I was recently at a cookout at a colleague's home, and everybody there was a hypnotist.  My colleague had purposefully invited only hypnotists for this particular event, as a way to build some new friendships and bring like-minded people together.  A few of the people there were newly certified hypnotists, people who had gotten their certification within the past six months.  Others, like myself, had been practicing for a decade or more. It was a nice mix of people from different backgrounds and experience levels who all wanted to do good things and create successful practices.

After we had been there for a couple of hours, I could tell that there was a feeling of familiarity, good rapport, that was in the group.  We had all been talking about the projects we were working on, and the folks who were newer, more recently certified, had stayed out of the conversation.  I could tell they were observing and taking mental notes.  Finally, one brave guy was willing to break the silence from that contingent.

"Can I ask you a question?" he said.

"Sure" I replied.

"It's pretty clear that several of you have been doing this for awhile and have some really good experience to draw from.  I feel like I need to take advantage of that" he explained.

"I think it's smart of you to do so" I said.  "What do you want to know?"

"Well, I got certified a year ago, and I've been trying to make a go of it, but I just can't seem to get any momentum going.  I know that I'm really good at what I do, and I really want to help people, but I just can't seem to get them into my office.  What are you guys doing that's getting you so much work?  What's the secret?"

"There's no secret" said Tom, one of the more experienced guys that was there.  "It's the oldest stuff in the book.  You hustle, and you can't just focus on the hypnosis.  You have to learn how to run your business.  You have to be able to sell.  You can be the best hypnotist in the world, but if you can't get people into your office, you're going to go out of business.  What are you offering to people?"

The man who asked the initial question responded with a description of his services that was so long-winded I can't type it all here.  He got into the metaphysics of how he approaches hypnotism, and how his methods are special and different from most other hypnotists.  I could tell by the way he was talking that he was being truly sincere, that he cared deeply about helping people, but he was making a classic mistake, and since he asked, I felt an obligation to tell him about the mistake he was making.

"You just showed me why your business is failing" I said, "and I'll explain it to you, but it's going to make you feel bad at first. I need you to fight through that bad feeling and really listen to me.  Can you do that?"

"I think I can" he answered.

"Ok.  Here it is, in a nutshell:  you're all about yourself, in terms of how you talk about your work.  Tom asked you what you're offering to people, and you just spent a solid two minutes talking about what makes YOU special.  If you're talking to potential clients the way you just talked to us, you're going to lose them.

I believe everything you said.  I can tell by the way you talk that you're passionate about your work, and you really want to make a difference with people.  That's fantastic.  When you talk with people, you have to speak to them so that passion is framed around them, not around you.  They don't come to you to hear about how great you are, how much you know, or any of that stuff.  They come to you because they need help, and they want to know that you will do your very best to help them."

He dropped his head down for a brief moment and shook it slowly from side to side.  Then he looked up at me and smiled.  "You're totally right.  In trying to explain, I just talked about myself.  I didn't mean to, but I see, now, that it came off that way.  I won't make that mistake again."

As hypnotists, we're not selling hypnosis.  We're selling a solution to someone's problem.  Hypnosis just happens to be the tool we use to help the client solve the problem.  Focus on the solution.  Focus on helping the client see that you can help them solve that problem, and they will want to work with you.