In my last post, I wrote about some coaches approaching client acquisition in the same way they might approach hunting. (To learn why this doesn’t work, read the article here).
Usually the “hunting” approach looks like an enthusiastic coach telling a potential client, “You should work with me! I could do X, Y and Z for you…”
Although the coach has good intentions, this approach rarely lands the way you intend and will almost always leave the person feeling judged that you think there’s something wrong with them and they need coaching “to be fixed.”
Two things usually happen with this: either the person’s response will be, “WTF, who are you to say that to me!?” and you inadvertently push them away. Or, they’ll respond with, “Oh, you’re so right, I need to be fixed!” And you’ll end up with a client who expects you to fix them (a stark contrast to a situation where a client takes personal responsibility and knows they have to show up 100% to make change happen in their lives).
When a client expects you to fix them, it gets that energy exchange out of whack. As a coach, you feel like you are really “working it” to try to get your clients results but it’s still not(and never will be) enough. This dynamic will almost always end with disappointment if it isn’t rectified early on. Not to mention that it’s exhausting to “coach” people that aren’t 100% committed. You need to give 100% and they need to give 100%.
Of course, any coach that creates this dynamic does it inadvertently. It especially happens when people feel under the gun to enlist the right number of clients – because they just quit their job and need the money, or because they need a certain number of clients for certification, or they’ve made no progress in enrolling clients and feel they “have to” be more aggressive to get clients on their roster…
In these cases, the coach may overlook that the clients may not be fully committed or don’t fully understand how to show up and get the best results out of coaching; often the coaching alliance was mis-designed right from the get-go.
No matter how you ended up with a client who isn’t fully showing up, the result is that you’re working with someone who is hard to coach. The person likely isn’t stepping up powerfully, leaning in, or taking responsibility for the coaching. It’s pretty much impossible to evoke change if somebody isn’t giving 100%. If you “claim” them and they think you’re going to “fix” them, they might expect you to pull them along the whole way… a far cry from the ideal coach-client alliance where you find yourself coaching their higher self.
So, how can you remedy this situation?
First, if you find yourself with a client who expects you to fix them, it’s time to have a redesign conversation. If that doesn’t work for whatever reason, it’s probably time to let them go; they are not your divine ideal client and it’s in everyone’s best interest to call it a day. And a redesign conversation can often get the relationship back on track in a powerful way.
Second, the best way to correct this issue is to avoid it in the first place. When you are looking for new clients, have a conversation with people in a way that evokes resonance in them and has them wanting to know more. Offering a breakthrough session to someone that isn’t interested already in your work will usually only lead to you giving away your time, or enrolling a client that isn’t 100% in and ready (they might say yes on a whim but later have buyer’s remorse, second guess themselves or not be fully committed to change). When they say, “I’d love to find out more about how to work with you,” only then should you offer a strategy session.
To be clear, this doesn’t mean you can’t market your services. The goal of marketing is to evoke that resonance I’m talking about. You can occasionally send an email to people in your network saying, “I’m giving away 5 breakthrough sessions this month…” if you also have a clear value proposition about who you work with and the transformation you help people move through. This works because the recipients can then self-select in or out. (This is why coaches that are niche specific have a much easier time drawing people to them, by the way!)
Ultimately, people hire coaches because they know, trust and like them.
Make sure that whatever you do in your business development and marketing that you’re constantly building trust with your network and followers and staying in meaningful dialogue with them so you pull the right people toward you.
Tara Butler Floch