February 21, 2018
I talk to coaches all the time. I’m currently mentoring about 125 coaches at various stages of their professional journey.
A few months back, a coach contacted me that previously had success getting clients, but now she was feeling a bit on the ropes. In a month’s time, she had lost 4 clients, and she contacted me to help her pick up the pieces and figure out what was going wrong.
Losing a relationship can be devastating.
And that’s essentially what a coach loses when a client decides to terminate the relationship.
We can say it’s not personal, and it may not be. But most coaches I know aren’t wired as salespeople. They are lovers of humanity, and they work with people because they actually care, and it’s not just about business to them.
So as she and I took a step back from this experience, we were able to identify a few things that might have prevented one or more of these clients from breaking up with them prematurely.
As anyone in business will tell you: it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one.
So whether you’re a coach that’s been coaching for years and dealing with this struggle or a coach that hasn’t even had their first client, it’s a great time to put together an actual plan for retaining clients. After all, you’ve worked way too hard to get them as clients to begin with.
Let’s talk about how you keep them over the next several weeks.
This week let’s talk about tangibility.
What do I even mean by that?
What I mean is that if you ever hear a one minute pitch from a coach or check out a coach’s website, you’ll find a lot of philosophy, pithy statements, even some esoteric descriptions of what they believe coaching is or how they see the world.
At the very least, most coaches just go after these generic kinds of selling points:
“Live your best life.”
“Be the best version of you.”
“Overcome your barriers to be have the life you’ve always dreamed of.”
You’ve probably seen these very statements, or some that are very similar.
It’s not that there’s anything wrong with saying these things, it’s just that none of them are tangible. I mean, there are a few people here and there that almost have a full-time job working on their personal growth – belief systems, mantras, yoga, inner healing, discovering their inner child – but those people are somewhat few and far between.
Most people haven’t thought about how their belief systems affect their work, how they treat people, why they’re stuck, etc.; and the things that they want in their lives are very tangible kinds of things – getting out of debt, becoming a better leader, making more money, etc.
The truth is we are all integrated beings. There is much more overlap in our lives between thinking, feeling, our spiritual lives, and even our physical health than most people would like to believe or admit. But that’s not going to be what I lead with when I’m trying to offer my help (my services).
I’m not going to be an inner peace coach. That’s not tangible for people. Is peace part of it? Of course it is. But I have to talk about what I do as a coach in terms of the benefit and value that it brings the client.
I have to show how what I do helps them get what they want. It’s about results.
Now what does this have to do with client retention? Why does it sound like I’m talking about marketing?
Well, it’s about consistent communication about the benefit, value, and the end game that we are after in this relationship.
When a client hires you, you have to be able to quantify the results. You have to be able to make this thing that we do tangible.
It’s easy if it’s about numbers when it comes to business. If sales go up know we’re successful; down, not so much.
But how do you quantify other kinds of things like managing stress, job satisfaction, managing emotions, etc.? Well actually you can.
First things first with a new client…
I actually discuss with the client what does success look like if we worked together.
“Gary, let’s say we work together for the next 6 months. 6 months from now, tell me what success looks like? What does success feel like? What are the results? What does that picture of the future look like? How does it impact your life? How does it impact your relationships?”
You’re helping the client envision success and results. Some clients are better at that than others. So help them for the words and actually have an experience of what that could feel like.
Write those words down. Come to a consensus on the pictures and the language.
Develop some numbers for it.
I had a client some years back that was a big time business guy who had been successful for many years. He made lots more money than I’d ever seen before. And, in his estimation, he was successful in most areas of his life, but was looking for some things that had been outside his grasp like: self-worth, inner happiness, and activity that connected to a greater purpose.
The funny thing is in that first meeting with him, he said, “I’m not sure if I want to do this because I’m not sure if I can justify all this money for something that seems all frou-frou.”
That didn’t phase me at all.
I said, “Well tell me this: on a scale of 1-10, how’s your inner happiness right now?”
He replied, “Probably 4.”
I said, “Cool. So what number would be success after 6 months?”
He replied, “I think an 8 would be considered very successful.”
I said, “Well I’m not into frou-frou either. I’m serious about your results, your success, and, in this case your happiness. And, as you’ve just shown, it can be measured.”
Do you see what happened? We got on the same page speaking the same language. He was numbers guy. It’s all about the business. It’s all he knew. But what was required is taking the step to clarify what we mean and then get really tangible about the results.
Lots of coaches lose clients because they never quantify results.
For someone who thinks like my clients, they’re wondering if or when we’re ever going to get there. We’ve got to help our clients get a grasp on what we’re doing together. Some clients will work with a coach for a month and still not know what coaching is. Don’t make the mistake and assume that clients know what coaching is. They might even sit around for months wondering when you’re finally going to tell them what they need to do about their life.
Even worse are the situations when were working with clients and we think they’re doing great because they’re confronting false beliefs and taking some steps here and there while on their end, they’re wondering if they are making any kind of headway because there’s nothing they can get their fingers around.
And if they can’t grasp it, they’re simply going to lose interest and terminate the relationship.
There is a lot more to discuss with regard to how we maintain this communication, clarity, and results-orientation, and we’ll unpack that in the upcoming weeks.
But the last thing that I would say is let’s get this in writing, and, by that, I mean let’s get this in the coaching agreement.
There are a number of things that we recommend to put in a coaching agreement that we cover in great deal in Jumpstart Your Coaching Practice, but one thing I will tell you like I tell all our Jumpstart coaches: there is no accountability where there is no specificity.
Let the client see that you’re really serious about their results. Put it into the coaching agreement: here’s why we’re working together, here’s what we’re working on, and here’s what we agree success looks like.
I hope that helps! And I’d love to hear from you! Please share and continue the conversation on one of our social media channels!