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How to Fill Your Unused Coaching Capacity

October 11, 2018

Last week, we at Learning in Action, turned our attention to what we could do to help you fill your unused coaching capacity. (That time when you could be and would want to be coaching, if you had the coachees to fill it.) We are passionate about helping coaches thrive in their chosen profession.  

And we believe that both coachees and coaches can languish because of the challenges in finding each other. Marketing, sales and promotion are not necessarily a strong suit for many coaches. And most coachees don’t know the first thing about coaching, coaches, what they are looking for or where to find them.

That’s why we hosted our monthly podinar, Coaching At Capacity: How to Fill Your Calendar with Paid Coaching Time. We invited Chip Carter, Senior Advisor with LeaderJam and the Institute of Coaching, to talk with us about platforms that match coaches to coachees. If you’d like to watch and/or listen to our 90 minute conversation, you can tune in here.

Note: We’re grateful to Chip Carter for providing all the platform information in our podinar, and for verifying the information. This blog is based on that information.

 

Coach Platforms

Some of you reading this blog may have no idea what we mean when we talk about Coach Platforms. So here is a brief description that I’ve made up (because this space is so new I haven’t seen it referenced anywhere):

A coach platform is a platform that matches potential coachees (people who want coaching) with coaches.   

For purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on three primary types of platforms:

  • B2B (business to business)
  • B2C (business to consumer)
  • Coach companies


We’ll describe each of these types of platforms below and give examples.

 

B2B Coach Platform

B2B coach platforms match companies who want to offer coaching to their employees with coaches who they’ve invited onto their platform. Examples of B2B platforms include BetterUpCoaching Right NowProfitable Leadership, and LeaderJam, which is soon to be launched.
 

Platforms like these approach companies who want to create a consistent coaching program throughout their company but don’t have or want to invest in the expertise to do it themselves. Or companies who want to democratize coaching as part of their culture, and make it available to a broader cross-section of their employees.

Also, these platforms find coaches with excess coaching capacity who want to be part of their network of coaches. Many of these platforms are looking for coaches at all experience levels who have more coaching time than they can sell themselves. And because the prospective coachees in companies on the platform are at all levels of the organization, these platforms need coaches at all different price points (and therefore levels of experience).   

Each platform’s vetting of coaches is unique. For the most part, coaches submit information to these companies about their background, experience, education, certifications, credentials and areas of expertise. The platforms will perform some kind of interview and background check.

As a condition of bringing a coach into their network, the platform might require the coach to follow certain processes or procedures around coaching engagements and/or get some additional education in certain assessments they use frequently (e.g. MBTI, DISC, StrengthsFinder).

 

Side Note/Soap Box: Do yourself and everyone who would benefit enormously from working with you a favor! Discover, create, develop YOUR unique expertise in the coaching space. Determine a compelling way to articulate it. (Read my blog about it here.) You can focus on a specific target market (e.g. I focus on CEO/business owners); you can specialize in a type of coaching (e.g. wellness, Narrative, mindfulness, neuroleadership); you can develop an expertise that cuts across all coaching (e.g. Emotional Intelligence (EQ), Conversational Intelligence (CiQ), Neuroscience, Somatics). There are unlimited options. Use one of them!

 

Many of us got the impression from coaching school that we shouldn’t or need not specialize – which is the quickest way to commoditization of our industry, as far as I can tell. (You can even get your unique expertise from us at Learning in Action. We frame, teach, measure EQ like no one else on the planet. Learn more.)

B2C Coach Platform

B2C platforms create a marketplace for people who want coaches to find coaching. Examples of B2C platforms include LiveCoachAce-UpCoachMarket (focuses on career coaching).  

These platforms provide you with a place to list yourself and your work to be reviewed by potential coachees (either within companies or the public) for matching.  

The difference between B2C and B2B is that with B2C, you have to promote and differentiate yourself and you are effectively competing with many other similar coaches in the marketplace. A B2B platform will likely have fewer coaches than a B2C platform. It is in the best interest of those who run a B2B coach platform to curate the expertise and experience level of the coaches for diversity (and less overlap). 

While these platforms aren’t exactly TinderForCoaches, for coaches to be successful in gaining clients on these sites, they are going to need to either 1) stand out in some way – particularly in their unique experience, education, or expertise or 2) charge below what similarly experienced coaches charge. (Refer to SoapBox, above.)

