On Selling Coaching Services


This is a collection of my writing around the general question – how do I build a thriving and financially rewarding coaching practice?

Is your coaching practice completely full?  Are you getting more referrals than you can handle?  Do you know who your next 10 clients will be?  

If yes, you don’t need this document.  Pass it to someone who needs it more than you. 

If no, you have come to a good place. 

A coach is only a coach if they have a client with a goal.  

If you don’t have clients, you are not a coach.  If your clients don’t have goals, they don’t need coaching (they need goals).

Effective coaches come in many shapes and sizes. The thing the winners all have in common is the ability to influence others. The ability to sell their ideas, sell their products, sell their service. 

The graveyard of coaching businesses is full of talented coaches that failed to grasp that most important, essential skill – the art of persuasion. I don’t want you to waste your coaching talent. 

This document describes the sales process for the business of personal and team coaching.  It shares my experiences of over 17 years in the business of selling personal development seminars, coaching and retreats.

Now, if you are looking to coaching to fill a gap while you wait for the economy to recover, or an interim hobby while you look for a job then I would prefer you put this book down and I’ll send your money back.  I want this material to get into the hands of people who are committed long term to coaching and making a positive difference in human lives.

Enough about me, let us talk about you.  This is what I know about you:  

  • You care about people 
  • You care about making a positive difference in people’s lives 
  • You care about building a sustainable cash flow that allows you to continue to learn and grow as a coach
  • You care about improving yourself, specifically about how you engage with potential clients
  • You are taking the responsibility to do the work required in building a sustainable coaching business

A Splash of Cold Water (The Harsh Reality)

Before we go on, I want to share with you some of the hard facts about new coaches:

  • 75% of coaches make less than €10,000 in their first year of business
  • 40% of coaches do not have 10 paying clients in their second year of business
  • 89% of coaches make less than €50,000 in their second year of business
  • Only 9% of coaches ever make more than €100,000 in a year

There are many, many people starting out in the field of coaching, gathering certifications, training courses and launching themselves into business with a dream of building a solid, dependable, secure income stream.  They are quickly confronted by the harsh economic reality of not finding new clients and not making a good living.  

At its core, coaching as a business is no different from building any new entrepreneurial venture.  If you are to succeed, you must do what successful entrepreneurs do:  build a trusting client base, operate as a financially sound business, generate a profit.

There is no secret ingredient.  There is nothing missing in you.  You are fully capable of all of the steps needed to build a sustainable, fulfilling coaching business.  Failures do not come from lack of knowledge.   Failures come from lack of disciplined habits.  It is what you do every day that matters, not what you do some days.  It is the quality of your best day that matters, but the consistent quality delivered every day.  I call this Disciplined Action.

A coach can make a huge difference in other people’s lives…. but you’ve got to get people to commit to you. This means you need to answer the question: “How do I sell coaching services?”

Why do people buy Coaching?

Why does someone say “yes” to your offer of coaching?  Why do clients choose one coach over another similar coach?  

Here are a list of reasons why a potential client seeks your services as a coach:

  • They have a specific need
    • They consistently fail at some action
    • They want a promotion, more money, get fit, better golf handicap
    • Their friends have “coaches”
    • They are frustrated at themselves and nothing else has worked
    • They cannot relate effectively with somebody (their children, or parents, or boss, or life partner)
    • They have problems with conflict
  • Someone tells them they have a need
    • HR assigns coaches to all senior managers
    • HR puts them on “fast track”
    • HR identifies them as “needs improvement” but valuable enough to make the effort
    • Their life partner has told them that they have to make changes
  • Their conditions change
    • Loss of employment
    • Start a new business
    • They switch careers or companies
    • They need new skills (public speaking, writing, leading, managing others)
  • They are fed up with status quo
    • They don’t know what they want, but know that where they are now is not it
    • They are bored with their current life
    • They feel that their improvement has stopped in a passion (golf, tennis, fitness)
    • They feel that they are missing out on life (they want you to tell them “no”)
  • They want to Compete
    • They want to win at something
    • They want to boast about “having an in-demand coach”
  • They are themselves teachers, trainers or coaches
    • They wish to experience excellent role models
    • They want to see how you do it, what techniques you use
  • They are seeking Validation
    • They want to increase their life challenge, avoid complacency
    • Their self-worth depends greatly on external validation
    • They lack a strong group of supportive friends
    • They lack a trusted confidante who will be fully honest
    • They need objective, clear and usable feedback

