You’ve probably spent hundreds – heck, thousands – of hours talking to potential clients who said “Sounds great, I’m ready to make changes.”

And then…they never committed. Or they signed up, and then dropped out after a couple of sessions. Or they came to a few classes – but kept talking about the same issues over and over, without ever following through on the things THEY need to do to make changes. And before long, they’re outta there, never to be seen or heard from again. 

What it is

“Homework selling” is one way to help cure these ills, and it accomplishes two goals:

1) It gives your potential client a much deeper appreciation of what’s special about your wellness business. If you’re a niche provider, that’s a crucial advantage.

2) It tests the readiness of your prospective client to jump in with both feet. Are they really ready to engage? If not, they’ll drop out before they use up more of your time.

How it works

You hear from prospective clients.

They want to find out more about your weight loss program, or your sports conditioning programs, or your healthy lifestyle coaching.

You immediately go into sales mode – your goal’s to set up an appointment, or get them to come in for a free class, or a tour, or a complimentary assessment of some kind, or drop a brochure in the mail.

So far, all the effort’s come from your end.

But the truth is that sales works better when both parties have skin in the game. You do something – then I respond. Then you take another step – then I take the next step.

Instead of jumping straight to the close, try making your next step a homework assignment.


Say your women’s wellness center offers a weight loss program. When you get ready to schedule the next appointment with a prospect who’s contacted you:

  • Send them a checklist via email or an online link.
  • The checklist is a simple list of common life concerns – job anxiety, family issues, health worries, elder care, etc..
  • You ask them to check off the things they think about at least once/week and explain that this will help both of you make sure the program is the right fit.
  • Ask them to complete the checklist by the “end of the day tomorrow.”
  • Follow up with the folks who don’t meet that deadline by saying something like “Before we confirm our appointment for next Thursday, I want to make sure you’ve been able to complete the checklist. If not, we’ll just reschedule it when you’re ready.”

Here’s what will happen:

  • Some people will complete the checklists very quickly. They’re ready to buy, they feel good about your business, and they’re ready to engage and commit their own efforts to their goals.
  • Some people will respond to your reminder by getting the checklists back to you – at nearly the last minute before the scheduled call. They may be ready to buy, but the odds are fairly good that they’re not really ready to fully engage.
  • Some people will respond to your reminder by saying “let’s reschedule.” You’ll reschedule a couple of times, the checklists will never be completed, and eventually they’ll fall off your radar. They said all the right things on the initial contact – but they’re not really ready to commit their own energies to a solution.
  • And some will never respond to your reminder at all. Courteously defer those appointments and let them know that when they’re ready, you’ll be there.

You’re not canceling appointments punitively. You’re rescheduling because you want to make good use of their time, to help them be sure that your program is the right fit for them.

We like checklists and similar simple self-disclosure tools because they give you more insight into your customer’s state of mind, and they require positive action by your prospect – the effort required to complete the tool.

Other homework examples include:

  • Writing down 5 to 10 of their favorite foods or least favorite foods
  • Checking off the common activities – walking the dog, taking some stairs, going to a gym, etc. – that they do in a typical week
  • Asking them to make a list of their greatest concerns about making this change in their lives
  • Writing a list of up to five things they’ve tried in the past
  • Reading a case study of a real client from your business, following these case study guidelines
  • Reviewing a brief and objective buying guide that explains the differences between common weight-loss programs and explains how consumers can choose the program that’s the best fit for them
  • Reading a myths and misconceptions FAQ

Regardless of the specific method you choose, check in before the next appointment and say something like:

“Before we confirm our appointment for next Thursday, I want to make sure you’ve been able to look through the materials I sent. If not, we’ll just reschedule it when you’re ready.”

A word to the wise: there’s a fine line between assigning enough homework to assess your prospects’ level of commitment, and dumping so much work on them that they’re overwhelmed by too much, too soon.

The bottom line

You avoid investing energy in people who aren’t really ready to be successful referenceable clients for your wellness business. And you even get points for not being pushy, because you’re respectful of their time and willing to reschedule.

Remember: if they’re not willing or able to invest any effort in making the best decision, they’re almost certainly not ready to invest any effort in their own success. They are not your really-ready wellness clients.