4 Fatal Holes in the Sales Process That Prospects Fall Thru

When I confessed to my husband that I wanted to make an appointment with a hypnotist, he chuckled: “Well, we’ve definitely spent money on crazier things.” (Yeah, like every week at Costco.)

A few weeks prior to this conversation, I was talking with a friend who mentioned she had gone to a hypnotist to help with some of her health issues, and she’d seen good results. After hearing her story, !. So I started by making a list of what I could use some help on, including pain management (resulting from a surgery years ago), TMJ (my dentist tells me my jaw clenching will make me look like a chipmunk in a few years if I don’t get it under control), sleep and some other stuff.

Next, I hopped on Google to search for a hypnotist in my area who didn’t look too, well, “free-spirited.”

Of the half dozen or so I found—not having much to go on—I picked a guy who appeared to be the perfect blend of new-agey-meets-professional. I couldn’t tell if his services could help me, but since every page on the website was plastered with phrases like “CALL NOW: [PHONE #]” or “You Know What To Do – [PHONE #],” I decided to call and ask.

Enter “The Receptionist.”

When The Receptionist answered the phone, I told her that I was interested in setting up an appointment, but I want to make sure that the hypnotist could help me with my above list of needs (of which I gave her a brief explanation) before I commit to a $250 session. Simple enough, right?

But instead of addressing my particular issues, the clueless Receptionist tears down a tangent telling me about how hypnosis can help with “everything”—specifically detailing the benefits of weight loss, smoking and…my favorite…GOLF. Then she tells me a story about a past client who came in for help with smoking and was “completely changed afterwards” (whatever that means). Finally, she concluded her spiel with the fact that hypnosis makes you feel so good afterwards that she truly believes everyone should do it.

Whoop-de-freakin’-do, lady.

This would be extraordinarily fantastic news EXCEPT for the fact that I don’t smoke, don’t need to lose weight, and my mini-golf game at Grand Ole Golf always comes in under par.

Now I’m even more confused than I was five minutes ago when I was looking at the photo of this hypnotist and trying to decide if his shoulder-length silver hair was “new-age-professional” long or “free-spirited” long.

So I repeated my list of non-Tiger-Woods concerns and asked again if the hypnotist could help me.

At long last, the Receptionist clues into the fact that she’s out of her league here and offers to set up a phone call for me to talk to the hypnotist directly. Now we’re getting somewhere! We talk for another minute and then I inquire what the next step is to set up that phone call…at which point she RENEGES THE PHONE CALL OFFER claiming “he’s too busy.”

Holy hell, lady. You’re killing me. Seriously, the edges of my soul are becoming numb from this painful sales process. Here I am trying to give you money and you’re like an annoying change machine that repeatedly spits out my perfectly un-wrinkled dollar bill. What gives??

Logic tells me that if I chuck my iPhone across the office, that the Receptionist on the other end won’t be affected in the least. Serenity now. I’m sure it’s not this lady’s fault that she’s so poorly trained.

“Okay, so what should I do next?” I mutter in frustration.

Her answer: Send him an email.

Okay, fine. It just would have been A LOT EASIER if the website had told me to do that in the first place.

After hanging up the phone, I immediately write the hypnotist an email detailing out what I’m looking for help with and telling him that I’ve spoken with his receptionist. Great. Done. Thank god I’m actually going to get some real answers now.

One week went by. No response. Two weeks went by. No response. Now it’s been over THREE WEEKS and there’s been no answer to my email. That just adds some crazy icing on this frustration cake that we’re baking here.


Through working with service-providers over the years, I’ve found that the most challenging part of this type of business is turning your prospects into paying clients. Prospects first learn about you through your marketing efforts (e.g. your website/blog, workshops, networking, etc.), but that’s typically not enough to convert them into clients. You need a strong sales process.

This hypnotist’s marketing was fine. He was top on Google when I searched. His website had a clear call-to-action (i.e. “Call Now”). Everything was in place that lead me to call him to make an appointment. BUT the moment I called, his sales process immediately crashed like a PC with a mega virus. Everything spiraled to hell—leaving me irked and him without a new client.

I’m hoping this is an extreme case of bad selling, but nonetheless, there are tons of lessons here…

Let me break down the 4 HUGE MISTAKES that this hypnotist/receptionist team made in their sales process that left his prospect (me) sincerely discouraged and not interested in ever becoming one of his clients…

MISTAKE #1: Deferring the Sales Process

There’s nothing wrong with having a receptionist if you’re busy (or want to seem more professional). That’s all fine and good. The problem is when your receptionist is having to act as part of your sales team, like this lady was. If you defer the sales process to someone else (perhaps because it makes you uncomfortable or you don’t think you’re good at it), you won’t get spectacular results.

MISTAKE #2: No Complimentary Session

Your clients aren’t just buying your services, they’re buying YOU. So if they don’t get to have a complimentary session with you, how do they know if they want to spend their money with you or not? I definitely wasn’t going to take a $250 gamble on this hypnotist without talking to him.

As a service provider, the most effective way to land a new client is to do the sales process yourself—that is, spend time with the prospect in person or on the phone to understand their deepest desires and then communicate the value of your services. This builds trust and leads to long-term client relationships…so make sure you’re funneling all your prospects to a complimentary session.

MISTAKE #3: Telling the Wrong Story

Telling stories is a great way to land clients. For example, say you’re a health coach and the prospect you’re talking with tells you that her big goal is to lose 25 pounds. Instead of assuring her that your spiffy 3-month coaching program will help her, you relate a story about another client who had a similar (“similar” being the key word here) struggle when she started working with you and ended up losing over 40 pounds during your program. Bam! This is a pretty powerful story because it shows your prospect that someone with similar problems got desirable results.

In the case of the hypnotist’s receptionist, she told the wrong story. I shared with her that I wanted to work on pain management and sleep, and she proceeded to tell me about one of their clients who did hypnosis and was able to quit smoking. Umm, not the same. I’d be exaggerating if I said I was utterly underwhelmed.

MISTAKE #4: No Response

You don’t have to be glued to your phone or email, but for the love off all things good in this world, RESPOND to your prospects. Don’t leave them hanging. Don’t defer them. And definitely don’t email back and forth twenty times. If someone is interested in working with you, set up a time to talk to them on the phone (or in person) ASAP.

Two weeks after I talked to the Receptionist, I received a phone message from her: “Hi Laurel. This is [NAME] from the hypnotist’s office. I just have a couple questions for you if you could return my call.”

Umm, no way in hell, lady. I’m not going off the rails on your crazy train again. In case you didn’t get the memo before, my mini-golf game is fine.

Photo credit: Photo by ohkylel https://www.flickr.com/photos/thekmancom/ License: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
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Antonio - 4 years ago


It never amazes me how many businesses are run this way. You would think its sales 101; Why is it so hard to follow up with a propective client? Hmmm

Great Points.

Thanks agian


    Laurel Staples - 4 years ago

    Thanks Antonio! It hurts my soul to see business run so poorly. Glad you agree. 🙂

steve - 4 years ago

He’s online but you may wish to check out Steve G. Jones http://stevegjones.com/
Thanks for the article,

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