March 21, 2018
In this week’s Mentor Monday I talked about the edge that coaches really have over all other businesses – especially those that are selling products or a multitude of services.
For this week’s “Upgrade,” we’re going to talk about how you use your edge both before someone becomes a client and then afterwards to retain them as clients.
One of the most powerful things that has come out of this digital age is the ability for people to choose what they want and have their voices heard to push the issue for solutions to be provided or for existing products to be changed.
I remember when American Idol broke into great popularity years ago. I grew up as a kid of the 70’s and 80’s, and I thought the variety show or the live show and dance on TV was over with. But it made a comeback in a really big way with this twist: the viewers get to choose the outcome.
That was a very powerful change in television – producers, the judges, even the live crowd is not going to tell us who to boo or who to cheer. We get to choose.
I don’t think this trend will ever end. For American Idol, it was about the viewer having control, having a voice, and how one person’s choice could matter – which is one of the strong psychological desires of personalization.
Almost no company is really harnessing the power of personalization – only about 19% of companies are even attempting to. But there is no stronger means of getting and retaining a customer than personalizing what is offered.
What does this have to do with coaching? Well…everything.
Coaching is client-centered. It is all about what the client wants and about empowering them to to take action on those desires.
And I really think coaches can do a better job of this than just about anyone else out there because we truly are offering a high-end, personal service that is relationship-based.
So let’s very quickly give you 3 big ideas to help you make the coaching relationship personalized:
Pay attention to the details and make them readily available for future use.
When I got married, one of our first relational conflicts was because I was ADHD and couldn’t remember the details to save my life.
One example was my wife called me right before I left work to ask me to buy milk on the way home.
My drive was less than 15 minutes away, but in that short drive I had 100 different creative ideas that would provide effective solutions for many different kinds of people. I even implemented them in my mind’s eye before pulling into the driveway. Then, feeling all accomplished, I walked into the house and hugged my wife.
Her response: “Where’s the milk?”
I’d just changed the world on the way home, but I couldn’t remember milk.
The details matter, and not just those details that matter to us personally. One forgotten task can be a source of heated conflict, or, at the very least, make a person feel uncared for.
But if you are the person who actually remembers the details and leverages them, you can create a very powerful and meaningful connection.
Somehow, I learned from this experience and decided I’d find a system that would work for me to help me stay out of conflict while enabling me to build trust and likability with others very quickly.
In the old days, it meant when I got someone’s business card, I’d write notes about the person on the back of it:
“Has 3 kids…”
“Loves the Detroit Pistons…”
“…is working on a really huge project with a new accounting firm…”
I was terrible with names, so I’d pick out a feature on the person’s face and write that down on the card to associate with the same.
“Dave has freckles on his nose.”
When I got a smart phone, I’d make notes about these people under my contacts and associate them with the place where I met them.
Sometimes I would send them emails as a followup and drop 1 or 2 of the details to give them an extra personalized touch so that they knew I was listening.
Whenever I’d go back to a future group meeting, I’d review my notes of the people I’d met previously. I’d always surprise people by walking up, extending my hand, and using their first name.
These are what I understand as “touches.” You need at least 6 significant touches before most people will really take note of you.
I don’t think there’s a shortcut to meaningful connection, but I do think you must have a plan of action and be intentional.
Request high impact intake before that first session.
It’s considered a good rule of thumb to have potential and/or new clients fill out an intake form. But I think most client intake forms are incredibility generic and have zero truly impactful data.
Here’s how I leverage intake to get maximum impact and meaningful connection starting out:
I like to find out what kinds of relationships make them thrive. What do they find meaningful in their relationships? What are their “can’t stands” in relationships? I use these questions to help cultivate feelings of trust and likability.
Here are some examples:
What kinds of people motivate you?
What kinds of people drain you?
What kinds of people bring the best out of you?
What kinds of personalities do you naturally have conflict with?
I don’t think every coach needs to be a motivational speaker, but we’re foolish if we don’t recognize our need to be a positive, motivational force in a client’s life. After all, why would a client meet with us if we don’t motivate them?
I like to ask questions like:
What inspires you?
Who inspires you and why?
What kinds of things bring you to life?
Equipped with this kind of information, you can make every session dynamic, and you can eliminate relationship fatigue, boredom, and other factors that cause the coaching relationship to level off.
Small, Insignificant Detail Questions
Coaches are great at asking questions like: What is the biggest dream of your life? What does the best version of yourself look like? The problem with both of these questions is they don’t create a meaningful personal connection.
You know why? Because that person doesn’t exist yet.
The person that exists right now is filled with stories, life, and experiences. Coaches like to go after the really big questions, but it’s the small ones that make up our everyday lives.
What is your favorite color?
What is your favorite smell?
Everyday life counts. Life isn’t counted only in the days we were born, get married, graduate, etc. The boring, everyday details aren’t usually counted though because they aren’t connected with changing the world or some greater purpose. When we don’t sense those moments connected with something greater, we subconsciously wonder if anyone even notices or cares.
Don’t let these things slip through the cracks.
What happens if you find out that this new client likes a certain color? Would you know how to utilize that information?
That leads me to the final point…
- Create personalized experiences
On my intake form for years I’ve had the question:
What’s something someone would find you drinking or snacking on?
It’s the most oddly placed question that is in the middle of all this “important” stuff.
Most dignified, “serious” coaches wouldn’t dare ask a question like that.
But I actually use it.
When I would have clients meet me at my business club on the 34th floor of Symphony Towers in downtown San Diego, you wouldn’t believe the look on their face when the waitstaff would walk up and say, “ginger ale,” and set it on the table in front of them, or some other random snack that would magically appear on the table.
Through friends, I’ve personally experienced the impact of personalization and how seemingly insignificant details can be so impacting.
Two of my closes friends are Mexican sisters. One day in passing I told them I thought that Mexicans throw the best birthday parties in the world and, compared to the All-American birthdays I had growing up, it made me feel a little ripped off.
About 10 months later, we had a get-together with friends for my birthday. I can’t remember anything about that party – who was there, what we ate, what we talked about – that is, except one!
My Mexican friends handcrafted two piñatas. One of the piñatas was shaped like a 5 Hour Energy – which all my friends know I’m notorious about drinking – and the picture on the bottle of the guy running had my head on it.
You see, all my friends knew I drank 5 Hour Energy (this is not an ad placement, I promise), but no one had a creative thought of leveraging that random detail to make me feel special. Only two listened through my birthday angst to connect it with a desire.
The party was pretty forgettable. But I will never forget the two of them being there and taking an off-handed comment to create experience out of it for me.
I still have that piñata to this day.
We have the opportunity to create these kinds of experiences. It’s not hard to do. It’s not an expensive thing to do either.
But, equipped with this kind of data, you can pull out one of these things anytime you want.
Give your clients meaningful, personal experiences, and you can keep a client for life.