March 8, 2021

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How To Improve Your Phone Consultations

We want to take a few minutes today to focus on a trend that we see amongst our members and one of the most frequent questions we receive about moving clients forward, which is: "How can I use the phone consultation as an opportunity to get more clients to work with me?"

We want to take a few minutes today to focus on a trend that we see amongst our members and one of the most frequent questions we receive about moving clients forward, which is:

"How can I use the phone consultation as an opportunity to get more clients to work with me?"

At MyWellbeing, we ask all of the practitioners who we work with to offer a complimentary 15-minute phone consultation to the prospective clients who we match you with.

The phone consultation is great opportunity for you to introduce yourself to prospective clients and to describe your work to them so that they can determine if your style and your approach resonates with them, and you can bring yourself and a human touch into the conversation.

The phone consultation is also a time when you can screen for your practice and make sure that the clients who you are beginning work with are clients who you feel well-suited for and prepared to support.

While the phone consultation is a great tool for showing your shine and building rapport with good fit clients, they may not be so effective if you're feeling nervous, underprepared or without a center during the calls.  We're here to help!  

Below are some best practices for making the best use of your phone consultations:

1. Decide how much time you will offer and stick to it.

Oftentimes, we speak with our members about their phone consultations, and we hear about varying complications in relation to the length of the consultations.  For some people who have a style that's more fluid and less direct, 15 minutes can seem too rushed.  For other folks, offering more than 15 minutes can start to feel too much like the actual work, rather than consultation, and they begin feeling taken advantage of when prospective clients do not move forward after essentially having a complimentary session.

From the prospective client's perspective, a complimentary consultation feels risk-free and like a great opportunity to determine if they want to invest in working with you.  They appreciate the opportunity to have this consultation, and we think it's in your best interest to offer it.  15 minutes is generally enough time for most practitioners to speak about their practice and their style, to introduce themselves, and to give prospective clients an opportunity to ask questions and share more.  If you find that spending more than 15 minutes with prospective clients who don't move forward leads to difficult feelings of being used or giving out your services for free, then it may be important for you to set a boundary at 15 minutes and hold that boundary firmly.

If you're someone who needs a little more time to complete your own assessment and to cover all aspects that are important to you for the consultation and you're okay with offering a bit more time, still complimentary, then that's okay too!  Decide how much time feels like enough time for you, and create a consultation format that fits within those limits.

Whatever you decide is a good fit for you in regards to consultation length, make sure to clearly communicate to prospective clients in your first emails with them and on your MyWellbeing web page how long the consultation will be and respect your time (and their's!) by staying within those bounds when the call happens.

2. Create a structure for your consultation calls, and clearly communicate that structure at the beginning of each call.

If you do not currently work with a template or a script for your consultation calls, it may be helpful to design one, even to just use as a loose guide.  Consider past phone consultations and how you currently assess fit before working with a new client, and think about the most important elements that you want to address during your calls.  Create an order for how you want to cover these different aspects and at the beginning of the call, explain to the client what they can expect.  Some examples of how you might begin your calls, depending on what structure works best for you are:

  • “This consultation will give us an opportunity to learn more about each other, so that we can decide together if we’re a good fit. If you’re comfortable, you can start by telling me a little bit more about what brings you to the call today, and what you would hope to accomplish in your work with me. I can then share with you about my training and areas of expertise and help you to better understand how I might be able to support you through your current experience. At the end of the call we can address any questions that remain and go over logistics.”
  • “We’ll use this consultation as an opportunity to get to know each other better so that you can determine if you think I’m the best person to support you through your current situation. I’ll start by telling you a bit about myself, my training and areas of expertise, and I’ll describe what my style and approach is like, so you can get a better idea of how I can help you. I’d then love to learn more about what your goals are for the work that you’re considering doing with me and I of course want to answer any questions that you have about me. At the end of the call we can go over logistics.”

3. Reserve at least 5 minutes at the end of the call to discuss logistics.

This will give you an opportunity to discuss fee, scheduling, cancellation policies, and more.  A benefit of working with MyWellbeing is that we're able to give you information about what fee clients have reported is affordable for them before you get on the phone.  The consultation will be a great time to confirm that that fee works for the client.  You can also use the last portion of the consultation to share any important information about your practice's policies, scheduling and billing procedures, etc.

If the you've decided throughout the call that the person would be a good fit for your practice, then we recommend scheduling your first session right there on the call.  You can say:

  • “I have really enjoyed getting to know you a little bit on this call. Thank you again for making the time and for being open to sharing with me. After learning more about you, I believe that we could do great work together. Would you like to schedule our first appointment together while we’re on the phone?”

If the person says that they need more time to consider and/or to check their schedule, that's okay! Describe clear next steps for how they can schedule with you when they're ready.

In situations when you actually do not believe the client is a good fit, it's best to be straightforward and to let them know.  You can say:

  • “Thank you for making time to connect today. After learning more about you and your goals at this time, I do not think that I am the best person to support you, based on my training and what you're seeking help with. It's important that you get the best care possible, and I'd love to connect you with Kayla and the MyWellbeing team so they can help you find a better fit. Are you open to that?"

4. Follow up promptly!

Within 24-48 hours after the call, send an email to thank the client for meeting with you and to remind them of important contact information (how they'll receive meeting links for virtual sessions, office address information, phone number, email, etc.).  

If you and the client scheduled on the phone, remind them of when your next appointment is and share information about anything they need to do prior to the session.

Let the client know how and when they can reach you and be honest/accurate about typical response time (within 12 hours, within 24 hours, within 3 days, etc.)

If you do not hear from the client within 1 week, and you had plans to reconnect but did not book a particular appointment time, send the client a note to check in and remind them. It is possible they forgot or a life circumstance has hindered their scheduling.

The Takeaway

You've worked so hard to become the talented professional that you are, and your skills will be put to the best use when you're working with clients whose needs align with your expertise.  The phone consultation is the perfect opportunity to ensure that you and your clients are set up for success, so please don't hesitate to reach out with any additional questions about how to make the best use of them.

If you'd like us at MyWellbeing to share more information or to host a webinar on this topic, let us know. We're here to help.

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