How do I get new clients?
“I am a new doula and have had several meetings with potential clients that never come to anything. I always put a lot into these meetings and feel very disappointed when they never call me back afterwards. I am wondering if there is something wrong with the way I am handling these meetings?” – Katie, UK
Katie, this is a very common problem reported by new doulas and can be frustrating, especially when you are enthusiastic and keen to sign up new clients. Unfortunately, in the early days, it is often our very enthusiasm that stands in our way and can prevent us from coming across professionally.
The first step is to consider the purpose of these initial meetings. Do you see them as an opportunity to “sell” your services to your client, or as an opportunity to find out more about what they are looking for?
The second step is to consider your image and presentation. How are you coming across? Do you dress in a style appropriate for the client? Do you have a ready supply of materials such as business cards, booking forms and so on with you? Are you on time? Do you greet them with a smile and a confident handshake? Sometimes these simple things can go a long way towards creating a professional image.
Asking close friends and family for feedback can be helpful. The most important part of the process is to reflect on your communication skills. Many new doulas go through a phase of what we call “doula zeal”, where they are so excited about their new career and are reading and learning so much, that they can seem somewhat overbearing, wanting to rescue every women and prevent her from having negative experiences. In addition they are often very keen to list all the things they can “do” for their clients – massage, aromatherapy, relaxation, and so on – without considering what it is that their client really wants or needs.
One technique that can be helpful is to try and resist the temptation to give information before you have asked questions. Asking open questions which avoid yes or no responses and encourage the client to open up about their needs can be helpful. Open questions are those that encourage fuller responses – they often begin with words such as why, when, and how. For example, if the client asks, “So, what do doulas actually do?”, instead of launching into download mode and listing everything you are able to do, try to take a moment to reflect on what she is really asking. It might be helpful to ask her what she has heard or read already, or what she has been told by other people. What did she like about what she has read? What things concern her? What would she like a doula to do for her? Having this information will enable you to tailor your response more precisely towards her needs.
How does Childbirth International training address this?
Childbirth International believes the most important part of being a birth doula, a postpartum doula, a childbirth educator or a breastfeeding counselor, is communication. How well do you listen? How aware are you of your own body language? How easy is it for you to separate your own feelings and choices from those of your client? Do you struggle when a client makes choices that you feel are vastly different from the ones you would make?
Because of the importance of communication skills, and the enormous value in reflecting on our own experiences and “birthing beliefs”, we place a lot of emphasis on this in our courses.
All students completing a full certification program will cover communication skills. You will complete one paper that uses reflective practice – looking at an event in your life and examining what you felt you have learned from the experience. Your trainer will be there to support and guide you, helping you to develop communication skills that will truly make a difference to your clients.
Childbirth International is a truly diverse international training organization. With students in 75 countries, from every corner of the globe, we celebrate the differences, similarities and uniqueness of each culture, religion and race. Providing the most comprehensive and flexible training available for birth professionals you can truly make a difference within your community.
Childbirth International offers training programs for Birth Doulas, Postpartum Doulas, Childbirth Educators and Breastfeeding Counselors. We also have an advanced training course available for birth professionals to help you build and grow your business.