#47: Getting Clients

In this episode Michelle talks about how to get clients…not just one or two, but a steady stream. Because holy moly, did you ever think it was going to be this hard? Take a listen to learn:

– The 3 avenues Michelle’s private clients come through.
– Which source provides the largest percentage of clients.
– How to optimize each of these 3 areas!
…and much more.

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This episode is sponsored by:
Master Class: How To Double Your Mailing List In the Next 90 Days

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Well hello there health coaches! Hi. How are you? I’m Michelle. I’m here with you today to talk about getting clients, how to get clients, how to get more clients, and how to get a steady stream of clients. These are the questions you guys are asking me. Have you ever think it was going to be this hard when you were just starting out in school? You knew you wanted to become a health coach. Did you know that the client thing was going to be such a struggle? Don’t worry, you’re not alone at all. I have been there and I think everyone has been there at some point and today I’ve got some answers for you, so let’s do it again. My name is Michelle Pfennighaus. I’m a certified health coach. I have my own private practice and I also act as a mentor for my fellow health coaches and that appeared the curriculum or in the curriculum at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition where I talk about marketing.

So last week I sent out an email to my list of health coaches and I asked them, what is your least favorite part about being a health coach? Maybe you got that email. Tell me now, if you didn’t already tell me. Tell me, um, into the comments if you are watching the video, what is your least favorite part of health coaching? It was interesting to see all of the different answers to this question, but I found myself reading hundreds and hundreds of emails and many of them were saying the same thing. Out of all the responses that I got, the most common one was basically saying I hate looking for clients or I hate that I don’t have enough clients, which is why I knew it was going to be a perfect topic to talk about today if you think so too, give me a, like, tell me your thoughts in the comments area as we get rolling.

So what I found by asking this question and getting all this feedback, by the way, I was digging myself out of my inbox for like eight days just trying to respond to everybody’s. So hopefully I got to all of you and what I learned was that either you don’t have enough clients or you hate not knowing where your clients are going to come from or you’re frustrated that you’ve sunk big bucks into getting certified and haven’t made that money back yet. And then sure enough I went into the health coach power community Facebook group and yeah, tons of questions in there too, coming from all different angles but essentially saying the same thing.

So here are the, some of the questions that I, that I plucked out to cover today specifically. The first one comes from Mary. Mary said, online coaching are any of you doing it, how did you get into it and how do you find clients? Where does one start?

So, Mary, what I want to say to you is that finding clients for online or virtual coaching, which basically just means that you’re talking to them over the phone or skype or zoom, right? It’s pretty darn similar to finding clients that you would work with in person. The only difference is that you’re not limited to your local area, but how you actually find the clients. Well, we’re going to get to that.

Here’s another question that came from Hope. She said, I attend IIN and I’m going to graduate in April. I can take clients now, but I’m struggling to find people who are interested. How long did it take before you had consistent clients and how did you reach them?

Hope I’m thinking that you might be interested to go back and listen to episode number 38, which is how to get your first clients, so check that out, but essentially, you’re asking the same question as everybody else, which is why I included it here.

How do we reach potential clients? When you’re first starting out, you have a tighter circle. You know you have a smaller audience and so you’re going to start with them, but yeah, this question is going to continue as you grow and as like all of your best friends and family members have either already worked with you or aren’t interested. I can’t tell you how many coaches will start off really strong and everyone will think they’re so fabulous because like their five best friends signed up to be their clients right away and they’re like, Ooh, I’ve got a full client roster, but then those people will finish up and they got nothing. So it’s really important that even if you’re getting your first clients, you listen up today because, you need to continue getting clients.

And then this question came from Andrea. She said, do you have Facebook groups? I only have one client, but I’m working towards growing to 16 clients. Should I set up a Facebook group now?

And I thought, okay, this might be the wrong question. I think again, Andrea, what you’re really asking is how do I get more clients? And I would say that a Facebook group does not create a quick path between you and the new clients that you want. It can be a useful marketing tool. I love me a good Facebook group, but it’s definitely not where I would put my energy right now. If I were you, if I had one client and I needed to get to 16, so where do we get clients from? And to answer this question, I did some digging back into my own private client list because I want it to be honest. I didn’t want to just talk about in theory how one might get clients.

I wanted to share the real deal. So I looked back, you know, my little notebook, my little client records to figure out, hey, where did this person come from? How did I acquire this client? You know, what was the path they took to find me? And I narrowed it down to three primary sources that we’re going to talk about today. So this way you can see at least how one real health coach gets real clients. Plus I’m going to share my best tips for optimizing each of these potential avenues. Are you ready? Tell me yes. Say Yes. I am ready, Michelle. I’ve never been more ready. Let’s do it.

