Mara was curious about using a referral system to get new clients. My feeling is that a paid referral program for one-to-one coaching might not have the best optics. Perhaps it hurts the prospect’s view of you–does it make you look confident or does it make you look desperate/salesy/money-driven?
Instead, I shared with her an idea to think of five people that she hasn’t coached with yet that she would love to coach. She could then just extend them a genuine invitation, like, “Hey, I’ve been thinking about you. I would love to do some coaching with you. If you’d be up for a conversation about it, let’s jump on a call.” I have done this myself and it feels amazing! It feels confident, genuine, and service-oriented to be like, “Hey, I would love to coach you.” Your potential client may even find it flattering.
She also wondered about using the holidays as a promotional time, but again, without feeling salesy. We discussed the idea of positioning against Black Friday, like, “Hey, you’re going to buy a lot of things in the next few weeks. Some of them you’re going to love. One thing you would definitely love would be an investment in yourself and your mental health [or your relationship or whatever it is].”
Next Mara had a great question about insurance and contracts. I’m not qualified to advise for or against insurance, but I do see that most of my clients who have reached a certain revenue level carry a general liability policy.
As far as contracts, I’ve never done them with my clients. I do have an informal client agreement, where I outline my deliverables. But I’ve never put forth a contract with the expectation that it would be something that I had to use later in a difficult conversation–more as something to start the relationship off with clarity. I provide refunds to those who want them. Consult an attorney to determine what is right for your business, but make sure you understand what a contract does and doesn’t do for you. It doesn’t prevent hard feelings, it doesn’t prevent refund requests, and it doesn’t prevent lawsuits. It just might be a tool that gets used in each of those scenarios.
Sara is spending about half her time working for the Life Coach School, and the other half working with private clients. She is wondering if it makes sense to keep working for the school, when what she makes per hour there is lower than what she could make with her private clients.
I shared with her some ideas on how to value her options:
- What are you giving up while you’re working for the school? What’s the value, or dollar value, of your next best option?
- Pretend the money is the same. Which option would you choose and why?
- What non-monetary benefits you are receiving? How might they help you achieve higher pay, quality of service, or confidence in the future?
- What is my opportunity to become that same coach while not working for the life coach school? Do I believe I can get to the same place working in my own business, or do I believe I can get there faster, working for the school?
The cost of working for someone else might not be lost income, but it may be lost audience. At some point, that trade-off isn’t worth it anymore–where the next unit of coaching improvement is not worth as much as the next unit of creating and strengthening relationships associated with you as a brand.
When you design your ideal business in your mind, how much money does that business pay you? What do you do for that money? How do you spend your time? And what are the points of risk or weakness in the plan? In the long run, it is inherently riskier to have one client rather than to have some growing number of relationships across which you spread the business risk.
While you’re working in someone else’s business, produce some content, start to build relationships independent of that job, so that if the time comes where you want to move away from that job, there is a group of people, however small, waiting for you to engage with them more directly.
Sara also asked a great question about payment plans. The short answer: avoid them if you can. If you’re offering payment plans, just check in with yourself and make sure you like your reasons. If you’re offering payment plans because of fear that they can’t or won’t pay in full, then I don’t like that fear as a foundation for the relationship with the client.
If a client can cover the monthly payment amount, then the total is probably within reach. If you do a plan, don’t go beyond six months. Payment plans longer than that tend to have higher default rates.
Paige is a weight loss coach for online business owners. She is putting in the work of creating organic leads by networking, connecting with others online, and sharing what she does. But she’s wondering, “Shouldn’t I be running facebook ads? Wouldn’t that be a more calculated and direct approach to getting leads?”
I shared with her that facebook ads are not necessarily more successful than generating organic leads. It can be tough to get facebook ads to be successful, and if they are, then that typically necessitates a change in your business model to group coaching or memberships. Facebook ads can be complex. For every coach that succeeds big with facebook ads, there might be ten others that struggle.
