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Why Potential Clients Don't Buy Your Coaching Services

Posted by Julia Stewart

find new clients

Some coaches have more clients than they can handle while others struggle to attract enough clients.

Why is that?

Sales and marketing are complex professions, in their own right. Some coaches already have a good background in one or the other. Some take to sales and marketing naturally and their businesses take off. But some coaches have a longer learning curve than others.

The good news is that what makes you a great coach can also make you a great marketer and salesperson.

Here are nine shifts you may need to make. Any one of these could make all the difference in selling your coaching. Who knows how much more money you may make because you read this today?


Here are 9 shifts that will help you sell your coaching:

  1. Listen more than you talk. You wouldn't do all the talking in a coaching session and you wouldn't try to get your clients to do you bidding, either. Why would you resort to those ineffective tactics when having a sales conversation? A coaching business is a service to humanity. It's a collaboration with your market. Include your clients' and potential clients' thoughts, dreams, problems, and aspirations in everything you do. That includes your marketing and your sales. It all starts with listening.
  2. Technology is a great way to market but a terrible way to sell. It's shiny and new and everybody is obsessed with it, right? Right. That's why people crave real human conversations that help them clarify and align their lives with what really matters to them. Offer that, instead. Coaching has been one of the fastest-growing professions for twenty years because of the deficits caused by new technology. And internet marketing gurus have terrible tools for selling coaching. Don't get caught up in their hype. For example: One coach recently told me that marketing via text was the new big thing because people don't open emails but everybody reads their texts. Really? The people I know all hate getting SPAM texts even more than SPAM via email because they have to pay for every text they receive. People who feel disrespected, annoyed, or abused by you won't hire you to coach them. Here's another example: I've built one of the largest mailing lists in the coaching industry, but I still talk to virtually every potential client before I let them hire me. Because that's what works. Market respectfully and have real conversations with the potential clients you like most. Treat them like friends, not prospects.
  3. Make it all about them. A coach is even better than a friend, sometimes. That's why we can charge for what we do. The more you listen and find out what matters to potential clients, the more you can find out if they are a fit for what you offer. If not, refer them to someone else. Or, learn via those conversations and start offering what people really want. As you serve your potential clients, you will serve yourself and your business.
  4. You don't have to "put yourself out there" like a used-car salesman. I've written before about coaches as highly sensitive people. What makes us great at coaching also makes glad-handing at networking events, and high-pressure sales, a nightmare for us. And that's a good thing. Nobody wants a coach who is more interested in handing out business cards and making quick sales than they do connecting with people, hearing their stories, and offering to help. Use your strengths to sell your coaching: your empathy, your curiosity, your wisdom, and your desire to help others be their best. Forget the cliches and promote what is unique and valuable about your coaching.
  5. You do need to talk with potential clients, sometimes multiple times. This is why internet marketing is fine for getting people's attention, but nearly useless for selling high-touch services, like coaching. People need to feel they know you before they'll hire you to coach them. If you're a brilliant writer, you may be able to create intimacy with your blog posts, but for most coaches, conversation is the key. You don't need to cold-call ever (hurray) or talk to a hundred people everyday (yikes). Just check in now and then with people who you think might be a match. Find out what their challenges are. Let them know you can help. Give them a gentle nudge if you think they're ready. Sometimes you know they are ready before they do. I had one man hire me after nearly seven years on my mailing list. What made the difference? I called him and we had a great conversation.
  6. Trust and other emotions trump facts, features, and benefits. Stop trying to sell packages to people. Nobody cares how many sessions, how many webinars, how many videos, etc. your package has. They want to know if you can help them reach their dreams. Connect to that. Empathize with it. Help them imagine what it'll be like to coach with you and to transform their lives. That's magical stuff. Demonstrate that you can be trusted by continuing to show up with small solutions that make their lives a bit better now. That makes it easier to make the leap to hiring you to coach them.
  7. Find out what people need and align your coaching with the solutions to their problems. All this listening, communicating, and relationship-building will help you know your market better than anyone else. That's the surest way to find your niche. Now you're equipped with the knowledge, understanding, and ability to help and that makes you unique in the field of coaching. I know one coach who began with one client who was a dentist. He helped that dentist build a successful practice and then leveraged that knowledge to build a million-dollar coaching business for himself. That's a true niche.
  8. Be such an effective coach that your clients stay with you for years. That's real success. I'm not suggesting you make your clients dependent upon your coaching. That's a disservice. Learn to customize your conversations and keep your clients challenged and growing so that paying your fee is a no-brainer for them. It's not unusual for clients to stay with me for years. That means I feel much less pressured to promote my coaching. That's one of the secrets of making self promotion fun. By the way, I couldn't have done this without great coach training.
  9. Get your ego out of the way. I heard a coach, whose business was flagging, say that she had built a track record and reputation and that she shouldn't have to promote herself, anymore. I remember thinking, "Oh yes, you do." We all do. Another coach told me she was tired of everything you have to do to be successful as a coach. I asked what all she was doing. She said, "Nothing!" and laughed. I'd like to respectfully suggest that what is really tiresome is NOT promoting your business, because sales and marketing, done well, is a heck of a lot of fun. You meet awesome people, learn to serve better, hone your craft, and become a sought-out expert in your field. In other words, when you stop letting your ego stop you, you can start helping people and they will then start telling you how awesome you are and your ego will get a much bigger fix, as a result. Better yet, you'll be one of those coaches whose client roster is always full, and whose bank account is healthy. Everybody wins.

