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Why the Best Life Coaches Don't Offer Money-Back Guarantees

Posted by Julia Stewart

Life Coach Money Back GuaranteeThis week, a new life coach asked me whether she should offer a money-back guarantee. Some life coaches (as well as other personal coaches, like business and executive coaches) offer money-back guarantees to make it easier to close sales. The thinking is that few people ever ask for their money back, so you'll increase your sales and make more money.

That approach makes sense if you're selling flashlights, but if you're pouring your heart and soul into a personalized relationship that leads to extraordinary results for your coaching clients, the unintended consequences may outweigh any extra sales you make.

Below are some of those consequences and a suggestion for what to offer, instead. But decide for yourself. No one approach is right for every coaching business.

As I said above, the plus side of offering a money-back guarantee is that it can make it easier to 'sell' your coaching, initially. The big minus is that your clients may be less invested, both financially and emotionally. Clients who are highly invested get the best results and stay month after month, which increases your income without the pressure to constantly make sales, and it increases your clients' satisfaction, too. I call this 'the sweet spot'.

Un-invested clients get poor results and tend to ask for their money back. I learned this the hard way when I was a new coach who offered a money-back guarantee. One of my new clients quit after a month and told me the only reason she signed up was because she knew she could get her money back. You'd better believe I felt burned.

Which would you rather have: Fewer sales or more clients, but no more money? Actually, getting burned is the least of the negative consequences that stem from offering money-back guarantees for professional coaching.

Here's a bigger one: Anyone who decides to go after a big goal will have at least one crisis of confidence along the way. And people who hire professional coaches are going after big goals.

A crisis of confidence sounds something like this: 'Oh my God, I'm making a huge mistake! I just spent thousands of dollars on a life coach so I can reach my dreams. Who am I to think I can do that? And all my coach does is ask questions!? My wife will kill me if I waste that money. My friends will laugh at me if I fail. I'll feel like a loser for the rest of my life...I'd better ask for my money back and forget the whole thing. (For a real-life example of a dream nearly derailed by this type of thinking, read how Olympic Gold-Medalist, Gabby Douglas almost quit qymnastics a few months before winning the all-round female gymnist title.)

When you offer a money-back guarantee you're promising to pay your client when s/he inevitably chickens out.

The irony of money-back guarantees is that they can communicate confidence from the coach. But the most confident coaches I know don't offer them - because they don't need to. Their clients sing their praises for them and that carries much more weight than a guarantee. If you don't have great testiminals, reviews, ratings, certifications, referrals or buzz yet, maybe a money-back guarantee will help you get started.

Instead, I use what I call a Value-Back guarantee. If a client isn't completely satisfied, they're encouraged to tell me asap and together we'll design a plan for them to get the value they paid for. Both coach and client win and this way. Not only does the coach make more money, but s/he learns how to serve more clients better and the great outcomes that clients get result in testimonials, buzz, and referrals that make sales much easier than will any guarantees. (I use this approach for School of Coaching Mastery, too.)

Does this mean it's always wrong to give back a client's money? No, sometimes you may find yourself trying to coach someone you just can't help. That could drain you and your business and make it harder to serve your other clients. If you wind up firing a client, giving their money back may makes sense. (Here are some tongue-in-cheek examples of coaching clients that might need to be fired.)

Here's my last word on life coach money-back guarantees: As attractive as they sound, the truth is, no serious client really wants their money back. What they want is to get what they paid for in the 1st place. If you give back their money, both of you failed. If you work together to give them what they paid for, you both succeed.

What are your thoughts on life coaches offering money-back guarantees? I welcome disagreements! If you offer a money-back guarantee, how is it working for you? If you don't, why not?

If you have questions about launching a successful coaching business, you're in luck! The next Coaching Groundwork Advanced course is about to start and it's designed to answer your questions, so you get off on the right foot:

Join Coach Launch Pro

Topics: professional coach, coaching business, executive coach, School of Coaching Mastery, Coaching Groundwork, coaching clients, coaching success, Business Coaches, Life Coaches, personal coaching

Coaching Client Engagements: Should They Be Short or Long?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Coaching clientsThe following post concerning how long coaching client engagements should be is inspired by a conversation at School of Coaching Mastery's members-only Water Cooler Forum. A student wondered how to set up coaching client engagements.

