Is Your Signature System Really a Signature System? (Probably NOT!!!)

Recently, I was speaking with a client, Marylynn, while training her on my Freedom from Selling 2.0 system. An essential element that makes the Freedom from Selling approach work is getting crystal clear about your “core client process1” or “signature system1.”

So I asked her to tell me about her “signature system.”

She spent the next several minutes describing what she called her “signature system.”

Here is a condensed version of how she laid out her “signature system:”

  • Level 1 Program: Achieve Program
  • Level 2 Program: Find Your Healthy Diet Program
  • Level 3 Program: The Immersion Program (Her highest level program, which she called her “signature system”)

Well, what do YOU think?

Have you been taught about signature systems? If so, does this look anything like what you’ve been shown?

From my perspective, in the end, what she described to me was a tiered collection of programs. A group of different program levels is NOT a “signature system.”

Contrast her description of her “signature system” with this…

A Practical Definition of a Signature System:
Your signature system is the core process, the step-by-step methodology for how you work with a client. It’s also the methodology that’s underneath the initial conversations you have with a potential client. Most people don’t realize this. But it makes those conversations more powerful, yet it’s invisible to those potential clients that you’re speaking with.

Defined and designed this way, your signature system, regardless of the program, would be infused as the underlying foundation of that particular program.

In Marylynn’s words…

“… [my core process] hasn’t been defined, probably because no one’s ever…I can’t tell you how many signature system programs I’ve taken. So nobody has ever explained that the signature system is NOT what I’m doing; [the signature system] is the approach that I’m using.”

Then, the light bulb went off in Marylynn’s head, and there was no stopping her!!!

Here’s how it went…


“So if I were ever to create the ultimate, or 10 bajillion programs, they would each follow the same approach [at its core].”

If you have a Basic program, you apply your Signature System at the basic level.

If you have an Advanced program, you still have your Signature System but at the advanced level.

The practical definition you gave me, that a signature system is my core process, is not being taught in the mainstream like that.

Not only that, but other supposed experts helped me create what I currently do. And that is supposed to be my “Signature System;” that is, the different levels of my programs. This is very interesting.

Me: Well, that’s okay to define a “Signature System” that way. It’s just not how I define it.

I’m defining it like “This is the CORE. Like “core strength.”

Marylynn: Like core values.


Exactly. Core values and core strength, they have to be there wherever you go.

If you’re a tennis player. If you are a gymnast. You still need the core strength. It goes everywhere.

Marylynn: Right!

Me: So, your signature system goes everywhere you go.

Marylynn: Yep!


I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong with the tiers and levels of programs you’ve created. It’s just that I’m looking for a more specific definition of how you approach solving problems and delivering value. Like, “what’s your secret sauce?”

I’m looking for your “secret sauce” codified so that we can see it on paper.

I’ll give you an example…

My secret sauce starts with FOCUS. Focus includes “what’s your values, mission, vision? What are your business goals–financial, marketing, and sales goals? What is your big why? What’s the big reason behind your business? What’s the compelling reason behind why you do what you do?

And getting clear about these things gives you the ability to stay focused when there are so many shiny objects that are bright and fun and exciting that can distract you.

Having clarity on values, mission, and vision helps you to stay on track.


What is your business STRUCTURE, as in, the business MODEL?

What are your STRATEGIES for growing the business from the inside out, including marketing and sales strategies? But also operational strategies, growth strategies. Whether you want to build a lifestyle business or you want to have a leveraged business that goes beyond a certain income level.

What are the operational business SYSTEMS that need to be there, from financial management to delivering value to clients, to marketing, to selling, to all the logistics?

And what are the SKILLS you need to have?  or you need to develop or bring in, for your business to thrive, and to achieve goals that you’ve set?

What SUPPORT is needed for you in the business – for you and the team – to be able to create an environment where you function at the highest levels of productivity?

What are the prioritized ACTION ITEMS?

What’s your system for ACCOUNTABILITY and FOLLOW-THROUGH?