 

Sale and marketing this way takes time. The trouble is, everything else takes longer.

 

What if you joined a coach training school and had a full coaching practice by the time you graduated? We offer evidence-based coach training (because we listened and that's what our market told us they wanted) that includes, at no extra charge, a business-building program that is so effective everyone who finishes it has paying clients and 87% have full coaching practices. Learn to coach. Sell your coaching. Perfect!

 

Explore our coach training programs and get an effective business-building strategy for free when you join:

 

Explore the Certified Positive Psychology Coach Program

 





 

 

 

Topics: money, coach training, marketing and sales, ego, curiosity, sales training for new coaches, successful business, Million Dollar Coach, Marketing for life coaches, coach training program, Strengths

Should a Highly Sensitive Person Become a Coach?

Posted by Julia Stewart

highly sensitive person photo by erwan hesry

Are you a highly sensitive person? Have you wondered if you should become a coach? If so, then here are some things to consider...

According to Elaine N. Aron, who wrote the book, The Highly Sensitive Person, traits might include:

  • Being easily overwhelmed by loud noises, bright lights, etc.
  • Being attracted to subtle flavors, sounds, sights, and more.
  • Needing to protect your energy from angry people, violence, coarse language.
  • Preferring solitude, quiet, natural settings, comfort.
  • Being introverted or shy.
  • Being overwhelmed or stressed by too much busy-ness, pressure, or complexity.
  • Being self-reflective with a rich inner world.

Looking beyond Aron's writing, multiple qualities or states might correlate with being highly sensitive, such as:

  • High intelligence.
  • A high level of empathy.
  • Highly creative.
  • Highly intuitive.
  • ADHD.
  • Depression or anxiety.
  • A tendency to develop chronic illnesses, such as auto-immune disorders, and allergies.

According to the journal, Intelligence, highly intelligent people take in more information, which enables them to do well in life, but may also lead to more physical and mental disorders. In other words, it's a gift as well as a curse, which may allow you to notice far more, but may also lead to mood disorders or chronic health problems.

If this is you, even if you don't possess all the above features, this probably feels familiar.

So should you, as a highly sensitive person, become a coach? In the past, highly sensitive people sometimes joined cloistered religious orders, or became hermits, to avoid the onslaughts of life. Or they might have buried themselves in rewarding work, or became artists, or psychotherapists.

In today's world, coaching is an ideal profession for the highly sensitive person. Intelligence, empathy, and intuition are vital tools for the coach. Treating clients with respect and sensitivity is necessary to developing trust. Being curious and simply noticing more are wonderful tools for coaching. Working from home allows highly sensitive and introverted coaches to shelter themselves from unnecessary intrusion, while still being able to use our sensitive gifts to help others.

Plus, coaching is one of the few professions that requires you to take great care of yourself, because you can't be a great coach when your own needs aren't well met.

So if you are a highly sensitive person, you may want to think seriously about becoming a coach. It could be perfect for you. To find out more, download the free Become a Coach eBook, below. It will help you understand the opportunities and challenges of becoming a coach. School of Coaching Mastery can help you become a coach with this course.

Get a free Become a Coach eBook here.

 

 

Topics: become a coach, curiosity, intuition, highly sensitive

Great Coaching Questions: What Are They and When Do You Use Them?

Posted by Julia Stewart

The important this is to not stop questioning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What scientists and coaches have in common is curiosity and a need to ask the right questions. Wrong questions elicit the wrong data, or insights, goals, actions, results. 

