Making Every Minute Pay
in Your Career Coaching Private Practice - Part 1

by Jack Chapman

Jack Chapman Headshot
As a career counselor, all you really have to sell is your time. True, you're selling advice, counsel and expertise--but unless that advice, counsel and expertise is pre-packaged in the form of a book or video/audio tape or such, what you're selling still boils down to real (and precious) time. To prosper in your business, then, you want to be able to bill for as many hours of that precious time as you can.

Goodness knows you'll find lots of unbillable hours in your schedule: writing your newsletter, updating your database, making OBECs, preparing speeches, networking lunches, etc. But you can turn unbillable time into revenue-generating time--call it lucrative alchemy--if you have a well-thought-out strategy to use. Areas most susceptible to this alchemy are inquiry calls, sales sessions, materials, speeches, and charitable contributions. This month, we'll talk about inquiry calls and sales sessions, since you no doubt spend a great deal of time on those already, time that could mean money in your pocket.

Inquiry calls

"I'd like to know a little about what services you offer," prospects tell you on the phone. Right then and there, you should make up your mind that you will do your best to help each person who calls. But make no mistake--you want every one of them to pay some money for that help, not just for your own prosperity, but theirs, too. People won't listen or act on free advice; if advice costs them, they're much more likely to take it to heart!

So you'll talk a little about what you do, and a lot about what they think and feel: their goals, desires, and frustrations. At the end of the inquiry call, some prospects say, "Well, I'll think about it" [ie. "no"] to committing to an initial assessment session. Instead of immediately dismissing that prospect and going on to the next one, consider offering to get some helpful materials in their hands.

In cases like these, I offer a special report I wrote called "The Twelve Biggest Mistakes Job hunters and Career Changers Make and How to Avoid Them." Very few people can turn down the idea that if they just read this material, they'll be in elite company because they won't make "common" mistakes. Voila--a lukewarm prospect can turn around just from that self-esteem boost alone.

Even if they say an outright "No," a little extra effort can still turn a profit from the time. I usually respond along the lines of, "I can appreciate that; may I make a suggestion?" [They always say "yes."] "I have a booklet that normally sells for $19.95. It's 34 pages of hard-hitting facts about how many people lose time and money spinning their wheels in a career search. It's called The Twelve Biggest Mistakes Job hunters and Career Changers Make and How to Avoid Them and, from what I've heard, you're already making several of these mistakes. If I offered it to you for $10 plus postage, would you like me to send you a copy?"

Note: don't charge them for a download because it doesn't have the same staying power, and credibility building, as a hard copy. You can suggest you can download, of course, but you also will send them a hard copy.

What have you done here? Two great things: offered valuable information, AND given a prospect an on-the-spot discount. Just like that, you become one of the "good eggs" in the field (which doesn't hurt for referrals later). You have left your name, phone number (on the booklet) in their hands forever. Finally, since "Twelve Biggest Mistakes..." describes "Mistake #8: Not Getting Help in Your Job Search," you also get to encourage your prospect to call again later.

Of course, not everybody spends $10 on the book--but enough people will for you to make a little cash here, a little there. When I can send out my Twelve Mistakes, I in effect get "paid" $10 or so for a sales call; PLUS, the booklet is better than a business card. Once a prospect has that report in hand, he or she will always know how to find me. [By the way, I'd be happy to share this booklet with you, too! If you'd like a copy of "Twelve Biggest Mistakes," just email a request to me. I'll even be glad to grant permission for you to "private label" it for your own business, if you like.]

Sales sessions

Suppose your "pitch" leads to a "Maybe"--the prospect wants to come in to discuss some career issues. This is great; this, however, it should not be free! "Getting to know me" sessions impart helpful information to prospects, even if the prospect doesn't sign up for further sessions, so make sure you price that information reasonably for all involved.

In my particular practice, a $225 introductory rate gets the prospect a career review that runs 60 to 90 minutes. The "sale" is really made here in this session, but the actual sale isn't all I get paid for; I get compensated for the time it takes to make that sale, too. I call this a CAP Session; Career Action Plan session.

Why am I being paid for a sales appointment? Simple. During this career review, we maintain focus on the prospect's problems, goals, and desires in the work world. By doing that, not only am I able to help the prospect realize what's wrong and give him/her a valuable plan to fix it, but I also establish the value of becoming a full-fledged paying client as well.

In fact, once I've shown him/her what's working, what needs attention, and what the next steps are, prospects often beg me to tell them how I can help them further. But even if they don't become clients, I'm not "giving away the store." I've still been paid for my advice, counsel and expertise--and the time it takes to impart that during the career review. I don't come away from the appointment with nothing to show for it but a lost 90 minutes...and neither should you.

Next time we'll talk about how you can use written and taped materials, personal appearances, and even donations to charity to discover more sources of "hidden cash" that will improve your level of prosperity just as much as you help clients improve theirs!

About the Author

Jack Chapman owns a Chicago-area career consulting private practice, Lucrative Careers. He is author of Negotiating Your Salary: How To Make $1000 a Minute.

He is the executive director of the Private Practice Alliance:

Contact him at:

Jack Chapman,
511 Maple Avenue,
Wilmette, IL 60091
USA 847-251-4727