The 3 Dirty Secrets About Getting Paid to Coach

A Blog Post by Chad Hall

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. 

How to Handle Missed Appointments

A Blog Post by Brian Miller

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.

  1. I was right to charge him for the session.
  2. 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.

The ROI of Coaching

A Blog Post by Chad Hall

If you’re not familiar with some business jargon, you might wonder what that typo is in the title of this post.  ROI is shorthand for “Return on Investment” and it’s a quick of expressing the concern that what I put into something (Investment) needs to get me some results (Return).  The term is technically applicable to true investment scenarios where the investor wants to know his or her rate of return, but it also gets used in all sorts of other ways, including when considering coaching.

People and organizations that pay for coaching rightly want to know if what they will get from the coaching is going to be greater than what they put in.  As coaches, we want to say, “Of course it is!” but this is often not enough to convince even the somewhat skeptical.  So how can we talk about ROI?

First, you need to be aware that measuring ROI is incredibly difficult, especially when it comes to training and development (T&D).  A T&D investment occurs alongside a lot of other factors such as business climate, other investments that are made, personal choices, and management decisions.  So if a business wants to pin certain measurable outcomes to the T&D investment, they will spend more money analyzing and separating the various factors in order to pinpoint what exactly caused the outcomes than it’s worth.  In other words, measuring ROI is usually more expensive than the Investment you made in the first place.  So put away your calculators and spreadsheets.

A much better way to talk about the ROI of coaching is to connect the investment (which is easily measurable in terms of time and money) to some set of desired results (which are not easily measurable in terms of money) and to then assign a value to those results.

For example, when I served as an internal coach at the software company SAS, we connected coaching to several desired outcomes, including employee retention.  As a company we knew that it cost about one year’s salary to replace an employee who was fired or quit.  In the rough and tumble world of programmers and sales people, there’s a lot of turnover (18% annual turnover was the average then), so that’s a lot of money being wasted.  We also knew that people left a job not just for more money, but because of poor management, because they didn’t feel supported, and because they weren’t growing as a professional.  If hiring one full-time coach could save the costs associated with two people quitting or getting fired each year (out of 10,000 employees), then the investment in coaching was worth the return.  At the time, our annual turnover was 4% and so even if coaching contributed only slightly to that low number, it was well worth it.

Most of us don’t coach in big companies who are hiring fulltime coaches.  So how do we talk about ROI?  Basically in the same way: we connect the investment to what the client (or sponsor) wants to get from the coaching.

Here are some tips for doing just this in your setting:

  • Don’t focus on the time the client gets with you (“For $600 you get six hours of coaching”).  Client time is an investment, not a return.  Nobody wants to pay you to take their time.
  • Draw out from the client what they want from the coaching.  What problem do they want solved?  What challenge do they want to overcome?  What question do they want answered?  What goal do they want to reach?  These are the desired results.
  • Only when a client is clear on the results he wants from the coaching is he able to discern whether it’s worth the investment.  So a writing coach would be able to connect her fees (say, $600) to the client’s desired outcome (a first draft of that book that’s been languishing) and then the client can decide if this is a good investment.
  • It’s not necessary to directly connect a client’s desired outcome to a financial benefit to the client.  So if a client’s goal is to finish that first draft, you don’t need to help the client measure the financial gain he would experience by getting that draft done.
  • Not everything connects to money.  In fact, most things don’t.  Few people spend money on coaching just so they can get more money because of the coaching.  Results such as more time with family, better balance, losing weight, etc. are inherently valuable.

Finally, I know we say this all the time, but you must remember that nobody buys coaching.  People hire a coach because they want some kind of result or benefit from the coaching.  The more you can talk about the benefits of coaching (not how coaching works), the more you’ll help potential clients make a good decision about the investment.  You don’t want your client asking, “Do I want to pay $600 for coaching?”  You want him asking, “Do I want to pay $600 to finally get this first draft completed?”

What about you?  What have you found useful when it comes to talking about the ROI of coaching?  What mistakes have you made?  What advice would you give other coaches?

Connecting to a Coaching Community

A Blog Post by Bill Copper

For my first blog post in the new year I want to share some of what I’ve been thinking about the CAM Coaching Community and how it has served me –and many other coaches – so well this past year. This month we are celebrating the first anniversary of the start of the community and I hope I can give you just a few of the highlights for me personally from being  part of this coaching community.

The whole idea was born out of our (Chad, Brian, and myself) own experiences in coaching, training, and mentoring others in what could sometimes feel like a wilderness. Like many of you, we have found that coaching and ministry are quite a powerful combination. We’ve bought in to the mindsets and the broad applications for coaching within the Christian ministry context, and we love having a front row seat to watch what many of you are doing to bring these two concepts together.

To be honest with you, for many years it could be tough. As you probably know, there weren’t many organizations and resources out there for those who work in and around Christian ministry who wanted to bring a coach approach to the ways they worked. In many ways it seemed we were making it up as we went and, like Thomas Edison, we discovered many ways not to use coaching in ministry.

But we did discover a lot of things that do work. And we’ve watched many of you discover a whole lot more! And THAT has been the most exciting and fulfilling aspect of the CAM Coaching Community.

The first members of the community came together in January of 2016. It was our intention to bring some helpful resources, to provide opportunities for getting together, and to provide access to the CAM leadership and other mentors to help our community members grow in their competency, confidence, and connectedness.

What we got was SO MUCH MORE!