So, that’s my core process, or “Signature System.” I don’t always say it to people like that. Because it doesn’t really matter. But it only matters to the degree that we’re working on a particular part of their business and, in my mind, I’m thinking to myself and formulating questions, “What are their strengths, blockers, strategies, systems,…”

So, I go through a cascade or mental checklist almost in a heartbeat where I’m kind of using x-ray vision and superimposing my “core client process” to find where opportunities, gaps, and vulnerabilities exist in that business or project.

Does that make sense?


It makes sense. This has been extremely helpful. That was a major “ah hah” moment.

I mean, everything that you say, all the verbiage you use, is exactly what every other program says. With the exception of breaking it down to the point of – everybody else explains the elements of your signature system as “what are the steps of your program?” – but not from this program to that program.

It’s like each “signature system” has a step-by-step program, each one has steps, Each one is a system. Each one follows something. But they’re never the same from program to program. Or, thing to thing. They’re always totally different.

Nobody has ever taught this.

But this makes total sense.

Like all of a sudden, everything in my brain clicks.

Of course, you’d do that. It makes it so much easier to create anything.


It does!

And YOU taught me something…

Because I haven’t taken training on signature systems myself, so I didn’t realize that people are saying that your signature system is your sequence of different program levels.


Oh yeah!

I have literally spent over $60,000 developing my signature system – I really have – with coaches and courses. And every single one of them confirmed and built upon what I had created [from the previous program or coach.] So, with each one, I only kept getting confirmation that I was doing the right thing. Or I was on the right path.

So, I would never think anything was wrong, other than the fact that my signature system wasn’t working. That’s why I kept buying programs and coaching!

I must say, I can think of at least six programs that I have been part of. 

And [those other programs,] it’s all surface level. The best way I can describe it; it’s a very surface level approach to the whole thing.

But it’s the way most people approach it, right?!?

But what’s missing is that all these people have more than one program that they teach and, from program to program, it’s a completely different approach. It’s not the same thing, other than the surface stuff.

There’s no skeleton to it. And because it doesn’t have the same skeleton, it’s like a completely different being every time.

But each one has the surface stuff. So from the outside, it’s like the lipstick on the pig.

Everything is dressed up, but there’s no skeleton underneath.

But they are calling it, “this is your signature program” because that’s the one you one you sell the most (or want to sell the most) or it’s the most expensive program you offer.

But there’s nothing “signaturey” about it. No universal approach that you would use with anything. It’s like, mind-boggling to me. But it’s the exact same verbiage that you use, which is why it gets confusing.

That’s why I thought I had a signature system when you first asked me about it.


What you just described to me is more of like they teach you how to reinvent the wheel for each program that you design.


That is literally, exactly what it is.


Your signature system or core client process is really your way of articulating to someone how you see the world.

It’s the world through the eyes of Marylynn; here’s the framework.

Of course, you can add to it.

But it’s like the framing of a home, the structure of a building; it’s there.

And you’re not starting from a blank slate.

It’s like a tree: A tree has roots, trunk, branches, and leaves. There’s a general structure to it.

And a tree is a tree, but there are different species of trees. Just like you have different types of programs.

But the general framework, which is your core client process, or signature system, is still embedded in whatever other programs you create, even if it’s in a different industry.


What you just described is what people really need to hear: The separation between the old way of thinking about signature systems (that I’m totally done with and that never worked for me) and what a signature system really is.

One day later… Marylynn sends me this in an email:

“Now that my eyes have been opened, I can’t believe all of these people are selling others on the idea of signature systems. But they themselves are confused about what that even is; they don’t have a signature system themselves!”

“They simply believe their system is a “signature” one because the exact process for the exact same thing can be repeated. But it’s not really replicable, or they’d easily and always be able to take their signature system and apply it to multiple modalities, niches, sectors, genres, and it’d work. But it doesn’t. If you deviate from their course, they can’t really help you. They don’t really know why their stuff is working.”

