Are you looking for referrals? Does your appointment book have too many empty hours? Do you find yourself sitting in your office waiting for your phone to ring? Does this sound familiar?

You know you’re a great therapist. You’ve studied hard, keep your skills sharp with continuing education, and offer a great service at a fair price. You’re even getting calls from potential clients. Yet, your appointment book still has too many empty spaces in it. Somehow, you can’t seem to get callers to that first appointment and convert them into paying clients. speedy

Here are some tips from marketing experts and therapists with thriving practices.

The Power of the First “Yes.”

From a purely marketing perspective, the first thing you must do in that initial communication as you explain your services to a client is to help the caller recognize, “Wow, he/she is really talking about me.” Great marketers know the secret to doing this. . . asking a pointed question to which the customer says, “Yes.”

One of our most successful therapists uses this question, “Is the lack of communication with your spouse creating conflict in your relationship?”

Now, most therapists would ask the question this way, “how is the lack of communication causing conflict in your relationship?” But, great marketers know phrasing it that way won’t get the “first Yes” they are looking for in that initial call.

Educating your caller through phrasing your question helps them understand that therapy will be helpful in solving their major problem.

The Next Critical Step

You’ve convinced the caller that therapy can be helpful. Now, communicating the benefits of therapy is the next crucial step in transforming callers to clients. An “elevator speech” is among the most effective ways to do this. What’s an elevator speech? Who gives a speech in an elevator anyway?

An elevator speech is a short (15-30 second, 150 word) sound bite that succinctly and memorably introduces you. It spotlights your uniqueness. It focuses on the benefits you provide. And it is delivered effortlessly.

Elevator speeches are intended to prepare you for very brief, chance encounters in an elevator. But elevator speeches are not just for elevators! You should use it whenever you want to introduce yourself to a new contact. That could be in the supermarket, waiting in line at an ATM or when you get your morning latte. They are also perfect for educating the caller on the phone!

Here’s an example: “I help individuals find success and personal enrichment in relationships and work with corporations to maximize the potential of valuable employees.”

Your elevator speech must roll off your tongue with ease. Practice your speech in front of the mirror and with friends. Record it on your answering machine, and listen to it. Do you sound confident? Sincere? Is it engaging? Tweak if necessary. Then, try it out! Tweak again until you get the results you want.

The Conversion

The last step is moving the caller from the phone to your office and can be amazingly easy. Great marketers know that what counts are results. As a therapist, information calls are great, referrals from other therapists are always welcome, but paying clients that you generate from your contacts with potential clients are the most valuable. This is the way YOU keep your practice thriving.

“Closing the sale” and converting the caller to a client is as simple as saying, “I have appointments available on Monday and Wednesday. Which is better for you?”

Include a free initial session in your question if you offer one. Marketing expert Anthony O. Putnam states that for every free session you offer, you get about 19 paying customers, a great return on your investment.

Offering referrals if you are not a good fit for the client, is another great way to generate referrals. By creating mutual referral services with a few of your colleagues with different areas of expertise from yours, you can refer out when necessary, and get their referrals in return.

Author's Bio: 

Judy Gifford is CEO and founder of and offering a one stop shopping experience for all of your mental health marketing and practice management needs.