How do you prepare prospects for the close? First of all, new coaching clients aren’t made in the first few—or the last few—minutes of a meeting with a prospect. Certainly, everything you discuss during your conversation helps lead them toward that end. But I believe there are three critical phases of “the close.” These are at the beginning, during, and end of your meeting. If you incorporate these three phases, your prospect will be better prepared to say yes when it’s time for that final question.
Both psychologists and copywriters say there are certain things that make people more likely to say yes. But what about for coaching? Specifically, what are your clients motivated by? Afraid of? Wanting to trust in? You know and I know that each prospect is different. Understanding these inclinations helps you know what information to share during your meeting.
But let’s be honest. I’ve done this a long time and have enjoyed a lot of success. Of course I take time to get to know each prospect, but my experience tells me most of what those answers will be. So I’m ready to move ahead. Now to get my prospect to move ahead. Here are three keys to that critical outcome.
- Start Strong
I find that one of the most important things I can do to prepare my prospect to say yes to becoming one of my clients is by telling them I will be asking them to do that. This may sound redundant, but it’s not. It’s powerful. In your opening, let your prospect know what to expect—that, at the end of the conversation, you will be asking them to decide on the next steps. In other words, beginning to work with you.
Imagine an online shopping experience. Here is what happens first:
You search for an item, and up comes a list of that item along with words like “sale.” You know if you click on any of those links, they’re going to ask you to buy that item from them. You’re not surprised. In fact, that’s why you’re searching. Right from the start, you know what the agenda is. And you’re totally okay with it. In fact, you find it helpful, so you do it.
- Use Mini-closes
During your meeting, it’s a no-brainer to incorporate comments like, “As one of my coaching clients, you’ll achieve more success…” or “When you make that decision today to start changing your life today….” By pre-closing, or using what I call mini-closes, you’re basically telling them they’re going to make that decision. It’s not going to shock them, is it? Of course not! They’re meeting with you because they want to meet certain life goals, and they know that coaching can help them fulfill those goals. You’re actually reinforcing the decision you’re confident they’ll make at the end of the conversation—a big yes.
Take our example of the online shopping steps. When you click on an item, there’s a nice big button that says “Add to my cart,” or something along those lines. That shopping cart is ALREADY THERE. It’s preparing you for the sale. No one says, “Oh my gosh, I never expected that!” It’s a given.
It’s the same with live sales meetings, whether they’re via Skype, on the phone, or in person. Don’t wait until the end. Move that prospect toward the sale as you go along. This sets up the close at the end and makes it easier and a lot more natural.
- End Strong
People often put off making a decision right away. If you think about it, it’s ironic that someone who wants to make a change in their life would delay a coaching relationship, isn’t it? But if you’ve followed steps two and three, your job is already two-thirds done. Your prospects know you’re not expecting them to take their time with this decision. They know you believe the best thing they can do is to say yes NOW.
Let’s revisit that e-shopping trip one last time. You searched for the item, chose it, then added it to your shopping cart. You know you’re well on your way to making a purchase. That convenient button that says “Check out” is there to help you. In fact, you’re looking for it because you want that item NOW.
It’s the same with coaching prospects. If they’re sitting opposite you, they don’t want to make those changes in their lives someday. They want to begin now. Or even yesterday.
Don’t shy away from the close, because you understand how much it’s going to help that person. And definitely don’t make the mistake of saying they can wait to make that decision. Be bold! End strong, with this question: “Is there any reason why we couldn’t get you started today?”
With three closing phases throughout the process, you’ll find your conversations have a natural flow toward that final decision. Your “ask” will come more easily and, just like in online shopping, it will be totally expected. Your prospects will be ready to say yes, because you’ve prepared them to.