Episode #68:
How to Fill Your Group Programs

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In this follow-up to her popular episode #65 “Add Group Programs and Thrive Much More,” Caterina addresses a key question: once you plan to launch your group program, how do you fill it with the right participants? From building influence to over-enrolling, Caterina shares her proven strategies to help you upgrade your selling skills and fill your programs with EASE!

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Expand Your Fempire Podcast #68 Transcript


How to Fill Your Group Programs


Welcome to Expand your Fempire with Caterina Rando, the podcast for women in business on a mission. Sharing ideas to support you to grow and thrive. Now here’s your host, Caterina Rando.


[00:00:25] Caterina Rando: Hi my friends. This is Caterina Rando. Okay. So here’s the thing. You have your own group programs. You want them to thrive. You want to fill them with ease. And I want to share with you some of the ways to do that.

[00:00:44] Now, here’s what you may or may not know. I have been teaching group programs for 20 plus years. I have been running group programs for more than that.

[00:01:00] And the thing about group programs is that they’re amazing because when people are in a group program, they get so much more than just you. They get friends. They get ongoing support and ongoing guidance from a group of people that are on a mission like them in whatever area it is, health, business. They also learn and get inspired by the other people.

[00:01:27] Now, there are so many more reasons for you to do a group program, but here’s the thing: I’m not so interested right now in talking with you about how amazing and awesome group programs are. You can listen to an episode of Expand Your Fempire podcast where we’ve just talked about that.

[00:01:46] What I want to talk to you though, is how do you fill your group programs with ease? And the way you fill your group programs with ease is first to remember that it’s all about building influence. Nobody will ever buy from us unless we have built influence with them.

[00:02:08] The thing also that I want you to know is that the more time you ask people for –meaning a three-week program, a four-week program, a three-month program, a year-long program– the more you have to have time set aside to fill that group.

[00:02:25] For example, this year I did a four-week masterclass on getting booked for speaking. Now, it’s a four-week class. You could even call that a group program. Why? Because a group program has continuing classes and continuing meetings. Unlike a class that’s just a one-off like a seminar or a workshop. So even your four-week “something” you could consider a group program.

[00:02:54] In that case, I want to let you know that I had 50 people in one of my “Get Booked” classes earlier this year. I think we had about 36 in the first one. I’m doing a class right now on “Thriving With Group Programs”, we’ve got 63 people registered for that. And I’m telling you this because of all these short group programs, I had maybe four or five conversations with people. Why?

[00:03:23] Because the dollar commitment was low, $197 or $147 when they heard me talk, or $97 if they’re already a client. Because the buying decision was low, because the time commitment was low, these group masterclass series, or short group programs, filled with ease.

[00:03:44] Now I want you to know that because when you ask people to sign up for a short one, like I’ve just shared with you, you can get a lot of people enrolled without having to talk to each person through your social media, through your email marketing, mentioning it when you’re networking or when you’re doing other things. You can absolutely fill that class with ease.

[00:04:06] The thing to recognize though, is if you’re going to ask people for a longer commitment: six weeks, eight weeks, nine weeks –my thrive at sales program is nine weeks– most people are going to want to have a conversation. Because the bigger the dollar amount and the more time you’re asking people to commit, meaning the bigger the time investment, guess what? It’s no longer, an easy buying decision. It’s now a bigger buying decision and you’re going to have to talk to people.

[00:04:37] Now, not everybody. Some will see the announcement and they will click through, but that’s not gonna be a hundred percent. That’s going to be 10%, maybe 20 or 30 if you have huge influence and people are loving your group programs that they’ve already done with you.

[00:04:54] Recognize though that most sales come from sales conversations when we’re talking about group programs. And that means that you want to set aside time for talking with people about whether or not whatever group program you’re offering is right for them.

[00:05:15] Now, here is the sales equation that I teach in my Thrive at Sales program that I want to invite you to recognize and embrace, to support you in filling your group programs.

[00:05:31] If you want 10 gals in your upcoming group program, you’re going to want to have 40 sales conversations. Now, that is a lot and it’s also not a lot, because recognize you can do that in the whole month leading up to your launch. And 10 conversations a week is really not that many.

[00:06:00] Also one of the other things I want you to get is that you start with a 20-minute conversation. When I’m getting to know people, I don’t invite them to talk with me for hour or more. I invite them to talk to me for 20 minutes. Now, sometimes you’re finished in 15. Sometimes it goes to 30, which is fine because you don’t schedule calls more than in 30-minute increments.

