Before we explore how to attract the ideal coaching client, let’s first understand what a good client looks like, from the point of view of an independent coach. In my experience, the first and foremost requirement would be for the client to have the willingness to change and being responsible for their own growth and journey. They must be ready to take the steps necessary and be willing to give you a good referral at the end.
And of course, they should be able to pay you well! That would definitely make for an ideal coaching client!
Jokes aside, I want to lay down a few things that I do in my own coaching practice -hopefully you can take a leaf or two out of my experience for your own journey as an independent coach.
Figure Out If the Fit Is Right
If there’s an inbound enquiry, the first thing I like to do is to check if the client is the right fit from a profile point of view. And for this, having a discovery or chemistry session is invaluable. Because when it comes to finding an ideal coaching client in a coaching journey, the hiring is, in a way, happening from both sides, i.e., it’s not just the client hiring the coach but the coach also hiring the client, upon understanding if they’re a good fit for each other.
Which means that while you should be able to showcase your skills as a coach and communicate them effectively, you should also be actively asking questions to ascertain how badly the client wants to get coached. Evaluate through your questioning how hungry they are to take up this journey with you.
If I find the person is just talking the talk but is not quite ready to walk the walk, then I do something that might seem counter-intuitive: I de-sell coaching, i.e., I almost discourage them from taking up coaching for the moment and come back to it when they’re more ready.
Check Client Expectations
When you’re in talks with a potential client it is very important to check the expectations of the client. This is to ensure you know exactly what the client is looking for so you have enough data to ascertain whether or not you can deliver. Because if you can’t, then taking them onboard would make for an unsuccessful coaching journey which is undesirable for both you and the client.
It’s good to ask your client what they expect to change during your time together and how long they think it’s going to get there. Because if they think it’s going to be a hard journey, then it’s probably going to be harder. And if they think it’s going to take long, then it may just take longer! So, managing expectations is going to be an important step to ensure both the client and the coach are on the same page before getting started.
Be Clear On What You Offer
Once again, this may seem counter-intuitive, but I believe instead of moulding your methodology to each client, having a standard methodology that will always work for a certain kind of client is a smarter way to go. This will of course take some trial & error when you’re a new coach. But essentially, it works like this: instead of being a food court serving a little bit of everything to everyone, you open a high-end restaurant that specialises and exclusively serves Thai cuisine. So not everyone will want to step into your restaurant, but those who do will know exactly what they want and have faith that you can deliver.
So, while you should be able to effectively communicate what you offer, you should also be able to tell your client when you don’t do a certain kind of work.
Be super clear on what you offer – and a sure shot way to do that is to have a standard methodology that you offer to a certain kind of client – which would be your ideal coaching client. Coaching is essentially just the foundation on top of which you need to stack your own combination of expertise and skillset to make your own unique methodology. Be clear on that offer and get excellent at it, so that that is what people come to know & recognise you for. And if somebody is looking for something else, then it’s absolutely okay that they don’t come to you.
Sell a Transformation
That fact of the matter is that you can’t simply open up shop and expect clients to come knocking at your door. Ask yourself, as an independent coach, what are you selling? Are you selling just coaching? Are you selling coaching hours? Are you selling a certain number of sessions? Your time?
Or are you selling a certain transformation?
Because depending on what you think you are selling, the value will change. You can look at it simply as number of hours & sessions or you can look at it with the view that you’re going to be part of a journey from someone’s point A (current reality) to point B (desired reality) and that’s a big transformation – and that is what you’re selling, for which you need the right kind of client.
Ask for Testimonials
A good way for people to know what you offer, without you actively trying to explain it to them on a 1:1 basis, is through client testimonials. A client testimonial is a beautiful way for someone who is contemplating hiring you as a coach to know if you will be the right coach for them, and if the results that you have been successful in getting for someone else matches what they are looking for as well. The more the testimonials, the better the case. So always ask for testimonials towards the end of a coaching journey with your client and put it up on relevant channels – LinkedIn, your website, etc. Not just for your benefit but also for the benefit of your future clients.
Become a Magnet
And finally, while you go about putting the above recommendations into action, when you use the word ‘attracting’ the ideal coaching client, I want you to think about a magnet. A magnet doesn’t really do anything special to attract objects towards it. It is what it is, and so when iron comes close enough in its vicinity, it automatically gets attracted to it. Whereas no matter how close a piece of plastic is to the magnet, it will never stick.
So, focus on becoming a powerful magnet. Pick your area of expertise and get really good at it; deepen your knowledge in the area of specialisation for which you want to be known. It can be through your content, events, seminars, and many such activities. Build yourself strong enough and simultaneously put yourself out there, so that you can come close enough in range of your ideal coaching client and let your work do the attracting!
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