Okay. First up, our client referrals and I put this one first because they are my favorite. Yes. Happy clients. Tell their friends about you and boom, like that’s all the marketing you need and it is definitely, I feel the shortest line between you and making money so we love this, but I’m sure you’re like, thanks Michelle. That’s great, but no one’s referring me. What am I supposed to do? It’s true. There’s only happens when you’re able to get someone like really fabulous results. And I had a client recently who started attracting attention from her friends, like she would just go out. She went to her dentist and his hygienist is not my client. Another one of her friends to sign up to work with me and it’s because she was just out living her life and her friends were like, “Whoa, you look amazing. What have you been doing?” She’s lost weight. Her skin looks really good, and she told them and she gave them my phone number and boom, new clients came my way and I’m like, Hallelujah. This is the best. In fact, one, just this week signed up for my most expensive package I have ever offered with no questions asked, no hemming, no hawing. Credit card on the spot.

Love, love this way of getting new clients. However, if I’m honest, this doesn’t happen all the time, so don’t feel bad. Don’t feel like you’re the only coach who’s not getting client referrals. I don’t get them all that often myself. I mean I get them, but I wouldn’t say that it’s my main source of new clients because sometimes you have a client and let’s face it, they don’t get great results for whatever reason, often because they are not committed to the process. Sometimes they do get great results, but those results are more internal. They’re less visible to other people and that means they’re not generating as many conversations with their friends. They’re not running into their friend and their friend says, wow, you look fabulous. You know, they might be running into their friend and their friend just doesn’t know to say, wow, your digestion is really smooth today.

So that can be another reason. You know, just depending on the kind of results that your clients get. So one thing that I liked to do, and I think you should just do this anyway, I like to have clients quantify their progress as we go along. It makes them just like a little more aware of how far they’ve come. It brings all the positive thoughts to their mind. So what we do is during the initial intake, I have my clients rate themselves on a scale of one to 10 in several different areas. So you could ask about digestion, their sleep quality, their skin, their weight or how their clothes are fitting them, you know, whatever variables that you feel are most important to your clients. And then each time that we meet for a follow-up session, they fill out a revisit form that has the exact same one to 10 scales so that they rate themselves in the same areas again.

So about every two weeks, right? We’re meeting approximately every two weeks. They are giving themselves a number in each of these areas. And if they start with a two, let’s say they initially said that the, uh, really not sleeping well to give themselves a two. And then halfway through the program, they rate themselves at a six. They might not even remember that they had marked themselves as a two in the beginning and you as a coach can bring that to their attention and celebrate that win and sort of form that idea in their mind that they are making some really great progress. It makes it, makes it more tangible when you can quantify things like this and of course that way they’re not taking their progress for granted and they are more likely to talk about it. Yes, it’s like win, win, win all the way around.

Another way that you can optimize the number of client referrals that you’re getting is to, how do I put this, um, know what you’re doing and do a really good job. I mean, this probably sounds kind of obvious, but hear me out. It’s not just like I’m saying, do a good job. That’s not very good advice. What I’m saying is that if you have a solid target market or like a specialty area, you can become the expert in that area. You can become super, super helpful because you have done it again and again and again and again. You’d seen the same scenario. You’ve helped somebody get results like you know that one thing really, really well. For an example, I know an awful lot about helping women recover from burnout and chronic stress and all the symptoms that go with it, but I know very, very, very little about helping men build muscle.

So if I am working with a woman who falls within my target market, I’m going to very likely get her excellent results simply because I have some expertise in that area. If I’m building myself as a general health coach and I work with anybody, it’s okay, but I may have a harder time getting clients results. People may come to me with different issues that I’m not exactly sure how to solve if I’m honest. So it’s just something to think about and if you’re here live and if you have any questions, go ahead and ask in the comment area. I’d love to hear what you think.

Susan’s saying, so excited to hear you cover this topic. Yeah, so it’s like the big topic that we all need, right? I can’t believe I haven’t covered it more in previous episodes. Anyway, that’s referrals from your current clients.

Now let’s move on. Let’s say you don’t even have any current clients. What are you going to do? So my second source of clients. Now these are also referrals, but the referrals from my network and like your network sounds really fancy, but your network can include your family, your friends, your neighbors, your chiropractor, anybody who knows what you do, which is why you cannot be shy about talking about what you do and a lot of us are because we feel insecure and people say, oh, how’s your little business going? And you’re like, oh, I don’t know. I don’t have any clients, but I need you to fake it until you make it. Because if you can tell your neighbor, your friend, one really awesome thing you’re doing with your business and express to them the type of people that you’re working with or the kind of work that you’re doing or this big project that you have coming up.

