I was flat on the ground in a heap of pain. Panting for my life and wanting to crawl away to a hole somewhere.

My trainer said, “That was really great. Really great.”

I told him to shut up.  This made him laugh.  “Hey, you worked your butt off this session. I wish all my clients were as focused as you. I’m so sick of slackers.”

And because I have this disease where I can’t NOT coach people – I rolled over, grunting the whole way, and asked, “Slackers?”

He told me that lots of his clients didn’t want to work.  Some of them didn’t even show up for appointments.

Okay, I decided to set aside the fact that this guy had just made me do 4 rounds of burpees, pull ups and kettlebell swings.   Then I told him the secret for getting the best clients and losing the slackers:

You have to learn to repel people.

Huh?

It’s true.  If you find yourself in a situation like my trainer, you’ll need to take clear actions in order to Uplevel your clients and your success. (And yes, it means that the slackers will inevitably go away.)

Action #1: Know your ideal client inside and out.

As I started to breath normally, I asked my trainer what kind of client he really wanted to work with.  Like, if his schedule could be filled with this particular kind of person all day long, who would that be?

“Well,” he said. “I want people who, you know, actually do the work to transform. I don’t want people who think I’m a magic pill. And then blame me for their own irresponsibility.”

“Great,” I said. “What else?”

“I don’t want people who cancel last minute just because their day got busy.  You have to prioritize your workouts.”

“Excellent,” I said. “Gimme one more.”

He was getting all kinds of energetic at this point.

“I want people who want to work with me on their nutrition as well as their workouts. You can’t exercise your way out of a shitty diet.”

“Perfect.” I said.

Once he nailed down those attributes and a few more, I told him that he needed to set up his standards so that his ideal person could self-select in the moment they were asking about his services.

And they would also de-select themselves. Which is good.

This means that it’s up to my trainer to lead his prospects by sharing his high standards up front:

Requiring longer contracts for long-term results, enforcing cancellation policies so the client is accountable, creating food assessments and getting serious about their diet and nutrition…

That’s when my tough strong scary trainer looked like he had forgotten to put on his big girl panties.  He said, “Well, they might get mad! What if they don’t hire me?”

I got in his face. (I felt entitled after the workout he’d just put me through.)

I said, “Well, you don’t want to work with slackers, right?  That means that you have to be the one to make that happen. Do you want people to LIKE you – or do you want a business that rocks your world and changes lives?”

This is the ultimate challenge of any entrepreneur who commits to happiness and success.  You have to know your ideal client, and be willing to let go of anyone unlike that person.

Action #2:  Adopt an abundance mindset.

My trainer’s fear of people “getting mad” is a common fear of entrepreneurs when faced with the choice between their own clarity and the thought of repelling people.

The lack mindset says, “I will forever have to work with anyone and everyone because I’m lucky to even have clients. Things are scarce.”

The abundance mindset says, “I work ONLY with people who are a great match for me because I will be more productive and they will get better results. I know these people are out there.”

As long as you act from the lack mindset, you will be miserable because you’re making decisions based in fear.

Action #3:  Take time to create policies.

How do you want your clients to behave?

What are you not willing to tolerate?

Turn it all into a list of policies and share this list when a prospect wants to work with you.

VERY IMPORTANT:  Explain that your policies are set up so that clients get great results and to ensure that you have a powerful relationship.  This elevates the client because you are modeling your standards from the start.

Teach people how to work with you, and they will follow your lead.  If your clients don’t “behave,” the problem is that you haven’t taught them how to work with you. (Same goes for dogs, kids, employees – and well, everything!)

——

Only a week later, as we finished a session, my trainer said, “Hey by the way, I tried that stuff you told me. This woman came to me saying she wanted to lose 40 pounds but she only wanted one or two sessions.  I said no.  I told her about my 3-month commitment and what I require in order to take her on as a client.  And she signed up! She even sort of looked happy when I said all that. Like, that made her WANT to work with me more.”

He also shared that one man had gotten irate and walked out.

Both outcomes are amazing.  They’re the result of honoring yourself and others enough to be clear and let go.  The long-term effects of clarity will far outweigh the momentary excitement or disappointment of the prospect’s choice.   You’ll create a higher level of success for both your business AND your client.

Having a business is more than just having a business. It’s a training ground for your very soul.  This means you must be brave enough to be the model for your clients. That you get to be happy when people walk away.  And that your time and energy are way too important to waste on slackers.

21 COMMENTS ADD A COMMENT
  • Debra

    I might actually be one of the clients you would repel as I am not in the coaching line of business. My business, just starting out, is in freelance writing. I also play music but have decided to make this my charity line of work, donating the proceeds. I am finding the information interesting and it probably could be applied to writing in some way.