Coaching Companies

These organizations are less of a coach platform and more of a company that hires coaches to be part of their team, full or part time. Examples include Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) and LHH/Knightsbridge (which I believe has a strong focus on career transition). These are excellent organizations, IMO, and working with them would likely feel more like working for a company than working for yourself.  

Pros and Cons

The overview of these services provided by Chip Carter with LeaderJam lists the pros and cons of each type of platform and you can see them on this grid. In short, the more freedom you want, the more responsibility you have for promoting yourself. And the more money you want to make, the less freedom you are likely to have. And the better you are at articulating who you work with, what they get from your work and the reason to believe it’s true (because of your deep expertise and experience doing that), the more money you’ll make and the more freedom you’ll have. (Are you detecting a theme? 🙂 )

How to Pick a Platform

We asked Chip the question, “How does a coach pick one of these platforms? What are the factors they should consider?”, and he created this document for us. Thank you, Chip.  

I encourage you to read through the options, consider the pros and cons and determine the best answer for yourself. And I’m going to do something we coaches don’t usually do: give you some advice. (I’m cringing even as I write the word advice.) Here goes:

Choose the platform (or no platform) that will allow you to do the most coaching. 

The more coaching you do, the better you’ll get and the more likely you’ll be able to create a specialty and/or articulate an expertise. The more able you are to articulate exactly 1) what it is you do 2) who you do it for and 3) what they get from it, the more coachees you’ll attract. When you can articulate what you do, who you do it for and what they get from it in a compelling and unique way, you won’t need any of these platforms. You’ll need an assistant to keep all of your coachees and calendar organized!


Good luck!  And let us know how it goes.

Join the conversation.

Button to click to share reader's thoughts on Facebook page.

 

– Alison
Alison Whitmire
President | Learning in Action

 

P.S. Want to receive our blogs in your inbox? Subscribe to our Friday Conversations Blog.

 

P.P.S. Do you coach teams? Do you want to?? It brings its own challenges. You asked for help to unpack teams – and now it’s available! The same EQ Profile that you rely on for individual coaching, can also be used for teams. We’ll answer your questions and clarify any confusion. Join us Wed. Oct 24th  live to ask whatever is on your mind about using the EQ Profile with Teams! Click for details and to register – FREE.

 

Not an EQ Profile practitioner? 
Click here for information on the EQ Profile. Too much to chew on? Click here for a Taste of the EQ Profile.

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Posted in: Business of Coaching|Growing Client Base|Industry|Learning in Action

FREE PODINAR: Coaching at Capacity with Guest Chip Carter

August 3, 2018

SEPTEMBER PODINAR: COACHING AT CAPACITY

Learning in Action’s Live Monthly Podinar for Executive Coaches

FRI. SEPT. 28, 2018. 7:30-9:00 am PT / 10:30-12:00 noon ET

REGISTER HERE

COACHING AT CAPACITY
with guest Chip Carter, MTS
Senior Advisor at LeaderJam and Institute of Coaching

Join Chip Carter and Alison Whitmire, president of Learning in Action, for discussion and Q&A around how to think about your coaching capacity, how coaches can fill their capacity in a number of ways, how coaches can think about coaching at different price points.

In this presentation, we’ll cover questions like these:
– Should I reduce my rates to get more clients?
– Would I get more clients if I reduced my rate?
– How much time should I be spending on my existing clients versus finding new ones?
– What are all of the options for finding new clients?
– What would optimize my financial and other goals?
– How much coaching per week do I want to do and how can I fill my calendar to my chosen capacity?

Attendees will leave with their own answers to these questions, and more, so they can best coach to their own capacity.

*** Ask your questions when you register or during the live event. We’ll get to as many as we can! ***

REGISTER HERE

ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Chip Carter is a Senior Advisor, Strategy & Expert Network at LeaderJam. His expertise includes coaching, technology, business process, marketing.

ABOUT OUR PODINARS:
Learning in Action’s monthly podinars are moderated by Alison Whitmire, president of Learning in Action.
The intent of our podinars is to support executive coaches:
• To provide the best coaching possible for their clients
• To make a thriving, successful living as professional coaches

ABOUT LEARNING IN ACTION:
We offer individuals, teams, and organizations effective tools and methods for enhancing Emotional Intelligence in relationship, in conflict, in real-time. Serving leadership development professionals and executive coaches worldwide.