The right questions literally create new realities, when asked at the right times.

View a list of 101 Incredible Coaching Questions here.

View an infographic on how and when to ask coaching questions here.

Ask your own questions. Join the next live Q&A class:

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Topics: coaching questions, curiosity

ICF International Coaching Week: Top 10 Lessons from Thomas Leonard

Posted by Julia Stewart

 

Thomas LeonardIn honor of the ICF's International Coaching Week, I'm sharing the Top Ten Lessons I learned from Thomas Leonard, founder of the ICF (and IAC) and Father of Professional Coaching. Studying with Thomas in the years before his passing in 2003, changed my life in profound ways. Perhaps you'll share how Thomas shaped your life in the Comments section, below.

Top Ten Lessons Learned From Thomas Leonard:

1. When changing career paths, it's always nice to have a role model: Thomas, philosopher and entrepreneur, has been one of my favorites (I'll mention a few more in this post). One of my original realizations, upon joining his first coaching school and receiving the famous 16-pound-box-of written-materials, was: "This guy is a lot like me, only he's much better at it. I can really learn from him!" 

Today, Thomas is practically worshiped by his former clients and students, so I want to emphasize that he was a lot better at it than I, but in discovering his content creation strategies (finer points below), I was able to make the shift from, 'smart person with lots of potential', to massive content creator, myself.

Thomas, an incredibly prolific creative genius, was frequently asked, 'When do you sleep?'. No one believed him when he replied, 'Eight hours every night.' I knew I was hitting my stride when people started asking me when I slept and I replied, 'Eight hours every night,' and knew it was actually true.

2. How to handle 'Too Many Ideas' syndrome: Creative entrepreneurs commonly suffer from an overabundance of ideas. The classic advice on how to handle that is: finish one project before you start another. That's creative suicide for some of us. Thomas' advice? To paraphrase: If you have eleven ideas, start all eleven and see which ones people respond to. Then finish those. The result? You're there with the right idea at the right time for the right people. Instead of arbitrarily amputating your own creativity, you've collaborated with your clients to create what they really want. Magic!

3. To focus those 11 ideas even faster: crowdsource them. Ask your best customers what they most need from you now and how they'd like it delivered, even how much they want to pay for them (Remember t's R&D Team?). Result? You learn faster what your market wants and can develop those ideas beyond what everyone else is doing. Caveat: you need to be extremely good at asking the right questions to make full use of this one.

4. To get more done faster: do what you want, when you want to do it. Nobody believes this one, either...until they try it. The first time I experimented with it, I went back to a week-old to-do list after doing whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted to do it for several days. Funny thing: I discovered I'd finished most of the items on the list, without even thinking about it and I never felt 'busy'. How does that work? Instead of forcing myself to do stuff on schedule, I did it when the mood struck. Suddenly, TV time became business-building time (if I felt like it) and late-night downtime sometimes became creative inspiration sessions. So long as I got my 8 hours, I was able to crank out way more work without ever feeling overworked (See item #1 above).

5. To stop blaming people: Get that people are doing their very best even when they clearly aren't. This one hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks. How could I have ever been unaware of this (paradoxical) fact? Once you get this, you're free of the the 'blame and be blamed' game. The challenge is to get it even when you're mad at someone. But that's the evolutionary part, as well as the secret to greatness.

6. To get that everything is perfect: Ask yourself, if everything is perfect, what's perfect about this? Spiritual teachers tell us it's all perfect. That's nice, but it sure doesn't seem that way sometimes. The trick is not to force yourself to believe this (or pretend that you do), but to stay curious. Okay. So what's perfect about this (crummy) situation? It's is not a Pollyanna exercise. If you look deeply enough, you'll find a perfection that heals the whole problem, if you allow it.

7. The ultimate coaching tool: is Values. Actually, Thomas never said this, that I know of, but he's the one who taught me about the value of Values. And it has become increasingly clear to me over the years. Tony Robbins has his Needs and Donald Clifton has his Strengths, but Values are what matter most to people and they are the key to what matters most in coaching. Apparently both the ICF and IAC agree, because their certifiers look for values-based coaching conversations in the coaches they certify.

8. The relationship between coaching clients and what they really want: is they've often never even met. That's why Thomas put so much emphasis on his Clarifiers, a list of 15 this-or-that questions that quickly uncover what matters most right now. Some coaches think the ICF violates this, because ICF certifiers look for evidence that the coach, not only asks what the client wants at the start of a coaching session, but that s/he checks in at least twice to see that they are on track, relying on the client to articulate what it. The IAC style is a bit different; they look for evidence that the coach is uncovering what the client really wants, even if that takes up most of the session. Contrary to popular belief, these two styles of coaching aren't mutually exclusive. When we take a both/and approach and integrate these two approaches, we upgrade coaching and enter the zone of master coaching.