Paige was concerned that she wasn’t getting more leads through her social media presence. I shared with her that I’ve found social media to be a place where I can build and strengthen my relationship with more people. You may not have people randomly messaging you and asking to work with you. But your online presence allows you to build a quality relationship with more people, and you can then make more offers.
I recommend taking the next step with online relationships–for example, suggest a phone call just to get to know each other better–but not with a transactional intent of getting them to sign up. Take time to invest in relationships.
If you like one-on-one coaching, and your organic lead generation is working, stick with it! Every client you serve is an opportunity for them to refer someone else to you, and your business will grow over time.
Lindsay came looking for feedback on her tagline and to get some thoughts on her website content. Lindsay has to rework her approach a bit because she works for Amazon, and her coaching was focused on Amazon employees. But in order to not violate Amazon’s terms, she needs to remove references to it.
She is considering the tagline, “I teach you how to confidently move your career forward when things are constantly changing.” I like it! We discussed adding even more specificity in her website content, like “my manager has changed 3 times this year” or “I’m under so much pressure about Christmas sales”. Each time she says something that specifically resonates with a potential client, they will nod their head and say, “Oh, she gets it!”
A website is not typically where you will sell someone on being their coach. Its job is to reinforce the enthusiasm they felt about you through a referral or an experience with you, like teaching a class. For that reason, I am also not a fan of “What is Coaching?” pages on a site. If you’re selling yourself, or even selling the idea of coaching in general, that’s not a great use of the time someone is giving you when they are looking at your site. Use it to show them how well you understand them!
Judith had a breakthrough: she realized that people do want to pay her for what she can offer them! Judith realized that she had been resisting sending people the actual link where they would pay her to start working with her. But when she sent it, they paid!
Judith also realized that when she speaks with others very naturally about what she does, things go well. But when she tries to go into sales or marketing mode, things can get weird. So I’m super happy for her that she experienced the success that comes from organically sharing of herself and then not being afraid to confidently follow through with a payment request with those who express interest.
We also discussed keeping an open mind at the beginning of coaching, and serving whoever is connecting with you. You will then gain more clarity about how your client feels, what she’s working on, and how you can help. From there, specific markets and niches will emerge.
We also had a GREAT discussion (that you should check out) about chasing a revenue goal versus enjoying your work. She wants to hit a certain number to feel at peace, but I challenged her to look back at her life and recognize that she has always provided for herself (and succeeded!), so she doesn’t need to worry about money. The feeling of being yourself, helping people, and getting paid for it–that is better than any number on a spreadsheet!
Let’s celebrate for Heidi! She experienced what every new coach wants to hear. “I’m really interested in hearing what your offer is. I’d like to work with you.” But then Heidi started feeling unsure. She has been coaching this client on her business, but Heidi doesn’t have a business background. Can Heidi really keep doing that?
The answer is of course she can! Heidi hasn’t been delving into business-specific advice. She has been helping the client look at her thoughts and to find new thoughts about herself. And the client has obviously been happy with that! Provide her with more of what she has been getting, and she will continue to be happy.
This is why I am not a fan of niching down too hard or fast. Let the client bring their concerns to you, whatever they are, whether it’s business, weight loss, or marriage. We also discussed her concerns about not having a program, which is something a lot of coaches are concerned about. But programs can structure things so much that it then becomes a problem when someone is not fitting in, or going the right pace.
Remember the power of a conversation, and let the conversation be the product! You don’t need to add anything to it. If someone asks you what you coach on, have them tell you what the concerns are that they are struggling with, and then say, “Yes, I could help you with those things”. Because you can!
Marinda did some self-reflection this week on why she wanted to be a coach. She shared with me that she really wanted to help other moms feel better because she had gone through that pain herself. We bounced around some ideas for a tagline: “I coach moms who think they should be happy but they’re miserable” or I help moms who have every reason to be happy, but they’re miserable and don’t know why.” I agree that her personal connection to this topic will make it very meaningful for her.
