Extensions, Testimonials, Referrals, ... and Bears. Oh My!

A student of my material sent an email with some very good questions for client management including how to handle contract extensions, referrals, testimonials and general end-of-contract dynamics and structures.

I have re-posted relevant portions of the email exchange below for you.


I've listened to your recordings from previous coaching programs and have found them to be insanely valuable. I've signed 8 clients and raised my rates already in the first few months of the program, and I attribute it to following your sales process to a "T".

A HUGE thank you.

My pleasure. I am delighted to hear they were useful to you.  

 

As a couple of my 6-session coaching packages are coming to a close, I have questions around how you structure the end-of-package process. Here are some specific questions:

Do you formally review outcomes with your clients at the end of a package? If so, how do you structure this conversation?

 


Yes we do. Twice in fact. We review their outcomes and the stated evidence for those outcomes about 2/3 of the way through the process. This review is important so we can see where we are on track, see where we already achieved the outcome(s), and see where we need to focus out remaining time together.

Additionally, in the final session, what we do is review their outcomes [mostly I print them out and hand them the assessment we made together] and with those, I have them fill out an extensive feedback sheet or "exit survey" as I like to call it. 

When do you raise the issue of referrals? I love how you talk about referrals on the FAQ page of your site, and I'm wondering how else you support those ideas and maximize the chance of the client biasing toward action.

I never really raise the issue of referrals along the way. For two reasons really, 1) I find it a little off for the Evolutionary Sales™ approach, and 2) I usually I do not have to because they do--and when they mention this friend or that colleague, I tell them how to refer people to me--get their permission to give me their contact information and leave the rest to me.

Additionally, because referrals are part of the agreement they signed, the exit survey gives them an opportunity to write down two names and phone numbers for referrals they have permission from to do so--which re-presences it for them if they have forgotten; it is right there on the last page of the feedback sheet.

Do you collect testimonials from clients? This seems like it would be good material for my website, which isn't up yet. If so, how do you frame it? When do you ask for it (i.e. at the end of a package, when the client is at a peak)

Yes, of course. When they write or say something that is a peak or they are acknowledging me about something I simply ask, "can I quote you on that?" with a friendly chuckle. Then I ask them if I can edit it and send it to them for their approval before I publish it. Sometimes they want anonymity, but I then just use it and us this attribution:  " --Anonymity Requested".  

The truth is, I have no interest in the compliment personally [as in an ego boost or a pat on the back--no interest in that]. However, practically and professionally, you bet I want to hear that--as long as I can quote them on it. Compliments are of no value to me. Testimonials are.

Often, when they say something that would make a great testimonial, typing it up is the thing that is in their way and delays it becoming a testimonial. That, and they are worried about writing it well or "doing it right". So I offer to type it up for them to capture their sentiments and send it to them for their approval.

This removes both the barrier and the delay.

How and when do you have the discussion about signing on for additional coaching? Either to continue work on outcomes that were originally defined OR taking the momentum of coaching and applying it to a new set of outcomes. If the latter, would you do another exploratory with your client?

That is typically driven by that final review of their outcomes. If we have achieved, say, 4 out of 5 of their primary outcomes, and are close on the 5th, we may sign for an additional 2 or 4 sessions. That is rare though. I would guess about 1 in 15. However, I only work with comprehensive packages and it is designed to not be renewed. 

If you are beginning your practice you will be working with a smaller package--as you mentioned, yours are 6-session packages currently--and have more opportunity and more cause to renew or extend. It should still be outcome driven though--not just relational--so we stick to results and not build dependencies in our clients on us.

We want to free them. We want them to "graduate" from us.

However, you are just getting oriented to your offering and you do not yet have a full, comprehensive offering. So you will extend more frequently in the beginning of building your practice. As you do that--regardless of whether they sign for additional sessions or not--you want to have your attention on what else they needed--basically, what was missing from your offering you should add--as those insights will go a long way into bullding a longer offering in the future.

Additionally, on extentions, Evolutionary Sales™ is about outcomes and the vision of what achieving them would make possible in their lives. Remember, we are not selling a service, we are assisting them in selling themselves on their own outcomes and what that will make possible in their lives. This orientation also takes the question of extensions away from anything personal or adversarial, and orients it on their future and their outcomes. In partnership. Looking in the same direction shoulder-to-shoulder.

This approach has "objections" simply not arise; there is nothing for them to resist or push back against. It will either be a fit or make sense to continue, or it won't.

If you already achieved or resolved what they wanted to achieve or resolve, and you have the sense you can serve them further, then you can simply ask them if they are interested in more, and what they see as possible now [their vision for themselves has likely shifted/expanded].

If they are drawing a blank, but you see a lot for them that they "need" and than you can assist with, you may also may just ask them if you can offer something [ask permission] and tell them what additional work you see they could take on and you could do together and ask them if that interest them--and informally seal the deal by asking, "so, wanna go for it?" they say yes, and then you simply say, great, let's handle the formalities--and then proceed to create a new contract for an extension--or add an addendum to the original agreement.

I would not necessarily do another exploratory session. More likely, we just schedule a paid session where we do a fresh, thorough outcome elicitation and evidence clarification for the next phase of our work together. 

 

If they're not interested in doing more coaching right away, how and how often do you keep in touch with your clients?

 

I simply ask them; I let them determine the contact frequency. If they are not interested in more then, and they express interest in more work in the future, you can go one of two ways:

1. Ask them if they want to agree to work together in the future with a specific start date, as they may have some time-frame in their mind. Barring that, 

2. Ask them when you should check in with them next [and how often]. And then you put that in your calendar and be sure to do that. I also ask them if I shoudl call or send them an email. This not only makes sure you are using permission-based sales and marketing, but that you are honoring their preferences.

Thanks so much in advance for taking the time to contribute to me! (gotta love that phrase)

 My pleasure. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to contribute to you.  

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Tom Hoobyar
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