Dara has noticed a strange thing about her coaching conversations. If the conversation was set up as a consult, she feels very confident. She has her sales call structure, she knows what each step will be, she knows what she’s going to say.
On the other hand, if she finds herself in a conversation that doesn’t have the “sales call” label, she feels scattered and nervous.
Of course it’s not the sales call label or the script/structure that gives Dara confidence on one type of call and nerves on the other.
It’s some idea in her head that it’s wrong (or scammy, or pushy, or salesy or network market-y) to talk about her coaching and even offer it to people outside the context of a sales call.
Just the other day she hosted a group call (Webinar? Live stream on social media? I can’t remember). Her dad’s cousin came to the call, listened in, got impressed, and started asking Dara what this is and how does she do it, etc. She’d never experienced anything quite like this, she told Dara.
Dara was, of course, felt excited/validated/hopeful when she heard all that.
But then this little voice in her head spoke up (as it often does in all our heads) and said something like, “You shouldn’t offer coaching to your Dad’s cousin. That’s weird. That’s what MLMers* do. She’s a family member! What will she tell the rest of the family?”
*I hear this concern about acting like a “MLMer” semi-often. What’s interesting is that thousands of people make nice incomes from that kind of business, so apparently they’ve gotten over this specific concern. Anyway.
Now, Dara managed to get herself past the the thoughts about “you shouldn’t offer paid coaching to a family member” because she did explain her offer to dad’s cousin, and she even told her the price.
Then, for reasons she has a hard time explaining, she heard herself offering a steep discount “because you’re family.” Why did she do that, she asked me.
Dara and you only have so many cousins. And very few of them are going to ask you about your coaching, let alone express real interest in working with you. I don’t know that it’s necessary (or beneficial) to spend too much time analyzing your sales-call-with-family-member approach. It’s just not going to happen very often.
The thing we do want to take a look at (but only briefly!) is the nervousness that comes up when it’s time to talk to people about our paid offers.
Yes, we’re coaches, so we have a whole bag of tools we can use to understand our thoughts and feelings in the exact moment we say this or that to a prospective client.
I’d encourage Dara (and you, and me) to keep that analysis productive by making it a little less about “I’m should be doing this better” or “why am I so weird when I talk about coaching” and a little more about “next time I’m going to say this instead of that and watch for changes in the other person’s facial expression.”
Persuasive, interesting conversation is a skill. Just because we’re coaches who believe thoughts create feelings, etc doesn’t mean we automatically know how to not be awkward when talking about this stuff.
When I was a sales manager and trainer I’d tell new reps that they were probably going to feel pretty weird (and be pretty bad) for the first couple of hundred calls. Then I’d tell them to get through those calls as quickly as possible so they could find their own style and just…relax.
Here’s an opinion: what you say to people about your coaching matters less than how you say it. Relaxed confidence is probably more attractive than any particular fact or insight you might throw at them. In my experience, feeling relaxed and confident only comes with experience.
So get as much experience as you can in conversations about coaching.
Review yourself and look for opportunities to improve what you say and how you say it.
Please don’t hyper-analyze yourself. It will only reinforce your doubts. Practice a thought like “I’m getting a little better at this every time I do it.” or “I’m feeling a little more at ease every time I have a sales conversation.”
You’re doing great. Keep going.
Sara saw my recent Instagram story where I asked people what their niche is. She told me she realized in that moment that she’d chosen weight loss as her niche for one reason: to force herself to lose weight.
But she’s also realized that marketing weight loss feels like walking with hundred pound chains around her ankles. The more she’s thought about it, the more she’s realized that one part of her brain is telling her she has the tools she needs to help people lose weight, she knows they work, and she knows she can effectively support clients in using those tools.
It’s the other part of her brain that’s causing trouble. It’s telling her that she shouldn’t be a weight loss coach until she’s reached her “ideal” weight. It’s telling her that she’s looked at plenty of weight loss programs and coaches over the years and she’s never bought one from a person whose body didn’t look like the one she envisioned having at the end of her weight loss journey. She’s realized she has a judgment that “chubby people shouldn’t be offering weight loss coaching.”
So these two sides of Sara’s brain argue, and she feels unmotivated, and that’s why weight loss marketing activities feel like slogging through a deep swamp.
With that as background, Sara told me she’s thought about just changing the focus of her coaching to something other than weight loss. Something where she’d find it easier to feel less judgmental of herself, less like a fraud, and more confident to do her marketing work.
I told her that’s definitely an option. The good and bad thing about life coaches being in business is their awareness of their thoughts and feelings. Non-coaches seem not to spend quite so much time questioning their business motivations. They seem more likely to say “that thing over there seems like the easier way to make money, and making money is my goal. I’m headed over there.”
Life coaches analyze…and analyze…and analyze. This is a good thing because introspection yields insight. This is a bad thing because holy smokes can we all just get on with it? (This includes me.)
In Sara’s case, she’s not wallowing in the indecision and analysis. She’s done her introspection and realized that marketing weight loss coaching will require her to be more vulnerable than she’s ever allowed herself to be. The decision to pursue weight loss coaching would be the decision to let go of her fears of criticism and judgment from others.
I told Sara that if she resolved the personal issues surrounding weight loss (her self-judgment), the business questions would resolve themselves quickly. If she can accept her weight, her body, and herself exactly as they are today, she’d find it easier to do the work of marketing herself as a weight loss coach.
If she got herself there, I told her, the marketing strategy is clear enough.
We’ve talked about a marketing strategy where the coach is the hero who’s already made the journey.
We’ve talked about the strategy where the coach is the guide who may or may not have made this exact journey, but has the map/the tools/the formula.
Sara’s strategy would be as the hero on the journey. Yes, it requires more vulnerability because ther are days where your content sounds like “Today I made no progress. I didn’t follow through on my good intentions. I’ll try agian tomorrow.”
The hero on the journey has to be okay with broadcasting her failures in real time, without being able to say, “but don’t worry, it all worked out in the end and look how successful I am.” Also, the hero on the journey is under some additional pressure: if she doesn’t progress down the path, the story loses its appeal.
I appreciated the conversation wtih Sara because it addresses the fear that I think holds us all back the most: the fear of looking foolish.
If we can conquer that fear, or do our work in spite of it, money will be part of the payoff. But the bigger payoff is confidence.