What are the Consequences of not working with a Coach?

  • What got you here won’t get you there (Marshall Goldsmith)
  • Competition has coaches and will get better faster
  • It is almost impossible to coach yourself
  • We lose steam – maybe achieve early goals and then become aimless
  • We are living in the past, not seeing the true impact of changes until it is too late for us to respond
  • Tiger Woods, Rafa Nadal and Michael Dell have always worked with coaches (often more than 1 – swing coach, mental coach, fitness coach, strategy coach)
  • I take my car to the garage for a check up by someone who sees different cars every day – even if he is not smarter than I am, he is able to see things clearer than I can

Do you find “Sales” tiring and embarrassing?

When Selling, it is so important to let go of the “me”-centered universe.  It is not about you.  It is not about whether you get a yes or you get a no.  It is about the other person.

These are two contrasting mindsets:

  1. it is about me
  2. it is about you.

Either you make the selling process about ME (Ex: how much can I gain, my fear of rejection, looking bad, hearing no, etc.) or you’re making it about the prospect and how much value you can deliver to them. Now, the cold calling process is no longer focused on your negative assumptions, fears or what your true intentions are that surround your efforts (what you have to gain or lose) but on the prospect and the benefits you can provide them.

To eliminate your resistance to generating new business via cold calling, try this exercise the next time you are speaking with potential clients. Let go of the outcome or to hearing a “Yes” or a “No” and focus solely on uncovering the prospect’s needs, providing solutions and giving value. 

Today, you have to remember that there is a massive amount of free information available.  A potential client, if they are serious, will already have researched and read widely about coaching, coaching tools and the possibilities of coaching.  What can you do?  You need to show that you understand what it feels like for them, you need to show that you understand their process of decision making and that you value that they are taking the process seriously.  

I have spent the last 17 years teaching in seminars, in companies.  For the first few years I did it on the side, I did it for free, I did it as an amateur.  For the last 5 years I have taken it very seriously and worked hard at the business of making a difference in people’s lives.  This is a short article about what it takes to make a success of a life making positive impact on other people’s lives: the life of a coach.

This article outlines 4 steps

  1. Take the business of coaching seriously
  2. Marketing your services effectively
  3. Make it easy for the client to say yes
  4. Emotional Labour needs Agonists, Mentors and Constant learning 

What you will find in here:

  • Simple answers to serious questions about how to build and sustain a thriving business in coaching
  • Proven techniques for signing new clients
  • Real Experiences from a range of successful coaches
  • Practical action steps to go from €0 in revenue to €100K+ in revenues

Before we begin, Some Questions for Reflection

  1. What are the 3 biggest obstacles you will face when trying to sell your coaching services?
  2. What kind of first impression do you generate when people are first introduced to you?
  3. What would you say if a prospect said to you “Wonderful, you’re the third person I’ve met this month who does coaching. I’m interested.  Why should I hire you?”
  4. Describe your dream coaching client.  “At least 40, C-level, lives local to my home, looking for new challenges, driven person, reads widely, committed to improving themselves, attends workshops, wide network in the local business community”
  5. How are you going to position yourself in terms of pricing, timing, service level, quality?
  6. How much money do you plan to invest in starting up and marketing your business?
  7. Finish your brainstorming by answering the five following questions:
    • 1) What are the 3 biggest frustrations of my market?
    • 2) What are the 3 biggest fears in my market?
    • 3) What are the 3 things that make my market most angry?
    • 4) What is 1 solution that will satisfy my market?
    • 5) What is the 1 promise strong enough to hang my solution on? 