She didn’t want to coach clients who were actually depressed, but I recommended that she not mentally rule them out. Just holding space for someone may be very powerful. Take the pressure off yourself to figure her out exactly–just give people great coaching experiences and see what comes after that.
We also discussed coaching packages, and how that fits into revenue goals. I again encouraged her to stay open and flexible. This early on in your business, it’s best to stay open to a variety of coaching experiences, and then you will more naturally gravitate towards certain approaches. Trying to get too specific now may close you off to approaches that could end up being a great fit.
We also discussed whether she needs to have a sales script at the ready. We agreed that it’s off-putting when a pitch is too scripted, so I suggested she really just focus on giving someone a great coaching experience. At the end of that experience, the basic next step is, “Would you like to continue this? Here’s what I think we could work on together.” If they say yes, you can just share whatever details come next, like how long you’d like to work together, how often, price, etc. The client will appreciate that it felt natural and specific to them, rather than a memorized pitch.
Stick a fork in Breian because she was feeling done! She burnt herself out last year with funnels and has been considering closing up shop. But she’s decided to continue on, and we discussed how she can feel more at ease in her business.
She’s worried that by not taking all the funnel-y steps that she was last year, that her business won’t stay afloat. But sometimes the only “funnel” we need is to continue to give people great coaching experiences. By doing so, a free relationship can turn into a paid relationship. Then the first paid relationship can turn into the second, with a renewal. Then there’s a referral, and on we go until we have a full coaching practice. We might tell ourselves that it was a fluke, that we didn’t do any “real” marketing so it doesn’t count, and that we don’t really know how to make this work. But if you have a full practice, then you did make it work just by being a great coach!
Another step she can take (without feeling too aggressively “funnel-y”) is to continue to create great content that speaks to your specific client. That way, when a potential client comes across you, it will sound like you are speaking just to them, and they will feel like they have landed in the right place.
If, like Breian, you feel anxiety about moving away from a frantic grind, know that as you practice ignoring those thoughts that say, “you should be doing more”, they will begin to subside. In fact, you are likely to project more calm confidence, or “calmfidence” (™ Breian!), to your clients, and that will draw people toward you even more.
Riece had a great question about this calm confidence idea. She noticed that some coaches, like Stacey Boehman, seem confident, but not necessarily calm. I agree! A calm demeanor may not actually be your thing. But the essence behind calm confidence is a peace about who you are.
So maybe you are high-energy, or maybe you are lower-energy (like yours truly), but you will find much greater peace when you show up as yourself, not as someone you think you are supposed to be. A variety of personalities can be successful, so embrace being exactly who you are!
Chantel had a great question about forecasting and what percentage targets you should have for different expense categories in your business. Stay tuned everyone because I’ve actually been working on a mini course that we’ll use in our monthly money classes in office hours.
So the truth is, I can’t actually recommend percentage targets, like, ”You should spend 40% on X.” (Taxes are an exception because you can usually estimate those as a percentage.) But the way I tend to do forecasting is to focus on what experiences you’d like to have the next year, and what those experiences cost. For example, it may be working with a certain coach. Then you have an idea of a basic quota you need to meet. Then you work backwards and say, “In order to do everything that I want to do, I’ve got to generate X dollars.”
Again, look forward to the mini course coming up, but the basic categories you should plan on are taxes, marketing (which could like a variety of things: facebook funnels, travel to events, etc.), coaching (I do think coaches do better when they are receiving coaching), and profit. There’s also operating expenses, but for most coaches that is fairly small.
“Where is the best place to invest my money to grow my business?” The answer is wherever gets your potential client in front of your face. For some it may be hosting workshops, for others it may be attending events, and for others it may be facebook. So weigh your options, and think about which method(s) work best to get the person you want to serve into your world.