9. What coaches really do during coaching: is design environments that empower success. It's not enough to foster insights in the client. It's also not enough to plan client actions. Our real job is to co-design the client's environment to evolve them into the person they need to be to reach their goals. That's a big difference.

10. What marketing is really for: helping people learn. No, it's not about squeezing your list through a funnel. When people learn from you, they become more. That's irresistably attractive. No more squeezing. Help your followers learn the next thing they need to know, or help them become the next iteration of themselves. People want to be more. Both your marketing and your sales should help them with that. Some of them will pay you for a highly personalized version of it.

BONUS: To write content that is easy, fast and fun: Write in Thomas' favorite format, the Top Ten List.

Got a favorite lesson learned from Thomas? I'd love to hear it.

Want to get to know Thomas better? Sign up for the FREE 28 Principles of Attraction ecourse, based on his own notes for his signature personal development program:

Get Thomas' 28 Principles of Attraction Free eCourse

 

Topics: Coach 100, coaching clients, ICF, Coach Certification, Thomas Leonard, Tony Robbins, ENVIRONMENT, curiosity, master coach, IAC

Coaching Tip: Is the Truth Really a Question?

Posted by Julia Stewart

As a coach, you probably believe in powerful questions. And as TEDEd speaker, Michael Stevens, demonstrates, powerful questions make all the difference in teaching, too. In fact, questions such as, "How much does a video weigh?" and "What color is a mirror?" have made his Vsauce channel popular with millions. They foster curiosity, because most folks have never considered these quirky questions before.

Is there such a thing as unanswerable questions? Stevens can answer the above questions with science. But coaches are simply looking for clarity, inspiration and action, rather than actual answers. Or are we? 

Sometimes an unanswerable question expands awareness. When tapping into a client's Higher Self, for instance, I'll ask, "What color is it?" and "Where is it located?", questions that don't make logical sense, because the Higher Self isn't a physcial thing. But my clients step into the present moment, along with their intuition, as they attempt to answer my questions and that's the whole point.

My favorite quirky question is "Is the truth really a question?" Coaches intuitively feel the answer is, "Yes." But it can't be, because "Yes." isn't a question. So the logical answer is, "No." But this question invites us to step out of linear logic into a broader, deeper way of thinking.

So then what's the answer? My favorite answer is the coach-y, "What do you think?" Which is all I care about. But the most concise answer is, "Yes?" Which embodies the perfect attitude to bring to a coaching session: open, positive, curious and affirmative.

Watch Michael Stevens for more on quirky questions:


 

Topics: Coaching, coach, coaching questions, curiosity, TED, Coaching Tip

How are Coaches Responding to the Major Problems of the World?

Posted by Julia Stewart

A few days ago, I asked the Ad Hoc Committee at School of Coaching Mastery, If You Had Only 4 Years to Save the World, How Would You Coach Differently?

What prompted my question was a video put out by the Institute of Noetic Sciences, featuring Ervin Laszlo that suggests that the year, 2012, is Earth's tipping point. Watch the video here.

The answers that came back reflect the awareness and responsibility that professional coaches are known for - and they vary widely. Do you see yourself in any of the following?

"Those of us with the awareness and capacity to teach others about our personal capabilities with energy, how to get in touch with our higher self, why its important, and how to consciously live are being drawn to work with others. To bring awareness through curiosity, assist people in becoming more enlightened, this is my purpose. This is why I do what I do." - Jane Saylor, Life Coach

Do you bring awareness through curiosity? Do you assist people to become more enlightened? What is your purpose?

"I think the biggest change I'd make is in who I am being (or rather not being) as a coach. I'd step up and step out in a much bigger way and share of myself fully, rather than continuing to "hide" in more training, more groups, more ... excuses." - Wendy Foster, Your Joy Coach

Who are you being as a coach? Do you need to step out in a bigger way? Are you hiding behind any excuses?

"Despite the ages - old human desire to prophesy disaster, I choose to do little differently. Why? Because the world will allow me to be far more effective and rewarded by loving one or few unconditionally than trying to influence the masses." - Andrea Feinberg, M.B.A.