That’s all you need. They’re not going to come home and look in your client files and make sure that you actually have a full roster of clients like they’re not. They don’t need that kind of proof. They just need to hear you sound enthusiastic and know what you’re talking about. So, post to your personal Facebook page. I hear people say that, am I allowed to post about my business to my personal page? Yeah, yeah, of course you can. Now are you going to spam people on it? Maybe don’t do that. Right? But you can post your latest blog posts for sure, or a program that you have coming up. Share the links. Make sure that your friends and family, are seeing these things. Even better, talk to your friends and family about the projects that you’re working on. Tell your hairdresser, tell your chiropractor right, and of course you like straight up. Go to networking events. That falls into this category too, but in all of these cases, I think the mistake that I always made in the beginning is that I would be approaching these people as if they were going to become a client of mine.

So I would be speaking to my neighbor like kind of with an eye to like, oh, maybe you should work with me, you know, and that can be awkward just for everybody. So I want to invite you to not think about your network as prospective clients. They may be, but more likely they’re going to be excellent pathways towards your perfect clients. So my neighbor may or may not be the right client for me. Do I really even want to get into a coaching relationship with somebody who’s property abuts mine? Like, no, let’s not even go there. But she has friends, she has family, right?

So you can use your network to really great effect. And I’m not the best at this. I’m just going to put it out there. So if you’re like an introvert and you’re like, I’m not like to be doing a lot of networking, I don’t like to talk about myself. I don’t really love to do this part either. However, there’s so many different ways to do it and I’m thinking of a client who recently found me through her daughter and I went to college with her daughter like a long, long time ago. We’re Facebook friends, so I did not know that she was paying any attention when I post a podcast episode or when I post an article that I’ve written or whatever. She has never left a comment. I don’t think she has ever showed any interest in what I do. However, when her mom needed help, she was like, mom, I know someone, and then she contacted me and said, hey, my mom really needs some help.

How can she go about contacting you? Great client, great, great, great way to use your network without actually having to go to all those scary networking events, but you can do those two. Now, some health coaches find most of their clients this way through a referral network, through a doctor who’s referring patients to them, whatever it is. Like I said, it’s never been my personal strong suit, but if it’s yours, if you are a natural born connector, a natural born socialite, like work that network. Maybe that can be your whole business right there.

Aisha’s saying, Hi Michelle. What do you do when you feel entrepreneur, exhaustion, frustration or burnout?

Oh, I hear ya. That is so, so real. And it has absolutely happened to me often it means that I need to not do something. I often will have like a project that in my heart I really don’t want to be doing. Like maybe I agreed to do something but I don’t really want to. So it’s stressing me out or maybe I’m taking on too much, too much more than I can chew. That’s what I’m trying to say. So often has to do with like cutting things out and taking a little time off. And I also feel like it is super refreshing to talk with others in the field. Um, especially if we can talk one on one. You know, I have worked with different coaches, I have a health coach, friends, anytime that you can really get on the phone and talk with someone in real time, I can. That really helps because you realize that you’re not alone. Everybody goes through this stuff. Really good question though. Not going to get any clients if you yourself are burnt out and having your own meltdown, right? So we have to, we have to take care of us first. We are our own first client, first, last and always client.

Okay. So finally, let’s talk about the third avenue that I find brings me my clients. And by and large, this is where most of my clients come from. This is where you are actually directly marketing your services and making offers for exactly what somebody needs. So how do you do that? Marketing is like a gigantic topic and we’ve done so many episodes on different aspects of marketing in the past, so I’m not going to get like super into the nitty gritty of any one particular method, but overall, marketing starts by knowing who you serve and what big problem you help them solve. So let’s say you help retired men, lose the beer belly. That’s who you help, that’s the problem you help them solve. I don’t care how you do it, that’s actually not so relevant right now. You might do it through exercise, you might do it through nutrition, you might do it through magic.

I don’t care, but it’s this type of person and you sell this type of problem for them. Maybe it’s women with PCOS and you help them increase their chances of having a baby. I helped chronically stressed women recover from burnout. That’s mine. So the way I go about this is to first create free content. You can do this so many different ways. It could be a live, in-person workshop, which I highly recommend you do a lot of those, especially in the beginning. It might be a free downloadable cookbook or guide of some sort. It could be my blog posts, it could be a free webinar that I host, and by the way, last week’s episode was number 46. We talked all about blogging and the one before that number 45. We talked about holding webinars to get more clients. Okay, so maybe go back and listen to those if you missed them.