Take the business of coaching seriously

Commit to get really, really good at your job.

Do not commit to be perfect today, but to be on a permanent growth journey to being the best coach you can be.

Coaching is a craft.  A good coach is interchangeable with an average coach.  It is the great coaches that really stand out.  It is not enough to be better than average, you must set your sights on being the best coach that you can be.  Your discipline in becoming excellent as a coach will shine through and attract those that want that discipline in their own lives.

Are you on a Mission?  

When you are serious about coaching, you develop a sense of mission.  Your objective is not directly to earn money, it is to make a significant positive difference in lives.  Money is a measure of your distance travelled on this path, but is never, ever the end in itself.  Guy Kawasaki says that there are only 3 reasons to start a business:

  1. Increase quality of life. Make people more productive or their lives easier or more enjoyable.
  2. Right a wrong. A variant on the above. Be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem.
  3. Give back something that is being lost. Preserve something classic or historical. Save the whales. 

I know coaches who see a big difference between coaching and marketing. They love coaching, but hate marketing.

Good marketing is good coaching. You listen, and ask questions:

  • What is going well?
  • Where are things not going so well?
  • What are the changes you want to make?
  • What are you spending money on?
  • What is working well, what is not working well?
  • How much would it be worth to you to solve this problem?

If you can’t make a living doing what you do, you won’t be able to make a difference. If people don’t hire you, you don’t get to share your gifts. If no one knows your business exists, you won’t have the opportunity to help people.

Coaching doesn’t sell.  It is a vitamin, not a pain killer.  We buy pain-killers because of urgent need.  We go to the doctor when the pain gets too much.  We go to the dentist when the pain gets too much.  We buy a car when the old car doesn’t work.  

We don’t buy vitamins because of an urgent need.  We don’t buy vitamins because of what they are, or for what they can give us now. We buy vitamins because we believe in a dream. 

Marketing your Services Effectively

Websites don’t sell, emails don’t sell, other people can’t sell you:  only you, face to face… engaged in conversation, can truly sell.  Some can get very effective on the telephone, but the telephone is only a device that you use to sell a face to face time.  If something is important to me, I will get face to face with the person that can make it happen for me.  It is the same in sales, if something is important to you: don’t let email be the channel.

Perception is Reality.  When you answer the phone, the tone of your voice conveys something about who you are as a coach.  Everybody you interact with is a potential client, or a potential referrer.  Begin treating all interactions with this attitude.  Everything you say matters.  When you are in the company of clients or potential clients you are never “off duty”.

An effective way of building interest in your service is delivering talks to groups of people.  You can offer a free hour of coaching to the winner of a business card raffle – capturing the emails and phones of the attendees and getting some valuable 1-on-1 time with someone who feels that they have “won” this privilege.  

The format of your talk:  which would be more impactful to you?  

  1. a person spends 15 minutes describing her background, her experience and what she wants from the audience
  2. a person spends the time asking the audience about their challenges, situations that they don’t handle well, moments where they “lose it”; she asks them how they feel about those moments, she asks them how they would like to handle those moments and what it would be worth to them; she leaves them with one or two specific actions to put into immediate action in their lives.  She finishes letting the audience know she will be available for a chat at the back of the room later on.

Sales is about the buyer, the buyer’s needs, the buyer’s life… not the seller, the seller’s experience, the seller’s qualifications.

Structure your talk well.  Start strong with a grabber.  Use testimonials of people who are similar to those in the audience.  Focus on describing the purpose of the journey, the key steps and the moment where your client really felt that they had achieved something important because of your presence.