[00:06:27] But the thing is sometimes you get on the phone with someone and you know right away that they’re not the right match at all, or they’re not the right match right now. And that’s okay.

[00:06:38] And part of the value of having this many conversations is really what you’re doing is you’re talking to people to see if they’re the right match for you, you’re the right match for them, and this is the right time for them to be a yes for your group program.

[00:06:53] But here’s a super tip I want to give you. When you invite people to join your group program, some of them, the dates, the times may not work for them. This is why –super tip alerts, super tip alert– I want you to schedule when you’re going to offer your group programs for all of next year. Now you’re not going to make it public yet –for the whole year, all of next year– because this way, when you’re doing calls to talk to people to see if they want to be in your group program that starts at the end of the month or next month, do you know what happens? Some of them are “I can’t do it because of timing”. But if you have the dates for your next one, bing bing bing, you can sign them up for the next one which might start 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 months later.

[00:07:51] Now, why is this exciting? Because by the time you’re finished with those 40 convos to get 10 gals in your class… And by the way, it might not take that much. That’s operating with a 25% close ratio. You might have a 30 or 40 or 50, or even an 80% close ratio. But you don’t know that today. You don’t know really, even if you had an 80% close ratio last time doesn’t mean you’re going to have it this time. That’s why we operate with that number.

[00:08:21] But here’s the other thing: while you’re filling that class for 10 gals starting very soon, you can get that next class half-full from those same calls. Because some of those gals will want to be in the next one after the current one or the next one starts.

[00:08:41] Now, why this is exciting is because you can give them more time to pay for it. You can also guarantee them the price that you’re offering now, which may not be the same in the future. And as long as you get them engaged in some way right away, they are going to be blissing to be with you in that next program.

[00:09:02] Now I do want to sidebar here and say, notice what I said. You want to get them engaged with you right away. Meaning, have them join you for a workshop, invite them into something else that you’re doing. Because when people become our client, it is important that we get them engaged right away, even if they’re signing up for something down the road, so that that solidifies that buying decision. It continues to build influence with them. So by the time they get started with that group program, they’re blissing to be with you.

[00:09:36] Okay. I hope you’re hearing this. So, again, you want 10 gals. You’ve got to times that by four. 40 convos. But guess what? Some of those convos are to fill this class. Some are going to help fill the next class.

[00:09:49] Also some of those ladies might not be a match for a group program right now, but maybe they’re a match for something else: one-on-one coaching. They’re a match for your next workshop. You have a product. They’re a great match for one of your referral partners. Those 40 conversations can be a huge influx of “now money now” and “more money later” in your business.

[00:10:14] So this is very important for you to recognize that talking to people is a great way for you to gain new clients.

[00:10:25] Okay. Now, when I just said to you ” you want 10 gals in your next group program”, that was me picking a goal for you. And here’s what I want you to know. Let’s say you’re thinking “okay Caterina, that sounds good. I want 10 gals in my group program”.

[00:10:42] Well, you probably want to do something very important that I encourage all my clients to do, and that is you want to over-enroll.

[00:10:55] So what that means is if you want 10 gals in the program, I encourage you to enroll 12 or 13 or even 14. And again, speaking from experience of doing this tons of times: even when you get the sign-ups that does not ensure show-ups. I’ve had people sign up for group programs and never show up.

[00:11:20] Now, some of them are never showing up because they intended to never show up because their schedule does not allow, but they still want the content and they want the uplift. And so they listened to the recordings.

[00:11:39] Okay. Not the best way to do a group program. And I will tell you, I’ve had ladies that have been extremely satisfied with that type of registration. Most people though –that’s when I say most like 95% or more of the people that sign up for your group program– intend to show up.

[00:12:02] Here’s what inevitably happens as your group program date approaches. There’s usually one, two, sometimes more, gals that something interferes with their participation. And they’re going to say to you “Hey, I want to be in the next one” or “I can’t do it right now”. And you say “you can be in the next one”.

[00:12:25] Now let’s be very clear. You I’m sure have agreements with people when they join a program with you. They’re signing an agreement that they’re going to participate and they’re going to pay their invoice. I never ever, ever say to anyone “Sorry for you. You signed up for this program. It’s starting.” Sometimes even after the program’s already started, people tell me they can’t be in it.

