The 3 R's of selling coaching services

"Launch your 6-figure coaching practice in 6 months or less." 

That was the headline of an ad I saw on my social media. So compelling, so attractive, and so much b*****t. 

These programs usually give some good advice, and some of them have had some good success stories, albeit not the norm. Most importantly, they tend to be extremely tactical: do a webinarlaunch your list, and run ads using this formula. 

These tactical approaches can be very attractive when you are starting, they are easy to do and they get you busy quickly, so you feel like you are doing something. There is nothing wrong with these tactics, but you need to understand that as a coach, you will mostly get clients in three ways: Relationships, Referrals and Reputation. Tactics can only help you reinforce the 3 golden R's . 

How to sell coaching services. The 3 R’s of selling coaching and consulting services.

It is all about TRUST

When you are the expert, selling professional services, your clients simply need to trust you. They need to trust that you will execute a good diagnose and provide a good solution that is in their best interest. You need to earn this trust.

Furthermore, there is information asymmetry - you simple know more about the work in hand than you clients do. 

Think about it when you are the client. Let's say you need a baby-sitter, how do you go about finding a good one? Do you ask a friend? Do you think of who you already know? Do you Google 'Best baby sitters in town'?

Relationships, Referrals and Reputation are just ways on which trust is transferred from one person to another.

REMEMBER: If there is NO Trust, there is NO Transaction.

What you can do with this information

Here are some immediate mindshits and tactics that can help set your marketing in the right direction:

  1. The most successful coaches and consultants get their clients from sustained, lifelong professional relationships. 
  2. Activate your network of relationships. It is best if you do this when you don't need anything from them. It only works when there is genuine and mutual professional respect for each other. Avoid salesy language, instead. Ask questions or advice. "Hugo, I following my passion to help coaches do better marketing and wanted your advice what really help you when you started." Is a lot more compelling that "Hugo, I am opening my marketing practice for coaches. And would love to tell you more about it. Do you have 15 minutes to jump on a call?" See the difference? People like relationships, helping, connection, buying. People hate being sold something. 
  3. Master the art of building and maintaining relationships. This is an intentional act. One of my favorite tactics is to map my champions: people who just love working with me, refer me, and support me. 
  4. Craft an elevator pitch that clearly describes what you do, who you serve and what sets you apart. So that when people ask you know what to say. 
  5. Consider networking opportunities, before you go make sure to read Rosemary's golden rules on networking. 
  6. Getting referrals come organically, but every now and then, you can ask for referrals. Most people don't. 
  7. Consider what elements of your customer journey are deterring your reputation. E.i, a. Poorly designed website. 
  8. Evaluate things that build your reputation. Speaking engagements, publications, mentions, articles, testimonails, portfolio, lists, etc. 

The role of digital marketing in all of this.

No agency and no formula will guarantee the success of your business, there is not get-rich-quick proven steps. The role of digital marketing is to support relationship building, creating reputation and putting together a referral strategy. Below are some high-level ideas on how digital marketing support the 3 R's.

Relationship Building:

Referrals

Protect and build your Reputation:

Why I quit on self-improvement projects.

A little better every day. A little more efficient, more profitable, a little smarter? I’ve accepted the “Better Every Day” dogma - it is just obvious, because, what is the alternative? A little worse?

Unapologetic motivational speakers can energize a room with thousands of people with words of self-improvement. And gosh, they are good. I get out of there with an inflated sense of being better, of doing the right thing. What’s is wrong — you may ask — with harvesting from this energy to improve myself?

Here is where self-improvement goes wrong

Self-improvement in our western culture, is heavily influenced with this industrialized notion of continuous improvement. As an Industrial Engineer, I deeply respect the work of the XIX century thinkers like Goldratt, Deming, Taylor. While these currents of knowledge work splendidly well in lean manufacturing environments, they don’t work in our spiritual journey of being fully (not better) humans. I am NOT a factory.

More so, self-improvement is sold as a shortcut from suffering. “You feel bad? There is something wrong with you that needs to be improved.” And we immediately take action at the slightest glimpse of discomfort. We rush out of unpleasant feelings trying to put ourselves together and get some solid ground on where to resume the construction of the “Me Project." I am NOT a project.