So now that you know what a “signature system” really is, you get to choose:

  1. Do you keep putting “lipstick on a pig” and call it good?
  2. Or, do you do the work to develop a real “signature system”?

Let me know what you think!

In the next blog post, I’ll share what happened to Marylynn when you applied what she just described during her next interaction with a potential client.

Stay tuned!



1 Though the term “signature system” is used generically in many circles, I was first introduced to the concept of a “core client process” in 1998 by my very first marketing mentor, Robert Middleton, who also referred to this as a “signature system.”

Entrepreneurs, educators, change-makers, and thought-leaders: The danger of picking your niche audience too soon

I’m a former plastic surgeon. I left my practice in 2003, disgruntled with the overall state of healthcare—the legal, political, and business climate.

In 2005, I started my coaching practice, working with service-dedicated entrepreneurs to grow their businesses. In 73 days, I created a six-figure annualized revenue stream, and I’ve sustained it and grown it ever since. I’ve had clients best my record (70 days) or at least come close (99–226 days).

I’m writing this not to brag, but to set the context for what I’m about to say about picking your niche.

I’ve learned that just because I know a lot about something—for example, being a physician and surgeon—doesn’t mean that’s what I should focus on. For instance, I know a lot about cosmetic surgery, but I have no interest in writing about it. Or even advising about it.

Now, if you’re excited about writing on specific topics, then, by all means, follow your passion.

But consider channeling your skills as a writer and educator into fields that may or may not have an obvious correlation with your past experiences and training. In the end, you may still end up writing for the very audience you are considering now. And if you do, it will be with greater confidence and conviction.

Write and speak about subjects that you are naturally excited about.

Pick ONE area and test it out. That’s the only way to learn: by experience.

As an example, when I first started practicing plastic surgery, I was trained to operate literally from head to toe. So on any given operating room day, I’d do surgery, say, on someone’s head; then, for the next patient, something on their chest or back; then I operated on the next patient’s hand, and then I’d end the day with something on a lower extremity.

Over time, I realized I hated doing nose jobs. I quit doing that. Then, a couple of years later, I realized I was tired of getting up in the middle of the night for people who had cut off their fingers. I quit doing emergency hand surgery. Then I finally figured out that I was sick and tired of dealing with facial fractures at 3 AM. So I gladly gave those up. But tummy tucks—I was totally excited to do those!

My point is, I learned from experience what I liked, and my preferences changed over time as I gained maturity and experience.

I encourage you to do the same, in the roles you play as an entrepreneur, educator, change-maker, and/or thought-leader. Go out and explore working with different audiences. Experience what comes to you readily, what sparks your creativity.

Have fun with your exploration; you don’t have to hit a grand slam in your first at-bat.

A business tip from Albert Einstein: How to grow your business at the speed of thought (your thoughts create your world)

“You have a mind, but you are not your mind. You have a body, but you are not your body.
You have emotions, but you are not your emotions.
You are a child of God; therefore, you can create anything within the constraints of Universal Law.”
– Dr. Michael Gladych, WWII fighter pilot ace-turned-yoga master

Behind every success story, there’s at least one key person in the background, serving as the catalyst for success.

Most of you reading this know the story of my struggles early in my career as a plastic surgeon in private practice back in 1995. In the midst of serious financial struggles (near-bankruptcy), studying to pass my plastic surgery boards, and going through a divorce, I managed to avert near-bankruptcy, turn both my life and practice around and live to tell about it. In retrospect, it seems miraculous that I made it through that challenging period of my life at all.

The part of the story most of you don’t know about is what I actually did that turned things around. How, in a span of three years, I went from broke plastic surgeon with no hope of financial reprieve in sight, living alone in a dingy, dark apartment, to buying a home in a neighborhood that was in the world of wishful thinking, marrying the woman of my dreams, and having children that would make any parent proud.

