13 October 2009

The Art of the Soft Close for Business Phobic Solopreneurs

Solopreneur coaches often say that using a trial session is a way to discover if prospective clients are a good fit for us, and that it's a way for them to understand the benefits of coaching. New counselors are often tempted to provide a "free consultation" session for the same reasons.

But by itself, a trial or free consult session that has only these purposes won't necessarily turn a freebie into a paying client. What's needed is a comfortable way to "close the sale."

Yes, that's right, at some point we do actually have to ask for the business if we want it. We have to switch to the business-owner side of the brain and help the prospective client make the decision to hire.

I'm one of those who would rather not be put in that position. I'd much prefer that people would just automatically intuit, or deeply feel, or logically grok that my counseling or coaching services are so fantastic that they'd be super foolish to pass up the chance to pay me for them.

In the real world, it doesn't work like that. I've had to recognize that the REAL purpose of any trial or free consult session is to GET THE CLIENT. I've had to learn the art of the "soft close" -- that is, how to end the trial session with a comfortable way to talk about hiring me.

I have a brief outline for a soft close script I recently came across that I thought others who are reticent to be business-like in trial sessions might like to have. It's available on my wiki here.
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