Sales is emotional.  It is emotional for both seller and buyer.  The buyer must feel emotion.  The seller will feel emotion.  The fear of rejection.  The fear of not being up to the task.  The fear of over-promising.

There are 3 levels of connection that a coach can establish with a client:

  1. Instrumental – the client cares only about the coaching sessions and their need (like when I buy insurance)
  2. Emotional – the client feels an emotional attachment to the coach (like buying a Harley Davidson)
  3. Belief – the client believes in a world view that is promoted by the coach (what Apple have achieved)

If the buyer says yes too easily, then they are not committed.  If they have no questions, then they really are not taking this change seriously.  If they don’t have a moment of doubt at the price, you are not pricing yourself correctly.

It’s tempting to believe that there really is a magic sequence of words that will make people buy from you every time. If something like that did exist, it would make selling so easy. You could just call someone up and read your script, or even better, just send the person an email, and bang: you’d have a new client.

But persuading other human beings to do what you want them to is not quite so simple as that.  The real problem with trying to sell like a robot is that you aren’t selling to robots; you’re selling to people. It can be easy to forget that important fact when you are staring at a list of phone numbers and addresses that says “targets” at the top. 

Seek the “no”.  A friendly conversation about life is not sales.  It might be necessary to establish a relationship.  But when it gets to selling the challenge: “I am not going to tell you to start coaching.  If I have a space, I am not going to tell you that you should choose me.  It is your life and you must commit.  I can’t tell you what to do”

“I need to be convinced that you are committed to achieving results because I have a 100% success rate currently and I won’t take you on if you are not committed”

Common obstacles coaches face when recruiting clients:

  • Relying on attraction instead of taking action: Hiding behind passive marketing activities and neglecting active marketing 
  • Describing the coaching process instead of demonstrating to people how you will help them get clarity and take committed action

Do I need a website?

No, but set up a blog in your name anyway.  Use WordPress.com.  It will give you credibility, give you an outlet for your note writing as you research, learn and interview others, it will be a home base on the internet.  You don’t need twitter, Facebook, linkedin – but they are free so you might as well get them set up with your name.  

Is the M.A.N. in the room?

A friend of mine is a sales leader at an organisation that does contract sales.  Each month they are selling a different product.

He says that lesson #1 for his sales guys is that if the M.A.N. is not in the room, leave.

  • M is for Money – does the person have the money to pay for your services?  If not, don’t sell.
  • A is for Authority – does the person have the authority to take the decision to contract your services?  if not, don’t sell.
  • N is for Need – does the person in front of you have a need for your services?  It is not enough that you see it as a need, they need to feel it viscerally for themselves.  If not, don’t sell.

In company coaching it is often the case that you are dealing with 3 separate people with different needs:  The buyer, The processor and the coachee.  In a small entrepreneurial start-up, they may be the same person.  In a large organisation, for example my work with Novartis, there is a HR person who facilitates the process of hiring me, there is a business leader whose budget is spent on me and who needs to show ROI on the spend, and their is a coachee or group of coachees – who personally benefit from my work.  

Selling is about Pain Relief

The Sales Process

Every sales process is essentially the following six steps:

  1. Find somebody with Money (“That guy looks good”)
  2. Approach and contact (“Hey, do you have a minute?”)
  3. Present and ask for the sale (“After 17 years experience with customers such as X, Y; I know we can be of help to you Mr Customer”)
  4. Handle objections (Turn No into Yes)
    1. First acknowledge the objection (“I understand that you are happy with the current product”)
    2. Second ask a question (“What are the existing levels of waste?”)
  5. Close (“Here is my standard agreement… lets review and sign to get started”)
  6. Ask for Testimonial and referrals
    1. Before and after, story with numbers (“Before I met Conor I was unable to string 5 words together, now I regularly give powerful persuasive speeches and kids ask me for autographs”) 

Tangible Value is not just Happy Clients

The reason you are hired is to improve a client’s performance.  The process is not important.  The explicit improvement in output, in results is tangible value.  A person feeling happier is collateral, a person performing better is your purpose.

