How to not be salesy, slimy, or talk about money in your business...

Derek Halpern started Social Triggers and teaches all kinds of business owners how to blog. He shared this image in his most recent newsletter. Dan Pink, a bestselling author, did a survey of what people think when they think of sales- and this is what came  up. The bigger the word, the more often it was said in the survey. Are you surprised? I'm not. 

When I started my business 7 years ago, I thought the same thing. I did not start a sales business, I started a healing business. However, I quickly learned that I had to talk about money if I wanted to have a successful business. And guess what, I had to make sales if I wanted to have clients. Of course, I didn't call it sales. I called it "get clients." 

Is there a difference between selling your services and getting clients? 

No. Guess what, you don't have to be slimy or a jerk. But, if you want to know how to never talk about sales or money, you are going to have to close down your business. A business is how you make your living... in other words how you pay for food, shelter, and health care- with money. 

Work for a non-profit and feel like there are no sales? Ask the person who is doing grant applications whether there are sales involved. 

Ok... so does selling have to be slimy or salesy? No. 

What are the top 5 ways you can be slimy sales person in business? 

  1. Be dishonest
  2. Rope people in for things that you don't believe they need
  3. Rope people in for things that you don't believe can help
  4. Be unethical
  5. Be manipulative

Let's break these done and show you how you may be inadvertently doing this in your day to day business- even though you are trying to avoid being salesy and slimy!

Clinical Vignette: A client calls you reporting that they are really depressed, they know it is impacting their marriage, and they report problems at work as well. They report they need to get started right away. You go over fees and scheduling. When they report they can only come in twice a month because of their time and their finances. You get them scheduled for sessions every other week, but feel a bit bummed because you feel strongly after the phone consultation that they would really benefit from weekly sessions. However, you tell yourself that some therapy is better than nothing, and you really resonate with the financial struggle. You don't have a lot of extra money either.

You feel a bit anxious during the first session as they unfold everything that is happening- it is worse than they let on during the phone call. You go over your 50 minute session time by about 20 minutes attempting to make sure the client is stable enough to make it through the next two weeks. You offer to meet in a week, but when the client brings up finances- you don't push the subject. You would normally just offer to slide down farther in their weekly sessions- but you have realized that you can't keep lowering your normal fee and made a pact with yourself to not take more than 20% sliding scale in your practice- and you are already at 30%.

Are there any issues here? Have you inadvertently become a "slimy salesperson?"

Let's unpack the vignette. Over the phone you felt strongly that they needed weekly sessions. Did you go over the risks and benefits of weekly vs every other week sessions clearly? If not, you may have just "sold them what they didn't need."

If you believe clinically they need weekly sessions- isn't it your clinical responsiblity to share that with them clearly? Is it unethical to take them on in therapy in a mode or frequency of treatment that you don't think is recommended? Would you better off referring the client out to someone who they could afford to see weekly? 

Were you really honest with the client about the value of therapy? This person is looking at possibly losing their job or relationship. That costs much more than any therapist I have ever met. Did you have that conversation to ensure the client was really weighing the risks and benefits of investing in therapy at the level that they needed? 

Did you schedule him in for something that you didn't believe could help? Ok... so maybe you felt like "something is better than nothing..." But, is that what services with you should be like? Or should working with you be transformative? Should you ensure that each person who walks through the doors of your business is set-up for success? 

Did you manipulate that client into paying for services that aren't likely to get the client the outcome they need, in the timeframe they need it? Was that a waste of money? And what about going over session? How does it feel to your next client when you come out feeling a bit spent? 

I know you. I know you are an amazing person! Why? Because only awesome people are allowed to read this blog. If you aren't awesome, I'm not sure why you are here. You can run along now and play somewhere else! 

If some (or all) of this is feeling familiar- it is ok! It is awesome that you are noticing that and feeling it- that is what allows you to make change! 

You never have to be a pushy salesperson, but you do need to find your inner voice to be able to talk about money issues and ensure that people get what they are really looking for when they call you- deep transformation! 


If you have questions about how to have a successful private practice, think about coming to our Q & A Group Coaching Session next week. It is going to be fun, impactful, and just $7 to attend. (Less than a trip to Starbucks!) 


If you are a therapist who loves this type of learning and would love to go more in depth in these types of topics. We are going to be launching a Business School Bootcamp for Mental Health Professionals Only. We will be helping you get a solid business foundation and show you that won't just improve your bank account- but it will improve your client's outcomes as well! You can learn more here.