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The One Word You Need to Remove From Your Vocabulary Right Now

marketing psychology selling

Over the past few years, I’ve had one-on-one conversations with hundreds of holistic, functional and integrative practitioners about their business challenges.

Many are feeling frustrated or stuck and that’s why they reach out to me.

Recently, one of these practitioners, a nutritionist, said something that gave me pause. Here’s what she said:

“I see many people that I can help, but I don’t know how to reach them, how to get them to listen to me and how to convince them to work with me.”

One particular word in that sentence stood out to me — a word that immediately gave me a clue as to why she was having trouble getting clients.

Can you guess which word it was?

I’ll give you a second. Take a look and see if you can figure it out.

(Don’t peek below!)


The word was…


Here’s the thing:

“Convince” should never come out of your mouth when talking about getting new clients or patients. It shouldn’t even enter your mind.

To explain why, let’s call to mind a common stereotype of an uncomfortable sales experience: a used car lot.

(Quick aside: In another post, I called upon the negative stereotype of a used car salesman to explain what good selling is not. In response, I received an email from one subscriber who had actually been a used car saleswoman and was indignant that I had denigrated her previous profession. That made me feel like a jerk. 🙁  With that in mind, I want to make clear here that I am intentionally drawing on a cartoon stereotype that obviously does NOT apply to the vast majority of used car salesmen or saleswomen.)
So, picture yourself on a used car lot, inspecting the inventory, when you notice a salesman headed your way. Someone who looks approximately like this:

What’s your reaction?

If you’re like most people, the first thing you do is tense up. You put on your game face. You prepare yourself mentally for a negotiation. You remind yourself that this time you’re not going to get pushed into buying anything you don’t love.

What happens next?

Well, if Mr. Used Car Salesman lives up to our negative stereotype, after briefly asking what you’re looking for, he too quickly shifts into sales mode — directing your attention to a particular car, pointing out all the features and bells and whistles he thinks will impress you.

He talks too much, too fast, and overloads you with facts and figures about engine size, horsepower and torque. He points out the leather interior and the onboard navigation system. He’s working hard to sell you, to convince you, and naturally, your guard is up. Nothing he is doing or saying is making you feel calm.

In fact, now you’re feeling anxious, trying hard to stay focused and ask intelligent questions about the car’s mileage, service history, crash history, etc. You don’t want to be fooled.

The problem with this scenario is it doesn’t feel good. You don’t feel good because you’re tense, anxious and on guard. Your primitive reptilian brain is fired up — it senses danger.

Turns out, Mr. Used Car Salesman doesn’t feel good either, because he’s working hard to convince you to buy something you don’t want. It’s an uphill battle and it’s stressing him out.

Now let’s look at how this situation could be different.

What if, instead of approaching you first, our salesman had created the opportunity for you to approach him when you were ready?

What if, instead of quickly shifting into sales mode once the connection was made, our salesman had paused and intently listened to what you said you were looking for?

What if he stood there calmly, looking you in the eyes, and asked you questions that demonstrated he was fully paying attention and exuded a genuine interest in finding the perfect car for you?

How would this scenario feel different?

You can imagine it would feel much better. Although you might have started out with some anxiety — a natural state when contemplating a significant investment of money — quickly you would have relaxed. Your reptilian brain would have signaled “False alarm; there’s no danger here. We can let down our defenses.”

Now let’s apply this lesson to you, the practitioner.

Your job isn’t to convince anyone of anything, or to chase them down and get them to listen to you.

Instead, your job is to create opportunities for people to find you and approach you when they are ready.

You can create these opportunities in any number of ways, such as:

  • Giving talks (in person or online through teleclasses or webinars)
  • Publishing articles on your blog or elsewhere
  • Creating a great website with compelling copy
  • Publishing videos and podcasts
  • Writing a book or ebook
  • Networking
  • Any other way to get your message out there you can think of

(Don’t worry! You don’t need to do ALL of these things — just the ones that work for you.)

Once you’re consistently creating opportunities, now people who are ready for a solution can find you and approach you. I want to emphasize what I just said: people who are ready for a solution. This is key. If they’re not ready or willing, you’re going to have a very frustrating time of it. Much like our friend Mr. Used Car Salesman.

And once someone has approached you, it’s simply a matter of having a heart-to-heart conversation with them to find out their goals and see if it’s a good fit to work with you. If not, so be it. But considering they’ve come this far — they’re on the phone or in your office for a free consult — it’s likely that it will be a good fit. Then it’s not hard to convert them to a paying client or patient.

Hopefully this has given you a new perspective on how to get new clients and patients.

The key takeaway is this:

If selling feels unnaturally difficult — like you’re trying to convince someone of something they’re resistant to — you’re making it much harder than it needs to be.

Remove “convince” from your vocabulary and instead focus on creating opportunities for those who are ready.

About Julia

Julia Zaslow, BSc, NC, is a sought after business coach who helps holistic, naturopathic and functional medicine physicians and practitioners build profitable businesses they love. 

Julia helps her clients identify the business model that best matches their lifestyle and income goals, then supports them in implementing a streamlined strategy for accomplishing their vision quickly. 

Her clients include brick-and-mortar clinicians serving their local communities as well as practitioners who teach, coach and sell products online — or some combination of the two. 

Through her coaching, consulting, and courses, Julia has helped over a thousand wellness professionals reach new milestones in their businesses with greater ease and joy.

Learn About Julia's Approach

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