[00:12:52] If you tell someone ” hey, you still have to pay and you’re not going to get it because you can’t make it,” that person is never going to buy from you again. They might pay their bill, but they’re never going to buy from you again. And this is what I want you to recognize.

[00:13:07] And also life gets in the way. People get sick. Their kids get sick. Situations arise that they don’t know about. I’m not here to just get paid. I’m here to provide massive value. And this is why you over-enroll.

[00:13:23] You’re thinking, “oh my God, I can’t, I have 12 ladies in the class. That’s too many.” Enroll 12, 13, 14, because 10 gals are most likely going to show up. And the other thing is that you need energy in the room. You don’t want to say “okay, I only want to have 10 gals” and then you got six and some nights you got five or four. That doesn’t feel good. You want the group energy, the group dynamic, to be there as well. Okay? So hopefully you have already embraced this guiding principle that you’re always over enrolling. I’m certainly hoping so. Bing bing bing!

[00:14:03] Okay, so you’re always over enrolling, so that is setting your goal. The next thing though, you have to set aside time for these conversations. And I’m going to tell you something. You think you have time, but if you look at your calendar, you may not have time. So then you have to say, okay, when am I going to have these conversations and block off time?

[00:14:28] And if I want to have 12 conversations a week, I’m going to block off time for 16 conversations. Because why? Because people sometimes have to change or you need more opportunities for them to talk to you than the time that you have blocked. Meaning not everybody’s going to fit into the time that’s best for you.

[00:14:51] Now, you absolutely can use a calendar link and you can send out your calendar link to get people to self-book on your calendar. Guess what? Super tip alert, super tip alert. They’re not going to be as urgent as you in most cases, some of them will be urgent to get on your calendar. Which is why I always suggest times and hold the time for that person and tell them “Hey, I’m holding that time for you”, which usually has them get right back. So that the appointments get on the calendar faster. Because I’m the one who has the objective of filling that class fast. Your potential clients see the start date and they may not feel the same urgency as you.

[00:15:44] I’m hoping what you’re getting here is that you are more focused and intentional about getting calls on your calendar with people that you want in that class.

[00:15:56] Now, not only do you set a goal for how many people you want in the class, you take that number of 10 people or 12 people or 14 people. And then what you also do is you put together a list of people, individuals that you think “Hey, this would be great for Mary Jane and Sheila and Shannon and whoever it is.” And you put that on your calendar.

[00:16:19] So here’s how I do it. Yes. I have an Excel spreadsheet with my hot potentials for a particular group. But you know what else I do? I take the names off that sheet and I put them on my calendar above the start of my day so that I’m seeing on my calendar who I want to reach out to that day.

[00:16:41] And let me remind you that there are five different ways to reach out to people. There is the direct message through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Clubhouse. By the way, I love the social media direct message. There is a phone call. There is a personal email, not a marketing email, a personal email. There is a postcard. And texting. Now texting, of course, I would only use for people that I really know.

[00:17:15] Now if you do a postcard, you have to put a personal note on that postcard. “Hey, Sheila would love to see you here. Let’s make a time to talk.” Five ways to personally reach out to people.

[00:17:27] Now I’m not saying that you don’t do your marketing email campaigns, but that’s not personal. And let me tell you why right now. Super tip alert. Super tip alert. The personal reach out works. Okay?

[00:17:43] When you get marketing emails –and we get them all day long every day– and you see “oh, Sheila’s doing this, Mary’s doing this, Betty’s doing this” and you think “oh, I’ve been meaning to get to her thing. Oh, yeah, I need to check my calendar and see if I’m available.”

[00:18:03] We think about these opportunities. I just did this today. I looked at some marketing emails, I thought “oh, that sounds good. That sounds good.” I did not follow the links. I did not make a decision. And, bing bing bing, that is the difference.

[00:18:21] If someone has any influence with you and they send you a direct message or they send you a personal email or a personal text, you know what you’re going to do? You are going to respond to them because they have influence with you.

[00:18:39] But guess what you have to do before you respond? You have to make a decision.

[00:18:46] If I said to you “Hey, my friend, I” or of course I would use your name, but I would say “Hey dear Sheila” or whatever your name is, I would say “Hey, I have this great workshop coming up on Thursday: Five Strategies to Expand Your Fempire. I know you’re going to love it. I would love to see you there. Can you join us? Here’s the link for more info.” Or I’m going to say “here’s the link for more info, would you like me to put you on my VIP list?”

