One of the biggest struggles coaches face is getting clients.
It’s all too easy to fall into the trap of trying to TELL or SELL coaching instead of asking questions to help your prospects understand what they’re looking for—and then letting them sell coaching to themselves!
Here are 7 Coach-like Steps to Turn Your Prospects into Clients:
Step 1 – Learn What They WANT:
Have a conversation. Ask questions to find out what they want and how you can help.
ASK: What are you yearning for? What would you like to be different? What problems are eating away at you? What outcomes are you aiming for? What’s stopping you or getting in the way?
Step 2 – Get To the WHY:
Find out why they want to change, why their goal is so important and why NOW (and not last week, last year or next month). Connect them to their deepest reasons for wanting change, and then help them connect to the value of making that change.
What’s the “Pain” of staying where they are? Ask: What is it costing you to stay where you are? E.g., financial, time, energy, emotional or relationship costs.
What is the “Pleasure” of making the change? Ask: What are the benefits? What will achieving this change give you? How will you FEEL once you’ve solved your problems/achieved their goals?
Top Tip: Work the “Secondary Gain.” Help your client see the benefits of staying just as they are. This could be why they haven’t achieved their goals yet—and may be an “aha” moment.
Step 3 – Move Them into a POSSIBILITY Frame:
Help them see that what they want is possible and that they have the answers or can find them. Help them discover what they need to do to make their dreams happen.
Ask: What could you do to move this forwards? What are the next steps? What is the first step? Where do you need to start?
Step 4 – Reflect and Recap:
Be the Mirror. Increase rapport by demonstrating you have “seen” them—help them “see” themselves.
This could look like: “It sounds like you’d like more free time, but you’re also excited about a business idea. You’re tired and overcommitted but don’t know what to drop. You know you need to plan but are often so tired you don’t feel like it or some new crisis pops up at work. You’d also like to make time for some one-on-one time with your family. You feel tired, overwhelmed and frustrated and want to get some clarity. Have I understood you correctly?”
Step 5 – Get THEM to TELL YOU How to Help Them:
Get your prospect to tell you exactly where and how they need help!
Ask: “How exactly do you think I could help you?” or “What do you need from me to move forwards?”
Step 6 – Summarize and SHARE YOUR VISION for Them:
It’s time to bring it all together and add value. Now you know you can help them—and how—so don’t be shy! Tell them what you’d like for them and include any value you add. Finally, be sure to wrap up by letting them know you’d really like to work with them.
This could look like: “I’m hearing that you really want to develop your business idea. But work is getting in the way, and you already know that a first step is to stop working such long hours. I can help you do that and create space away from your job to brainstorm, plan and take action towards your dream.
I can also help you find the time to reconnect with your family—and make it fun too! And, as you mentioned, I’ll hold you accountable, help you stay committed—even when the going gets tough. I think we’d be a great team, and I’d love to work with you!”
Step 7 – Ask for the Sale:
Your client now knows 1) What they want and WHY, 2) that they CAN do it and 3) that YOU can help them.
But to turn prospects into clients you MUST ask for the sale. It needn’t be as icky as you think. Try:
- When might you like to get started?
- What else do you need to know before working with me?
- It feels like we’re a good match. Would you like to coach with me?
Then BE QUIET for as long as it takes them to answer.
Final Tip: Even if they don’t say, “Yes” right away, some people just like time to think and process (I’m one of those people). So, unless they say a clear “No,” agree on a time to FOLLOW UP with them.
Making the sale is a skill, and you can learn it. And you already have a great head start—your coaching skills.
So, forget about trying to get prospects to understand what YOU do—just have a coaching conversation. Ask questions and remember to ask for that sale. It really can be this easy!
Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching for 12 years and is founder of The Coaching Tools Company.com and Life Coach on the Go. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies, she loves to write and create coaching tools and exercises. Sign-up for her exclusive newsletter for coaches, plus many great tools & free resources for your coaching toolbox at The Coaching Tools Company.com. We are a proud ICF Business Partner.
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