Failing to find clients for your coaching business is embarrassing to admit, yet failing to find clients who pay a professional rate for your services is a common occurrence. So many coaches finish their coaching qualification and then flounder and it’s hard to come to terms with, particularly when you’re used to being able to do anything you turn your hand to.
Most coaches are used to being successful in their careers. We are generally clever people, with lots of experience and we are used to being able to turn our hand to pretty much anything we want to.
Then we discover coaching and find ‘our thing’. We are blown away by it, by how powerful it is, we take a coaching qualification and we discover that we are very good coaches. To be fair, it stands to reason – highly intelligent and capable individuals are going to make a great coaches.
It’s only once we’re qualified that the embarrassment kicks in, because somehow, those clients that we expected to find turn out to be incredibly illusive.
Finding Coaching Clients Is Difficult!
That’s the truth of it.
Finding coaching clients is much, much harder than you think. The reason it’s harder than you think is that during your coach training, you’ve been lead to believe that if your coaching is good enough, your clients will find you. Or that all you need is the first couple of clients then the rest will come from referrals. Except that they don’t.
Let me put a quick caveat in here – if you are in the privileged position of having had a successful corporate career, it may be that you have a ‘little black book’ full of contacts to whom a) you are already credible, and who b) understand what coaching is. This kind of coach can often build a coaching business via existing contacts. (It is worth mentioning that this kind of coach has no idea how privileged they are and they wonder why everyone else isn’t ‘just getting referrals’. I wrote another article about what I call monetisable credibility to explain what’s happening here.)
Why though? Why is finding clients so difficult?
Marketing Is A Process, Not An Event
Once upon a time, before the advent of social media, we paid people to do our marketing. It was a professional service. Now that we – apparently – have access to the entire world via social media, marketing is considered to be something that everyone can do.
It’s simple, right? Let the whole world know that you’re now coaching and let them know about all the different ‘topics’ you can coach around! Divorce, career challenges, feeling ‘stuck’, health and wellness – you can coach whoever sits down in front of you, can’t you?
The answer is yes, you can coach whoever sits down in front of you. However, that’s the delivery side of your business.
The Other Skillset Required For Success
There is a whole other skillset you need in order to have a successful coaching business and that is the skillset needed to create the opportunities to actually do that delivery. This skillset includes sales and marketing.
Marketing is about helping the kind of people you want to work with to understand what exactly you do – and that doesn’t involved describing the coaching process. If you market well, then you don’t have much selling to do. By the time a potential client lands in your diary, they will already understand what you do. They will already know your pricing, they will already understand that you work with people like them. The ‘sales’ call is a simple chemistry call for you to see the whites of each others’ eyes and to agree a time to start coaching.
There are all kinds of things that fall under the topic of marketing that coaches aren’t aware are marketing. Pricing for example. Pricing isn’t simply a case of you deciding what you think your coaching is worth, pricing is a case of working out the value to the particular kind client of help to remove the problem that they’re struggling with.
Failing As A Coach Is Embarrassing!
To conclude this article, let’s talk about failure. For many coaches, this inability to find clients who pay a professional fee is the first time they have experienced failure in their working lives. They are – as I said – highly intelligent and used to being able to ‘wing it’ and bring about successful outcomes. They’re not used to failing.
The thing about marketing is, that in order to be effective, it has to be the opposite of winging it. There needs to be a carefully crafted and laser-focused marketing message that speaks not of the coach and their amazing coaching skills, but of the client and the things that they’re struggling with that coaching can help them to resolve. The good news is that although crafting that message is a big piece of work, once it exists, it contains everything that you’ll ever need for your marketing. Whether you want a podcast, or to write articles, or whichever social media platform you want to create posts for, all of this is contained in your marketing message.
Once you have that message written, then you can relax and become visible to the kind of people that you want to work with, safe in the knowledge that they will be attracted to you because of your clear understanding of, and empathy for, the situation that they find themselves in.