How Can I Turn a New Client Call Into a Scheduled Appointment?

 
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Let's begin Healthy Boundaries Month with a question (or more acurately, a plea for help) I received from a blog reader about fielding calls for information about your services.

"I was on the phone with a new client for over an hour, but she didn't book an appointment. What am I doing wrong?"

Oh, Sister, do I feel your pain.

Client inquiries can be really tough to handle, especially when you're first starting out.

After all, you care about people and you don't want them to be in pain, or you wouldn't be in this business.

But how can you be there for your clients while also honoring your own boundaries?

And what should you say to encourage them to book an appointment?

These 3 easy steps will help you turn a potential client call into a booked appointment.

1. First, you need to set the framework for the call.

I've written before about Time Chunking, a technique for putting tasks together in your day so that you can get more done, and returning client calls is perfect for this.

Try to return all your client calls at one time of day. I usually do them during a break halfway through my day.

When you return someone's call, it's your job to set the tone and framework for the call. Limit the time you spend on the phone with each person to 15 minutes - 5 minutes is even better.

You can say something like, "This is Mindy Totten, returning your call about XYZ Therapy. How can I help you today?"

You're showing that you are there for the client, and that you are professional, and have got a handle on things -- what I call Driving the Bus.

2. Ask Questions.

The biggest mistake that therapists make when someone enquires about your work is to talk all about yourself, your certifications or your modality. Remember, when talking to clients, it's not about you.

Your job in this case is to get to the heart of the matter quickly. The fastest way to do that is to ask questions.

You can say, "Are you struggling with a particular health issue, or are you just curious about XYZ Therapy?"

When the client answers, it's up to you to steer the conversation -- you are driving the bus. Ask pertinent questions to discover if she would be a good fit and would benefit from your work.

If she goes on and on and on, she's probably getting into the "story" of her illness or her pain.

While you are a compassionate, caring person, a phone conversation is not the place for her to share the Entire Story -- that is better left to your initial appointment, when you have the extra time to get a deep, extended history of your client's journey.

If things start to get out of hand on the call, and time is ticking away, you can kindly say, "I'm sorry to interrupt you, but I've got another commitment in five minutes. From what you've told me, I believe that XYZ Therapy could be very beneficial for you because of 1, 2, and 3. Would you like to set up an appointment?"

(Or you can say, "From what you've told me, I don't think XYZ Therapy would be a good fit for what you're struggling with. May I recommend Thelma Therapist, who does ABC Therapy...")

Being kind and being firm are not mutually exclusive.

The key is to be clear, compassionate, and stick to your boundaries.

3. Ask for the booking.

And here's the rub.

For a new client to say YES, you have to invite her to work with you.

You don't need to be pushy or sleazy, or salesy. You simply need to invite her. 

My favorite invitation is, "Would you like to make an appointment?"

No umming or beating around the bush -- simply decide the phrase you're going to use to invite people to work with you, then practice saying it aloud.

When the time comes for the invitation, you'll be amazed at how easily it comes to you.

Then you wrap up the call: "Great. We've got you set up for Monday at 10:00, and I'll email your intake form to you so you can print it out and bring it with you. I'll also send a reminder the day before the appointment. I'm so looking forward to meeting you and working with you, and I'm hopeful that XYZ Therapy will help with your pain. Thanks so much for reaching out to me today. I look forward to seeing you on Monday!"

Boom. Call is done, client is booked, and you're on your way to helping more people with the beautiful work that you do.

Remember, when managing clients, it's up to you to create a safe container for healing to occur.

And that begins the first time someone contacts you. Be genuine, be kind, and stick to your healthy boundaries.

For more ideas to help you design and create your ideal practice, Download 100 Ways to Grow Your Bodywork Business and you'll be on your way to creating a successful business that you love.