Here are 4 reasons why many talented dog trainers are not getting the exposure, referrals, and business they are looking for:
1) You think your certifications, experience and accomplishments are all that's needed.
Let me guess, you're listing your certifications and accomplishments off to your potential client like you're at a job interview and then wonder why they still hesitate to do business with you.
Many youtube dog trainers that are doing very well (business wise) started off with little or no experience and now have become household names (for better or worse) in the dog training industry. They're out there doing seminars, teaching and racking thousands of views, likes and, more importantly, clients.
I personally know dog trainers that are at an exceptional level of excellence that don't get a quarter of the business some of these famous dog trainers get.
You have to be aware that your experience and knowledge are in fact important but what's of more importance is your willingness to go out there in the open, expose yourself and push way out of your comfort zone.
Don't treat your meet and greets like a job interview. That pet person you're talking to has no idea what you've gone through and let me be honest with you, they don't care. Besides, you sound a bit desperate and egotistical if you list your accomplishments during the initial phone call or eval.
Be genuinely helpful; your accomplishments will come up as this person explains their issue. You could say something like: "Oh yes, I'm very familiar with that problem, It reminds me of a very similar case I was involved with...." Take it easy though, don't go down memory lane, just bring up the fact that you have experience with that problem and that you are able to help.
2) You are trying to let this person know THEY CAUSED the problem.
Something I've noticed about a lot of dog trainers, and it's a bit surprising how many people are guilty of this, is that in the process of you trying to let this person know how easy to fix or prevent their problem is, you're not realizing how much of a giant ass you sound like.
This person that has set time aside out of their schedule is not a dog trainer, so it doesn't matter how easy the problem is to fix or how they are the ones who created the problem, they don't know that. So in the process of you wanting to enlighten them, you're making them feel guilty, talking down on them and sounding like someone they do NOT want to do business with. Why would they? It'd be like you having an issue with your vehicle or feeling some kind of ailment and the doctor or mechanic practically laughing at you for not knowing what caused that simple problem.
So don't be an ass, I know you don't mean it, but quit being so holier-than-thou. Be compassionate and try to put yourself in this person's shoes. Try to remember what it was like to be pet person. Make a connection with them, let them know you can help them, that the solution is actually quite simple (if that's the case) and that it's quite common for most people to get that wrong (this way you're letting them know they're not the only ones).
3) You are seriously concerned about the dog's well-being and you're urging this person to take action.
Look, you might be right on this one. There may in fact be an issue that needs to be taken care of immediately for the sake and safety of the dog, but give them some credit, they are talking to you, aren't they?
Here's where dog trainers lose potential clients. In your efforts to save the dog, you're more than likely trying to bypass the owner's needs to meet the dog's needs. You're probably communicating to this person that their dog has to have certain needs met, so on and so forth, and in doing so you're again making that pet owner feel inadequate, guilty, and possibly worse than they already feel.
You cannot help that dog if you don't communicate to the owner that you want to help him/her first! Don't make a connection with the dog, it can't pay you. If you want to help the dog, help the client. Again, be compassionate.
4) You're trying to push that sale.
People like to buy, not be sold to.
Have you ever had the pleasure of talking to a pushy car salesman? Or better yet, have you ever had a pushy salesman knock on your door? Next time you talk to that potential client try something different. Try to get them to buy into you instead of trying to sell them on your idea. It's not the same.
When you try to sell, you're pushing this message: "We have these options, this is the one you and your dog need..."
When you try to get the person to buy into you, this is the message: "What would you like to accomplish? Which option are you most comfortable with?"
The difference might be very subtle, but when you make the argument all about you: what you can do, what works best for you, what you need and want from this client, you're selling big time! When you make the argument about the client: what they want or need and what they're comfortable with, you're simply putting yourself on display waiting for them to pick up your service and buy. The messages might be very similar, but it's the orientation that makes the difference. Pushy salesmen shove the merchandise down your throat. Slam-bang-thank-you-ma'am. And it's true, being a pushy salesman might get you that client, but in our industry you want more than that; you want that client to buy again and again. You want that client to tell everyone about you.
"But what if the client doesn't know what they want? Or what they want is wrong and ineffective". It's possible to be in charge and make it appear as if they're in charge. Here's what it looks like:
CLIENT: I want this option. I think it's what my dog needs. (This option being the not-so-good option)
TRAINER: Great! We can certainly do that! There's a chance it might take a bit longer to see results or it might not be the most suitable but suitable non-the-less, but if you're comfortable with that, let's do it! (Here you're telling the client they made a good choice but there's a better choice)
CLIENT: What do you mean? I want the most suitable option, the best way!
TRAINER: Well, this method/way works best in my experience, here are the benefits...[enter benefits here]
CLIENT: I don't know if I want that though, here's why I'm not sure...[enter objections here which can range from financial to dogmatic objections]
TRAINER: I can see that and I understand your objections. That's perfectly OK with me. Let's go with your first choice, we can still help you with that option, there are just a few limitations...[enter limitations here] but we can still help your dog.
CLIENT: But I really want this problem fixed!
TRAINER: Great! I've seen the problem your dog has before and the solution is very attainable if we go this other route (your recommended option). But it is your dog, let's do what you're most comfortable with.
CLIENT: You know what...Let's do the second option. I want that problem fixed. (This is the client MAKING the choice)
TRAINER: Great choice! (This is you admitting to the client they were smart for picking that choice)
I've personally encountered many objections from prospect clients ranging from pricing to choice of training method. I've had people go from "I'm never doing that" to "I'm going to do that and everything else you suggest" in less than an hour by simply putting them at the helm.
If you're one of those "It's my way or the highway" trainers, you can still pull this off. If you only offer one option, let the client know it's the only option you can offer or will offer because you have been successful helping people like them, and that it's still their choice, but state the reasons why and how THEY can benefit from your services instead of why your way is the best way.
If you're not gaining clients make sure you re-evaluate your marketing strategy, but also take a look at how you communicate with your prospect clients.
Of course this is just a short list of reasons you might not be getting that client. There are other factors that come in but I've noticed these four are very consistent in our industry.