The Question:

Should coaching client engagements be short (3 - 6 months) or long (1 year or longer)? And should coaching client engagements have a fixed length or should they be open ended?

Here are my views. I find the length of coaching engagement varies according to the business model, niche, and specialty of the coach, as well as the goals of the client.

 

The Short or Fixed-length Coaching Client Engagement:

    •    Shorter engagements of specific length are common to business, executive, career and corporate coaching, where the bottom line is always of high importance.
    •    Lengths usually are 3, 6 or 12 months. Almost never shorter than 3 months.
    •    The per-hour or per-month charge is generally much higher, $300+/hour; $500+ per month, or the charge may be for the entire period.
    •    If you use this business model, know that you must be prospecting for your next clients at all times.
    •    Benefit to the coach, other than the higher fee, is that you can sometimes contract to coach an entire team, department or company. In other words, it can be a very significant gig and you may need fewer gigs to support your business.
    •    Benefit to the company that hires you, is that the fees are fixed and predictable and ROI is easy to measure.


Long or Open-ended Coaching Client Engagements:

    •   Open-ended coaching agreements are common in life coaching and other forms of personal coaching, such as health, restorative, personal development, and spiritual coaching.
    •    Minimum lengths of client engagements are 3 months. Any less than that and the client is unlikely to experience a specific outcome and may not see the value of continuing. Also, the coach is likely to get stuck on a merri-go-round, constantly trying to attract enough clients, if they allow clients to sign up for one month or less.
    •    Keeping one's ego out of the coaching engagement is extremely important in open-ended client engagements and depends on on the coach's personal development and integrity. Also, having plenty of money in the bank can be  important for the coach. Otherwise, the coach may be tempted to stretch out the client engagement for the coach's financial benefit, rather than the client's personal development. Some coaches, especially those who are less well developed, assume that all coaches create dependancy in long-term coaching engagements, but that's not necessarily so.
    •    In a long-term coaching relationship, the coach needs to keep an eye out for what else the client may need to work on. Periodically invite the client to a new higher level of play when you sense they are ready for it. Some clients absolutely love this, because they want to grow as much as possible. Think: Empowerment vs. Dependence.
    •    Generally, coaches charge less for this type of coaching, $250 - 450/pr month or $100-200/hour.
    •    The benefit for the coach is greater client stability and less marketing, although annual income may be lower than for business coaches. Benefit for the client is greater personal growth and fulfillment.


My colleagues and I have all experimented with these business models. Commonly, what we find is that when we raise our fees to over $500/month, we have no trouble attracting clients, but coaching client engagements tend to be shorter.

In my coaching business, I offer three different types of coaching. My life coaching clients focus on personal development, shadows, values, attraction, etc. My fees are lower and engagements sometimes are for several years.

I also offer mentor coaching for coaches, which includes working toward certification, business development and personal development. Fees are a bit higher and engagements last 6 to 12 months.

Finally, I offer business coaching that focuses on inbound marketing for micro businesses. Fees are higher and engagements last from 3 to 6 months.

How do you model your coaching client engagements?

The Water Cooler Forum is one of the 'hidden benefits' of membership in School of Coaching Mastery's paid coach training programs. Get your questions answered by mentors and insiders:

Click me


Topics: business coach, coaching business, life coach, coach training, coaching clients, make a living as a life coach, Mentor Coaching, personal development, personal coaching

Group Coaching Mastery

Posted by Julia Stewart

Group Coaching MasteryGroup coaching is a wonderful way to create more value for clients, while making more money for the coach.

And those are two goals that all great coaches care about, especially with a recession on. With masterful group coaching there's a synergy between the group coaching members that takes each individual experience way beyond what the coach provides. At the same time, each group member pays less than they would if they spent the same amount of time in personal coaching. And their combined fees can add up nicely for the coach. Everybody wins.

For instance, the first time I was ever coached in a group, the coach, wisely, set up a system where in each group member connected with at least one other group member, at least once per week outside the group.

That very first week, I was paired with fellow group member, Michael Port (Yes, the bestselling author of Book Yourself Solid, and former actor who appeared in Season One of Sex in the City). Michael was a new coach back then, like me, but he was already a leader. He asked me what I was working on in the group and I said I needed to get my coaching website up. So he gave me the contact info for a great web master in India that he had used. And just like that! I had my first coaching website up in no time and (almost) no money!