Self-improvement is tainted with blame. The sense that there is something about me that needs to be fixed, that needs to be corrected, is extremely critical. In other words, self-improvement is married to self-critic. The inner-critic is the one dictating what to improve. And while this internal judge has fair intentions — it wants us to be accepted member of our society — its tools are not nearly as fair. The judge blames and the judge rejects the parts it doesn’t like. The judge’s handbook of law was written during our socialization years. I now wonder, how much of my self-improvement projects are coming from fear? I am NOT my inner-critic.

What I’ve chosen instead of self-improvement

“Yeah.. I hear you, but without self-improvement. We will just be stagnant in our habitual patterns. I want to overcome the things holding me back from my full potential.”

Here is what I’ve come to realize. I’m done making a project out of myself. Instead, I want to befriend myself. To get to know me without judgement. To become aware of my ways of being, my habitual patterns, defaults and reactions. Here is the main difference: I will not make a project to get rid of the things I don’t like.

I’ll simply observe them. And if possible, offer my kindness to my demons. I’ll sit in peace with discomfort without trying to get solid ground under me. And then, with an open heart, I’ll have the courage to listen and honor my shadow.

During my first therapy session, I told my therapist, “I am here because I am done with the way I’ve been doing things. I am ready to bury the parts of me that no longer serve me.” Her response was, “Hugo, we don’t bury them. We integrate them.”

This compassionate approach is gentle and subtle but is the most powerful and courageous thing I’ve done. Blame is an invitation to pause and relax with discomfort.

In her book, Radical Compassion, Tara Brach, a beloved Psychologist and Buddhist Teacher, introduced a very practical technique to befriend strong emotions called RAIN. In a nutshell:

My invitation is to avoid making a project out of yourself, catch your self-improvement being rooted in fear as opposed to love, relax into the wisdom of your heart and your inherent goodness. Befriend your demons. I leave you with a poem I wrote titled “To my demons.”

Running in the wilderness as fast as I can.
Not looking back. I’m being chased.
The branches are thick, I can’t see the light.
It’s cold in here but I know the sun shines.

You run next to me, pointing mirrors to my face.
This feels familiar, you are still yet to learn.
I grasp the illusion of redemption In your arms
But I pass through you and hit my head to the ground.

The sky opens up and the light burns my skin.
I see my flesh bleeding, brutally raw and thin.
It hurts like never before. Oh boy, it hurts so much.
“I surrender.” I scream “Fill up with my flesh”

In a cathartic encounter, my demons arrive.
With fierce devotion, they rip me apart.
Without any resistance they eat me alive.
I scream, I cry, I laugh as I look in their eyes.

They love me so much. Can I love them back?

You will die. So will your imposter syndrome.

You will die. You dwell in between states of cognitively knowing this and dissociating from the fact. Both psychologists and Buddhists agree that all fears ultimately root in the fear of annihilation; by this, I mean ego death.

When you keep present that you will die, some things lose their importance, or their urgency. It makes you wonder, what really matters? You’ll find what really matters is being of service. Being of service can look as simple as being kind to others while working, or taking a leading role in a cause that is important to you.

“Since death is certain and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing?”

Pema Chodrön

Increasingly, as I become more aware of this realization, I feel more and more empowered. As the stories I’ve built around myself start to dissolve I am realizing that I don’t have anything to defend. That the only thing keeping me from being of service to the world is me! Fear of being looked some way, fear of not being enough, fear of the world challenging the stories I’ve so carefully crafted to get a sense of value.

I will die, and the stories my ego created will dissolve, but the love I’ve spread will forever circulate.

When you watch your imposter syndrome emerge, the invitation is to accept it, and be curious about it. What can I learn from it? What story about myself am I protecting?

The gift of these questions is that they open the door for a more fluid identity, a malleable sense of self that needs no defending, no validation, and no walls. You are just doing to best to selflessly be of service, to make the world a better place. Whoever judges your efforts, is ultimately judging themselves.

Coaches: This is how you get clients digitally

So many coaches.

Life coaching is the second-fastest-growing industry in the world with an average yearly growth of 6.7%. And it would seem that while some few are selling $2k programs online, others are going through the rough patch of the early stages. It is a big leap, that requires severals phases.

Ultimately, if you are starting, your main asset are and will always be the relationships you have build. I will soon post an action plan for your first year as a coach. In the meantime, I want to go over a framework that every coach needs to understand about how getting clients work in the digital realm.

This framework is universal and points out the very marketing foundation of your practice. It is important to evaluate each part of the framework with honesty and critique. It can save you lots of frustration.

