No matter the profession, anyone in that profession faces an important obstacle when it comes to attracting new clients: potential clients don’t know about or care about the profession in the same way the professionals do. This is no less true when it comes to the coaching profession.
If we’re not careful, we coaches will steer conversations, create marketing, and develop sales strategies that miss the mark because we are focused on things that don’t really matter to our potential clients. Here are three such things.
- The Rules of Coaching
You and I know there are “right ways” and some “wrong ways” to do coaching. We’ve been trained, so we understand the way coaching is supposed to work. We know what the ICF says. We know some best practices. We try to practice coaching according to such best practices. Good for us. Our clients don’t care.
Earlier this week I had a client who ended the session by commenting how he appreciated that I was willing to do more than ask questions. He said he found it much more valuable to have a coach who was willing to make observations and offer perspective in addition to asking questions and drawing out what is in his (the client’s) head. Most of my coaching sessions are not ones I would submit to the ICF as proof that I am a great coach because my typical coaching session includes at least something that the client values but which is against the rules of coaching.
- Your Union Card
In the world of coaching, a credential or certification can be important. But usually, these things are more important to you (the coach) than to your clients and potential clients. It’s not that nobody cares about credentials; it’s just that the typical client cares much more about other things. Remember: a credential is about credibility and confidence. Most clients assign credibility to a coach based on the coach’s experience, reputation, and likability much more than based on a credential.
To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t earn a credential; I’m just saying you probably shouldn’t rely on a credential to provide the needed credibility your clients are seeking. A credential is just one ingredient in your concoction of credibility.
- Distinctive Styles of Coaching
When you’re in a particular field, nuanced distinctions can matter a great deal. An interior decorator may care deeply about how Agreeable Gray differs from Repose Gray. Honestly, after 20 minutes looking at the Sherwin-Williams paint cards, I can’t see any difference. Most coaching clients would experience something similar were you to start describing the differences between performance coaching and ontological coaching, or the pros and cons of framework coaching versus free-range coaching.
You might need to pay attention to distinctive styles or approaches so you can provide the best value to match the client and the client’s needs. But explaining the differences, geeking out on what makes one style better than another, or one school different, or one coaching coaching philosophy the best.
Clients don’t care much about these things. Let that sink in. Let it inform where you invest your time, energy, and conversation. Let these matters have their proper place in your world of coaching. And elevate some other things to greater prominence: your effectiveness, your ability to connect with potential clients, referrals, and knowing your clients and their world. When you focus your concern on what your clients care most about, you’ll not only attract more clients, but you’ll also be a better, more client-centered coach. And that’s something we should all care about!