But, this isn’t just my own story. It’s really the story of how you can achieve anything you want in life. You see, during this period of time, I was introduced to a remarkable man, affectionately known as “Dr. G.” He’s my yoga master, but the work he does has nothing to do with yoga poses.

With Dr. G, I studied what he calls “yoga therapy,” which is the application of Raja yoga principles to everyday life. One of the first things he taught me was how to attract and achieve the things in life that are most important to me.

First, a little about the 96-years-young Dr. G.—Of all things, he used to be a WWI fighter pilot. Meeting him in person, you’d probably think he was in his late 70s or early 80s. A few years ago, he underwent open-heart surgery for a two-vessel cardiac by-pass procedure. The remarkable part is that he did so without general anesthesia!

What philosophy and physics have in common.

Years ago, Dr. G. told me that as a youngster in Poland, he was fascinated by physics and studied the work of Albert Einstein. When he moved to the United States, he had a friend who knew Einstein, so he asked his friend to arrange a meeting.

Dr. G. said to Dr. Einstein: “Philosophy and physics look at the same things in life, just from two different perspectives.” “Philosophy looks at life from the perspective of love. And in this sense, I define love as unconditional giving.”

My yoga master then asked Einstein, “Since physics and philosophy are looking at the same things in life, but from a different perspective, what is the physical correlate of love?”

Einstein and my yoga master walked around the Princeton University campus. Einstein scratched his head and thought for a bit. Then he replied, “Of course, the physical correlate of love is radiation.”

You see, radiation goes everywhere and is stopped by nothing. And, so goes unconditional giving.

One form of electromagnetic radiation is alpha-waves. Because alpha waves are low-frequency, high-amplitude electromagnetic oscillations, they are able to penetrate deep through the Earth, into the depths of the oceans. That’s why the military uses alpha frequencies to communicate with their submarines.

Guess what? Your brain produces alpha waves as well, mostly when you are relaxed, but alert, as in a meditative state.

Consider that your thoughts can ride the alpha waves to the far reaches of the planet. No joke. While I don’t know exactly how this works, let me just say that Dr. G taught me a process of “thought broadcasting” that enabled me to attract the people, seemingly fortuitous events, and resources that I needed to miraculously pull my life together.

So you think. So it goes.

Here’s the deal: Your thoughts create your reality. And your beliefs lead to those thoughts. Even if you don’t believe something is possible, if you begin thinking it is possible, you can “trick” your mind into accepting that belief. Once you believe something is possible, just thinking that it is possible then makes it possible.

This means you can really create anything you want, within the constraints of Universal Law. That means anything.

For example, since traveling faster than the speed of light violates a universal principle, there would be no use in thinking and believing that is possible.


  • Flying without wings
  • Landing a man on the moon
  • Breaking the four-minute mile barrier
  • Or traveling faster than the speed of sound

…were once thought to be humanly impossible.

Beliefs => Thoughts and Feelings => Actions => Desired Results

Action Plan:
If you are ready to take on the process of manifesting what you desire in life, download the free Broadcasting Toolkit. I’ve turned what Dr. G taught me into a short eBook, summary guide, and included a mp3 audio walk-through as well. It’s not hard, but it does take a commitment to consistency. And it takes patience. But what a pay-off in return!

“You can make your life into a grand ever-evolving work of art. The key is your thoughts, the wondrous invisible part of you that is your spiritual soul.” Dr. Wayne Dyer

Sprinkled throughout the rest of the Freedompreneur blog, you’ll learn more about the many lessons I learned from Dr. G and how they apply to your business success.

Ratcheting Up Your Revenue (Part 3): 5 Power Practices for Selling More – Enticing Your Customers to Buy More Each Time They Buy

Ratcheting Up Your Revenue (Part 3): 5 Power Practices for Selling More – Enticing Your Customers to Buy More Each Time They Buy

image about getting buyers to buy moreIn the first blog post in this series, Ratcheting Up Your Revenue (Part 1): Power Strategies Every Smart Entrepreneur Needs to Know, we covered an overview of the only strategies a business can use to boost its revenue. Click here to read that post

In the second blog post in this series, Ratcheting Up Your Revenue (Part 2): Enticing Buyers to Buy More Often, we covered a less costly but highly effective revenue ratchet strategy: Enticing buyers to keep coming back for more. Click here to read that post

In this blog post, we’ll discuss ways to sell more to your buyers by encouraging them to buy more and/or higher-end products and services each time they buy.