– THIS PODINAR WILL BE RECORDED. REGISTRANTS RECEIVE RECORDING and notice of future podinars.

REGISTER HERE

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Posted in: Business of Coaching|Podinars

How To Price Coaching: Your Responses

July 12, 2018

The topic of money is all too often taboo, including among executive coaches. How we price our services can feel like a touchy subject. (And we LOVE touchy subjects!)

We received a lot of positive feedback from our blog post about How to Price Coaching.

Still, perhaps because the topic is largely off-limits, only 22 readers responded to the blog’s anonymous survey. We’re grateful for those who took the time to answer our questions – thank you! And your responses were quite enlightening.

While the results from such a small sample of coaches don’t qualify as statistically valid, we found the answers intriguing and helpful. We hope you do, too.

Executive Summary:

The majority of respondents identify as executive coaches and work mainly one-on-one with their clients, who are C-suite and senior executives in businesses, large and small. The majority of coaches bundle their services in six and three month packages (41% do six months and 18% three months). Most packages include 360 feedback, one or more assessments and meeting with the client every other week.

As you might imagine, coaches reported quite a range of pricing for their packages, charging anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000 for a six-month package. A sizable minority of coaches charge a monthly retainer versus a package. One respondent reported charging $10,000 per month plus $25,000 if the client also wants an in-depth assessment/360. 

The average hourly rate (when calculated out roughly based upon time spent) across all respondents was $334/hour.   

While we didn’t get enough responses to know for sure, my sense is that the factors that impact the price a coach can command include:

  • The experience and/or credentialing of the coach
  • The size of the company sponsoring the client
  • The title/scope of responsibility of the client
  • The geographic market of the client.


The majority of coaches (54%) feel adequately paid, while a sizable minority (27%) felt (and IMO probably are) underpaid. Some respondents admitted that they could (and should) probably be charging more.

That’s about it for the results of the survey. And while we didn’t have the number of respondents we would have liked, based upon my experience, the results seem typical. I have many dozens of friends and colleagues who are coaches, and Learning in Action serves hundreds more coaches. And what I’ve been told by my friends, colleagues and coach clients is consistent with these findings.

Editorial Note:

I have a genuine passion for helping coaches to make a thriving living coaching. (And frankly, I’m still figuring out how best to do that.) In my opinion, for us coaches to make a thriving living coaching, it’s on us to:

  • Clearly and narrowly identify our target clients who we LOVE LOVE LOVE working with
  • Tailor our coaching, our development, our offering, our services to that target client in a way that meets their needs, uniquely and spectacularly
  • Bring more of ourselves to our coaching (That’s a much bigger topic than I can speak to here)
  • And/or create a program that we take clients through that consistently delivers extraordinary value (e.g. Tony Robbins and others)


And when we do these things and price for the value we are creating, we’ll make a thriving living coaching.  

I think many of us are scared to increase our price for fear that we couldn’t “do something” worth that.  

So, here is a thought experiment to consider: Identify a price at which you’d make a thriving living coaching, and then reverse engineer the experience you’d have to create for your client to be in fair exchange with that. We’d love to hear what you come up with.

I’ll be talking much more on these and related issues at the next podinar: “UnLearning Coaching: Challenging ‘the Rules’ to do More of What we Love.”

Join me for it and register here.


See Below for the Detailed Survey Results

 

Which best describes how you identify professionally?

 

 

Which best describes your main area of focus?

 

 

 

Which best describes the size of the organizations you most often work with?

 

 

 

Which best describes who you work with most?

 

 

Which best describes how you package your initial services? (i.e. for first time clients)

 

 

What’s included in your package of services?

 

 

What do you typically charge for your package of services?

Answers from our coach respondents varied widely, from a low of $125 per hour, to $30,000 for a package of unspecified services or duration.

The range of comments covered anywhere from $6000 for six months to $20,000 for six months.

One coach priced at $1000 a month for four 55-minute sessions.

Several coaches mentioned that they charge additional fees for assessments they offer.

Two respondents noted that they don’t offer packages.



How and when are payments made?

