By Charlotte Bailey, Nurturing Birth Mentor
This is the second of a two-part series – click here for part one.
Last month Charlotte introduced us to some of her doula sales techniques. This month we share the second part of her article on how to really connect with the right clients.
Skill No. 3 – Sharing the opportunity. During your meeting with your prospective client remember to make them the main focus. They will want to know about you – especially if the meeting has been set up as an ‘interview’ (by the way, I much prefer the terms ‘meeting’ or ‘consultation’ as I believe it evokes a better sense of equality, but you’ll use the terminology you feel most comfortable with). Be mindful about how much you are speaking and how much you are listening. If you ask the right questions, the client will tell you everything you need to know in terms of what they are looking for and why, and thus you can tailor your explanation of what you can offer to their needs. It shows you’re aligned and also that you’ve really heard them. Keeping your language positive, based in facts, and focused on the transformation that your client is likely to experience if they work with you will help. A former business coach of mine, Bill McFarlan, wrote a great book (see below) about how the language we use to describe what we do is SO important and that we often can unconsciously talk ourselves out of a sale by accidentally conveying the wrong thing or simply by talking too much. Getting that balance takes a little practice and reflection but with awareness comes opportunity[E1] !
Skill No. 4 – Following-Up In sales, it is often said that ‘the fortune is in the follow-up’. I think this is SO true. Following-up is doing what you said you would do. If you say you are going to send some info or confirm a meet-up, then do it. My experience as a Doula so far has been that demonstrating reliability and commitment is MASSIVELY important to pregnant women and people. They need to know they can depend on you so show them – right from the get-go – what it’s like to work with you.
It takes the average person 4-6 meetings (or exposures) before they can say yes to an invitation to work together. Therefore, treat each exposure as an opportunity to set up the next expose until you feel you have established a trusting relationship with your prospective client, keeping relationship-building and understanding as the goal of each of those exposures. If you’ve signposted or referred your potential client to some info, you might ask to check back with them to find out how it helped them. Then, instead of asking ‘What did you think?’, you could ask questions that facilitate the development of your relationship whilst demonstrating what it’s like to work with you ie “Tell me what was most relevant for you, which parts weren’t? How do you think you might use this in your labour preparations? What do you feel you need now?”
I can’t remember where I heard it, but I’ve learnt its true; the universe loves speed! So condensing the exposures into the shortest amount of time possible can work in your favour. It prevents your prospective client from being distracted by life or from encountering obstacles that may ultimately prevent them from engaging your services (an unexpected expense or and impulse purchase that eats up their spare funds). Speed also helps you to keep their interest up. There is also the obvious fact that pregnancies are 42/43 weeks in length at the very most; A potential client might approach you in the latter stages of their third trimester in which case, you have to move quickly.
A pattern of exposures condensed into 2 weeks might look something like this:
1 – The first encounter (meeting through mutual friends/ chance encounter etc). Invite them to a PBM group.
2 – Text right away to say how nice it was to meet them. Give them a link to a relevant website/ book/ resource and confirm you’ll see them at the next PBM meeting
3 – 48 hours before the PBM Meeting, call them to confirm the meeting details
4 – Meet at the PBM. Arrange a one-to-one coffee date in 2-3 days’ time
5 – Send a voice message 24 hours ahead of time to confirm the coffee date
6 – Meet for coffee. Ask them about the benefits and usefulness of the resource you sent plus the PBM group. Invite them and their partner to learn more about possibly working with you. Set a time for the consultation. Ask to add them to your Doula Facebook Page.
7 – Call ahead to confirm the consultation and send them some relevant information
8 – At the consultation arrange a time to follow-up. Send them a thank you text after the meeting with any links to references you’ve made and confirm the date/ time of the follow-up.
9 – Follow-up when you agreed to. Ask if they have had enough information/ time to make a decision. If not, ask them what they need in order to do that and/or if there is any way you can further support them in making a decision (do they want to meet you again? Do they need to meet some other Doulas? Can you assist in connecting them to other local Doulas?). Arrange a time to check back with them and repeat until they have either arrived at a ‘no’ or a ‘yes’.
10 – Top tip: If you get a ‘no’, follow-up one last time anyway. Sometimes things don’t work out and having established a rapport with you, they may come back if you reach out. Sometimes feelings of awkwardness or a worry that they may have hurt your feelings prevents potential clients from coming back. Let them know that whatever their decision the door will always remain open. You never know, they might end up needing a back-up so find a creative way to keep in touch.
Now, you may feel resistance in consciously seeking to develop skills to turn conversations with potential clients into actual bookings. This could be because of the stories you hold about [E2] sales transactions or because of a lack of belief in either your ability to support that client or in Doulaing, in general. Spend some time with this. Ask yourself what stories you hold around sales, where they come from, if they serve you and what needs to happen for you to release them. Thereafter, the potential is that you are free to acquire any sales skills that will help to drive your business forward. All skills can be learnt and, with practice, mastered. However, skills – just like relationships – take time to build so be patient with yourself and allow time and space so that you and your dream clients need to build enough rapport that the magic happens. And it will happen!
Further reading (in no particular order)
- Drop the Pink Elephant: 15 ways to say what you mean…and mean what you say – Bill McFarlan
- Booked – Josh Turner
- Awaken the Giant Within: How to take immediate control of your mental, physical, emotional and financial destiny – Anthony Robins
- Playing Big: Find your voice, your mission and make things happen – Tara Mohr
- Purple Cow – Seth Godin
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Stephen R. Covey
Fresh out of University, Charlotte founded a social enterprise in 2005 and was a workshop facilitator for 10 years, running projects in the UK and internationally to foster the empowerment of marginalized communities. She later studied Midwifery with the intention of becoming an Independent Midwife before her final pivot in 2016 when she became a Doula. Charlotte understands that fostering women’s empowerment includes enabling financial independence and has, throughout 15 years of self-employment, taken a keen interest in educating herself and mentoring others on how to achieve this. Charlotte offers Birth and Postnatal Doula services in Hampshire and has recently joined the team of Doula Mentors for Nurturing Birth.