A word of caution though: Don’t rush out and arbitrarily raise your rates. Instead, consider the following “power practices” and apply them thoughtfully as you go about increasing the size of each purchase. 

Selling More: Power Practice #1: Give your buyers obvious and easy reasons to buy more with each purchase. 

Let’s look at how you might do this. First, you have to understand their needs; how do you fulfill their needs? In other words, you want to ask the question, what’s the best way to solve your customer’s problems and fulfill their wishes and desires?

How do you figure what your buyers want? You have to ask them.

Here’s an instructive snippet from a conversation with a coaching client that illustrates this point:

Me: “What’s your value proposition?”

Client: “We make life easier for them. We help them make more money.”

Me: “How do you know this?

Client: “I’ve been in business for 15 years.”

Me: “Okay that’s great, but how do you know that these are the specific results, improvements, outcomes and experiences that you’re providing for your clients?

Client: Silence for a little while.

Me: “Would you be willing to directly start asking buyers why they bought from you and what they want more of? Call them up. When they make a purchase, ask them. Do a survey, formally or informally to understand and meet your customer’s needs.”

Client: “I’m having a flat-forehead moment.”

You may already be successfully providing a valuable service; yet, you still would do well to speak with your customers and clients and get feedback. Ask this simple question: “What would you like to buy from us that we are not currently offering and if we offered something else, what would you want to buy from us?”

What you think you’re providing and what your buyers say you’re providing may be two different things. Similarly, the reasons why you think your buyers purchase from you may be surprisingly different than what your buyers actually state as the reasons. The only way to find out is simply to ask them!

Selling More: Power Practice #2: Continually add value.

Value exists in the minds, hearts, and experiences of your buyers. Similar to Power Practice #1, ask your buying audience: “What else can I add that’s valuable?” and “Is what I’m offering still valuable to people?” Times change, things change, economies change, mindsets and wishes and desires and problems change.

It’s important for you as a business to be adaptable and flexible enough to be able to continue to add value on top of what you’re already offering. The most efficient and reliable to do that is to continually ask questions of your buying audience and to listen to what your buyers are saying they want and need from you. You have to provide what they want before they’ll buy what they need.

Be aware that what buyers say they want to buy isn’t necessarily the same as what they really need. That’s okay. Sell them what they want. After that, you can sell them what you as an expert know they really need.

Selling More: Power Practice #3: Reinforce the ultimate value that buyers get from the business solving their problems and fulfilling their desires and needs.

Businesses commonly overlook such opportunities. A simply way to reinforce that value is by asking customers to tell you why they’re using your products and services, why they chose to buy from you, and what they’ve gotten out of them.

You may not always get desirable feedback but it will be very instructive and, used properly, will make a significant difference if you apply that feedback to your business.

You can reinforce the value by capturing raving fan stories, success stories, and testimonials, then sharing them with your potential buyers and existing buyers. This is called “social proof.” For instance, if you go to my website you can watch videos where you hear from the voice of some of my success stories what they got out of working with me. Success Interviews and 6-Figure Success Stories

In instead of or in addition to a “Success Stories” section on your website, you can sprinkle testimonials across different pages on your website as well.

Simple reminders with ideas and tips about how to get the most out of their purchase also serve to reinforce the value of their purchase and encourage potential buyers to jump on-board. TechSmith, the creators of Snagit and Camtasia, does a fantastic job of doing this through their “Your TechSmith New You Can Use” electronic newsletter.

Selling More: Power Practice #4: Focus on value conscious buyers, not price-sensitive consumers.