[00:19:19] Well, guess what? You have to respond. And before you do that, you have to make a decision. Now you don’t have to respond, but I know your mama raised you right, and when people have influence with you, you are going to respond to them. And as a result, you have to make a decision.

[00:19:36] Now let’s take this back to your group programs. If someone says to you, “dear, whatever your name is. I have this upcoming group program. I think it would be a great match for you. And we’re going to focus on this and people are going to get this when they participate, whatever your benefit results. And by the way, don’t forget the transformation is_______, would you like to have a conversation about whether or not this is a good fit for you?” And then I’m going to say “what day is best for you Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday?” Or I might even give you two or three times.

[00:20:13] If we ever met and I ever made a good feeling with you or gave you a super tip, you are going to respond. And this is why the personal reach out is so effective.

[00:20:28] Now, by the way, a couple of weeks ago, few weeks ago, I broke my record for sales conversations in one week, which was 51 sales conversations. Now I’m going to tell you something. I taught almost all day on Monday. I didn’t get up early. I didn’t stay late. You can get a lot of conversations in a week when you are intentional about it. I was even out of the office a couple of times for a couple of hours. Just nine to five, Monday through Friday. Again, teaching most of Monday.

[00:21:03] I’m telling you this because you think like it’s a big deal. No, it’s not a big deal to talk to people and get a lot of conversations in. Now, some of those resulted in insta-sales. Some of them we had to have a second or third conversation that week or the week after. Some of them were a no to move forward with a program, they were insta-yes to come to a workshop or come to our upcoming Expand Your Fempire Summit that we’re doing. The more you talk to people, the more you get to be of service, the more clients you’re going to get.

[00:21:39] I’m hoping that you’re blissing with what I’m sharing with you. The point I want to make with you is yes, we do the email marketing to fill our groups. Yes, we do social media to fill our groups. Yes, we put a page on our website with testimonials from people that have been through it before. And by the way, video testimonials have the most influence with the people that watch them.

[00:22:04] Now you’re doing all those things. That’s marketing. Yes, market, market, and market some more. Again, if your group program involves a large dollar amount or a large time commitment, and I’m going to say anything more than four weeks is a large time commitment, and anything more than $200 is a larger dollar amount. You’re going to want to talk to people.

[00:22:32] The more you talk to people also, the better you’re going to get at talking to people. And when you talk to people, let’s take just a couple of minutes here for me to advise you on what do you talk about when you talk to people? Here’s my recommendation.

[00:22:47] First thing is you want everyone that talks to you to feel seen, heard, valued. They don’t want to just feel like they’re on a sales call, who likes that? None of us, right?

[00:22:59] First thing is you always authentically acknowledge the individual. Even if you don’t know them that well, it’s easy to do. You say “Hey Sheila, thank you so much for coming to my workshop last week. I so appreciate your enthusiasm. I so appreciate that you were attentive the whole time. I’m so glad that you got some great ideas and, you know what, that made me so happy to be with you at that workshop.”

[00:23:26] Now, of course, those of you who’ve been with me before, you know I’m very big on authentic acknowledgement and you don’t only acknowledge people for what they do. You also acknowledge them for how they’re being while they’re doing it. And most importantly, the part that most people miss is how it impacts you.

[00:23:45] When you have a sales conversation, whenever you can, if you remember –hopefully you will, and you will remember when you put a post-it note on your computer like I have right here that says “Impact, Be, and Do”, so I never forget that when I’m talking to people, I encourage you to do that– you authentically acknowledge someone.

[00:24:06] Then you say “Hey, tell me a little bit about you. Tell me what you’re up to. Tell me what you want to be up to in whatever area it is that you’re focused on: health and wellness, business, relationships, leadership, whatever it is.” And then you have someone share with you a little bit about themselves, what they’re up to. And then you say to them “if you feel this is true, I’ve got this great program on XYZ. I think you would be a great match for it.”

[00:24:36] You don’t tell them about it though, until you say, “would you like to hear about it?” Because when they say that they’d like to hear about it, they’re giving you their agreement, which means they’re giving you their attention to hear about it. And just this simple, simple, simple recommendations that I’m making to you right now about how to talk to people are going to help you fill your group programs.

[00:25:01] Now you also of course, have to tell people the price and you have to ask them, you have to make a specific ask. “Do you think this is the right match for you? Would you like to talk about how I get started with my clients? Would you like to talk about being in this group program?” You have to make a specific ask.

