While walking from my office to the front desk to meet my new client for her initial consultation I wonder what kind of energy she is going to give off. In the past I've had some wonderful consultations that have turned into life-long clients (lifers). I have also had some magnificent blunders that have been chalked up as "learning experiences"â❠in my internal portfolio. Most often I get a pretty good feel for someone over the phone when scheduling our first meeting however this particular client was set up via email after she was referred to me by one of my current clients.
I am going into this assessment blind. I do bring with me 12 years of experience reading people's energy and providing the information that I feel the client needs to hear from me to earn their trust. To improve my ability to assess new clients I developed a technique that I would like to share with you that will make your initial consultation as successful as possible, and ultimately lead you to developing a great following of lifers.
Read Your Client's Personality, Assess Their Energy and Match It
Reading your client's energy in person or on the phone is a difficult craft to master, although you will get better at it with experience. During the initial contact, as you are scheduling a potential client's consultation or first session, try to get a read on their personality. I have found that there are four primary personalities that I have learned to assess. I have listed a few strategies to help you recognize these personalities and a few tips on how to relate.
1. Keep It Loose
Does the client joke around with you on the phone, is their attitude relaxed and up beat? These are some of the best clients to have as they already have a positive attitude in place and are merely lacking the proper guidance. These are often the clients that become lifers after their first session as they are totally convinced you are the right person for the job. This, by far, is the most easy personality trait to read and respond to.
2. All Business
Is the client portraying an extremely stern and serious personality? Do you have to drag every single detail out of them by asking a lot of questions? Many times these overly serious clients are simply nervous and will begin to share more with you as you progress through to your first session. It is a question of trust.
Once the client feels that they can trust you they will let down their guard, although it can be difficult sometimes if they won't give you any breathing room at the beginning. Stay consistent with your questioning and allow them to fill in the details. By the end of the consultation they should have told you some rather detailed and personal information. If they have, then your questioning was spot on and you are one step closer to earning their trust.
3. Nervous Nelly
Is the client portraying that they are nervous or worried? Usually showing these personality traits means that the client is not comfortable and is worried that you might judge them based off the personal information they are about to give you. Often insuring the client that you understand their situation and that any information that they share with you will be kept confidential allows them the opportunity to relax and open up.
Make sure you are in a private area (office with a closed door) and that the environment is confortable and not intimidating. Asking a new client personal questions in front of the registration desk can be very intimidating. In many cases, comfort and confidentiality are the keys to your client's relationship with you being a success.
4. I'm Not Buying It
No matter what you do, be it to site proven research articles or spout off stats about how successful you have been with your clients, this potential client does not believe your hype. They know they need help however their skeptical mindset is holding them back. This mindset shows that they are worried about getting ripped off or injured. The best thing to do with critically-minded individuals is to do all you can to show them how educated and experienced you are.
Find a way to earn their trust even if it takes training them for free. Sacrifice twenty minutes of your time to try out your product. This free session also provides you with another opportunity to prove your worth to your potential client and show that you are the elite level fitness professional you claim to be. Anything beyond this is not financially worth your time. In most cases, if you can prove your worth to the skeptical client and offer up some of your own time to cap off the sale you will earn their trust and be on your way to developing another lifer.
Reading and matching a client's energy is extremely important in our profession. Every client will require you to wear a different hat, in that each individual will have different ways in which you will need to communicate with him or her. Where we can lose credibility is if we try too hard and become someone we are not. We are not curving our personalities to be similar to our client's, rather we are tweaking the way we relate to someone based off of our assessment of their personality traits. As you are finishing up your consultation do not be afraid to turn away business. If you feel, after getting as much information from your potential client as possible that your personalities are not going to work well together it is better to professionally refer them over to another trainer.
Keeping a "trouble client,"â❠as I call them, will only lead to poor results. You both will feed off the poor energy that you collectively bring and not long after the client will discontinue training with you as an un-satisfied customer. This will do more damage to your reputation than the small amount of money you make will benefit your financial situation. In this case, it is better to turn away the financial benefit and offer an opportunity to another trainer whose personality may fit perfectly.
Learning to read and relate to your potential client is a great way to begin a relationship. The more sessions you have with your client the more your client's true personality will come out. This will lead to a much stronger relationship between you and your client and a solid relationship will offer greater opportunity for success.