If you’re looking at how to enrol more clients, there’s a behavioural psychology technique called “laddering” that provides real value to your prospect and increases your consulting or coaching client conversions rate. You can use laddering as a natural part of your rich conversations with your business leads prior to enrolment in your programme or service.

A laddering conversation is actually pretty similar to the usual consultative methods I use when scoping out a piece of work with a client, but it works really well for prospecting that doesn’t feel like prospecting. Essentially, laddering is asking a series of open questions about why someone likes or is interested in X, Y or Z, with each question you’re digging into deeper emotional feelings about the end result they’re looking to achieve.

Businesses use this in market research to understand their customers better, so you can use it very well in interviews or focus groups, e.g. to understand why they’re looking for a particular brand or type of jeans, coffee, music etc.

But for you, it’s also super useful as a follow up conversation after someone has opted into your specific marketing lead magnet. You can email them and invite them to a ‘discovery’ session or similar so you can get on the phone with them, or you could do a ‘hot seat’ session with a couple of individuals on a webinar or facebook live session.

Not only will you learn loads about your audience’s deeper needs, you will also show them you’re someone who can listen and understand them on a deep level.

So how does it work …?

Well, when you ask the top level question of “why are you interested in that”, whatever is their first answer, you drill down and ask: “What’s the benefit to you of that {their answer}?” … “Why is that important to you?” and so on. Don’t let them off the hook, if they’re vague, ask “can you tell me a bit more …” or “what else?”

These are not untypical of coaching conversations that may be familiar, of course, but it’s the continuous drilling down that helps you, and them, get to the heart of whether there’s a good match between what they want and what you can help them with.

When you get good at the technique, what you find is that ultimately the person’s answers illuminate a ladder (hence the term laddering) to someone’s ultimate emotional end benefit. This may be a surprise to them, because it often has nothing to do with logic and everything to do with self-worth – what makes them feel good about themselves.

A person’s decision to buy something, start something or do something new or differently, always boils down to one or two of FOUR basic categories. There are actually 60+ sub-categories, but the four that every one falls into and what drives human behaviour to differing extents are these:

Healthy narcissm – everyone has an ego to some extent!

Love / appeal – everyone wants to feel attractive and be loved / liked

Nurturing others – those driven by love for others, care & compassion

Giving back – to the community, to society or to the planet.

When you understand these underlying deep emotional drivers, you can design your advertising and marketing around messages that trigger a specific audience’s response. This means you can get super targeted about who your ideal customers are.

Certainly, in business we know that categories 1 and 2 tend to attract the spontaneous, impulse type buyers, whereas categories 3 and 4 are longer-term end benefits, including repeat business types.

So if you’re looking to enrol more ideal clients into your consulting or coaching programmes and services, typically you’re looking for people who are motivated and committed to the end result they want to achieve. So should you be best looking for people willing to work and play the long game in categories 1 & 2 or 3 & 4?

For this reason, and being somewhat of a social introvert, I’m never one for all that hype and fancy studio photos. Why go all out trying to present an ego centric, sexy marketing campaign, if I’ll typically only attract category 1 and 2 types? These are not my ideal clients!

Certainly, the top professionals in our industry display the same kind of authenticity, traits, motivations and goals that attract clients who are themselves heart-centred and driven by a bigger vision of impact and making a difference. Why? Because ultimately helping others and giving back is what fulfils them and makes them feel good about themselves.

What was super cool is that after I explained this technique to my son – a teenager at the time – he started asking me why I do what I do … what do I like about it, why it’s important to me. He laddered his questions building on my answers and drilling down further to get to the core of my ultimate emotional end benefit. It was great, because it’s pretty hard to do a self-ladder on your self and it really helped me with a rebranding exercise I was doing at that time.

Personally, I’ve found I enrol more clients with this kind of educationally rich conversation, because they often have an epiphany and discover new things about themselves they had never really thought deeply about before. How wonderful is that feeling to give such value in a 30 minute call?!!

It’s fascinating stuff. If you can develop your skills of conversation to the point where you enjoy the process of seeing what gives a person satisfaction in their life and work, this is a fantastic and non-sales-y prospecting technique to enrol more clients.