“As teachers, we want to move people… Irritation is challenging people to do something that we want them to do. Agitation is challenging them to do something they want to do… It’s about leading with my ears instead of my mouth. It means trying to elicit from people what their goals are for themselves and having the flexibility to frame what we do in that context.” —Larry Ferlazzo, high school teacher in inner-city Sacramento, in Daniel Pink’s book To Sell is Human

In the last article in our sales coaching series, I shared the question that business coach Mark Silver calls the pivot— What were you hoping I could do for you? Once you ask this question, your potential client will do one of two things. Either, they’ll share how they hope you can help, or they’ll ask what you can do for them.

Only invite them to work with you if it feels in alignment.

Before you offer to work with them, ask yourself— Does the idea of working with them excite you? Would you enjoy working with them? Would they get the results they want from working with you? If not, be truthful. If so, great!

What if you don’t know if you can help?

If you don’t know whether or not you can help your potential client get the results they want, ask yourself—If they did everything you suggested, would they get results? If so, remember that they have personal responsibility. Whether or not they implement what they learn with you is up to them.

If there are too many variables to know whether they’d receive the results they desire, ask yourself— How many sessions will they need to know if they’re improving? Consider offering that many sessions and letting them know that it will take that much time to ascertain the results.

To soothe your uncertainty about the benefits of your work, you can also track your clients’ results and see what percentage of people are getting results. Then, continue to make the changes you need to make your work more effective.

When you’re ready to invite them to work with you:

Stay in the role of advisor and then ask—

“I think you’re a great match for what I offer. Would you like to hear about what that would look like?”

Keep it short.

In a few minutes, share the steps you’d suggest they take with you. Make sure not to take a long time laying this out. Three minutes is all you need.

Use their words.

Using their exact words is essential. One Dutch study found that waitresses who repeated diners’ orders word for word earned 70 percent more tips than waitresses who paraphrased orders.

Focus on their problems and solutions.

One of the most important things you offer during is clarity about where they want to go. When someone feels stuck in their problem and confused about how to get out, part of helping them move towards a solution is helping them sort through what’s going on, define the problem, and uncover possibilities.

Rather than delving too much into your process, mirror back to them their most significant needs and talk about the outcomes you’ll help them achieve.

To practice having these calls, you can record yourself inviting a potential client to join you.

Then, ask yourself—Does it make sense? How’s your pace? Your tone? Your words?

Ask the question, and then stay quiet.

Once you share what you could do for them, ask— How does that sound to you?

Then, be silent. And, wait for a response.

It can be terrifying to sit in the silence here, but it’s also one of the most important things you can do.

To continue the conversation and learn how to respond to whatever they tell you, click here. And, if you’re ready to receive support in building your business, we invite you to check out our business coaching services.

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