So all the free content that I create is aimed at my target market. Very specifically. It’s designed to help her and not so coincidentally. It’s designed to collect her email address at the same time for my mailing list. And if you want to learn more about how to do that, go to my free training at healthcoachpower.com/double. The training is called how to double your mailing list in the next 90 days. And that’s going to go into a lot more detail about these techniques for building this really, really important asset of your business. So again, that URL is health coach power.com/double.

Now, once you have a mailing list and it’s filled with your perfect prospective clients, this weirdly is where I see a lot of coaches just drop the ball like you have everything that you need and you got the people right in front of you or at least on your mailing list and you think, now I’m going to get the clients, but it doesn’t happen, and here’s why.

To make money to sign clients, you have to make offers. You have to make offers. You can not just sit there and wait for your clients to fall in your lap or for somebody to take it upon themselves to realize that they want to work with you and give you a call. I mean that sometimes happens, but it’s rare. Usually these folks need to push a gentle loving little push and that’s you offering your services in an email. Or maybe it’s you offering a webinar where you’re going to pitch your services at the end with a very special bonus. So if you take nothing else away from this episode today, I want you to remember this. I want you to write it down. The more offers you make, the more money you will earn, period. It’s as simple as that, and I’m going to challenge you to count like next week for the next three weeks.

Keep track of how many offers you make. It’s a very useful practice. So for example, if you offer your services to 5,000 people in week one, 5,000 people in week two and five, that I’m just using that number as an example of 5,000 people in week three, it’s very likely that you will get more clients and earn more money than somebody who has made zero offers. That makes sense. Right? So it’s. These kind of offers, the direct marketing to my perfect prospective clients that brings in the vast majority of my clients. So they may read my blog, they may hang out on my mailing list and think, oh, Michelle is really cool. That’s nice, but it doesn’t put any money in my pocket. It’s not until I present them with an offer that they step up to the plate and they buy and that’s ultimately what we want to happen.

Unless you’re happy just putting content out there and letting everybody think you’re really neat. I’m assuming you want us to put some money into your bank account as well. So Kim saying, I love this, Michelle. Good, Kim, I’m glad you’re here. Everybody needs to hear more of this. It’s so easy to get stuck in hobby mode where we’re like creating content and we’re posting stuff to Facebook, but we’re not actually making that connection between, uh, you know, the content we’re putting out and the money that’s coming in.

So we’re going to kind of wrap up this portion of today’s episode by saying if you do not have enough clients, I want you to think about three things. The first, how can you increase the likelihood of your current clients referring you to others? Lots of ways you can get creative with that. Second piece is how can you increase the likelihood of your network referring you to others?

It could be that you need to build a bigger network. It could sound like Verizon, right? Like the biggest network, yes. Be like Verizon or maybe you have a network, but you need to reconnect with them. Maybe it’s shooting off some emails or some text messages, giving a call just to say hi, what’s up? Making sure your top of mind for the people in your network, right? How can you increase the likelihood that they will be thinking of you and refer you to the right people in their lives? And then number three is how can you attract more of your target market to your mailing list and make some type of offer on a monthly basis if not weekly. Got It. Okay. Oh, I know that was a lot. And we have a couple of minutes left, so if you have any questions for me.

I am looking into the comment area now and I also have a few other questions that came from the group over the past week, so let’s hit those. This one came from Sherry. She said, I’ve been asked to do a pop up in a local store. Do I create a short seminar or just be there and talk to whoever comes in? Has anyone ever done this?

Yeah, I’ve totally done that, Sherry, not a long time, but my friend used to own this cute little shop and I remember something I did for her. I set up a table and it’s the kind of thing in a store where people are browsing, right? They’re coming, they’re going, they’re picking something up, they’re not going to stand there for a 30 minute presentation from start to finish. They may come in halfway through, so I don’t think you want to actually have a presentation that has some sort of linear structure to it.

