Use the “Iceberg” Method to Find the Reason Behind the Reason

Do you ever have conversations with prospective clients, and there seems to be interest, but then they end up not doing anything?

The problem might be that you’re not finding the “reason behind the reason.”

Sure, just about everyone would say they have some level of interest in getting healthier and dropping a few pounds.

Very few though, are motivated to the point of actually doing something about it.

Those that are have a reason behind the reason. A strong one.

You can’t create it. But you can uncover it, get them thinking and talking about it, and feeling it, seeing it, and then help them into a state of mind where they feel they must take action.

Several years ago I coined the term “The Iceberg Method of Questioning” to illustrate what we can do to accomplish this.

When you see an iceberg glistening in the water, what do you really see?

Only a small portion of the iceberg. You see just the tip. The bulk of it is below the water level.

When you ask a question, the first answer you hear is the tip of the iceberg. Everything below the water level is the good stuff…the information you really can use: the reason behind the initial answer.

Problem is, many coaches quit after they have the “tip” information, when the “below the water level” information will tell them, why, precisely, the prospective client says what they do. And that’s the information we need to help them take action.

For example, let’s say a coach engages with a person who comments on her blog post about the dangers of sugar. In some messaging back and forth the person said she really needs to do something about her diet. She also asked about how the coach prices her services. Wisely, the coach suggests a phone conversation. Good so far.

On the call, after some small talk, the coach asks, “You mentioned you need to do something about your diet… why is that?”

The prospective client responds,

“I’ve tried all the diets before and the packaged meal thing, but I just need someone to tell me what to eat, how much, and when.”

The coach, who has a comprehensive meal planning service with recipes, shopping lists and videos launches into a presentation about it.

The prospect says, “OK, that sounds interesting. Send me out whatever information you have and I’ll take a look.”

The coach, feeling like she has a hot prospect, takes about 30 minutes to put together and send off links, PDF’s, and a personalized proposal.

She then waits. Crickets.

She emails. No reply.

She calls. Keeps getting voice mail on repeated attempts, with no return calls from the prospect.

The cycle continues.

Oh, by the way, this coach has a problem with lots of unresponsive prospects in her follow-up file, and complains about people not signing up, and how no one returns calls or emails.

Let’s look at another coach who knows how to “lower the water level” and learn more of the reasons behind the reasons.

Prospective Client: “I’ve tried all the diets before and the packaged meal thing, but I just need someone to tell me what to eat, how much, and when.”

Coach: “Tell me more.”

Prospective Client: “Well, I start out fine. But then I fall off the program.”

Coach: “What do you mean?”

Prospective Client: “I get excited at the beginning, then I lose interest.”

Coach: “Why is that?”

Prospective Client: “Up to this point I just thought it was no big deal. I wasn’t really hurting anything. I’d just go up a few clothes sizes and I didn’t look THAT bad. But now, I’m to the point where it’s just not potentially affecting me.”

Coach: “Oh?”

Prospective Client: “I hate it. I feel like I’m letting not only myself down, but now I’m thinking I really need to do this for my kids.”

Coach: “Your kids?”

Prospective Client: “Yes, two people somewhat close to me have just come into some major health issues that are likely related to diet, and they have young kids like me.”

Coach: “Yes, I know a couple of people in that situation too. Tell me what concerns you most about that.”

Prospective Client: “My kids are everything to me and I want to be sure we’re able to do everything together that we want to, and they have a healthy Mom who is there for them.”

OK, let’s pause this for a moment. The first coach thought she was talking to a person who wanted a spreadsheet and recipes.

The second coach understood that she was talking to someone who wanted to be a healthy mom, there for her kids.

Can you think of any possible situations where you did something like the first coach, and got a reason, but not the reason behind the reason?

To lower the water level, your goal is to keep them talking about their needs, desires and concerns. You want the real reasons behind their initial answers.

The first important step is discipline. Resist the tendency to jump in and talk about programs. Instead, question more. Use instructional statements such as,

“Tell me more.”

“Please go on.”

“Elaborate on that for me please.”

“I’d like to know more about that.”

“Please continue.”

And when they touch on a need, embellish it. Quantify it. Have them discuss the implications of it.

Notice how few words this requires to get someone to really open up and pour their heart out to you?

And of course, what is also going on is that they are forming more of a bond with you. You are listening to them. That also builds trust and credibility. They feel like you are not trying to pitch them a program. You are interested in helping them get what they want.

Work on finding the “reason behind the reason,” and you’ll undoubtedly find more people selling themselves,  and asking to work with you.

(If you enjoy these tips, would you please help spread the word and help other coaches? Please post this in any health coach Facebook or LinkedIn groups you visit, and your other social media channels, and forward it to your colleagues. Thanks in advance!)

Will you please share with other coaches? Thanks!
Art Sobczak

For over 30 years Art has helped sales pros say the right things to get more appointments, clients, and sales in virtually all industries. He's speaker, trainer, coach, and best-selling author, and now working to help health, wellness, and fitness coaches and trainers help more people. Contact him at Art@HealthCoach.Training or (480)699-0958.

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