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A favorite past VIP client of mine, Shawna Warner emailed me a while ago saying that she had challenging enrollment situation that didn’t end well. She thought, and I thought too, that it would be valuable to all coaches to hear about this situation and discuss it a little bit.
First. I really want you to know more about Shawna and her business and how she started. So, Shawna, I’m going to turn it over to you. Thank you so much for taking the time to connect with us today and to share your story.
Shawna: Hi, Rhonda. Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to be here. I think I met you in the spring of 2017 and that’s when I launched my coaching business, Cultivating Resilient Teens.
And then I kind of followed in your footsteps and launched a podcast by the same name last fall, because I really wanted to try to reach out on a different platform and help parents empower their teenage daughters to build that confidence, integrity, and resilience for all of life’s adventures through my podcast.
I’ve I feel like it’s been easier to dive into what you and I put together as the 4 steps of cultivating, a more resilient teen. And so we talk about does your daughter need to develop a strong sense of self to be successful in life? And then we go on to explore how she can create meaningful educational experiences and design, healthy social scenarios and foster a connective family life. And all that can be found on the website that we put together, CultivatingResilientTeens.com.
Rhonda: Cool. Shawna really created an amazing business. I often think if I had, when I was a teenage daughter, had a resource like Shawna, that I would have been a much happier teen. My parents would have been happier with me.
And, so if anybody out there has a teen daughter and you kind of know what some of these challenges are, I would highly recommend you tap into her podcast and that you also check out her website because Shawna has some secret sauce. She’s got a special way that she works with teen daughters and also the parents who love them.
So Shawna, what inspired you to work with this very specific target audience of parents with teen daughters?
Shawna: Growing up with three sisters and a mom who coached me and all of us through our issues definitely had an influence over my decision for me.
I was stuck, I just want to start my own business. So when you and I got together for our first call, it was really those thoughtful questions that you asked me to help me hone in on what I really, really wanted to specialize in.
I thought about, okay, what was it like to be a teenage girl? I looked at what my daughter was going through, what her friends were going through. And I mean, I realized that it’s super exciting to watch your daughter grow into her own person. And as a mom, it’s so hard to let go and lose control.
So with the media platforms and all the intense feelings and the differences of opinion, you and I really talking about all of that … I just knew that teens and parents could make the transition easier. And like you said, a little more enjoyable if they had the right tools and strategies for the job.
Rhonda: I wonder what is it that you love most about your business so far?
Shawna: I just love coaching teenage girls. I feel like making the connection with them is so important because what they’re going through is real. And it can be really hard when they begin to realize that they’re not alone and that they can actually change old habits and patterns and that they can create the life that they want.
It’s so, so rewarding to see and then to connect with the parents and help them like learn to understand their teenager and learn to understand how to communicate effectively with their teenager. It just makes my heart so happy because even as a mom, I mean, there are some times when I’m like, do I step in, do I step back? You know, it’s not always clear.
So having like a good thinking partner, somebody … a sounding board is definitely helpful learning to love the business side of my business is always a work in progress.
Rhonda: Yeah, I totally get what you’re saying. The business side is not what we came here for as coaches. And I am kind of proud to say though that I like the business side now. It feels really generative to me. I feel like I’m always actively engaged in gently communicating with people who could become my clients and doing it in a really non-salesy way, which is one of the really big benefits of having a podcast, right?
Shawna: Absolutely. And your energy around loving the business side of your business has definitely helped me learn how to find joy in that. And probably more importantly, find processes and ways in which that I can actually run an effective business, which I didn’t anticipate at the beginning.
Rhonda: Great. I’m really glad as that makes all the difference in the world. So I’d love it if you would tell us the story of what happened with that perspective client?
Shawna: So this prospective new client filled out the Work with Shawna form that I offer on my website so I can get a little bit of insight into why they’re reaching out to me. And she had shared that her daughter was experiencing some social anxiety and really wanted to give her some tools to help prepare her for college.
So I emailed her back. I thanked her for sharing her concerns and her goals for her daughter. And I invited her to set up a Discovery Call and she immediately emailed me back asking: “What’s your pricing?”
So I did my best to explain in a follow-up email that I respectfully request to have a conversation with prospective clients, because it’s important for her to know what my program looks like. So I asked her if we could do a Discovery Call so that we could connect in person.
Unfortunately, that didn’t really seem to sit very well with her. And she emailed me back pretty quickly saying: “Thanks for the clarification. But I like to know what the fees are ahead of time.” She didn’t want her daughter to want to engage in a program that maybe was out of her budget. And the clincher for me was, she said: “It feels like I might be setting myself up for a hard sale. So I think I’ll pass.” And I thought, Oh boy!