And then there are the friendships and connections that group members make. The very first coaching group that I ever led was for coaches who were working on IAC Coach Certification. Many of those coaches are still close friends, having established themselves as top-level coaches, referring, inviting and recommending each other along the way. Some of them have even held high-level positions with the IAC. They are a force to reckon with!

All this might make group coaching seem like a no-brainer for the coach. However it is really an advanced skill set. Learning to give a client exactly what he or she needs within a personal coaching session can be a challenge. Doing that for several people simultaneously is quite a feat!

And then there are the administrative issues that arise when we work with groups, instead of individuals. Mastering group coaching is advanced business-building too.

Suffice it to say that School of Coaching Mastery couldn't be without a module on Group Coaching Mastery. And so our new Group Coaching Mastery module commences in one week!

And because this is the School of Coaching Mastery, we will explore the masterful skills needed for coaching groups from the perspective of the 9 IAC Coaching Masteries(tm) and how to take them to the next level by expanding them to include an entire group of people.

For instance, Mastery #1, Establishing and maintaining a relationship of trust, is a delicate set of multiple skills that helps to establish an open, safe relationship between the coach and a single coaching client.

How do you establish and maintain an relationship of trust between each the members of a group, as well as with yourself, so that each group member is completely open and trusting enough to fully benefit from the remarkable experience that is coaching?

That's one of the many puzzles that we'll solve together in next month's, Group Coaching Mastery module.

If you'd like to know more about it, go here to the module registration page.

You'll also get Group Coaching Mastery included if you join the Full Coach Training Program.

Topics: Coaching, group coaching, School of Coaching Mastery, coach, Coach Certification, IAC Coaching Masteries, coach training program, IAC, personal coaching

Coaching: Why It's So Effective

Posted by Julia Stewart

business coachPeople often ask me what makes coaching different from other professions, such as consulting and the like.

There are a number of things that set coaching apart from other professions, but one of the major skills that a coach has, that many other professionals lack, is that a coach knows how to talk with a client in a way that not only leads to successful solutions and strategies, but also leads to the client actually taking action and succeeding with those solutions.

That might sound like a big "Duh" to you, but if you are a professional expert in any field, then you've probably had the following frustrating experience... 

Whether you're a doctor, lawyer, indian chief, financial planner, personal trainer, dental hygienist (or parent); you've probably had client conversations where you:

1. Understood the client's problem perfectly

2. Came up with the best possible solution

3. Instructed the client in how to implement the solution effectively

4. The client agreed that your solution was the answer to their problem

5. The client promised to implement the solution as per your instructions, but...

The client never does what you tell them to do.

Clients can be so frustrating, right? Why do they pay you, if they're not going to follow your directions? Are they just lousy clients? Do they have a secret desire to fail? Are they here to just drive you crazy??

Actually no. The client isn't the problem here.

You are.

Good coaching is so extraordinarily effective, because a good coach knows how to have a conversation with a client that not only leads to the best solution, but - more importantly - leads to the client actually taking action and creating effective solutions in their own life. The majority of professional advisors out there have no idea how to do this.

It's is a genuine art, which other professionals would do well to copy. For now, though, it is essentially the terrain of the professional coach.The tools employed to create these amazing game-changing conversations include, but aren't limited to:

Curiosity, silence, acknowedgement, truth telling, planting seeds, connecting to values, challenging beliefs, being provocative, keeping it light, honing in on what the client really wants (not just what they say they want), clarifying, championing and more.

The right tool at the right moment makes all the difference between an expensive service that doesn't make a difference and a service that is so transformative that clients don't care what it costs. 

Which would you rather pay for?

Whether you want to become a coach, or you're a professional in another field who wants to have game-changing conversations with your clients, we have a program that will give you all the basics in just four weeks, called Coaching Groundwork. We're probably not charging  enough for it, but for now, you can join it for $325.

If you want to know more, visit our Coaching Groundwork page.

Copyright, Julia Stewart, 2009 

Topics: business coach, Coaching, coach training, become a coach, Coaches, Life Coaches, clarifying, personal coaching

Did the Perfect Moment to Become a Coach Just Arrive?

Posted by Julia Stewart

Jump for joyIt's often said that investing in your business and/or your education is one of the smartest ways to invest your money, because both will pay for themselves many times over. It's especially smart to invest when prices are low.


That's good to remember in today's economy.

It's also said that people who wait for the ideal moment, before they begin a lifelong dream, never get started, because their lives are never ideal.