Your Offer

Your marketing needs to be as great as your offer. But no amount of marketing will sell a bad offer.

How do you know you have a bad offer?

A good offer still needs lots of things to be supported, and by itself won't do. But it will make everything so much easier. When I started my digital marketing business I didn't actively marketed myself for over a year, because I was offering something a lot of people wanted at the right time. I did a good work and got referred... A lot! More on this later.

A good offer makes takes into consideration 3 key elements.

  1. Attunement: In his best-seller, To Sale Is Human, Michael Pink states the new ABC of sales (from the old adage Always Be Closing). Pink states Attunement as one of the most essential skills of modern sales-people. Attunement is being able to tune into the frequency your potential leads are and adapt. In the context of this article, attunement is how tuned is your offer with your dream client's desire and pain. Does it tap into their needs and wants? Are you communication accordingly? Being aware of what objections people might have on your offer is essential.
  2. The balance in offer vs. demand. Ideally you want to be in a blue ocean, but be cautious not to confuse a blue ocean with a dead sea. If there are too many people out there doing the same thing, become of aware of how this business works. Get informational interview with some of them and see how they started their path, get insights on how they typically get clients now vs. when they started.
  3. The balance perceived value vs. price: That is the basic of every transaction. Consider that price is absolute but value is subjective: $1,000 are not the same for everybody and people will value things based on their current and past situations and future desires, attuning your offer to your audience's experience will conclude in a higher closing rate. A low price can make your seem insecure about your delivered value. I will soon write a whole section on pricing your offers. The best offers are "free" to your clients, they will make more from it that what they spend on it.

You can download a formula for creating a compelling offer here.

Creating a good offer requires a mix of knowledge, intuition, research and adjustment. Let see.

Knowledge:

The more you know about the market environment, the better ideas you will get about what is a good offer. A lot of it comes with time and being out there, but also is by actively looking into what's out there at the moment.

Doing information interviews are great ways to fast forward your knowledge.But it requires for you to swallow your ego, imposter syndrome and be humble, yet it is so much worth it. Plus you start cultivating a beautiful relationship with a potential college, referrer or mentor.

I particularly despite the marketing people who are telling their stories of how THEY are so unbelievable awesome and that ONE TIME they got a massive return for a client. Can't we have normal conversation without you masturbating your ego? Please.

Intuition:

Your intuition is your inner compass that tells you that something makes sense. I remember the beautiful story of Melanie Perkins', Canva Founder, she just knew that the future of design was a DYI Cloud-based Saas, your can listen to it on NPR's How I Built This. Your intuition is a valid source of raw material for an idea of an offer and the more knowledge you have the more attuned your intuition will be.

Research:

Most coaches and consultants I work with don't validate their offer. They have a hunch and they go for it. As they should. After all you need to start tapping into the market but consider a few things.

Research everytime you are speaking to a lead. Everytime you are in front of a potential client, warm or cold, you have a huge opportunity to attune your offer. One of my favorite tactics is ask a few open questions:

Asking these questions not only is a great consultative sell approach but a magnificent market research tool.

Research your competitor online. What are other people doing? Search your niche of coaching and see who is leading google searches. Explore their offer, messaging, what pain point and desires are they tapping into? What are their price points? How are they engaging in virtual channels? Spyfu can give you tons on insights.

Run a deliberate market research. Market research can sound scary, and expensive. But it doesn't have to be. Ultimately what you want is to gain some ideal client insights before putting lots of work into a new offer. 10 data points are better than none. Can you get 10 people to answer a survey? Can you get 10 people on the phone to ask them about an idea? Can you run a small focus group with 5 folks?

Another creative way to gain some insights is to publish two pieces of content, the same of week, one-week apart, and see which one drives more attention. There is lots of variable that affect how sharable an item is and it is not enough to put lots of investment into it, but it is a good lead to start wondering.

Adjust & Optimize:

No offer is perfect from day 0. The question is whether or not your offer will need to be adjusted the question is how fast.

A/B Test

A the micro-level you want to make sure you are A/B testing your offering, that is, present your offer to some people with title A, then present it to other folks with title B. Compare.

In a digital world, you can do this tools like Google Optimize. You are constantly testing landing pages, sales pages, opt-in pages, etc.

Adjust is more than A/B testing. Adjust means being in constant communication with the folks who are receiving the value from you. If you run a course, send a survey in between sessions "Next week we will discuss [this theme]. Because I want to make sure I cover all the bases, what would you want me to cover?"

