The real reasons most coaches struggle to find clients
The real reasons most coaches struggle to find clients
There’s a common misconception among coaches who struggle to find clients and grow their coaching practices. They assume that the people they want to serve don’t understand the value of coaching and how much it can improve their lives.
Sound familiar? The problem with this is you’re focusing on the process instead of the results—and it’s probably hurting your sales. There are tons of potential clients out there who would love to work with you and would be willing to pay even high-end prices if you show them what's possible with your help.
This is the most common one amongst coaches, and I see it all the time (and I was no different when I started out). When you’re on your own, and about to build your business there’s a lot of excitement going on. But you also have a lot of insecurities. What if someone judges me? Who am I to say that I’m an expert at coaching? What if no one likes what I have to say or, even worse, they won’t buy what I’d like to offer.
In most instances, the initial excitement and drive is overtaken by doubts, fears and worries. And when that happens, you feel more comfortable disappearing behind your computer and doing everything but what you love most—coaching.
If you feel this way right now—either about your business in its entirety or a task that you procrastinate over and over again because it makes you uncomfortable—take a deep breath and take the first step right now to get the ball rolling. It doesn’t matter what it is you do as long as you do something to progress in the right direction. Trust your intuition; you know exactly what you need to do (yes, that thing that makes you feel excited and scared at the same time!). Do it, and do it now.
You’re amazing at what you do, but you can only find clients if you let them know you’re ready to be of service. Am I right? So get out there, be you and share your message with the world. There’s no competition because there’s only one version of you out there. You’re one in a million.
You can only find clients if you let them know you're ready to coach them.
In the beginning, when you’re desperate to find clients, you’re likely to take on anyone and anything that comes your way. That’s understandable. But over time you may end up compromising your own values and how you want to run your business (and live your life)—and catering completely to your clients. From there, you risk getting frustrated or losing your momentum.
It’s important to keep your big-picture vision in mind and structure your business around how you want it to be running a year from now when you have a constant flow of clients. Of course, you will have to compromise and be flexible, especially if you need some cash flow in the short-term. The key is to know why you’re taking on lower-paying or less-than-ideal clients and to set a time limit on those relationships (or at least to re-evaluate them regularly). This will give you the space you need to grow when you’re ready.
Look at your current clients, the coaching packages you agreed to with them and your price structure. Are you happy with who you serve and how? If not, what is one small change that you can make over the next three months to feel more fulfilled by your business?
Structure your coaching biz around how you want it to be running a year from now.
Market research can be extremely boring for the creative minds amongst us, and it’s often the first task that new coachpreneurs ignore (and experienced ones too!). They’d rather guess or project what their ideal clients’ needs, wants and pains are than survey them in a systematic way. However, if you want to establish a thriving business and grow it, you need to know your audience members better than they know themselves.
Gathering information about your prospective client’s dreams and challenges and how they talk about things is gold when creating a coaching package and marketing materials, and when writing your sales copy. Because the better you speak their mind and say out loud what they think and feel deep down, the more likely they’ll want to work with you.
Before you waste time and maybe even money creating a coaching package just to realise it doesn’t appeal to your audience, pick up the phone and talk to one or two ideal clients at least. Validate your idea and better understand what they really want. Then follow their lead.
To grow your coaching biz, you need to know your audience better than they know themselves.
Generating leads to grow your database is important, no questions asked. However, what’s even more important is knowing what kind of leads you need to sell your coaching package. Any lead magnet or opt-in freebie you create to invite new subscribers into your community should give potential clients a good indication of what to expect when signing up for your coaching package later on. To do that, your lead magnet should reflect a key experience of the work you do with your clients or provide a high-level overview of what's possible for them.
If you don’t follow this principle, you might struggle to find clients because you attract people who are interested in your lead magnet, but not your offer. That’s because there’s a discrepancy in your initial messaging and the solution you offer down the road. What you really want are prospects who are already interested in what you have to offer because you framed your message and positioned your lead magnet in front of the right audience. To be able to do this, you need to craft your coaching package first (even if it’s just in your head!) and then create your lead magnet. Alignment is key!
Have a look at your lead magnet and check if it sends the same message (and solution) as your coaching package. If not, think of a way to more closely align them.
Your lead magnet should reflect a key experience or provide a high-level overview of what's possible.
Let’s assume your prospects were interested in your lead magnet and opted-in. You kept your promise and delivered it. And then, you offer what you’re really excited to share with them: your coaching package. But they aren’t interested. Why not? Because you haven’t taken the time to “nurture” these fragile new relationships by mastering the art of (online) conversation. It’s all about engaging, listening and caring. (Just how you’d do in coaching sessions.)
If you take a genuine interest in them, your subscribers will trust you and feel understood. Once they reach this point, they’ll be more likely to commit to taking the next step—applying for a discovery session or buying one of your coaching packages.
On the other hand, you might be afraid of annoying your prospects and losing subscribers if you reach out to them too often—especially while your list is small. It’s hard to understand that speaking up and offering your services in a gentle way is worth the risk. Clients will not just magically appear. You need to make your offer over and over again in different (friendly!) ways. Sometimes someone isn’t ready to buy from you at the exact moment you happen to email them with an offer—no surprise! Try them again in a week, and you may have a totally different response.
If people unsubscribe, don’t freak out. They obviously aren’t your ideal clients. It isn’t personal, and it isn’t even going to affect your bottom line. Stay true to yourself, and you’ll attract the right people who can’t wait to work with you (but you need to stop hiding under that rock!).
Think about what emails you send to your prospects after they opt in. Are they conversational and value-driven? Do they evoke trust and credibility? Are they building upon each other? And, do you send out regular emails—including making an offer every 3-4 weeks or so? If not, commit to changes you’d like to make over the next month to start nurturing relationships with your prospects in a more genuine but also profitable way.
Building trust with your prospect is all about engaging, listening and caring (think: coaching session).
There might be other mistakes that are holding you back from creating that thriving coaching business you envision for yourself. But the biggest lesson to learn is always that if you want to be of service, you need to make it clear that you’re there and ready to coach your people!
Reflect on your own situation and think about which areas you might need to work on to find clients. I'd love to hear which of these five trouble areas sound most familiar to you. Please leave your comment below.
If you aren’t sure where to start, becoming visible and doing market research is always a smart bet. And you’re in luck: I delve deeper into how to conduct your own market research—without fussing around with graphs and powerpoint presentations—here.
Sabine Biesenberger mentors new and new-ish coaches who want to build an online-based business that feels darn good. Connect with her on your favourite social media platform and join a brilliant, virtual community of like-minded coaches.