Case Study: Clarifying the Hot Seat Prep
The Success Alliance


Case Study: Clarifying the Hot Seat Prep

In theory, members tell us exactly what help they need in their prep form.

But why isn’t that working for some members?

Here’s a case study about one recent Hot Seat prep, showing how we went from a first draft to uncover the true Ultimate Question lurking within.

George’s Situation

A mastermind group member – let’s call him “George” – provided the following on his preparation form for his upcoming Hot Seat.

Can you detect the places where clarity is needed?

Ultimate Question: How do I communicate my value and price my mastermind accordingly?

Backstory: I am starting my first mastermind.  I’ve wanted to do this for years, but until now, have not been clear on how I want to structure it.  I’ve finally figured it out and now my big barrier is pricing and asking for the price.  I am seeing people charge tens of thousands of dollars for their mastermind groups, and cannot understand how they can charge that much and how they get people to pay that much.  The pitches I’ve heard are exactly that:  sales pitches, some of them pretty slimey.  The mastermind I am putting together is the culmination of years of experience – 18 years in international business consulting, and detailed experience in change management and turn around management in the Fortune 500 environment. I have an additional 15 years’ experience in helping people buy and sell businesses.  I want this to be a solid offer with clear financial, emotional, and sustainable gains for my participants.  How do I communicate and price that?

It seems like a straightforward request, right?

On the surface, George appears to be asking about marketing and positioning himself – and in turn, his mastermind group – as an expert in the field. He also wants to discuss how to structure his group, creating a solid offer that clearly outlines the benefits of his group. He also wants to talk about how to price membership accordingly.

Clarifying questions to the rescue

That’s too much cover in one Hot Seat, so we asked clarifying questions:

  1. Are you looking for help designing your mastermind group to provide the most value?
  2. Do you want help with communicating your offer and its benefits?
  3. Do you want advice on justifying what you’d like to charge for it?
  4. Do you want ideas on what to charge for your group?

George replied that, while he wanted help with all four topics, his real concern was he felt he was undercharging for his group compared to what others were charging for similar groups. Tucked into the first version of his prep was this sentence, easily overlooked:

I am seeing people charge tens of thousands of dollars for their mastermind groups, and cannot understand how they can charge that much and how they get people to pay that much. 

(Facilitator exercise: What other clarifying questions would you ask? Post them in the comments below!)

George’s updated prep

Once George answered the clarifying questions, he re-wrote his Ultimate Question:

Ultimate Question: What do others charge and is my pricing in alignment with industry norms and member expectations?  

George started off with an Ultimate Question that was broad and had four topics in it. Following any one of those topics would have taken our group discussion in a completely different direction.

By clarifying what George was really asking, we focused his Hot Seat on discussing his mastermind group compared to similar ones in his industry and what his prospective members expected in terms of membership fees.

Because George narrowed his Hot Seat to a specific question, we were able to answer his question. Plus, we had enough time left over to help him re-design his initial mastermind group offer so that it provided greater value in alignment with his pricing.

Lessons for the Facilitator

Keep these in mind the next time you’re prepping your members for their Hot Seat:

  1. Read the entire prep form. Give everything equal value – don’t dismiss a sentence because it seems like a side note.
  2. Take into consideration what you already know about the member – how does this Ultimate Question fit into the goals and projects the member is working on?
  3. If any statement sparks your curiosity, or there seems to be more than one topic bundled into the backstory, ask clarifying questions to get to the root issue or concern.

Remember, often a prep form exercise is the first time your member is putting into written words what’s been going on inside his head for a long time. The first time he writes his thoughts isn’t easy; sometimes the writing process brings more clarity and sometimes it does not.

Consider each member’s prep as a “rough draft” rather than a finished piece of communication. Asking clarifying questions before the meeting will help each member to polish their thoughts to perfection.

(Facilitator exercise: What other clarifying questions would you ask? Post them in the comments below!)

Want to learn how to start a mastermind group? Click here to get my free video tutorial on how to create a mastermind group of your own.

4 thoughts on “Case Study: Clarifying the Hot Seat Prep”

  1. Alexander Walker says:

    When I first read it I thought he wanted help about how to write his benefits statement. Now I can see how there are multiple questions that George is asking. So I would have asked Do you want help with copy writing your sales page?

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      This is a good question, Alexander. George seems concerned that he’s not coming across as an expert that someone would want to work with. His biggest challenge might be to put it all in writing.

  2. Florence Reisch says:

    When I read George’s response, I feel a sense of impostor syndrome when George clearly has the expertise to ask the same thing as his peers.
    George also uses the term ‘barrier’.
    I would ask him, “Do you want help in figuring out how to set a legitimate rate to charge so that you feel aligned with your value and your peers?”

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      That’s a great clarifying question, Flo. I would also ask: “George, would you like some conversation about how to NOT appear “slimey” when you’re having a sales conversation with a prospective member?” One of his concerns was that he saw others offering high-ticket mastermind groups, but he was turned off by their approach to sales pitches. It sounds like he values honesty and transparency in conversations with prospects.

      As you can see, this Hot Seat could go in several directions, depending on what George wants to focus on. Our job is to NOT steer George down the path we think he “should” go down in the conversation, but rather the path he wants to go down. (That’s hard when you’re a consultant or coach or trainer, because your experience tells you that he needs to be thinking about specific things. And you can suggest those other things to him — AFTER his hot seat! But respect that he knows his own mind about the focus of his hot seat discussion and time.)

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