Adjusting starts within.

One of the biggest adjustments I did in my firm was setting the boundaries of my offer. I was being too generous. In therapy, I learned that came from a sense of insecurity and not being good enough, therefore I over-delivered. Until my offer wasn't sustainable anymore and it diluted the value of my time.

On the other hand, I have had clients who had been doing the same thing for several months without seeing results but are stuck with this idea because of loss aversion or lack of self-reflection.

What we do for a living is a big chunk of our identity, after all we spend more of time working. Specially if it is your own business. We are not our jobs, but sometimes we forget. That is why adjusting starts within. To adjust, to truly adjust, you need to de-personalize your offer. So an alteration in your offer is not threat to your identity nor your value as a person.

Adjusting sometimes requires a pause.

This is just a note of caution. Adjustment requires clarity. It is so easy to get into the weeds that we can't see around. Research suggest that when we are in a hurry we care less about people. Ultimately, your offer needs to be attuned, attunement can't happen without caring. The best offers come back to the essence of being of service to people, because YOU CARE.

Consider a pause, where you can gain distance and clarity over your situation. I strongly recommend Achim Nowak's article: In Praise Of The Pause.

Awareness

Your next challenge is all about Brand Awareness. How do you get people to know about you, or the new you.

In this section we will cover.

  1. How to Launch a business.
  2. How to ring the bell among your network.
  3. A content scalability blueprint. (From post, to blog, to webinar, to product)
  4. The basics of putting your name on the market.
  5. Sources of traffic

Consider the different levels of awareness buyer typically go through:

Unaware

Problem Aware

Solution Aware

Provider Aware

Trust

In essence. If there is no trust there is no transaction.

People need to trust 3 things.

  1. They need to trust YOU.
  2. They need to trust YOUR OFFER.
  3. They need to trust YOUR OFFER WORKS FOR THEM.

Here are the basic of trust. I highly recommend the Trusted Adviser by...

Tercero, explica algunas generalidades de la confianza:

  1. La confianza no aparece, va creciendo: No hay una regla o una trampa para ganar la confianza rápido, la confianza crece poco a poco a través de experiencias con el cliente.
  2. Es tanto racional como emocional: Muchos profesionales se ofenden al personar que la relación con sus clientes se vea afectado por algo más fuera del conocimiento técnico, sin embargo, aunque el conocimiento técnico es un término NO-negociable e indispensable, no es suficiente. La confianza tiene varios componentes emocionales (Se describe en la ecuación de la confianza)
  3. Es una relación de dos vías: Podemos amar, odiar, admirar o respetar a alguien sin que esta persona sienta lo mismo por nosotros; con la confianza no es así. Se debe escoger bien con qué clientes se quiere tener una relación de confianza, pues debe ser recíproco. No se pueda ganar confianza cuando todos los esfuerzos son unilaterales. No se puede forzar la confianza.
  4. Está intrínsecamente relacionado al riesgo percibido: La confianza sin riesgo es como una Coca Cola sin gas, no tiene sentido. No hay motivos para la confianza sin que exista un riesgo. Claramente, el riesgo varía según la situación.
  5. Es diferente para el cliente que para usted: En la confianza siempre hay alguien que confía y alguien que es confiado. Es como un baile, uno debe guíar y otro ser guiado. Esto implica que solo porque usted pueda confiar no quiere decir que pueda ser confiable para otros. Así mismo, si es incapaz de confiar, probablemente tampoco sea confiable para otros.
  6. Es personal: La confianza es entre individuos, no se puede confiar en una organización, aunque si se puede relacionar a una empresa con ciertos atributos, la confianza como tal es algo que se alcanza únicamente con las personas.

Cuarto, explica las dimensiones y componentes de la confianza:

Uno diría que si el cliente confía en lo que digo me tiene confianza, esto no es tan simple. La confianza es multidimensional. Las dimensiones son las siguientes:

Cualquier fallo en algunas de estas dimensiones nos caracterizan de algún modo:

  1. Un fallo en la credibilidad, nos caracteriza de Charlatanes.
  2. Un fallo en Responsabilidad, nos caracteriza de Irresponsables.
  3. Un fallo en Intimidad, nos caracteriza de Técnicos.
  4. Un fallo en Orientación, nos caracteriza en Tramposos.

In a digital realm in specific. You want to leverage of all the things that add or erode your trust:

Trust is with spelled with a T for Time.