This question brought perhaps the most variety of responses, with the majority of coaches using their own unique timetable for billing. 

The answer with the most coaches responding in the same manner: Four respondents said payments are made twice: at the beginning and the end.

Three respondents said in thirds: at beginning, middle and end.

Nearly all else said once per month, varying when within the month.

Some coaches mentioned invoicing, but most did not specify how payments are made.

One respondent said payment schedules are determined individually with each client.



What is your average hourly rate?

Responses ranged from a low of $150 to a high of $1500 per hour, and all points in between. (Only one respondent reported an hourly rate over $1,000.)

The majority of coaches came in at $250, followed by $300 per hour.The average hourly rate across all respondents was $334.
 





Would you say that you feel…

 

 

Why do you feel this way – in regard to the preceding question?

“It’s what [my state’s] market will bear.”
“Coaching is a passion and I still find getting paid to do something I love to be quite a remarkable thing.”
“I cannot coach full time and earn my living.”
“I vary my rate by the client, both my interest and their budget. I am trying to have a diverse set of clients so I am willing to be flexible to diversify my client base.”
“I’m aware of what other coaches charge, because I have managed a coaching program in a company.”
“Other coaches and consultants seem to charge more and not lose clients over it.”
“[Because of my level of] experience and feeling that I undervalue myself.”
“Some of my clients tell me I under charge — my peers charge more.”
“Probably for the same reasons most of us undervalue ourselves… feeling like an imposter, not good enough, it’s challenging or measure.”
“It’s what I have read is the norm.”
“Feedback from clients is positive. No pushback re: fees.”
“I price my services at a level the folks I work with can afford and use sliding scale depending on the situation.”
“I think the whole coaching practice got priced too high. Are we really worth more than therapists – I think the executive coach range set the price and got carried into other levels of the organization.”
“I’ve been at this rate for a while and I am told I deliver big value. Also, my credentialing and certifications have continued to increase.”
“Fees are all over the map, and quite dependent on the client industry- so I flex to fit.”
“I think it’s time to raise my rates. And I would like to get into more team full day retreat facilitation for a chunk of change rather than just the hourly rate.”
“I really enjoy my clients and also want to make good $$$$.”
“Being in the market of education, this is what they can afford. I could charge more but I wouldn’t have the amount of work. I am working to change this model and educate educators/institutions on the importance of a coaching model for their school(s).”
“I’d like to select both ‘overpaid’ and ‘underpaid.’ Overpaid relative to what I think most C-suite coaches get paid. Underpaid relative to what else I do with my time at [my company]. (e.g., Finalist assessments on CEO searches).”
“I am very experienced and add a lot of value, so it is commensurate for my clients pay a premium for it.”
“My clients are happy and I get referrals.”




What else would you like to share?

“After an initial 3 month contract, I move to monthly upfront payments. These are less than 1/3 of the initial contract but do not include assessments. I feel the hourly rate is equivalent.”
“It is more difficult to gain access to clients who would pay higher rates in the international development world.”
“Coaching in organizations is more time consuming for the coach because there are so many additional meetings, such as chemistry meetings, negotiating the corporate contract, the 3-way meetings with the boss, etc. Coaches should anticipate this in their pricing.”
“Good work on this. Thanks for your efforts and information.”
“Focus on your niche. My niche is taming senior leaders who are perceived as abrasive. I also do facilitation of groups, conflict mediation, and training in cringe moment conversations. It is critical to have several assessment tool credentials such as the EQ Profile, 360 assessments, Myers Briggs etc. The more & varied the coaches arsenal of tools- the broader the opportunities. Multi industry work experience is a plus.”
“The survey is going to be misleading, the forced choice answer is problematic, often I felt I was misleading you.”
“Thank you for leading this discussion.”
“I have definitely tried out a few different package options over my years of coaching, and I also have had my clients for many many years.”
“Thanks for the article. It was great.”
“Even though I’m late, I would love to get the results of the survey!”



The thoughts shared with us were insightful and significant. We’re thankful for all the information gleaned that we now share with our larger readership.

Missed participating in the survey? It’s an ongoing topic. We’d still love to hear your thoughts! Share with us online.



Join the conversation. 

Button to click to share reader's thoughts on Facebook page.

