So if you have experienced this, welcome to the club, you are not alone. And today we're going to talk about some ways we can prevent this from happening in the first place, and what to do when it does happen to you. Because if it hasn't yet, it probably will. Even with the prevention strategies I'm going to share with you today, sometimes things happen. So we're going to tackle this from both the prevention and the intervention side of things. I think my public health background may be showing a little bit on that one, but I do believe prevention is where we need to begin. Because if we can set structures up in our business that make it less likely a client will ghost us, then I feel we've succeeded. But of course, we also want to make sure that we have some strategies in place so that if and when a client ghosts us we know what to do. So that is what we are going to dive into during today's episode.
Now before we get into the “what to do and how to do it”, I just want to acknowledge the fact that when we are ghosted by a client, whether it's a potential client or an existing one, it's not fun, it hurts, it can feel like a bruise to the ego. Maybe you feel sad, and you're wondering what you could have done differently. Maybe you're feeling frustrated, or even angry that this person has wasted your time or that they've committed to something and they're not following through. Maybe a part of you is thinking, “Ugh, why even bother? This always happens clearly, I'm no good at this, I should just hang it up.” All of these are understandable responses to being ghosted or no showed. And I think it's really important that we acknowledge the emotional component of this first. I know when I was first starting out, whenever a client no showed me for a consultation call, or if I made a proposal, and they seemed enthusiastic, and then I never heard from them again – I'm not gonna lie, I took that really personally. I would do essentially like a post mortem dissection of my sales process of my calls to figure out what I did wrong. And what was wrong with me that this even happened in the first place.
So looking back, I think it's fair and appropriate to take a look at your process, see what may have gone awry, so that you can revise it for next time, and maybe reduce the likelihood that you'll have no shows or clients ghosting you. But the mistake that I made, and you may have picked up on it already, was that I was making it mean something about me. I was taking another person's decision to not engage as proof that there was something wrong with me, my coaching, my business, and I was taking it so personally. And the truth is, while early in my business, I am positive there were things that I could have been doing differently in order to reduce the likelihood that clients would no show or ghost me. The other piece is that I do not control my clients' decisions. And I do not control their actions. And some of those actions and decisions have nothing to do with me and everything to do with what the client is currently experiencing, what their own fears and blocks are, and ultimately, their readiness to work with me. It's a fine line. Because I don't mean to suggest that I don't bear any responsibility in creating and refining a sales process that makes it comfortable for my clients to take the next step. And that's grounded in integrity. That is very much my responsibility as a business owner. And once I've done that work, the decision and how my potential client moves forward that's on them. And if I know that I have a sales process in place that is anchored in authenticity and integrity. If I'm centering the client, and I'm not using any of those hardcore, high pressure sales tactics, then at the end of the day, I can rest assured that no matter what decisions my potential client makes, I have lived and behaved in integrity with myself. And so that's what I want to talk about today is how to incorporate some strategies that can reduce the likelihood of missed appointments, no shows, ghosting in a way that still honors the clients experience and their autonomy and separates it from your sense of self worth and your identity. When a client no shows you, when a client ghosts you, that is not necessarily an indication that you are doing something wrong, or that there's something wrong with you personally. Let's do our best to detach from outcome. And believe me, I know that is hard. I feel like that is my life's work is constantly detaching from the outcome, while at the same time still accepting responsibility for the things that are within my sphere of control.
So let's just start off acknowledging the obvious, which is that it sucks to be ghosted by a client. But that doesn't necessarily mean that you suck, or that there's a problem with you or your business. Okay, so we're all on the same page there. With that in mind, let's start by exploring some prevention strategies to reduce the likelihood that a client will ghost you in the future.
Now, my first strategy has to do with booking consult calls, or as I call them, connection calls. And in fact, if you listened to last week's episode, you know, we did a whole breakdown of how to conduct a powerful consultation call. And within that episode, I mentioned a few techniques that can go a long way towards preventing having a client ghost you. But before we even get them on the call, we need to make sure they're going to attend. When I was a brand new coach, I booked consult calls with just about anyone about anything. My calendar was wide open. I had no barriers to entry. If you wanted to talk to me about possibly coaching, you could get on my calendar, no questions asked.