There is pain in change.  There is pain in improvement.  I get fit when I go through the pain of exercise.  I reduce obesity when I go through the pain of denying myself chocolate.  A great coach is not going to be loved during the process of change.  You are not there for liking, you are there to help your client improve.  

Few people will buy a “happiness consultant”, even though they might desperately wish to feel happier.  Companies don’t buy “facilitators”, they buy “high performing teams”.  People don’t buy seminars, they buy “making an impact as a speaker”.  What is the pain of the client that he feels and wants to go away?  

People have explicit pain and unrevealed pain.  In the case of coaching services, some clients will come with an explicit pain and they are ready to move to trial and then buy your services.

Most potential clients have unrevealed pain.  They are frustrated, but don’t yet feel the pain as a need to make a change.  You need to use questions to make the pain explicit and increase their desire to make  a change.  You do this with 4 types of questions:

  1. Situation Questions – finding out about the client’s current life situation.  These are the least powerful questions, but are necessary to begin a relationship.  “What are the top 3 challenges in your job?”
  2. Problem Questions – Asking about dissatisfactions and frustrations with the status quo.  As people learn to sell, they ask more of these questions. “How is that affecting your ability to finish work on time?”
  3. Implication Questions – asking about the effect of not taking action, asking about the long term effect of the status quo.  Top salespeople differentiate themselves with their ability to ask these implication questions.  These questions raise a problem from a background pain to an explicit need that the client desires to change now.  “What effect does your lack of progress have on your promotion?”
  4. Need/Payoff Questions – asking about the positive impact of the coaching service on the expressed problems and implications.  “If we did that, how much time could you save?”

The Danger of Confusing “Describing the Service” with Sales

The more new, complex and innovative a product, the more that salespeople tend to describe features rather than ask questions.  A new coach is both a novice salesperson and selling a highly complex, feature-rich product.  The tendency towards description of the service rather than strategic questioning to draw out the explicit pains of the client is incredibly dangerous and can lead rapidly to a new coach deciding that they are not good at sales.

What Proof Can You Show?

Don’t expect clients to just take your word for what you can do. Be prepared to present evidence, such as a portfolio of your work, testimonials from satisfied clients, or written case studies of solutions you’ve delivered in the past. Examples like these can prove that you’ll deliver what you promise. Often the person who gets the job isn’t the best at what they do, they’re just the best at presenting what they do. 

Here are the five outcomes of a sales conversation:

  1. The prospect buys.
  2. The prospect does nothing to solve his/her problem.
  3. The prospect delays taking action.
  4. The prospect makes a purchase from a competitor.
  5. The prospect buys a different solution. 

1 is great.  2 & 3 are the big challenges.  4 & 5 can teach you about market fit, trust and speaking confidently about your services.

There are only three ways to grow your business:

  1. To get more customers.
  2. To get your existing customers to buy more.
  3. To get your existing customers to buy more often. 

Strategic Networking

  • Make a list of everybody.
  • Identify how each could help.
  • Identify how you can help each person.
  • Connect with everybody.  Email ok, call better.

Know, Like, Trust, Buy, Client, Refer

In order to become a true customer, a client has to move through 6 stages.