Rhonda: Has that ever happened before?
Shawna: That has NEVER happened before.
Rhonda: It’s never happened to me either. Usually what I find is that making that warm connection by email, after they fill out the application on the Work with Rhonda page, what I find is that warm communication by email and then, you know, sort of reflecting on what they’ve shared with you in that email and inviting them to Discovery Call is really a great methodology.
I’m wondering, what do you think was going on for your prospective client Shawna? And let’s just give her a name, not her real name.
Shawna: So we can just call her Sarah. And I think from my perspective, what was happening was sounds like she probably had a budget with which she needed to work with. And I certainly understand that. Our family operates with a budget. Unfortunately, I feel like the communication got lost in translation for whatever reason, my response of just not shooting back a price, turned her off and maybe it felt manipulative.
Rhonda: Interesting. Yeah. Do you usually have a conversation with the parent in a Discovery Call or do you usually have a Discovery Call with both the parent and the teen daughter?
Shawna: I always have the Discovery Call with the parent and I, you know, I asked them, what are their concerns? What are their vision? What are their goals? And then through that conversation, we’re actually able to get a feel for if we’re a good match together. And if I, if I get that feeling, then I’ll go on to explain, you know, what my coaching program looks like. And just having that voice to voice connection is what’s always helped me know if it was going to be a right fit
Rhonda: You and I both have Signature Programs. And so it’s more than just a coaching program. There’s actual milestones that you help your audience achieve. And I agree that it’s so important to get on a phone call. Do you think if you don’t get on a Discovery Call with a client, is that going to be an ideal client for you?
Shawna : Well, you know what, I would have to say, that in the beginning, when I was a brand new coach, this email exchange probably would have caused a huge cascade of doubt for me. And I think I would have thought, Oh my gosh, what am I doing wrong? Did I set my program up wrong?
Because you know, in coach training, we do, we talk about a just right fit. But it’s so much easier when you’re in the training to think, Oh yeah, I’ll only work with my just right client. Um, but when you’re eager, you really do believe that you can help everyone, you know, at the beginning and you put your best foot forward and you think you’re following your business plan.
And then all of a sudden a message comes along and it’s very misinterpreted. And I think on both ends, it was misinterpreted on both ends. And so you kind of lose sight of like what you’re doing. And you lose faith that the right client’s going to come along.
Thankfully, I feel like I was able to look at this a little bit differently. I think for me I do want to have a client call at least voice to voice or on Zoom to get that sense.
But at least now with, with some coaching business under my belt, I was, I feel like I was able to, instead of get hooked on the emotional piece of this email, I was able to actually … I went for a walk with my dog and actually he’s a great listener.
And, you know, I was able to ask myself, you know, kind of pause and just reflect and say like: Okay, what ways could I improve my communication and what areas of my business might benefit from adjustment … without thinking, Oh my gosh, is my business plan a mess?
Maybe I need to offer something a little bit differently or reword my, you know, my email a little bit differently and be able to learn from this instead of question and doubt and maybe beat myself up,
Rhonda: You know, what I really appreciate about your own self coaching was that you didn’t freak out, you just took time out. And then you asked yourself some questions that feels like you really honored Sarah, while you also honoring yourself.
Shawna: For me, I had kind of automated in my head that whole process of, you know, they fill out a Work with Shawna form and then I emailed them back. So I think it was really important for me and the lesson that I feel like Sarah helped me see was that perhaps, maybe I overlooked the importance of that initial connection.
I definitely know that I don’t know it all and I still have a lot to learn. So I am a hundred percent open to any ideas, thoughts, and suggestions that you have.
Rhonda: Well, you know, I want to tell you that even as a coach with 23 years of experience, that I still am learning. And I am changing the way that I do things.
I have some email templates I send out to prospective clients that always get adjusted to their specific situation and connect in a warm way with what they’ve told me. You learned that process from me.
And I get how it gets really internalized. Like this is the order. This is the way it goes recently. Since I’ve started my podcast, my business has been in the highest demand it’s ever, ever been. And when demand is high, a couple of things happen. Usually your prices raise up, but also you might change the way you’re doing things.
So I actually have made a change in the follow-up email that I send out to prospects after they fill out the Work with Rhonda application on my site, I actually do in my email tell them what the price of my program is.
Now, the reason why I didn’t start that from the get-go is because price is a very emotional thing. When people hear a price — but they haven’t heard anything else about your program — there can be an automatic, “NO”.
But when you have the Discovery Call and they hear your voice and they connect with you as a human being and they hear what you do with your clients, and it starts to really strike a resonant chord with that prospective client and what they really want for their daughter, what kind of challenges they’re having with their daughter … then the price has a different effect and often doesn’t seem expensive anymore because they realized you’ve got a structure. You’ve got knowledge, and you understand who they are.