So there was a very low threshold to book a call with me. And as a result, I had a ton of no shows. I would have people self schedule, get on my calendar, and then I would never see them. They would just ignore the call. Without getting into why they might make that decision, or how it made me feel I can tell you, it did waste a lot of my time. This was time that I had set aside for a call that I could have been using to create content or to connect with other people. And instead, I was sitting in front of a Zoom screen for 10 to 15 minutes, waiting for someone to show up. That didn't feel good at all. So at a certain point in my business, I decided that it was not serving me to have my calendar wide open for anyone. That's when I instituted an application policy for a consult call. Now I know that might sound like a lot. So let me break it down for you. When I say application, I'm not talking about something that's going to take 15 to 20 minutes for someone to complete. But right now, if you go to my website, if you go to coachwithclarity.com/contact, you will see that if you want to book a call with me, I have a form that you have to fill out first. You've got to let me know who you are, what you want to talk about, and which of my services or programs you are interested in discussing. I created this form to serve as a screener. I wanted to make sure that if someone was going to schedule with me that they were an appropriate candidate for a consult call, that the topic they wanted to discuss was within my wheelhouse, and at this point, they're looking for individual coaching, because I do not do consult calls for the Coach with Clarity Collective or any of my one off workshops.
So I want to make sure that they are an appropriate candidate and that screening form helps make that happen. The other thing is that if someone goes through the process of filling out an application form to get on my calendar, they're going to take it more seriously. They are going to realize, oh, this person's time is pretty valuable. I want to honor that. So after they complete the form, I review it and if I determine “Yes, this is someone where it makes sense for me to conduct a call with them.” At that point, I email them back with a link to my calendar before my calendar link was right there on my website so that anyone could get on my calendar directly. I don't do that anymore. And since I have instituted an application form for my consult calls, my no show rate has gone way, way down. So if you are not already doing that, that's something you may want to consider adding to your process. Again, it's not a lengthy application, we're talking three or four questions designed to help you figure out what it is the person wants to talk about, and which of your programs or services they're interested in. And you can see an example of that over at coachwithclarity.com/contact
So the number one time that potential clients tend to ghost us is at that initial consult call, they book it, and then they never show up. The second most common time is after the consult call, where they have said, “Yes, I want to work with you”, “Yes, I'm interested.” And then we go through the whole process of onboarding them, getting our agreements ready, our invoices ready, our intake forms all of that. And then we never hear from them. They don't sign the contract, they don't submit their first payment, they are gone. And that is also incredibly frustrating. In many ways, I find that even more frustrating than when someone no shows me for an initial call. Because we had that verbal agreement that we were going to take the next step. And it's human nature that if someone says yes, I want to work with you, that you're going to feel excited about that. So it can feel particularly disappointing and frustrating when someone you thought you were going to take on as a new client basically decides they don't want to do that. And they don't communicate that with you. They just disappear. If that's happened to you, I feel that it's happened to me too, and it doesn't feel good. That's why one of the most important things we can do during a consult call or connection call is to test the “Yes”. And I did mention this concept in last week's episode. It's something I first learned about through Rich Litvin, the author of The Prosperous Coach, he advises that when you have a client commit to working with you, before you go straight into “Yes, all right, let's do it, I'll send you the invoice, I'll send you the contract, we got this,” you want to slow down a bit. I know our instinct is to go full steam ahead with our onboarding process. But truly, the best thing we can do for our client and for ourselves is to slow the process down. So we want to make sure that they have everything they need to feel confident about this decision. Is there any additional information they need? Are there any