Let’s say that you are passionate — as many coaches are — about coaching leaders and managers on the topics of communicating effectively, relating well with others, other topics related to emotional intelligence….
Here is a crucial question for you:
What is the best way to attract clients to help leaders improve in these important, but often overlooked, areas?
I had a conversation with a coach this week (not a member of the Center for Executive Coaching), and she shared that she is struggling getting clients while focusing in these areas.
I said, “No executive wakes up thinking that they need to learn emotional intelligence. They may need help in this area, but they aren't thinking this way.”
She replied, “I know that. I don’t say that. I tell them that I can help them relate better with their teams and key people in order to improve performance. But that message is not generating enough interest and I am not getting enough work.”
I had five suggestions for her about how to attract more interest, but she wasn’t open to hearing them. This is another example of a coach who isn’t coachable. While her business continues to struggle, I am happy to share them with you in the hopes that they help you attract more clients.
These strategies worked wonders for me, as well as for many members of the Center for Executive Coaching. Note that we provide you with methodologies and toolkits focused on the areas of improved communication, relating better at all levels of the organization, as well as creating a stronger organization. Enjoy:
Find an opening on topics that your prospects care about, before you push topics that you care about. It fascinates me that coaches who specialize in areas like emotional intelligence sometimes lack the emotional intelligence themselves to get into the minds of their prospects and figure out what matters to them. Don’t push your passion onto your prospects. Listen to their challenges and show how you can solve them. Clients come to me with all sorts of issues: feeling overwhelmed, teams that aren’t working well together, careers that are stalled, boards or directors that are in conflict, revenues and profits that are stagnant, employees that don’t seem to be engaged, an initiative that is going nowhere, trouble developing or executing a strategy, lack of clarity about a key decision, a culture that is not performing, and many more. Find that opening and solve the problem – regardless of your passion!
Focus on left brain, logical issues until you have proven your value and built trust. Executives and managers feel vulnerable talking about sensitive issues like how they relate to others. It is much easier to get them to open up about issues that involve others and that are logical – revenue growth, productivity, strategy, succession planning, execution, time management, and employee development. Once you gain credibility in these areas, you have a base of trust and value established, and the prospect will be much more likely to want to discuss other areas. Many coaches don’t want to hear this. The Center for Executive Coaching gives you a full suite of toolkits that cover both the hard and soft areas of leadership. That way, you always have a way to engage your prospects and clients while you show results and gain trust.
Find a small opening before you go for the root cause or the engagement that solves everything. Just as your first sale to a new client doesn’t have to be something that makes them feel vulnerable (unless they are ready), it is also true that your first sale doesn’t have to be especially large. Start small. I have a colleague who sells over $1 million in coaching solutions every year, and usually starts with a simple $785 assessment tool. This tool immediately qualifies the client, builds trust, and identifies issues to work on. Similarly, I am about to start a six-figure engagement with a billion-dollar company, and it began with a three-hour seminar that I sold for $5,000. Start small and grow.
Get visible to your target market in savvy ways, so that prospects are willing to open up about their more sensitive issues. Every coach finds ways that work for them to get them visible (and we cover these in your Center for Executive Coaching program). For me, a short in-person, highly interactive seminar gets me the most clients. I have three or four topics in particular that get me the most business, and have clients coming up to me afterwards. One is about strategic planning, and the others are about engaging employees, building a high-performance culture, and handling conflict during times of change. All are extremely practical presentations, and yet still have business owners and leaders opening up to me about their most sensitive issues working with teams and people. You can do the same.
Develop substance in a variety of areas, so that you can be a trusted advisor and not a one-trick pony. I have a colleague who does what she calls transformational coaching for technology leaders in Silicon Valley. Her revenues hit a wall a while ago. She found that it was hard to get clients selling the idea of transformation. It was too soft and fuzzy. So she added topics like strategic planning and succession planning to her solution set. Revenues took off and, of course, as clients came to trust her, she was able to work with them on their attitudes and more internal ways of being and leadership. By developing substance that mattered to her market, she was able to keep growing her practice and work on the issues that inspired her the most while getting great results for clients. At the same time, her prospects appreciated having someone who understand the softer side of leadership as well as the language of strategy and succession planning.
As a coach, you have a choice. You can be self-righteous, narrow, and rigid. Or you can be successful. To be successful, it might mean doing things a bit differently in order to get to the end point you want: working with clients on issues that inspire you, and that you know your clients desperately need. Why not choose success first?
At the Center for Executive Coaching, we show you a market-driven approach to get prospects interested in your services. We also give you the tools, methodology, and substance to back up your claims with coaching processes that get results. There are many options for you to work with us. Contact us anytime. You can reach me, Founder and Director Andrew Neitlich, on my personal cell phone at 941-539-9623.