 

P.S. Want to receive our blogs in your inbox? Subscribe to our Friday Conversations Blog.

 

P.P.S. Sometimes we need to break the rules to forge ahead. Learn why it’s important for the success of your coaching business. Register for our July 31st podinar, “Unlearning Coaching: Challenging ‘the Rules’ to Do More of the Coaching We Love.” Did we mention it’s FREE?

Not an EQ Profile practitioner? 
Click here for information on the EQ Profile. Too much to chew on? Click here for a Taste of the EQ Profile.

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Posted in: Business of Coaching|Industry

Special FREE Podinar: “What They Don’t Teach in Most Coaching Schools: Exploring the Gap Between Coach Training and Market Demand”

June 22, 2018

Please join us for a special podinar for Executive Coaches on
What They Don’t Teach In Most Coaching Schools:
Exploring the Gap
Between Coach Training
and Market Demand
with guest Dave Buck, CEO of CoachVille
presented by Alison Whitmire, PCC and President of Learning in Action.


FRI. JULY 13, 2018
8:30-10:00 am PT / 11:30-1:00 am ET
Session will be recorded.
Register here.

Join us for this Learning in Action podinar where Alison Whitmire will be joined by Dave Buck, CEO of CoachVille, for a wide-ranging conversation about what our coaching clients are wanting from us and how we meet their needs.

  • In this Podinar, We’ll Explore:
  • The definition of coaching and who says so
  • What most coach training programs prepare us for (and what they don’t)
  • What the market is asking for from coaches
  • The gap between how we are trained as coaches and what the market wants
  • Giving clients what they say they want – or not
  • The role of individual expertise in coaching
  • Complementary skills coaches would benefit from developing
  • Identification of a target market
  • Coaching to improve performance

What You’ll Get from Listening:

  • Suggestions for how to position yourself to attract more clients
  • Possibilities for how to fill the gap between what you were trained to do and what your clients are asking for
  • Approaches for coaching for performance
  • Tips for selling more services


*** Ask your questions when you register or during the live event. We’ll get to as many as we can!***

YAY! THIS PODINAR WILL BE RECORDED. ONLY REGISTRANTS RECEIVE RECORDING.

Or REGISTER HERE

*** Ask your questions when you register or during the live event. We’ll get to as many as we can. ***

We hope you’ll join us!

Alison Whitmire
President | Learning in Action

Psst…What’s a podinar? A podinar is a mashup of the best parts of a podcast and a webinar. You’ll listen in on a fascinating interview with a seasoned coach, be able to engage and interact by asking questions of our presenter and audience. 


ABOUT OUR GUEST: Dave Buck
Dave Buck is a transformational business coach for leaders, author of Dream Team Coach, and CEO of CoachVille, LLC.

ABOUT OUR PRESENTER: Alison Whitmire
Alison Whitmire is president of Learning in Action. Alison is a PCC, certified and credentialed Executive Coach to CEOs. She is a professional speaker, TEDx organizer, and weekly blogger. 

ABOUT OUR PODINARS:
Learning in Action’s podinars are moderated by Alison Whitmire, president of Learning in Action.

The intention of our podinars is to support anyone who works in a coaching role supporting others:

  • To provide the best coaching possible
  • To make a thriving, successful living
  • To embrace their innate uniqueness


ABOUT LEARNING IN ACTION:
We offer individuals, teams, and organizations effective tools and methods for enhancing Emotional Intelligence in relationship, in conflict, in real-time. Serving leadership development professionals and executive coaches worldwide.

– YAY! THIS PODINAR WILL BE RECORDED. ONLY REGISTRANTS RECEIVE RECORDING. So REGISTER NOW, whether or not you can attend live. The day following the event, watch for an email with a link to the recorded podinar.

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Posted in: Business of Coaching|Coaching|Growing Client Base|Podinars

Want More Clients? Articulate Who You Work with and Why

April 12, 2018

 

I’d rather listen to this than read it.

 

I had just moved with my family to Washington, DC, for my husband’s job. Other than my family, I didn’t know a soul in the DC metro area. (OK, well, there was this one guy I’d met at a TEDActive Conference one time, but otherwise, no one.) I was starting from scratch….again.

