If You Want To Know Why Clients Buy…

MYOB Counselor helps you “mind your own business!” This month, we’re learning about why clients buy. After reading this article, hop on over to our Facebook group for more discussion and resources.

Do you have younger siblings? I did. If you’re like me, you might remember this unique social trauma:

Your friends come over to hang out. Perfect, right? It is, except that your younger siblings want to come and “play” too

Ugh. How embarrassing.

Worse yet, your mom and dad didn’t understand and were actually on their side. “Try to imagine how it is for them,” your parents say. “They just want to spend time with you!”

Good advice. Though, in your 9-year-old haughtiness, that advice was likely overlooked. It’s just hard to duplicate the exact feeling of being a younger sibling excluded from the fun. 

After all, you’re the cool older one that never has that problem!

Instead, you’d say things like, “Let them get their own friends!” Because you just didn’t get it.

You weren’t putting yourself in their shoes. 


Though you may not realize it, you’re probably doing something similar right now. Most therapists I know are empathetic people. But we have a curious mental block when it comes to why we aren’t filling up our appointment book.

It usually goes like this: We face a week (or several) when our client load is lower than we’d like it to be. We want to help more people, and, let’s face it, we’re a little worried about paying bills. What’s your first thought, if that’s you?

“Why is no one calling me for help?”

Why indeed? 

Why would someone pick up the phone and call a counselor for help? 

In order to answer that question for yourself, I’m going to ask you to do something that will probably annoy you. 

Buy something.

We want clients to buy our services. But many of us aren’t willing to put the money down on something similar ourselves. So we miss the fundamental knowledge we need to answer the question. “Why would someone buy our counseling services?”

  • What is that moment in a client’s life like?
  • Where are they emotionally when they are ready to reach out and call a counselor?
  • What are they looking for to help them make a decision? 
  • What factor makes it “worth it” to them to put the money down and make an appointment?

As I’ve said, my suggestion for you to answer this question is: Put down your own money for a similar kind of service. Before you fuss that you don’t have a lot of money yourself, think about this. Your clients don’t always have much money either. But you still want them to pay you, right? So how can you ask them to do that, if you wouldn’t ever do it for yourself? 

Think about it.

There’s a lot of ways to put yourself in your client’s shoes by buying a service. Here’s some to get you started:

  • Therapy for yourself. (If you are private pay, then seek a private pay therapist. If you are insurance-based, then seek out a paneled provider.)
  • Business coaching. (I occasionally have openings for one-on-one coaching, if I may offer a self-serving plug.)
  • Health or fitness coaching. 
  • Hypnosis.
  • Non-clinical personal growth classes.
  • Consulting or legal help.
  • Massage.
  • Housecleaning.

My suggestion is to pay a fee similar to your normal hourly rate. I also suggest you buy something that’s not strictly necessary to survive. It can be pretty important, like therapy is to our clients. But if it’s something you “have” to do, you won’t get a relevant experience. It can’t be something you feel is otherwise justified, like clinical training. After all, most of our clients don’t feel that their getting therapy is justified, at first. 

But something makes our clients realize they want, even need therapy. What is that?

Discovering the true answer to this question is the reason why I suggest this exercise.

But, I suspect your answer and theirs will encompass the following factors:

  • The goal of the purchase.  Example: An hour of housecleaning buys more time with work or family. 
  • The perceived likelihood of achieving the goal with the offering presented. Example: I believe an hour of business coaching with ________ will unblock my fears and allow me to be more productive and focused. As a result, I will make more money.
  • The act of putting money towards a goal as part of achieving the goal.  Example: I paid $250 for a HIPAA consult so I’d BETTER use that information to make my practice compliant!
  • Giving oneself permission to care for self. Example: I know lowering my stress level is important for my physical and mental health, which is why it’s okay to have my massage once a month.

But how will you know? You try it for yourself.

And observe what you feel as you go through the process:

  • What factors are important to you as you evaluate your options?
  • What hesitations do you have when you reach out to service providers? 
  • What fears do you have about the outcome of your exercise?
  • What do you worry family or friends will say about your investment in yourself?
  • What excitement do you feel about the possibilities for your future now?

This is how your clients feel when they go through the process of committing to therapy with you.

Your job now? Find something you want deeply to change, and put money to that desire. Maybe it’s your business, your weight/health, or your money management. I promise you, when you take this challenge, you will get a picture of what your client goes through when they book an appointment with you.

That picture will help you provide a new level of compassion for the emotional journey clients take when they decide to buy. Not only that, it will also help you craft your service offerings so that your client recognizes in these offerings the solution they need.

That will lead to more effective marketing practices.

Which will lead to more clients knocking on your door.

When you know why YOU’D buy – you know why THEY’D buy.