Well, what if the ideal moment were to arrive and you could invest in BOTH your education AND your business while prices were low? Would you be ready to dive into your lifelong dream of becoming a great coach?

I'm asking because until School of Coaching Mastery reaches its current enrollment goals, you have an opportunity to join, for less than you'll ever have to pay again, the School of Coaching Mastery, the only school, worldwide, that trains coaches from the ground up for the Gold Standard in masterful coaching, the IAC Certified Coach designation.

Not only that, but the already low introductory fees for the School of Coaching Mastery will rise substantially later this year.

Do you believe in coaching enough to invest in yourself, your business and your education? Put another way, do you believe in you enought to invest in yourself, your business and your education?

If so, go here to check out coach training programs.

Or call 1-877-224-2780 for more information, to register by phone, or to set up a payment plan.

Whether it's advanced coaching skills, improved business and marketing skills, or greater personal development you're after, embarking on excellent coach training is an exciting and fulfilling adventure.

Is it time for you to get started now?

Topics: business coach, become a life coach, School of Coaching Mastery, become a coach, make a living as a life coach, Become a Certified Coach, what does it take to become a coach, coaching schools, coaching career, personal coaching

The Future, When Everyone Has a Coach, is Here

Posted by Julia Stewart

NASA Space WalkAbout ten years ago, when I was becoming a coach, Thomas J Leonard, the founder of the coaching profession said...

Someday, everyone will have a coach.Given the power that great coaching has to transform lives, that was an awe-inspiring vision.

Thomas also said at that time, that in order for everyone to have a coach, coaches would have to get creative about how they deliver coaching to clients, because originally, coaching was just for the rich and famous and that's how it was priced, with most clients paying between $250 - $1000 per month for private coaching.

Coaching is not just for the rich and famous anymore...

Coaching went "mainstream" years ago and today, most people know or at least think they know what a life coach or business coach is. (No one has asked me what sport I coach in years!) That makes it much easier to market to folks who are neither rich nor famous. 

But one-to-one coaching is still pretty pricey.

So to bring quality coaching to the ever-growing coaching market, coaches are discovering more and better ways to leverage the economy of scale that exists for a service that is in very high demand. In other words, coaches are sharing coaching in innovative ways to higher numbers of people, who each pay less for the coaching they receive.

The first tier down from personal coaching is small group coaching, in which a small group of clients, say, 2 - 10 per group, meet with a coach a few times per month, and each client pays a smaller fee ($100-300 per month). The benefits of group coaching are similar to private coaching, because what the clients lose in personal attention from the coach, they make up with the extra value and synergy that's created by the group, itself.

Group coaching requires skills that are not needed in personal coaching, such making sure each client gets value and no one hogs the calls or hides out in a corner. For that reason, School of Coaching Mastery has its own Group Coaching training for our advanced students. Stay tuned for more on that.

A new form of group coaching that leverages economy of scale to an even greater level, is Compass Coaching. Compass was designed to bring low cost life coaching to people who want personal development, but who either can't or won't pay hundreds of dollars per month for it.

Unfortunately, economy of scale often means the client doesn't get the personal attention needed to really make change. That's why most people don't get lasting benefits from reading self-help books or attending workshops, which are also priced for the masses.

That's where Compass differs. Clients get a choice of "self-guided" online coaching via MP3's and workbooks, which brings passive income to the coach, or they can have large group coaching (10-30 clients), where they do get personal attention. The group coaching is priced incredibly low, $39-59 per month, because the passive income from the self-guided coaching makes up the income for the coach.

Long story short: Clients save a lot of money and coaches still earn plenty of money. Win-win.

It took me a while to see the value in Compass, because I'm not in favor of watering down the power of coaching, just to make it cheap. However, I'm highly in favor of bringing good, affordable coaching to virtually everyone on the planet. Compass has one of the best business models for doing that. I started to get that when I watched Compass CEO, Kim Fulcher, talk about her vision for Compass.

If you'd like to attend a live webinar with Kim Fulcher and hear how Compass can provide you with excellent large-group coaching, or how it can help you earn excellent passive income, Click below to register online and attend the live webinar with Kim Fulcher on Wednesday March 18th.

 

Topics: business coach, life coach, group coaching, become a coach, webinar, Thomas Leonard, future of coaching, personal coaching, private coaching, Kim Fulcher

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