So many people who get into coaching say they connected with the value and contribution of being a coach right down in their bones. They hear about what coaching offers to clients and about the rewards it can give back to them and they just know it’s the right career. This is true for personal coaches, executive coaches, career coaches, and of course, business coaches. I knew, at a very deep level, that being a business coach was the perfect match of challenge, strategy, contribution and use of my talents – a perfect role for my personality and life experience.
People dive into their coaching business recognizing they need some new skills, certifications or methodology. They need training, some new skills, even a new community to share with. The proliferation of coaching resources, schools and certifications has been substantial since 2000. When I started there were very, very limited resources and few practitioners married coaching methodologies and business strategy together well. Thankfully we are in a place now where many options exist and coaches are taking advantage of them to get to a place of mastery faster than ever.
The single largest struggle coaches have is sales. So many talented coaches struggle to get new clients and to maintain a profitable company. Coaches spending all their time ramping up on coaching skills and content libraries before mastering sales is a lot like the business owner who is warehousing years of product before actually making a sale – it is a waste unless you sell it first. No sales, no use for your knowledge.
Sales for professional coaches are a unique heart and head sale (although most sales SHOULD be more of a heart head blend).You need to lead with your heart but still have enough process, method and understanding of sales to complete them. Even when potential clients desperately need coaching, getting them to commit to a contract or a program takes a functional sales process. Most coaches enter into their business with the intention to “help people". This is a really nice sentiment but does not drive a functional sales pipeline or make you a “closer” of new clients. You must master selling in order to help!
So where does a coach begin to develop their sale ability?
Sales need to be broken down into many key functions. It is not just sitting across from someone and getting him or her to sign an agreement. Sales starts with skills that allow you to generate interest in your service. This is often networking effectively for many people. It may also be where your marketing expertise needs to be honed. The honest reality for MOST coaches is that they simply don’t have enough potential clients and don’t meet enough new people weekly to develop a list of prospective clients that allow them to statistically succeed.
In working with a business coach from the UK about 5 years ago, we established that based on his goals he needed to be sitting down with 1 serious prospective client a week and needed to meet 10 people in order to find that one serious person considering his services. When we looked at his networking and lead generation efforts, he met about 5 people a month. He had never done the math on his own, but he quickly realized that his sales efforts were substantially less than he needed them to be. He was 35 people short in his process and therefore his goals every month.
Now some people are already reading this screaming, but if my heart is in the right place then I’ll attract the people that want me! Yes and No. Yes, I too am a believer that heart centered selling and that approach to your business will allow you to represent yourself authentically and will magnetize you to have people want to work with you. No, it will not suddenly give you all you need in terms of the math, numbers and logistics of business. You need to get in front of more people because without the face to face contact regularly, you’re the best kept heart-centered secret going.
Business owners and executives needing help don’t know how to buy coaching programs. Unlike McDonalds or Wendy’s, where we can walk up to the counter and say, I’ll take a #4 with a Coke, business coaching is still some loosely understood service that most people have never bought. So since prospective clients haven’t bought it, you need to have an airtight sales process that answers their questions, address their concerns, and walks them step-by-step through making a buying decision. Otherwise it is the blind leading the blind.
If you aren’t very proficient at selling it, this automatically makes them concerned about buying it. Prospects judge your capability as a coach based on your ability to sell. This is unfair but absolutely a truth. The dentist who shows up disheveled and disorganized for your appointment, gets your name wrong, and then has a sloppy appearance may be the best dentist in the world but the way he shows up and handles the first interaction makes you think, “this guy must be the worst dentist in the world”. Your poor sales ability makes your prospects feel the same way. “Feel” the same way. Business coaching is bought through feelings. It is bought through the desperate belief that you are the person who is going to change circumstances, help them succeed and manifest their dreams.
Where do you begin? Start by looking at all the activities you do currently to generate interest and prospects. Evaluate just how many leads this drives to you per month. Assume you close 1 in 10 prospective people you sit down with (I realize you might be better but this ensures you’re erring on the side of caution and not optimism). Now you need to start to add in activities that can get you connecting with more people. This could range from more networking to more online advertising to a better referral program.
Once you start to increase the people you connect with, you need to develop, practice and master a strong sales process. Like a good stage actor, a good coach has practiced their style and steps so many times it is second nature when they get on stage at a sales meeting. This needs to happen with physical practice too – intellectually knowing a process and then actually doing it are two different things with different results.
For each person reading this article, the specific tactics they need to implement and their own specific sales hang-ups are individually unique. If you are looking for more information or want to discuss action steps to a strong heart and head selling process for you, please contact us at Evolve Business Group. We have worked with clients and business coaches globally from New Zealand to Vermont to Ireland perfecting their sales process and therefore their business coaching success.
Marty started his first company at the age of 21. He has owned 13 companies to date and is a serial entrepreneur. He has dedicated a large portion of the last 12 years to being a coach and mentor to both entrepreneurs and other coaches. By taking to the practical and actual experiences in his world and applying them to other companies, situations and industries, he has found the common ground for all business globally, and has built a curriculum around this foundation for all his companies and his coaching.
Marty currently operates 4 companies with operations in the US and Canada. His first company was a technology startup, after which he ventured into audio production, software, retail, the hospitality industry and more recently, advertising/marketing. He has been a crucial player in all phases of start-up and growth.
Marty was awarded the 2002 Business Coach of the Year for North America and the 2003 Recipient for Global Contribution to the coaching profession*. In addition to international recognition, Marty has been selected as one of Calgary’s Top 40 Business Professionals under 40 in 2004 by Calgary Inc. magazine. Marty was awarded the CYBF Canadian Mentor of the Year in 2006. More recently, Marty was selected one of 18 entrepreneurs to represent Canada at the G20 Entrepreneur Summit in Nice, France in 2011 and Mexico City in 2012.