But one thing that I did that worked really well was I had food that I was making and giving out samples at the same time. Now you have to check to see if that’s legal. It probably wasn’t even legal because here I am not in like a certified kitchen or whatever, making food, but nobody knew it went off without a hitch and I did all raw foods so that I didn’t need any sort of heating element. Um, but you know, I had a food processor, a juicer, stuff like that. Anyway, but you can have food samples, you can either be doing a demo, giving out samples or a combination of both, whatever you can get away with and that is awesome because you’re doing something that’s interesting. People want to watch, they want to taste, they want to talk to you, and then you can say, put your email here and I’ll send you the recipes. Right? Or something like that. Get them into a conversation about what’s going on in their health or why they might be interested in this food and then make sure there’s a way for them to sign up to join your mailing list.

Here’s another question from Jeff. Yes, we do have some men in the group. Hello Jeff. He said, I have my first smart shopping appointment coming up next week. I’m assuming that’s like a grocery store tour. He said, I just wanted to see what thoughts or advice people might have for that since I’m just starting to design how the time should be spent. Basically, I’m thinking an hour or so to walk around the store and talk about food and shopping and then maybe a half hour to sit down and talk and answer more questions. Any advice is appreciated.

So Jeff, I don’t know if someone is paying you to do this as a one off or if you’re doing it for free, um, or if it’s part of a paid client package, but I’m kind of assuming that someone’s either paying you or you’re doing it for free and it’s like a one off like this is going to be your only encounter with, with that person.

So what I would suggest you do is use the opportunity to basically create a space to talk about everything you would talk about in a consultation. So yes, you may be browsing the produce but have them tell you about how they have trouble, you know, they don’t know how to cook egg plant and they’ve never tried, you know, a Dandelion Greens and whatever. But also get them talking about their health problems and everything. That has been a challenge for them health wise. And then as you browse through the almond butters and cashew butters, you know, maybe just toss out a question like, well, we’re a, where would you want to be, you know, how much weight do you want to lose or what sort of, what would success look like for you? And have them tell you about that. So you can just kind of weave it into your conversation.

You could ask them questions like, why are, why did you decide to do this grocery store tour with me? Like, why is now the right time for you to make changes? And that starts to solidify in their mind that, oh yeah, it is the right time for me to make changes. Right? So it’s kind of all the questions you would ask and then you might say towards the end and just fit seamlessly into the conversation. Like, Oh yeah, my client really loves this brand of almond milk or whatever. Uh, you know, would you be interested in hearing more about how I work with my clients for something like that? You know, tell client stories, talk about their successes. Oh, I had a client who had a horrible time with thyroid symptoms, but I introduced her to getting the gluten out of her diet and this is the bread that she really loves, you know, so you can sell yourself the whole time, don’t be obnoxious about it, but fit it into the conversation so that they get a chance to talk about their problems.

They get a chance to talk about where they want to go and they get to hear about lots of successes that you’ve had with your clients and then Bingo, very easy to turn that conversation into a sales conversation at the end. I hope that helps Jeff.

Kimberly’s saying, I’m starting classes at IIN on February 11th. What can I be doing now to get ahead of the game? Yeah. I can’t really wait to get started.

So, I think that anybody who’s just getting started, you know, obviously you’re not going to be taking clients yet, but what you can be doing is starting to establish yourself as a resource in the area of healthy living or if you have an idea specifically what, what you want to be helping people with. So even, uh, you know, some sort of target market that you have your eye on, you might even, even better if you can become known as a resource for that.

But anyway, now it’d be the time to start posting recipes to your Facebook page or I’m hosting a local meetup group that maybe reads a healthy book every month, you know, like a book club or goes on hikes or just anything where you can start congregating some type of audience around you who’s looking to you as an expert looking to you as a resource. You can definitely start doing that. Now. You could start blogging, you could start a podcast. I mean, this is exactly what I did. I had a blog going for about a year before I went to IIN. And IIN isn’t that the hardest name to say when you’re talking quickly and it helped me so much because I already had an audience. So then when I was like, okay, I’m now certified, or I was halfway through my certification process and I said I’m ready to take clients.

I had clients. So get started now by positioning yourself well Kimberly. Okay. One last thing you guys. I want to give a shout out to Joyful Being Nutrition. I’m sorry, I don’t know your first name, but you left an awesome review on iTunes. I want to say thanks Joyful Being wrote, Michelle has been so helpful and giving health coaches real information on how to run their business. She’s so generous and giving free information and content. I highly recommend her podcast for anyone looking to grow their business. So Joyful Being please send your mailing address to support@healthcoachpower.com because we have a little gift for you and for everybody else, please head over to iTunes. Leave a five star rating and review. We are reaching more and more health coaches every month and that is exactly what I need in order to continuously put out so much free content. Thank you so much for that in advance and I’m going to be back next week. I will see you then. Keep asking great questions and I will keep answering them. Have a good one.