Rhonda: It could be that you are deep enough into your business and that you have enough people flowing towards you, that you would want to put pricing into that up email.
I partially do it because I don’t want to take the time for a Discovery Call with someone who is not going to budget for what I do.
All of my clients come to me at least partially because they’ve listened to my podcast. They’ve heard what are have to say about how to build a successful business. They’ve resonated with it. They’re already building a strong desire to work with me because they want to do what I talk about on my podcast.
So if you have a content strategy like a podcast, and if you are really out there and there’s enough people listening to it, you might find that the people that come to you are already pre-sold, and that’s a really great case for offering the price upfront, right?
Someone hired me the other day. I asked them a number of questions. And then I said: Are you interested in hearing about my VIP program and how I work with people to build a successful coaching business foundation? And he said: “Oh, I already know that I want to hire you, Rhonda. I just wanted to be sure we’re a good fit.”
That’s the ideal situation, right?
Shawna: That’s exactly how I felt when I got on the phone with you. I was like, she’s speaking to me! Yeah. But as your, as, as you’re talking to, I’m realizing that so many of my clients are referrals. I even had a potential client call me to do a Discovery Call. And in the Discovery Call, I realized that he didn’t know, I even had a website or a podcast or was on Instagram. It was a referral. And he was like, what do we need to do? You know, let’s get this rolling.
And so this potential client, Sarah, she wasn’t a referral.
As you were talking, it makes me realize it’s good to have processes, though perhaps I do need to kind of tweak and adjust my processes for people who are coming in from the outside and are not a referral.
Rhonda: Yeah. One thing I think you could do, Shawna, is you could add on your application on Work with Shawna, you could add a question that says, how did you find me? And you could have some options and a fill in other, you know, where they could fill something in. And the options could include from my podcasts, cultivating resilient teams or a referral from a friend or a family member, you give a couple of options.
What that does is a number of things. First of all, it wakes people up to the fact that you’ve got a podcast. If they don’t already know it, they may go and check that podcast out. And just by having a podcast, I think, and putting out on a regular weekly basis valuable information for your audience —then I think that what happens is your credibility rises anyway.
And then when you receive that application, you’ll know whether they’re a referral or not, and it might change the process that you have in that follow-up email. It doesn’t have to change 100%, but maybe in some cases you share your fees. And then also a little bit about your program and what you do with your clients and encourage them towards a discovery call. And maybe sometimes you don’t.
Shawna: It’s definitely a good idea for me to go in and look and look at that. It’s also something I could dowhen I received the Work with Shawna form, I could email back and say, how did you hear about me? And, you know, take the conversation from there because I have learned that sometimes the parents have filled out a work with whoever form with a couple of different coaches. They’re trying to find, you know, who they think would be best for their daughter.
And so having that higher touch feel, even if it’s via email, you know, something that feels different and more personal than just what you might get as an automated email or response from somebody that’s out there that they don’t know.
Rhonda: I truly believe that the services we provide our clients and especially if you’re doing what I suggest for coaches, which is to have a Signature Program that’s higher priced than maybe you would have just a, a package of coaching. Well, in those cases, you really need to have warm connection — I call that high touch. Is there anything you think that coaches would be helped by knowing about this situation or your response or, or anything else today?
Shawna: I will say that ironically enough, yesterday, I actually had an email interaction where I recognized that I needed to highlight the importance of connecting with this possible potential client in a different way. And I, you know, I said, if you’d like to connect via audio or by Zoom, even if it’s just for 15 minutes, let’s just get a feel for one another.
These experiences always have an opportunity to learn and grow. Even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time, there are always gems and nuggets that you can take away from tough experiences. I think my biggest piece of advice, at least something that has helped me is it’s so important to have a sounding board you can get really in your head, especially as a new coach. And I firmly believe that a coach needs a coach.
Rhonda: People who maybe have a little bit more experience than you do, just so that you’ve got that sense. You and I have been really lucky, you know, besides my VIP program, which you did with me, you have honored me by reaching out to have some maintenance sessions. It’s such a pleasure for me to just keep our relationship going. And I love you, Shawna. You’re great!
Shawna: And all the mind maintenance is what’s helped me have a successful business!
Rhonda: Good. Well, I just really appreciate your time today. And for those of you that are listening, your business is really about trying things, exploring things, testing things, and tweaking things and not doing it in a reactionary way.
Shawna really did a great job with this whole situation. She didn’t react. She thoughtfully responded. And in this case, it was to go ahead and let this prospective client go because not every person has to be your client.