Price-sensitive customers buy based on who offers the lowest price for what they believe are comparable goods and services. They very often buy at the lowest price at the cost of quality, features, benefits, durability, longer-term value, and overall results.

For you, the problem with price-sensitive customers is that they tend to be disloyal when it comes to buying from you again.

They also tend to be the toughest to please and the most likely to be easily dissatisfied.

Value-conscious customers, on the other hand, buy based on trust, relationships, quality, service, outcomes, and the ultimate experience they get from doing business with you. Over the long-term, you establish an ongoing relationship with these customers in which you’re both invested. As a result, they are more likely to be fiercely loyal and supportive of the longer-term success of your business. Though their expectations remain appropriately high, they are more understanding, patient, and forgiving when things don’t go as well as intended.

In general, buyers who are value-conscious will buy more from you at any one time than price-sensitive ones.

Selling More: Power Practice #5: Shift your mindset to set your product prices and service fees based on value.

The more common approach is to set fees based on hourly rates, on what the competition is charging, or on what you mistakenly fear is what customers can afford to pay.

For a lot of entrepreneurs, this is a very challenging subject. It takes a committed effort to shift existing habits and mindsets. I’ve worked with a lot of people on this. For many people, they just aren’t as confident about stating their fees. When it comes to setting fees, frequently there is this little voice that goes off in the back of our minds that says “You can’t do that.” “People won’t buy from you.” “You’ll lose all your customers.” “Your business will come to a screeching halt.” “It won’t work. It’ll be a disaster.” “You’re going to fail.” This comes from mistaken beliefs about yourself.

What is the number one reason that people don’t set their fees based on value?

The number one reason that people have a challenge in setting their fees based on value is self esteem. They have a weak relationship to themselves in understanding and appreciating who they are and the value that they provide to others.

When you alter your beliefs, thoughts, and feelings about who you are as a human being, you gain greater confidence in the value that you have to offer and in setting your fees based on value. This inquiry opens up a whole host of other things such as emotional feelings, emotions that are based in the past, typically from our childhoods.

Expanding and upgrading your mindset about the value you provide and setting fees and prices is an ongoing process. Engaging in this work is likely to boost your confidence in the value you provide with potential clients and reinforce that value for existing clients.

In Part 4 of this series, we’ll cover 5 more power practices for encouraging buyers to spend more each time they buy from you.

Initial Meeting with a New Potential Client: Charge or No Charge?

Right Turn Dollar BillThis is an age-old question and quandary for many service providers in all types of industries.

I’ve heard of people embracing the policy that the first two hours with a new potential are free. Wow! That is a lot of volunteer time that gets racked up over the course of a business career!

One of the problems with not charging an initial fee is that you’ll end up wasting a lot of time with “tire-kickers,” people who are just shopping around for the lowest price and/or using other less- than -desirable buying criteria.

I also understand the reticence to charge an initial fee. You may scare off a potentially good client. However, charging an initial fee does serve as a filtering mechanism; just make sure the client knows about the fee BEFORE you arrange to meet with them.

Having said that, I suggest a different approach:

  1. After a potential client has contacted you and expressed an interest in speaking/meeting with you, have them fill out a brief questionnaire that gives you background on their situation.
  2. Then after you have reviewed that questionnaire, schedule a time to speak BY PHONE for up to 20-30 minutes. Then share any suggestions and recommendations you might have.
  3. If appropriate after that, offer a fee-based strategic planning session as the next step in working with you.

This initial session coupled with a questionnaire is not only an efficient approach, it gives you the ability to assess whether this would be a good client for you, moving forward.

Once you get comfortable and confident with this approach, you can actually charge significant fees for an initial strategic session.

Here is an example…
One of the bookkeeping services that I suggested this approach to ramped up their business to $100k in the first 12 months of being in business. 5 years later, $1M.

