If you’re going to be coaching for a living (or for some income), you need clients. That may be axiomatic, but it still needs to be said because I know far too many good coaches who have too few clients. As coaches, we have to develop our ability to coach, but we also have to develop our ability to have someone to coach. In other words, to be any good at coaching, you have to be good at getting clients.
In my experience, I’ve recognized there are two broad strategies for getting clients.
I tell my kids not to use the word “suck,” and yet there it is in the title of this blog post. Yikes! Why did I use such strong and colorful language? Because desperate times call for desperate measures. You see, some coaching websites are just so bad there is no other way to describe them except to say “they $#©&!”
How could you know if your website is missing the mark? In my experience, coaches tend to suffer from a small handful of website woes. To help you gauge the effectiveness (or not) of your website, I’ve compiled a list of the 6 most common problems I see with coaching websites. Use this list to help you evaluate your own coaching website and help it soar, rather than, well you-know-what.
The number one question I hear from coaches is simple: how do I get paying clients? Sometimes the question is asked of me after a coaching class in a hushed whisper as if the coach is a bit embarrassed to admit she doesn’t know the answer. Other times the question comes as almost a bold statement of protest from a coach who needs to declare that this is a real challenge.
Maybe you’ve asked this question. If not, you probably don’t have paying clients, because unless you ask and address this question, you likely will not make the jump from coaching pro bono to coaching quid pro quo.
There’s no shame in asking how to get paying clients. What is a real shame is that there are some dirty little secrets about this issue – issues that get addressed far too rarely and way too late in the development of most coaches. To be specific, I believe there are 3 primary principles that are not addressed directly enough in the coach training world.
I got up early on a Saturday morning, usually one of the few days I might get to catch up on my sleep. A new client had signed up, which for a new coach is quite affirming. This client had a very demanding job and lived in a different time zone, so we ended up scheduling at 6:30am on Saturday morning. The early rise was rough but the joy I always received from coaching this client was worth the effort.
Preparation is key to me so I wanted to be sure I was in an environment conducive for a great coaching session. I decided to go to my church office for this call, which required a little more effort and a drive in the dark. Settling into my chair, I powered up the computer, pulled my headset over my ears, and waited for my client to call.
6:30am – He didn’t call.
6:34am – He didn’t call.
6:41am – He didn’t call.
Sometimes people forget. Sometimes something comes up. I had determined at this point in my career to give my client 15 minutes before I gave up.
6:45am – He still didn’t call.
Here is where it all went wrong. I was irritated. It might not have been as bad if I hadn’t gone to so much effort. I texted my client that he had missed the call. He responded quickly and apologetically. He had forgotten.
I was still in a slow broil. My contract says that if you miss an appointment without prior notification, it is still a paid appointment. This wasn’t any problem. He had purchased six sessions. It wasn’t like I was going to have to bill him, but something insidious inside me felt the need for one more step. I texted him and let him know that this would be a paid session. He responded quickly, “That’s fine.”
We never coached again. He passively refused to set up another appointment. I called my mentor coach (mentor coaches are a must) and told him what had happened and how I responded. He had two observations.
- I was right to charge him for the session.
- I was wrong to tell him.
The contract was clear. The only reason to tell him was to inflict a bit of injury to compensate for the injury I felt in being forgotten. It was inappropriate. If I had known this, I might still be coaching him. He was a joy to coach. And I might be coaching his peers as well. He had already mentioned it.