  1. Know – how do you let someone know that you might be able to make a difference in their life?  You are not selling coaching – you are letting people know that there is a gap in their current way of living life, there is something being left on the table, their potential is not being fully lived.
  2. Like – We like people who help us, who have a passion in common with us, or have a similar background to us.  Find these connections with potential clients.
  3. Trust – If you are everything to everybody, then many people will like you; but no one will trust you.  You have to indicate what is outside your area of expertise – telling someone what you don’t know is an effective tool in building trust.  (See the trust equation).  Past successes build trust.  Recommendations from others build trust.  Get testimonials from clients as soon as you can see that they feel positive about the experience.  Get testimonials from colleagues who were on your coaching course – they can testify to your passion and capability as a coach.
  4. Buy – The buyer has to hand over something that is of value to them.  This might be money, this might be a letter of intent, this might be work-in-kind or barter – but you must request that the buyer hand over something in every sales meeting.  Eventually this tends to be money.  Early on, it could be homework that will take them time.  It could be meeting at 6am.  It has to be a cost to them.  It has to be something that they will only do if they see value in return.
  5. Client – The buyer has to see some early wins.  They need to see change in their life.  It might be greater clarity in their goals.  It might be that they finally let go of a old, dead relationship that has allowed them to be victim for years.  They need to see that their work with you is having a real impact in their life.
  6. Referral – When I finish my course I tell participants that they are not allowed to recommend my course to their friends.  They are to say nothing.  The only thing that I allow them to do is to live their lives in such a way that their friends, work colleagues, bosses, brothers and sisters come to them and say “what changed?  you are a different person.  what happened?”  In this moment, they are allowed to recommend the course.  I believe that if they are not changing their lives in such a way as those around them notice, then I am failing as a coach and teacher.  It is important in your work as coach, that you do not allow people to depend on you as a source of “feeling good about themselves” – you and they must do the hard work to make and sustain positive change.

To make really good use of referrals in your sales, you must have a clear, specific answer to “A good client for me would be…”

The Sales Process moves individuals along these 6 stages

Sales is a process through which potential clients get to know, like, trust, buy and then refer you to others.  Some clients will move quickly through the initial steps and then struggle, others will take a long time in the early sales steps and then something will trigger them to buy, others will be a real struggle all through the process.

Top Strategies to get your First 10 Clients

  • Work with 10 clients for free
  • Give free coaching session to prospects
  • Tell everyone you know about that you do and what you want from them
  • Speak to every group that will have you
  • Find a successful (cash flow positive) coach to mentor you
  • Get out of the house
  • Set up a mastermind (accountability) group
  • Network with successful coaches
  • Interview successful people you know and write down top 3 challenges of each person

Worst Strategies for Building a Business

  • “they will come when I finish certification”
  • Passive marketing, waiting for calls
  • Networking in the wrong places
  • Marketing when I really need clients

The Four Ps

Marketing 101 at MBA level is about the 4 Ps: Product, Placement, Price & Positioning.

  • Who? More importantly, Who is Not my client?
  • Who are your ideal clients that are the best fit for my interests and experience?
  • What are their problems that could be better solved with coaching?
  • Can your clients afford you, and if they can what is your optimal pricing?
  • Who is the competition?
  • What is your competitive advantage or why should your clients choose you?
  • How can you best “package” your coaching so your clients recognise it as the best solution for their problems they are prepared to spend money to resolve?
  • How do you reach large numbers of clients, quickly and cheaply, and get yourself well known?
  • How do you get your clients to try this new service you offer?
  • How much time, and by what best method, will you need to market each week to keep your practice filled? (Most new coaches only put in a fraction of the marketing time they need to get the clients they want.)
  • How long, and how much investment, will it take to become profitable?
  • What support do you need to master all the business competencies, keep you on track when times get tough and hold you accountable?

The #1 Confusion of Coaches as Marketers

Most coaching training programs tell you that coaching can solve any client problem and it is not important if the coach has previous experience.

This might be true, but it is not true for a potential buyer of your services.  It is their perception of future value that is most important.

When someone is thinking about paying for your services, they need to feel that they are paying for experience and proven results.  I pay more for a course with the author of the book, than with the certified teacher who is better at teaching the course.

Why does someone pay? They pay for expertise, they stay for results and feeling.

Own a niche. You cannot be everything to everybody.

