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Getting Coaching Clients | 5 Common Mistakes

Updated: May 20

One of the most common questions newly certified coaches have is: How do I get clients?


Just as each coach is unique, so is each journey towards creating a thriving coaching business.

However, there are several pitfalls that many new coaches find themselves in that can create frustration and cost them a lot of time, effort, and money. This article outlines 5 of these common mistakes and what you can do instead.


You can also check out the free mini-course version of this article — How to Get Coaching Clients... What NOT to Do! — which includes short videos for each mistake as well as a recording of a live mentoring session with a new coach asking about how to get coaching clients.


Mistake #1: Creating a product (or brand) in a vacuum


Don’t make the mistake of coming up with a market you would like to serve and a solution that you would like to offer them, before actually having spoken to (not just researched) this market.


It can seem logical to start by thinking of problems that you know your potential clients are having and immediately create an offering that is a solution to that problem — but a big part of getting coaching clients is genuinely connecting with the people you would like to coach and having open conversations to discover which problems they are actively seeking solutions to.


What to do instead:

  • Start having conversations. If you have a specific market in mind, find ways to connect with that market. Join groups, webinars, workshops, etc. Find out where this market is, and connect with them.

  • Don’t immediately start trying to convert them into clients. Just genuinely connect with them, ask them questions, listen to them. What are their biggest challenges right now? What are the specific words that they use? Be open to being of service to this market in ways you might not have thought of before. The way to do this is to listen to your market first.


Mistake #2: Telling people what you do, instead of showing them

Telling people that you can help them is not nearly as powerful as giving them experiential proof.

Don’t expect people to know the value that you can bring without showing them. One of the sure-fire ways to convert leads into clients is to invite them to actually experience what it is you do and how you do it, rather than just telling them.


What to do instead:

  • Find ways to demonstrate your service to your market.

  • Be very generous! Host webinars, workshops and coffee meet-ups. Create highly valuable content for your market to engage with and benefit from. Make sure that content speaks to them and the problems they are facing, offering solutions, not only content offering your coaching. Show them that you are able to offer solutions to their problem by actually doing it. This will build trust. Take opportunities to SHOW rather than TELL.

Mistake #3: Offering generalized coaching


Often, people don’t even realize that they would benefit from coaching! They are looking to get to a destination (where they want to be in life), but they may not know that coaching can help them get there. In your sales conversations focus on the destination, not the coaching.


Think about what the word “coach” actually means — it’s a form of transport! A coach helps someone to get from point A to point B. Speak to that, not to the coaching itself.


What to do instead:

  • Understand what is the most urgent solution that your ideal market is looking for. What is going to take working with you from a “nice-to-have” to a “have-to-have”? How can you speak to a destination that is important to your ideal client? Let them know that you can help them get there.

Mistake #4: Building a brand without proof of concept


Proof of concept means — to put it bluntly — people taking out their wallets and paying you for the solution you’re offering!


Learn to identify the difference between a problem that is so important that your market is willing to invest their time and money into solving it, versus a problem that they won’t actually invest in solving. There are some problems that people like to complain about, but won’t necessarily go out of their way to solve. Some offerings may be interesting enough to try out for free, but not to invest in financially.


Once you have proof that people (between 10 and 15), are actually willing to pay for your offering, then you will be able to build a lasting brand that will effectively speak to your market.


What to do instead:

  • Create a “prototype”. Once you have had conversations with your market, and you have identified a problem they are facing and would like to solve, create a product/offer as a test run. Take people through it, but be very flexible at this stage. Do not create anything fixed yet! Be willing to change it if you see something about it isn’t working. Customize, be creative and fluid. Once you have had 10-15 people actually buy it (not just say they would buy it, but actually make the investment), and you have proven that a certain package/offer works and it is time to start building a brand around it.

  • In the prototype stage, instead of creating an in-depth website you can start with a PDF brochure that you send via email as a follow up with potential clients. This brochure can contain a general outline of your offering (that you are open to customize/adapt to the needs of the client) as well as your rates.

  • If you have a conversation with a potential client and they mention problem you know you can support them in, tell them you have an offering that can help and then create it!


Mistake #5: Making your coaching business too "me" focused

It's important for clients to know that you are a credible coach and it helps to build rapport and connection if the clients understand a bit about you and your own journey, but it’s not the solution/destination that they are searching for. There is a time and a place for sharing your story, just make sure you are focusing on what will be of greatest service to your potential clients.


What to do instead:

  • Make sure your market knows that you are there to be of service to them. Switch from a “me” focus to a “you” focus. Make it entirely about your client. People are much more engaged when they feel seen, heard, and understood — make that your primary mission.

  • Share your own journey when appropriate, there is a natural place for it, but do not begin the conversation by talking about yourself, ask about them and really listen.


 

Following these tips will get you off on the right foot when seeking out new clients and developing your coaching business. Click here to check out our free mini course “How to Get Coaching Clients... What NOT to Do!” which is the video version of this article and includes a recording of a live business mentoring session where we talk about creating and pricing your offering, as well as how to get your first paying clients.