Coincidentally, this very day, I happened to get an email from the owner thanking me. This is a snippet of what he wrote: “All of our time together years ago, especially around paid-consultative sessions, is coming to fruition in some fun and interesting ways this spring. Several large companies who want to work together with us have approved 10-15 hour blocks of time at $150/hour for us to scope out our work together, so that we can give them an accurate proposal. Thanks again for the great coaching and belief years ago!”

So this approach can and does work.

Marketing Madness and Sales Insanity: I know we just met, but how would you like to get married and have kids together?

Marketing Madness and Sales Insanity: I know we just met, but how would you like to get married and have kids together?

In 1999, I was encouraged by some friends to take a class about personal growth and transformation. During the class, I couldn’t help but notice when a certain gorgeous woman stood up to share something.

During one of the breakout sessions, I ended up sitting next to this particular woman. Normally I have no problem thinking up things to say, even regarding topics that I know very little about. However, under the extreme pressure of sitting next to such an attractive woman, I was rendered speechless. The only thing I could think of saying was, “Did you know that your pager is going off in your purse?”

The little common sense I had remaining told me that that line wasn’t going to win the day. So the session ended with me not saying a single word to her.

To make a long story short, that gorgeous woman ultimately became my wife. We have been happily married for the past 13 years and have two rambunctious young boys who are teaching us a lot about being grown-ups.

After our first son was born, I was telling a friend—one of the friends who had encouraged me to register for the class to start with—about how I had sat next to Denise during the second day of class but didn’t have anything slick or suave to say to her.

Flirting at work.Retrospection being highly accurate, he suggested that I should have said something like, “I know you don’t know me, but how would you like to have kids together?”

Hmmm… Single guys out there reading this, don’t try this one out. At least, if you do, don’t blame me for your dismal results!

The other day, I was speaking with a colleague about the challenges of getting clients. She shared an experience she had had earlier in the day: Someone she had just met had immediately started a sales pitch. To my colleague, it felt like an attempt to pressure her into buying something. My colleague has a lot of past experience with sales and immediately knew what was going on.

Another misguided attempt to “close” a buyer without taking time to build rapport.

Her story reminded me about my experience of meeting Denise.

I still shake my head in disbelief when I see so many entrepreneurs out there trying to go back and close a sale almost literally after the first handshake. That’s the business equivalent of saying:
I know we just met, but how would you like to get married and have kids together?

PuzzleI’m not saying you have to take things slow as molasses, but I do recommend that you take whatever time is necessary to get into the other person’s world. Learn about them. Ask questions and listen for problems, issues, challenges, and frustrations. Listen for ways you might be able to provide suggestions or resources, or otherwise provide something of value in an unimposing, nonthreatening, nonsalesy way.

Over the years, I’ve come across a number of people who teach how to get clients by offering a complimentary strategy session, with the primary aim of having the client work with you or otherwise buy something from you.

This approach can certainly work. I used it for the first two years of my coaching practice. But I found it incredibly inefficient, as I wasted a lot of time doing these complimentary strategy sessions with people who I just wasn’t going to be able to work with effectively.

“If only I had a way to screen these people out!” I lamented.

I started tinkering with my approach to the early phases of engaging with potential clients.

Along the way, I wondered why so many coaches, consultants, and therapists just jump right in to working with their clients without so much as a plan, other than: “Let’s get started right away. We can schedule our first session next week.”

Instead of leaping from “just met you” to “let’s jump in bed together,” I teach all my coaching clients to offer a planning session as the next step after the initial “getting to know you” session.

Here’s the common approach:
Informal conversation => complimentary strategy session (a disguised sales session) => sign up client

Now, here’s the approach I recommend:
Informal conversation => screening questionnaire => complimentary discovery session => complimentary (or paid) strategic planning session


While there’s an extra step in the sequence I recommend, I’ve found in my own experience and that of my clients that taking this added step is going to increase your conversion rates significantly when it comes to longer-term, higher-paying clients. And it’s a more natural progression for your clients, making it easier for them to say yes.