Choose a niche that is full of potential clients:

  • That you love to work with
  • That would appreciate or value much of your life experiences, training and accomplishments.
  • That have big challenges or problems they are spending money on now.
  • To whom you will be able to add a lot of value.
  • To whom you will have credibility as a solution provider.
  • Where the competition is not too entrenched.
  • That you can reach in large numbers, quickly and cheaply.

Niche Segmentations

  • By size of company: startups, stable, high growth, stagnant
  • By nature of company: 2nd or 3rd generation family business, large corporate, owner-operators, NGOs and foundations
  • By Industry: professional service firms, tech
  • By Position/Department: Sales, New promotes, Board potential, Business owner, GMs

Make it easy for someone to say yes

Once a client has started working with you, they will enjoy it. 98% of coaching clients highly recommend the service – but only after they have seen the impact on their life. Make it easy for them to start.

Successful coaching businesses offer a range of ways of engaging their services.  They have free or cheap ways for potential clients to find them, get to know them – online blog, ebooks, free online courses, published books.  They have expensive options for long term, trusted relationships – 1-1 coaching.  They have a range of in-between options – 1 hour training classes, half-day seminars, 1-3 day workshops.  This way clients have a range of alternatives to engage.  It is hard to get a potential client to go from not knowing you to committing to a 1 year retainer-based relationship.  It is easier to allow them to scale up their engagement with you over time.  They move from free offerings to a €15 book, then to a €99 workshop, then commit to a 6 month coaching relationship.

As a buyer would you find it easy to say yes to paying €500 a month, on an open ended basis, for a service that is sold as, ” well, just show up and we will work with whatever comes up, for however long it takes”? No.  How would you explain this to your wife, to your husband, to your friends?  You are handing over money in hope – only a dumb buyer would do that.

Do you require long term contracts?  Do you charge per session?  Do you accept credit cards, bank transfers, company invoices?  Do you market like Ryanair or Goldcar (buyer always wary of extra fees), or do you market like Zappos or Amazon (100% money back guarantee)?

There is a strong advantage (when you start out) to offering only 1 standard coaching package: a potential client need only decide “Do I want to do this?”  

The danger of a menu of services is that the client will have some confusion that will lead them to delay and not go ahead with coaching.  Remember how difficult it is to buy cereal at a foreign supermarket?  The range of unknown brands, offers and pricing?  As you grow more experienced in sales, creating different options might be a good idea.  However in the beginning of your coaching and selling career, make it easy for yourself.  This is my offer, take it or leave it.  No discussion about the offer.  All discussion about whether your client wants the life you can help them live.

On the other hand you do need to make some demands on the buyer.  Maybe a requirement of minimum 3 months commitment shows that you take this seriously.  Maybe a higher price?

There is a guideline in pricing consulting services called the 20% rule. Simply stated it says that if you are priced accurately for your ideal client, on average 1 in 5 of your prospects should be objecting to the price. If less than 1 in 5 object, you are priced too low. If more than 1 in 5 object, you are priced too high.

This is Emotional Labour

Agonists, Mentors and Constant learning

Strategic Evangelists

The #1 way professional service businesses find new clients is referral from clients.  The second best way is through a network of strategic evangelists.  

When starting out, it is impossible to build a sustainable business from existing clients, so the only route to high quality clients is through strategic evangelists.  A strategic evangelist is someone who:

  • Is in a position of influence or power because of their profession, education or standing in a community
  • Is in regular contact with your ideal client group
  • Is open to personal development and coaching
  • Is someone you can develop a trusting relationship with
  • Is willing to openly agree to refer people to you
  • Is someone that you could openly refer people to (in their area of expertise)

Try to meet a couple of strategic evangelists each month.  They need to be in the right industry, have an interest in seeing people grow, are natural networkers and trusted by their communities.