  • Shelly

    This has really helped me thanks so much for the post. Being in design people always want free advise even clients. It gets exhausting. They send me pics of thing s to put in there rooms all the time. Either let me do it or your on your own..I will be stronger with my policies. Thanks you Christine you have helped me so much.

  • Nancy Campbell

    OMG, I was JUST saying this to a mentee of mine the other day. She thought me asking her to describe her ideal client was going to take business away because “all people are potential clients” in her eyes. I said, “OOOKKKK, be careful what you ask for, you are going to get it!!!” I’m going to tell her to read this and know I’m not alone in this quality over quantity thing. Sheesh!

  • Colleen Crosson

    Great article! I am “guilty” of letting the slackers rule sometimes. I especially have a hard time enforcing my policy (on cancellations, for example) when my clients are good friends. I am re-committing to doing better! Thanks for the pep talk!

  • Roxanne

    That’s a great article. Now I jut have to figure out how to apply that to art jewelry customers.

  • Ally Piper

    Christine, Thanks for this great article. I’ve spent the last year redefining who I want to work with as clients. It is completely scary to say “no” but hugely liberating at the same time. I recently got very clear on the type of projects I want to tackle and an ideal project opportunity landed right in my lap! It is amazing the power of putting it out there and having people step up to play at your level and my your rules. Thanks!

  • Kelly Beischel

    Christine, I teach nursing at a local university. Being a consummate student I try to apply your entrepreneur teachings to my own work. I am laughing right now b/c I hold really high standards in my classes and I know some students chose not to register for my senior seminar section in the spring. I was elated when I saw my class list b/c having taught them before, I know these are the hardest workers in the senior class. I was hoping to goodness the slacker students didn’t register for my section. I am kind but demanding. I expect the best they can give me. Well, you gave me the idea to be authentic about that from the first day. Can you imagine if I repelled all the students away who didn’t really want to be challenged and work hard? I think that would give me the mojo that is missing right now! Can’t wait to hear more tomorrow night! Thanks so much!

  • Anna

    This was perfectly perfect today. I’ve been trying to leave myself open to the possibility of working with EVERYONE…and creating mass confusion for myself and the people I want to refer clients to me. I absolutely KNOW who I want to work with, but am still working on my abundance mentality…and knowing that my perfect peeps are out there and waiting. Thanks for the reality check!

  • Nora Whalen

    Hi Christine!

    I love it! I channeled you last night and said the exact same thing to one of my clients. I felt a little harsh sharing that and you just reassured me. A great lesson which you lead by example.

    Thank you for sharing.

    • Christine Kane

      Nora – thanks –

      People want you to be firm with them. That’s why they pay you! Go you!

  • Scott

    Thank you Christine.
    A premier client of mine turned me on to your stuff. As a Personal Fitness Trainer myself I enjoyed this most recent post. Thank you for the encouragement to continue helping others by expecting more of them while assisting them to expect more from their own efforts. Thank you, looking forward to further posts. (and thank you Barb for passing Christine’s blog post on to me)

    • Christine Kane

      nice to meet you Scott!

      And thanks Barb for the introduction! 🙂 (Barb really IS a PREMIER client, isn’t she?!)

  • Lynn Ruby

    It’s so true Christine! Thank you for this reminder. AND, when one doesn’t take this approach, it inevitably backfires anyway – just like it did with your trainer.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Lynn – and yes, the coaching/training/consulting model is a relationship (so is everything) so that commitment is such a great thing!

  • Laura

    So wise! So pithy! Thanks for the reminder about getting clear on who our ideal clients are — which I think is a process you have to go through over and over. The weird thing is that no one’s “stuff” (i.e. services) really works with people who aren’t committed; having clear parameters on what kind of clients you serve helps you help them. And yes, it’s scary. Cheers!

  • Vicky

    Great little reminder 🙂 It’s true…the best clients really do appear when you create policies. In my own experience, it was scary to be upfront but it’s amazing to be working on ideal projects because you’ve been honest about what you want to achieve.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Vicky –

      and yes, it’s always a little scary at first – but it absolutely makes your life much happier in the long term —

  • Nikki

    I love it! It sounds scary, but makes a whole lot of sense. My partner and I just released our first big program, The 30-Day Core Belief Kit, and now we’re getting ready to offer our personal spirituality coaching services. Christine, I’m so very thankful for you and all that you offer. The recent free training videos were so awesome! The things we’ve learned are helping us as we shape our business. And you speak in a language we can really understand, as creative non-MBA types. 🙂

    I’m so much looking forward to becoming one of your clients, and upleveling even more!

    Thanks and blessings,
    Nikki

    • Christine Kane

      Your program sounds awesome Nikki! Congratulations!

      • Susan Bossert

        Christine- your blogs are the very best! I have referred my clients to you & prosper myself so much from them. Be assured that your abundant sharing is getting into the world that needs it so much! You’re a blessed work of spirit art👍.

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