[00:25:19] And by the way, as women, sometimes we chat, we talk to people, but we don’t ask them to be our client. Now, when you know you have massive value to bring, and I’m hoping you do know that, then we absolutely have a certainty that allows us and gives us confidence to ask people to be our client. And I’m hoping that you’re there now.

[00:25:43] If you are not feeling super confident about your selling skills, then I want to invite you to talk to me about our Thrive at Sales program, which we will offer again next year, which has really supported a lot of women to catapult their sales. Because it’s not about only learning some stuff, it’s about doing it a lot so that you get good at it. And then you move towards mastery.

[00:26:12] And I want you to have sales mastery in your business. Not only to fill your group programs, to fill whatever you are offering.

[00:26:21] Okay. Let’s take a deep breath. Now, what I’ve just shared with you is really what it takes to fill your group programs with ease.

[00:26:32] It takes time.

[00:26:34] It takes influence.

[00:26:37] It takes conversations.

[00:26:39] Here’s what I want you to know, though. When you offer group programs, you are providing so much value to your participants. Because they don’t just get you. They don’t just get some education. They get some ongoing support. They get some ongoing guidance. They get friends, they get a structure that creates more focus and accountability. They get a place to celebrate their wins and be recognized by the group for their successes. And they get the hugest gift of all, which is community.

[00:27:15] When I started doing group programs, let me tell you how I started. This national organization invited me –and this is going way back my friends, this was a teleconference situation. This organization invited me to teach a one-hour teleseminar. And they offered me a hundred dollars to teach this teleseminar.

[00:27:40] Well, I thought to myself –by the way, a very good question to ask yourself always– I thought to myself “hmm. How can I better monetize this teleseminar?”

[00:27:54] What I did was, of course, I did the teleseminar. I think it was 90 minutes. I gave massive value. And then I said at the end “if you’d like to participate in my upcoming 12-week group program,” and by the way, 12 weeks was a very big offer to make after 90 minutes. I got lucky because this particular industry did not have a ton of people that did business coaching at the time.

[00:28:24] And I said, “if you would like information about my Grow Your Business upcoming group program, please send me an email and I’ll reach out to you today.” Guess what? By the end of the day I had, maybe it was 13, but it was definitely at least 10 ladies signed up for that group program because I scheduled individual conversations with them for the rest of the day.

[00:28:53] Now, I had time on my calendar blocked out.

[00:28:57] Super tip alert for any speech, any networking, any workshop you have on the calendar right now for the rest of the year and even into next year, I’m certainly hoping that you have time for follow-up right after. To send people invitations, to talk to you, to have time to talk to people, and to do whatever else you want to do with any particular event. You want to insta be able to do your follow-up.

[00:29:29] When I started doing group programs, my revenue went from 100k-ish a year to over 300k a year. That one change. Now at the same time, because I was doing the group programs, I hired my first virtual assistant for a few hours a week, and then of course her time with me grew. Those are the two changes I made to triple my revenue from 100k to 300k.

[00:29:56] Now, fortunately, we’re having an even bigger bottom line in my business, still thriving with group programs, still loving it, having everything from the three or four-week group program to the nine-week Thrive at Sales. Then of course we have our 10-month and our 12-month group programs. And don’t forget the retreats, which also includes some education beforehand, which makes those group programs as well.

[00:30:25] My friends, if you’re not rocking your group programs, I want to invite you to run-don’t-walk to do that. If you’d like to have a conversation, let’s have a conversation. I would say most of my clients, not all, most of my clients are running group programs or they want to be running group programs.

[00:30:45] Here’s what I want you to know. What’s a big mistake people make in filling their group programs? They don’t put aside the time, they don’t talk to enough people and they wanna get started right away.

[00:30:59] Now I want you to get started right away, but I want you to make sure you have enough time to have enough conversations to fill that group program.

[00:31:09] I want to remind you that you have massive value to bring that there is a lifetime supply of people to serve. I encourage you do not get ready to get ready to begin to think about getting, going with your group programs.

[00:31:26] Get your group programs going right now. In fact, all you have to do is have the outline put together, know what you’re going to talk about week one. Fill that class. Do week one. Then figure out the content for week two.

[00:31:43] You have so much value to bring, you could do this with one eye closed and one hand tied behind your back. There are people waiting for what you have to offer. Don’t make them wait anymore. Go rock your group programs.

[00:32:00] Bing bing bing! Caterina Rando. Can’t wait to be with you again.

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