When meeting with potential Strategic Evangelists

  • You are not there to sell them anything
  • Spend the majority of the time talking about them, their business, and how you can help them
  • Give a brief outline of your work, focussing on the results you achieve
  • Let them know what your ideal client looks and sounds like in a way that allows them to visualise clearly
  • Offer to coach their staff members (or them) for free
  • Ask them if they have any reservations to referring you to potential clients

Embrace your evangelists. Whether they’re your employees or your customers, include them in everything you do. Do everything you can to give them a voice. They are your very best marketing. 

Boundless Enthusiasm

You are selling yourself. You cannot do this without passion. A big part of what a client is buying is to have you in their corner. If they can’t see you fighting to get them as a client, what would it serve to have you in their corner when things get tough? I want a coach who is going to fight with me for my goals, for my better self.

In chemical reactions antagonists slow down the reaction, agonists speed up the reaction.  In our lives we have antagonists – people who slow us down, question everything, make us doubt; we also have agonists – people who speed us up, support everything, make us believe.  We need agonists.  Emotional labour is too tiring to do alone.  

Agonists are the people who make you feel great about being a coach, about the journey you are on.  They are not necessarily coaches or mentors, they just have an ability to make you feel good about the struggle.  They may be children, they may be film actors, they may be voices on podcasts – but agonists are necessary to keep your enthusiasm alive.

Who do you know that is boundlessly enthusiastic?  Who do you know that is excited about each small step you take?  These people are your agonists.  

An antagonist is the opposite.  Their doubt can often be well-meaning – but all the energy you use up in answering their well-meaning doubts is energy you don’t have to work on your excellence as a coach, to work on your sales, to work on yourself.

Neither brilliance nor perfection are requirements for success. 

You don’t need to believe you are the very best at what you do in order to succeed. You simply need to believe you are capable, reliable, and deliver good value, and be willing to tell people so. Clients don’t want someone who broadcasts the message, “I’m the best.” They want someone who tells them, “I’ll get your job done.”

The most successful coaches are not those with the most raw talent. Remember the turtle and the hare? The hare ran ahead, and full of his own success, he rested for too long. The turtle won the race because he kept moving forward at his own consistent speed. However good you are right now is good enough to get the job done for your clients.  

Don’t Do it Alone

Entrepreneurship is emotional labour. The ups and downs of a day, of a week affect an entrepreneur much more personally than an employee in a day job. When you make the change to freelance, or entrepreneur you must take 100% charge of your emotional state.

Sometimes when you are feeling down you need to do something different:  Call a fan – call someone who really believes in you and speak to them now.  Do just 5 minutes – do 1 call.

Your Biggest Enemy

…is yourself. It is your fear. I have seen so many young entrepreneurs, freelancers, new consultants sit and wait for the time when they will feel better about themselves. They are waiting for when they feel more ready as a coach, more proven in business, more published as a blogger in the hope that these outside changes will make them feel ready to market themselves effectively. It never comes. This outside change will never come. You will never, ever feel fully ready to pick up the phone and call. You will never, ever feel fully ready to get up on stage and speak about how coaching can make a difference in the audience’s lives. Start now while you are imperfect. Keep moving anyway.

What to do now:

1. Make a list of 50 people you know who you have a feeling that might be interesting to understand better.  Google docs spreadsheet is a great tool.  (http://docs.google.com )

2. Pick up the phone and call the first name on the list.  Ask for time for a coffee.  

3.  Repeat #2 until you have 5 “yes”

4.  List 5 questions you are going to ask these people about their lives.  The marketing questions in this article are a good start.

More Ideas

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Further References:

Example Call Script

Hi, my name is __ I am a professional coach and I help people achieve solve their problems.  In particular, my clients are ___

I am currently offering a special opportunity to sample my coaching at a very attractive price.  If you or someone you know might be interested, I’d be delighted to talk with you.  When would you be available next week?

Is there a decision you are struggling with and need a sounding board?

No – do you know someone who has?

Yes – My coaching can help.  Can you imagine getting clarity on what you want, and committing to a clear set of actions that will take you there?

I’m offering 3 sessions for €600, 

What would make this work for you?

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