resources that they might need to access in order to make this happen? I also like to ask the question as to whether there are any other stakeholders who may need to be involved in making this decision. Now stakeholders is a really broad term. And I do that intentionally. Because each one of us have different people in our lives that we may choose to include in our decision making. Now in my relationship, my husband and I run decisions by each other before we make them. And let me be clear, it's not that I need his permission. It's that I value his input. And I want to talk through things with him to make sure that we're on the same page, and also that I have considered everything before I go all in. So I choose to discuss things with my partner, because I value his input, I want his perspective. And to be quite honest with you, I always feel better about my decision when I know he and I are on the same page. Many of you may be in relationships where you feel the same way. Perhaps you have a spouse or a partner who is a part of your decision making process. Again, not because you need their permission, but because you value their guidance and their perspective. If I want that for myself, I would be remiss and acting out of integrity if I didn't offer that to my clients as well. So that's one reason why I always ask them if there are any stakeholders, anyone else they want to discuss this with before they commit. For some people, that stakeholder might be a supervisor or a boss, especially if their work or their business is financing their coaching. For others, it might be a parent or a relative. This is often the case for the coaches I know who provide coaching for young adults, so adults who perhaps are in college or grad school, who may still be getting some financial assistance from a parent, a family member or someone else. And that person is essentially the sponsor of the coaching agreement. We've talked a little bit about this in the past. I think the client is the person receiving the coaching. The sponsor is the person paying for it and if they are not the same person, it is so important that the sponsor is also on the same page with you and with the client. So again, slowing the process down, making sure that there are no other stakeholders that need to be involved in the discussion or that the client would want involved in the discussion. And then also making sure that they have what they need to fully commit to this coaching experience. Sometimes that is finances, certainly, we want to make sure that they feel financially comfortable enough to make this investment, it's not really my business to get inside my clients wallet, nor is it my role to judge how they spend their money. That's on them. But I do want to make sure that they feel financially prepared in order to make the investment in coaching with me. But it's not simply about the financial investment. We also want to make sure our clients understand the time and the energetic investments required in coaching. And depending on what it is they're working towards whatever their goal is, and how we support them in that, that could require a fair amount of time and energy on their part. And so we want to make sure that they understand that and that they are ready to make the commitment. So when we slow the process down, when we test the Yes, and we make sure that everything is in place for them to say yes, then we reduce the likelihood that they are going to ghost us and not reply when we send the contract and send the invoice.
So those are a few things I suggest incorporating into your process, if you are not already doing them. Have a screening form or application for your consults calls and on that form, be really clear, even have a checkbox if you want, regarding which programs and services they're interested in. And again, if you go to my website and lookfap at my form, as an example, you'll see that for my private coaching offers, I will put the price point next to that service, I think it's really important that we're transparent about our pricing, we don't necessarily need to lead with it. But we want our clients to come into the call knowing ahead of time, a little bit about that financial investment. And I choose to put that right on that form. Because then a client can decide, oh, wait, this might be out of my budget right now, perhaps it's not the right time for me to book this call. Or they might think “Okay, that's a pretty significant investment. Let me think about what I need to do to make this happen.”
So we're kind of priming the pump, we're planting the seed. And it makes sure that they're not blindsided, when they finally do get on the call with us, then when we're on the call, we slow things down and give them an opportunity to really make sure they are fully prepared to make the financial, energetic, and time investment to work with us.