I’d left a thriving network and strong coaching practice back in Seattle. I was still mourning the loss of my friends, clients and community, when a friend I hadn’t seen in years came to visit. We were on the metro, on our way to the Smithsonian, when she asked me what I was doing now. I don’t remember exactly what I said. It was extemporaneous. It was something like, “I help CEOs and entrepreneurs connect with what gives their lives meaning and purpose and support them in expressing that in their business.”

As I was expanding on that, a man sitting near us said, “Excuse me, I’m sorry for interrupting. But, I overheard what you said you do  and… I need that.” He became my first client in DC. He could see himself in how I described what I do.

Coaching Kool-Aid

When I completed my first coaching certification program, I left believing that it wasn’t appropriate to clearly identify my ideal client. I had drank what I call the Coaching Kool-Aid, which goes something like:

“The client has all of their own best answers.” “The coach owns the process, the client owns the content and the outcomes.” “The coach’s subject matter expertise can get in the way of their coaching.” “If you are contributing your expertise, you are not coaching in line with the ICF core competencies.”

(To be clear, I’m not saying this is wrong or bad or inappropriate. I actually buy into a lot of it. It’s just that the way I internalized it, didn’t support the development of my business and didn’t meet what I felt the market was asking for.)

If I subscribed to the Coaching Kool-Aid, then I thought, by the “transitive property of coaching,” it would be inappropriate for me to clearly describe who I work with. I should be able to work with anyone, assuming they are coachable, right?

And that’s the problem. Oh, and I’m not the only one who drank the Coaching Kool-Aid.

Everyone and No One

For the last several years, I’ve been in the fortunate position to have more coaching opportunities than I can or want to take. So I refer a lot of business to other coaches. Or at least, I try to.

When I meet a coach for the first time, I typically ask, “Who is your ideal client?” Nine times out of 10, I hear something so vague, it could be most anyone. This is the kind of thing I hear:

  • “I work with emerging women leaders.” (OK, well, I guess you’ve eliminated half of the workforce and so the other 72 million are your target market?)
  • “I work with new managers.” (OK, so only about 47 million people.)
  • “I work with leaders of nonprofits.” (There are 1.5 million nonprofits in the US – doesn’t narrow it down much.)

Because I’m determined to advocate for, and support, other coaches, when a coach provides vague answers regarding their ideal client, I’ll keep digging to see if I can figure out something, anything, that will help me know who to refer to them (versus any of the other hundreds of coaches I know).

I’ll ask, “If I was talking with someone who was your ideal client, what would they say that would tell me I should introduce them to you?” And I get trite, coachy answers like, “They’ll say they are feeling stuck.  Or that they are in a transition and want help navigating it. Or want to grow and develop personally and or professionally.” Seriously? How, in any way, does that differentiate you and the uniquely meaningful, transformative, life-changing impact you have in this world? Work with me people!  🙂

For the vast majority of us, coaching is a word of mouth (WOM) business. Meaning, most of our business comes from our contacts, our clients’ contacts, or our friends, family and referral partners’ contacts. And for a WOM business, who you work with and the problem you help them solve IS your calling card.  

If you can’t clearly, succinctly, uniquely articulate that, how can you expect to grow your business?

Focus on the Client

Like a lot of coaches, I don’t like describing what I do as a coach. Especially in the context of an elevator rant. I’ve worked with clients to create their elevator pitch, I’ve read books, even led workshops on creating elevator speeches. And every one I’ve created for myself has felt like sawdust in my mouth. (Clearly something I could use coaching around. ☺). However, I can comfortably, passionately and fluidly talk about my clients. (Not by name, of course.)

I found that when I put my focus clearly on who I coach and why, I can speak about them in ways that feel natural to me and allow others to recognize themselves or others they know in it. When I discovered that, I got clearer and more specific about my ideal clients, why they come to me and what they get from me.

Now, any time I’m asked about what I do, I talk about my ideal clients.

Describing the Ideal Client

Several years ago, a coaching colleague walked into a room filled with my coaching clients. (I regularly bring my coaching clients and others together for workshops.) Upon entering the room, she started laughing. After I asked her why, she said, “Alison, everyone looks like you!” I looked around the room and at first, I didn’t get it. Then it clicked!

I was attracting a very specific type of client. My clients shared a narrow set of demographics, firmographics and psychographics. (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you coach clones of yourself.)

