How many times have you had a great call with someone, received excellent feedback in the moment, and made a proposal for future coaching, only to never hear from them again? Finding great potential connections that disappear immediately after the first call ends is a common problem. And it happens because coaches tend not to follow a clear plan for upholding the post-call container.
We’re great at getting people to open the door to coaching and keeping them engaged during that first interaction, but then we leave them hanging, allowing them to fall back without ever crossing the threshold.
The fear of being pushy holds you back from creating a strong post-call container
One of the main reasons we struggle to maintain that connection is a fear of being pushy. When we make a proposal, and the recipient responds in a non-committal way, we feel stressed at the thought of making them uncomfortable. So most of the time, rather than pushing for a commitment or reaching out again the next day, it feels easier just to let them off the hook.
The thing is if you can’t ask someone to commit to a second call or even to let you know their answer by a particular date, you’re never going to be able to ask for the commitment you want, which is for them to sign up to be a coaching client. Saying yes to a follow-up call is a minor commitment compared to the commitment of coaching. And you ultimately have to be able to ask for both.
So if the client is a “no” right now, you should hear it immediately. Or, if they need to consider it, you must get them to tell you when they will get back to you. This is a powerful fact that will make all the difference when it comes to actually converting people into paying clients.
Giving space does not mean your client will say yes
A common misconception around the post-call container structure is that if we give people tons of leeway, they will feel more comfortable with us, they won’t feel pressure, and they’ll only say yes if they need our help. But when you give people time to think about your offer, you significantly decrease the likelihood of them making a powerful commitment because there’s no urgency.
Think about it: if you can see a movie whenever you want, there’s never really a reason to do it now. We end up seeing movies when we do because we know they’re only available at the theater for a limited amount of time, which motivates us to do it before it’s too late.
This is why good following-up practices are necessary––they encourage your client to make an empowered decision. They have no reason to do so when the decision timeline is endless. The window of possibility shrinks and disappears over time because human nature is for our enthusiasm for certain things to dip over time.
The window of opportunity
Very often, it is the exact moment when an opportunity presents itself at which we are most likely to commit. The second-most likely time is in the very short window immediately afterward.
Again, it’s like going to the movies. If you see a preview or an ad for a new movie, and you quickly make a concrete plan to see it, you are likely to follow through. But if you think, “I’ll get to it later,” you might never go. On the one hand, the movie might not be that important to you, but if it is important to you and you miss out on going, you’ll feel disappointed because you didn’t prioritize it.
If this is something you struggle with, you’re not alone. Our habitual nature, as humans, is to return to the status quo, to get distracted, or come up with reasons why something isn’t possible. So the longer we let possibility sit on the vine, the more likely it is to rot. There’s a careful tension involved, too—we don’t want to act too quickly or be impulsive, which is why it’s ok to not get a yes on the call, but you don’t want it to take too long. You want to give them long enough to make a wise commitment but not too long that the window of possibility closes.
How to take advantage of the window of opportunity
Think about your own life – how many times have you done something after thinking about it for a long time and then wondered why you waited so long?
As a coach, you open the window of possibility for others.
And if you do nothing, it will close.
Instead of being afraid of being pushy, what you should be afraid of is that the window will close, and the client will fall back into the status quo. As coaches, this is what we rally against in every way.
There are two things you need to create in order to take advantage of the window of opportunity:
- A container of commitment, which starts with the commitment conversation.
- A powerful context for follow-up, something specific, time-bound, and meaningful.
Post-call container standards
- The gold standard. You have a call on the calendar, booked during your initial commitment conversation. This is the best post-call container structure because you have a meeting time already set up so there’s no chance of them disappearing, and you created it on the call.
- The silver standard. There’s an agreement to book a call via follow-up email after the initial commitment conversation is complete.
- The bronze standard. There’s an agreement to take some kind of action, and respond in an email. Ie, answer a specific set of questions by a particular time and date.
- The brass level. There’s an agreement to tell you via email by a particular time and date.
For each post-call container standard, it’s helpful to offer alternatives.
For example, say you’ve set up a call the next week to discuss whether they’re a yes or no to working with you. It’s great to offer an alternative, like, “hey, why don’t you bring a list of questions to go over if you don’t think you’re ready to have an answer?” You don’t want your post-call container to be too rigid; make space for them to not yet have a clear yes or no, but still, keep them close in relation to you.
People ghost you because something in them wants to say no, but they don’t know how to tell you that without making you feel bad. So to avoid this, allow them to show up however and wherever they are in the process because that makes commitment more likely.
If you care about helping people change their lives, you have to make a stand for them. This means creating a powerful declaration on someone’s behalf and being willing to be with the stuff that comes up when you are holding someone in possibility, which could be pressure.
Overwhelmingly, I see people disappearing not because of their disinterest, but because of the coaches who did not hold possibility.