Now, let's say you've done all of these things, and yet you still have a non responsive client. One question I get asked a lot is, if and how often you should follow up with them? Well, I definitely recommend following up. Follow ups are a key part of your sales strategy. So yes, if you don't hear from a client, it is absolutely appropriate to follow up. Typically what I do if I've sent a contract or an invoice, and I haven't heard from them, I give it anywhere from five to seven days. And then I send an email out and I give them the benefit of the doubt, I resend my links to the contract and the invoice, and I come from a place of, “Hey, this may have gotten lost in your inbox. If your inbox looks anything like mine, you are swamped with emails. So I just wanted to make sure you saw this. Let me know if you have any questions.” So it's a real soft follow up, no pressure. But again, reminding them, we discussed this, you committed to this, this is the next step. That's the first follow up. If I don't hear from them after that email, I will send a second one. And again, that's typically about a week later, give or take. And at that point, I take the offer off the table. I'm a strong believer that a nebulous maybe does not serve anyone energetically. And if you have a client that has verbally committed to you, but is not following through with the contract or the invoice, then that is a nebulous maybe we don't know where we stand with them. We don't know if we're moving forward, and that doesn't feel good. So in that second email, I take the offer off the table. And I do so in a really gentle way that is open and invites communication. It's not about shaming or blaming. It's simply stating fact, “Hey, I haven't heard from you. And so I take that to mean that you're not prepared to move forward at this time. That's totally fine. I'm going to remove the contract and invoice from your file and if you change your mind in the future, please feel free to reach out.” So in that second follow up email. I'm taking control of the narrative and I'm saying “We're not going to move forward with this.” Now you can expect one of three things to happen when you send that second, and presumably final follow up email. Number one is you may not hear from them, they may continue to ghost you. And that's fine. Because in your mind, you have removed the offer from the table, and so the case is closed. So that's one thing that could happen. Number two is you may get a response and it may be one of gratitude, “Thank you so much. Yes, now is not the right time. But I'll reach back out in the future.” So that's another possible response. And then, of course, the third possible response is that they come back and say, “Wait, I'm so sorry. I've just been swamped. But no, I really want to work with you.” And so it gives them an opportunity to reopen the discussion at which point you can decide, okay, are we really ready to move forward here. So that is how I approach follow up when a client ghosts me after I've made a proposal.
Now, every now and then, I will have an existing client ghost me. So this is someone that I've worked with, they've signed the contract they've paid, and I don't hear from them. This does not happen very often. In fact, in six years of business, I can count on one hand, the number of times I have not had a current client respond to my emails or miss a session. It doesn't happen very often. But it does happen sometimes. And so I do want to spend a couple minutes today talking about what to do, if you have an existing client, no show you or fall off your radar. So step one is to take a deep breath seriously, and I'm talking to myself here as much as I am to you. Because it is very easy for me to leap into making the assumption that I have done something wrong, that I have angered or offended my client, and they are not communicating with me because they're angry or hurt or fill in the blank with whatever unwanted emotion you want. And again, this is just my mind at work, making it about me, because if it's about me, then maybe it's something I can control. The fact of the matter is, most times, it's not going to be about you, it's going to be about whatever is going on in your client's life that's making them not able to fully engage with you. So give yourself the benefit of the doubt to start. Reach out to your client with care, with concern, let them know you're thinking about them, you haven't heard from them, you just wanted to check in and make sure everything was okay. You want to let them know you're there to support them. And you want to open the lines of communication, because maybe something did happen. And your client was left feeling confused or hurt. And oftentimes, that's because of miscommunication. So rather than wonder what's going on, open the door for communication, let your client know that if they're having any concerns or problems, you are here to listen, and then allow them to reach out when they're ready. Now, sometimes, things can get a little tricky if you have a client who is on a payment plan, and there's an outstanding balance, and they're not responding to your emails or your Voxer messages, and they're not paying their balance.
