Closing The Deal With Clients


What We Can Learn from Salespeople

September/October 2013


What do you say to potential clients when they first call you or come in for a consultation? We may resist the idea, but in this initial phase, therapists face the same challenge as salespeople seeking to turn shoppers into satisfied customers.

When clients call for a consultation or come in for a first appointment, an underlying question, often unstated, always shapes what happens: is there a good fit between what I’m looking for—relief from anxiety and depression, for example—and what you have to offer? But that same question, albeit expressed in different ways, is by no means restricted to what happens between therapists and clients. However we may resist the idea, we’re in the therapy business, and the reality is that our initial contact with clients represents the same challenge faced by salespeople seeking to turn shoppers into satisfied customers. What good, responsible salespeople know is that their job isn’t to make people buy things they don’t need, but to assess people’s needs and show them the match with what they have to offer.

Think about the experience of buying a car—as soon as you step onto a dealership lot, you’re ready for the sales pitch, the question-and-answer dance of customer and seller. Like it or not, you’re doing this same dance when you first talk to potential clients. You’re not trying to peddle some product people don’t really need: they’ve called you up, or stepped onto the lot, as it were. They want to know…

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