Do you love others unconditionally? Are you certain enough of your purpose that you know what you're doing today is exactly what you would do, even if you only had a few years left? If not, what needs to change, now?

Thanks again to the three coaches who agreed to let me quote them for this post. You've all inspired me.

Topics: curiosity

Virginia Tech: A Dumb Question Might Have Saved Lives

Posted by Julia Stewart

An article in this morning's New York Times about the massacre earlier this week at Virginia Tech reminded me of the importance of not making assumptions.

The article explains that the reason campus investigators didn't lock down VT campus after the first two shootings - a move that might have saved thirty lives - is that they were following up on a lead that suggested the murderer was the boyfriend of one of the victims.

It was a good lead, or so it seemed. However, during a two-hour pause in the shootings, while investigators interrogated the boyfriend, the real murderer, Cho Seung-Hui, was chaining doors and taking other measures in preparation for more carnage.

The investigators made a reasonable choice. As Col. W. Steven Flaherty, the superintendent of the Virginia State Police, said, “There was certainly no evidence or no reason to think that there was anyone else at that particular point in time.”

And I'm not here to blame or criticize them. They did the best they could. The outcome however, is far from what anyone would have wanted.

You want smart professionals doing a job like this. Most of us try to be smart professionals in our own jobs. Nobody wants to be stupid. But a couple of dumb questions might have made an enormous difference here.

As quoted in the Times, authorities “made the right decisions based on the best information that they had available at the time.” That's what all of us do, right?

Professors and students on campus had been nervous about the killer's behavior long before he acted, but as one professor said, "little could be done."

These are smart reasonable people and they all did their best. But when reasonable choices don't get the job done, that's sometimes a sign that it's time to think differently.

And of course, it's easy to to point out what they should have done, now that we have the benefit of hindsight, but there IS a way to think differently in the moment and that's worth talking about, because it can lead to very different outcomes.

It's to refuse to make assumptions, which can sometimes lead us to unreasonable, even dumb questions like, "What if the boyfriend isn't the killer?" or "What if there is a second shooter?"

Again, I'm not here to criticize anyone. This blog is written for coaches and I'm just using this story as a powerful example of what can happen when people do the right, reasonable thing and still get awful results. It's why it's the coach's job to ask dumb questions - seriously.

I'm defining a dumb question as one that is so obvious, people may not be asking it.

I'm definitely NOT suggesting that the investigators should have hired a coach to help them. And I'm also not suggesting that they didn't think about those questions. I bet they did. But for whatever reason, at the time, those questions didn't seem reasonable. I bet they wished they'd taken them more seriously.

My heart goes out to the investigators. They are probably suffering as much as anyone over this tragedy, so I apologize if this article sounds at all harsh.

At every stage of human life, people learn to make assumptions about situations and people as a tool for survival. As human life has gotten more complex and is moving far faster though, this tool has become a big liability in many cases.

For instance, if you live in a tribal culture, making assumptions about people based on their appearance, makes sense. People who look different from members of your tribe may very well be less trustworthy towards you than members of your own group. In a pluralistic society though, judgements based on appearance can be tragic. This is an assumption that has used up its usefulness.

However, reasonable people still make assumptions everyday. I'm assuming right now, that when I click "publish", this article will be uploaded to my blog. Otherwise, I might as well quit typing.

That's why it's the coach's job to listen for assumptions that may pose problems to our clients and challenge them.

"Are we certain we have the right suspect?"

The answer to a question like this is often, "No, but..." It's our job to take a hard look at those "buts". They're the cause for the assumptions!

In this situation, the considerations may have included: "We're pretty sure we have the right guy and shutting down the campus would inconvenience a lot of people and cost a lot of money and we'll be criticized if we take action and are wrong."

That last reason is huge and it stops most of us from taking courageous action. These reasons don't hold up though, if we compare them to human lives in danger.

That's why it's so important for coaches to catch our clients when they are making fateful assumptions and be willing to ask the right question and follow up with more questions until a real solution is found. Anything less can be awful.

It's also our job not to let our clients wriggle out of looking at the truth. Fear of being wrong is powerful and most people won't look at it without someone there who gently, firmly and without judgment, holds them to it. That's when clients make huge shifts. It's also when coaches earn their fees.

Our clients don't want to be wrong and often they can't afford to look stupid. It's our job to risk being wrong, unreasonable and even dumb for their benefit. We can't be too curious, too doubtful nor too nosy. That's our job.

Sometimes the smartest thing we can do is to be dumb.

Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2007

Topics: Coaching, Coaches, coaching clients, curiosity, questions

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