Now, if you haven't already, you will definitely want to check out Episode 86, where I talk all about payment plans and how to structure them in a way that serve both you and your client. And in that episode, one of the things I strongly suggest is to create a payment plan schedule so that you are always paid for the work that you've done to date. The example I gave in that episode is that if you have a three month coaching arrangement with someone, you might want to have 50% due when you have your first session, and then the remaining 50% After six weeks, that way, you will always have been compensated for the work that you have put in to date. And you will not be in a situation where you have delivered more services or more products before you've been paid for them. Now, assuming that you've done that, it's really a matter of your personal preference and how you want to move forward seeking that additional payment so that you can continue the contract. And assuming they've signed a contract, then legally they have committed to following through and you could potentially seek those additional payments that they've not made yet. But you have to decide whether it's worth it to you, especially if you've structured your payment plan so that you haven't provided any services without compensation. You've got to decide is it worth the time, the hassle and potentially putting a damper on this relationship for me to go after this. Do you really want to take them to small claims court? Do you really want to involve an attorney? Again, if you have a legally binding contract, you can do that. But you also have to ask yourself, if it's worth the time, the labor and the expense to do so. If you decide it is not worth it, then essentially, you need to take control back of the narrative, and terminate the coaching relationship. Believe me, I know that's hard. It's not something we enjoy doing as coaches. But the fact is, if they are not following through on their terms of the agreement, and that includes payment, then it is within your rights to terminate service, especially if you have that in your contract, which I hope you do. So at this point, you will want to send them an email that essentially says, “Because I've not heard from you, and because you've not submitted your payment, I am going to,” and again, here, you can use your own language, you can say pause, you can say end, however you're feeling about it. But you can say for example, “I'm going to pause our current contract,” you can let them know that you will not be seeking additional payment, but that “the terms of your agreement have now come to an end and you will no longer be providing them with coaching services.” If you have a contract in place, you may also want to remind them that you are voluntarily releasing them from this contract agreement. So even though the contract says they've committed to this and they have to continue paying as a professional courtesy, you are relieving them of that responsibility. Again, this is your call. And you can absolutely decide that nope, you're going to go after that payment in full because that's what the person has agreed to. Just make sure you have a strong legal contract in place to support your efforts in that. That's also one of the reasons why we have an attorney prepared contract template inside the Coach with Clarity Membership. So if you're not already a member, believe me friend you want to get on the waitlist, we will be reopening the membership in just a few months, and I will be reaching out to the people on the waitlist first. And between you and me, there's going to be a special bonus for people who want to join and who are on the waitlist. So consider this your invitation to head on over to coachwithclarity.com/membership
and hit that button to get on the waitlist. You can expect a little email in your inbox in the next few weeks about next steps. So head on over to coachwithclarity.com/membership
to get on the waitlist now. And before you know it perhaps I will be welcoming you inside the membership. Okay, my friend, we have covered a lot about what to do when a client goes to you. Now I think it's time for this week's Clarity in Action moment.
So we've talked about three times where we are likely to experience a client ghosting us. One is before we even get on the consult call. Another is when we've had the consult call and we've made a proposal but then we don't hear from them. And then a third is when we have an existing client who goes radio silent. I'm going to invite you to choose one of those three scenarios and let's make a plan for it. And you may want to choose the scenario that's happening most often to you. So for example, if you have a fairly high no show rate for your consult calls, then I'm going to challenge you to come up with a strategy to reduce that no show rate. Perhaps it looks like incorporating an application into your process. Maybe it looks like having very specific times that you are available for consult calls. You may even want to institute a policy where if you are no showed, that's one strike and you're out and you don't hold consult calls for people who have no showed you in the past. The decision is up to you. But I want you to get really clear on what your process will be when that happens. You can incorporate some of the tactics we've talked about in today's episode or if you come up with a solution that we've not talked about today, I would absolutely love to hear it. So you can come find me over on Instagram @CoachwithClarity and send me a DM. Let me know what your process looks like to reduce the likelihood that you have to deal with a ghosting client. So come find me over on Instagram @CoachwithClarity or if you're not already a member of the free Coach with Clarity community over on Facebook, head to coachwithclarity.com/community
and request to join today.
All right, my friend. That's it for this week's episode of the Coach with Clarity podcast as always I have so enjoyed spending time with you today. In fact, I've had so much fun I think I'll do it again next week. And in fact next week we have a fantastic interview in store for you. I will be welcoming, creative strategist and web designer Christi Cooper of Cooper and Heart Creative and we're going to be talking all about websites and what you as a coach need to know when it comes to creating a high converting website. Christi is a phenomenal designer in fact, she is the designer behind my website, coachwithclarity.com. I'm a little partial to it, I think it's pretty cool. And full credit goes to Christi for creating such a beautiful website. I know you are going to learn so much from her. So make sure that you are subscribed to or following the Coach with Clarity Podcast. That way you will never miss an episode of the show including next week's interview with Christi Cooper of Cooper and Heart Creative. So my friend until next week, my name is Lee Chaix McDonough reminding you to get out there and show the world what it means to be a Coach with Clarity.