What do clients need to learn before they’re ready for coaching?

Faced with marketing your coaching, you can always decide to sell it just like any other product. But you really shouldn’t. Tempting though it may be…

It can feel like hard work trying to convince someone that they ‘need’ coaching, trying to persuade them of how much better their lives would be if they could just see what you can see so clearly.

Why can’t they understand the benefits of what you’re pitching?

What exactly is holding them back? You’ve explained it all so many times!

“…a sales conversation is fundamentally a coaching practice, to see whether someone is in the right position to work with you right now…”
–Matthew Bellringer, Divergent Pathfinder

These words from Matthew get to the heart of the problem.

Trying to ‘sell’ your coaching is a common mistake. In fact, what you need to be doing is inviting people to learn more about their situation and how coaching could be the right choice for them.

The ‘sell’ (if you can even call it that) is simply inviting them to make the decision for themselves. When they’re ready.

Plasters on red background

It’s not like you’re offering a plaster for a cut finger

That would be an obvious remedy. One that no one would question the wisdom of (unless it’s a serious cut, but then you’d be taking them to hospital for a couple of stitches…)
Someone in potential need of coaching has an ‘injury’, or a ‘pain’, but they don’t know exactly where it is, what’s causing it, or what the best cure is.

However they’re feeling, they’re unlikely to be ready to benefit from coaching straight off the bat. They first need to understand their situation – and the context – before they can see the value of coaching. They need to learn about themselves and their situation.

Unfortunately, when most of us are faced with a difficult selling job (aka ‘marketing challenge’) a common response is to up the enthusiasm, double-down on the messages, and over-sell… usually there’s a temptation to over-promise on the benefits or over-simplify the process or outcomes. Because that’s what selling is about, right? Hooking people in – getting them to buy. Right? Nope. That doesn’t work so well for coaching.

Less persuading, more coaching

If all you’re doing is focusing on a potential client’s pain points in an effort to get them to ‘hit the buy button’, it might work. But once you begin the coaching process with them it’ll likely become very clear, very quickly that they’re not ready for it yet. And if they’re in that position because of you (and your marketing methods) that’s not too ethical on your part. This is why a lot of coaches see traditional marketing as somehow unethical when used to sell coaching. It plays on their pain and, as an approach, it’s as likely to push people away as attract them.
Back to Matthew’s wise words above…

Your marketing process is actually a coaching process. You’re not seeking to persuade or convince. You’re guiding the individual to explore their situation, understand it better, and enable them to make the right decision for them.

But how do you help someone arrive at a point where they feel coaching is the next step?
The answer lies in the journey of consciousness a person takes on the way to becoming a coaching client – from unaware to problem aware to solution aware to product aware and finally to most aware, the stage at which they’re ready to start some coaching with you.

(Read this guide for a full explanation of the journey of consciousness)

The key isn’t selling, it’s raising awareness – helping the potential client learn about their situation and the options open to them. Whatever ‘marketing messages’ and content you use, the focus is not on selling but on educating, enlightening, and increasing understanding.

You already have the skills to do this

You’re a coach. Supportive, awareness-raising conversations are kind of your thing.

Stop telling yourself that you’re having a sales conversation or making a pitch, and realise that you’re supporting someone to understand themselves and their situation better, to make the best decision for them.

Once you focus on that they begin to see their problems, the frustrations they face, and understand how with coaching they can work through that.

At this stage, a ‘yes’ to coaching is likely to be a natural result of learning more about where they are , and where they want and need to be.

After all, a fuller understanding of a problem tends to automatically generate the desire for a solution.

Simon on the phone

But… People aren’t engaging with my content… how do I get them to have this conversation?

We hear this a lot. And it’s often a very simple issue to fix.

It’s almost always the case that there’s still a focus on selling in your content – pushing too hard, too soon.

Bear in mind the journey of consciousness and concentrate on educating, on creating a deeper understanding of their situation.

Break your content down. Make it manageable. You’re not trying to get them to buy… only to move on to the next stage of awareness.

Counterintuitive wisdom: stop selling

If you want to sell your coaching services, you need to stop selling.

Keep the content super simple. Take out the sales-y elements. Stop selling and start offering knowledge and awareness, while inviting them to find out more.

Ask yourself what your clients need to learn before they’re ready to work with you, and design your marketing materials to guide them on that journey.

To learn more about the journey of consciousness then check out the full guide to our Coach’s 1-Page Marketing Plan – it explains how the journey works and how you can create marketing materials geared to each stage, supporting potential clients to the point where they’re ready to begin coaching. Download your free copy today.

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