When I looked around the room, this is what I saw:

CEO/owners of companies $5-50 million in size, male, age 35-45. They work hard, play hard and are athletically inclined. They’ve reached a high level of success relatively early in life, and what happens from here, is all up to them. They’ve run out of what they know to do, and the road ahead is high stakes and uncertain.

This was a eureka moment for me! This is the clientele that I was attracting and was attracted to. I loved working with these guys. It was fun, meaningful and rewarding. These were my ideal clients!

Of course, not 100% of my clients fit this description, but 85% did and still do. Of course, I took on clients who didn’t fit this description. And if you are offended by my identifying my target market as male in this very #MeToo environment, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you. Over the course of 15 years, the vast majority of my clients have been men because I have always targeted CEO/owners and the majority of CEO/owners are male. It simply turned out that way. And I like it!

The Ideal Client as Elevator Pitch

When I realized how I was attracting my ideal clients organically, I decided to see if I could engineer it to happen. So now, when people ask me what I do, I say something like:

“I work with CEO/owners of businesses $5-50 million in size. They tend to be males who work hard, play hard and are athletically inclined. They’ve reached a high level of success early in life and they’ve run out of what they know to do. What’s ahead for them is both high stakes and uncertain. By working with me, they become clearer on who they are, what they want and how that aligns with their business. They become more confident, more certain and more relaxed in their work and in their lives.”

When I started saying that, a few exciting things began to happen. People would always ask me about it: “Athletically inclined – where did that come from?” “Do you only work with men?” “I know someone just like that!” Bingo! By saying who my ideal client was and why they worked with me, I was getting exactly the reaction I wanted.  When I shared my ideal client, people were curious about it and about me. People could recognize themselves or someone they knew in my description.

Within about three years, I’d built my business in the DC area up to what it took eight years to build in the Seattle area.

Common Objections

You might be saying “This doesn’t apply to me. My clients don’t have anything in common.” Or “I don’t want to attract clones of myself. Gross!” OK. Fine. Perhaps your clients don’t look alike and perhaps your clients don’t have similar occupations, but all of your clients have one thing in common. You!

Also, you might be thinking “I don’t want to narrowly define who I work with. That will narrow down my chances of getting a referral.” Au contraire! The opposite is true. When you define your ideal clients so generally so that most anyone can be included, no one can see themselves in it!

You might be ruminating, “I’m not sure what I’m doing with my clients. I’m just coaching. What my clients are getting is what all clients of coaching are getting.” And you are uniquely you and you are their coach.

Putting it All Together

How do you put all of this together? Especially if you have some of the common objections noted above, how do you identify your ideal client and what they get from you?

Consider the following:

  • Create a worksheet with four columns.
  • In column 1, list the names of all of the clients you’ve loved working with.
  • In column 2, identify the essence of the challenges your clients brought to the coaching (not the specifics, not the topics, but the meaningful underlying issues).
  • In column 3, identify how your clients have benefited from working with you, in tangible and intangible ways.
  • In column 4, describe your clients – demographically, firmographically, psychographically and in any way that’s relevant – be as detailed and specific as you can.
  • When you’re done, step back and reflect on what your ideal clients have in common, in terms of:
    • What they are like (be specific and don’t be shy)
    • What they come to you for (describe it as uniquely and clearly as possible)
    • What they get from you (articulate this in terms of the ultimate outcomes they get)

Put it all together in a statement: “I work with (what they are like) who (what they come to you for) and (what they get from you).”

Next time someone asks you what you do, try it out and see what happens.

We Are All In This Together

The majority of coaches don’t make a thriving living by coaching. And many coaches who do make a living coaching, do so by coaching other coaches. That’s all okay. And I’m determined to help more coaches and people in related professions thrive doing what they are passionate about doing. The world is full of people who need, want, and would live and perform better, with coaching.

Together we can coach people to become better leaders, to lead more fulfilling and meaningful lives and to create lives of their own design. We can do this. Being clearer about what we do, who we do it for and what they get from us, is a start!

What about you? How do you define your target market? What objections / challenges do you have about defining it? What, if anything, holds you back?

Join the conversation.

 

P.S. Our next EQ Profile Certification course begins May 11, 2018. Register now. Hope to see you there!

 

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Posted in: Business of Coaching|Growing Client Base