competency-based counseling and therapy. Boston: Allyn & Bacon

Exception Question

Another technique used is the exception question. The exception question is employed to find out what strengths the client may have from past experiences. These strengths may then be applied to the client’s current situation rather than teaching the client new skills.

Examples of exception questions include:

  • “Tell me about times when you felt happy at work.”
  • “Tell me about times when you felt you were achieving things.”
  • “When was the last time that you felt you had a better day?”
  • “What was it about that day that made it a better day?”
  • “Can you think of a time when the problem was not present in your life?”
  • “When was a time that you were the most happiest in your life?”

Exception questions adapted from: Corcoran, J. (2005). Building strengths and skills: A collaborative approach to working with clients. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, Inc.

Scaling Questions

Scaling Questions are used to invite clients to rate an issue on a scale of one (worst the problem may be) to ten (no longer a problem).

There are three ways the scaling question may be used:

The progress scale for example:

  • “On a scale of zero to ten where ten is your life the way you would want it to be and zero is where things are as bad as they could possibly be, where are you right now?”

The next step for example:

  • “What would have to happen for you to notice a small improvement so that you could say things have moved up a little bit on the scale?”

Willingness and confidence scale for example:

  • “On a scale of zero to ten how willing are you to do something to make things better?” or
  • “On a scale of zero to ten how confident are you that things are going to get better?”

These questions may be used to determine how the client sees things, how willing or confident the client is to implement change and if small amounts of change has occurred already.

Scaling questions adapted from: Turnell, A., & Hopwood, L. (1994). A “Map” for doing solution-focused brief therapy. Case Studies in Brief & Family Therapy, 8(2), 39-75.