Building a Coaching Business –Sales Approach That WORKS–Increase Sales 2-5 Times

As I grew my own coaching business there were some real aha moments.

I do several workshops a month with coaches, consultants, and sometimes other small businesses. I always ask one simple question, “If you met with 10 people this week that had shown an interest in your coaching how many of them would buy.” The most frequent answers are

  • I don’t know.
  • Oh .. . maybe . . . let’s see . . . maybe 1 in 10.

What’s yours?

What should it be?

If you aren’t closing 40-50% then maybe you should review a couple of areas, marketing AND sales. In marketing and sales the things to review are simple:

What you say, who you say it to, and how you say it. It either connects and persuades, or turns those you are talking to off..

Marketing –

  • Who you are marketing to
  • What you are saying in your marketing message (is it about you, or about them, and would it get their attention) 

Sales

  • Do you start by TELLING or ASKING
  • What’s the ultimate outcome you want for the person you are talking with.

If you are one of those getting only 1 in 10, or less then reviewing those issues could move you up from 1 in 10 to 4-5 in 10, or possibly higher. That would be an increase of 4-5 times more clients than you have now, or more. I’ve been quite surprised at how easy it is to increase both sales and marketing results by larger multipliers.

As we move forward discussing some of the concepts I may talk about “business coaching” but it still applies to all over areas of coaching. So, if I’m saying something like what a business coach may ask of his clients, simply switch the concept to the issues a life coach may talk about. Instead of a business coach asking his prospect to tell him about his business, ask your life coaching clients about their life, or a career coach asking about the job they have or the one they want, or the career they want. It all works the same way.

Looking at Marketing

Marketing starts when we reach out into that cold cruel world that doesn’t know us from Adam and we make our first touch. The only thing we want to happen here is to “get their attention” and to have them saying “Wow, we’d like to talk about what you have that we want.” Those people are delivered to our sales process to get their commitment that they want what we have and will buy it.

I’m not really going to delve deeply into marketing at this point since my main focus is sales, however, marketing has a huge impact on our sales. If marketing is

  • not bringing the right target market then those that land in your sales lap just plain won’t buy, or will be extremely difficult to close. In fact you should only want those that are BEGGING for the results you can provide them. Sales would be a gi’me at that point wouldn’t it?
  • not being EXTREMELY selective — identify your niche, narrow your niche, and narrow it even further, and then identify who is so much in need, and those who are most likely to buy. Focus, focus, focus. 

Looking at Sales

As I said above, marketing should be delivering people that a pre-sold, not just barely interested. But, depending on how well your marketing is working, you are going to get people landing in your sales process that range all of the way from “tire kickers” checking this out as a possibility, to those that are “begging for your services”.

A target to shoot for is closing about 40-50%, but if everything lines up, your marketing message and your sales message, and follow the sales process below, some coaches have told us they are hitting 90%.

Here’s a simple step by step sales process with a few basic rules to start with.

Guideline 

  1.  It’s about them and not about you.
  2. Always focus on HELPING and not SELLING. You are there to find out what they want, or need (where do they want to be), what they are struggling with (obstacles), and how they can get the results they want. You aren’t there to sell them anything (although if they find that you have the answers they need, can provide a huge value that’s worth more than the cost) they will want to buy.
  3. Whenever you hear yourself talking about you, your products or your services, STOP, and switch modes into asking what they want or need, what’s gone on before, and what they’d like to see happen into the future.
  4. Selling is not telling, it’s asking the right questions, showing an interest in them and their problems, and asking if this or that might work for them. You’re here to help them find their answers and exploring questions with them.
  5. Think Platinum rule, not Golden Rule –
  6. The Golden rule says “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” That’s about YOU and what you’d want in that situation. Not everyone wants what you want or thinks like you do. It’s your ego that tells you that everyone would want what you want. And when a salesperson is operating from the Golden Rule he’s frequently TELLING his client what they should be doing. The Platinum rule says “do unto others as they would want done unto them.” Before you can deliver WHAT THEY WANT the way they want it, you’ll have to ask. And even after asking don’t jump to the conclusion that you KNOW what’s best for them and start telling them. Instead, ASK, “do you think this would work for you?” Or Tell a story about a client that had a similar situation and got some fantastic result from working with you, and then ask “would you like to have a result like that?”
  7. Selling is not telling
  8. Your main goal from this is ACTION. Getting them to DO something, and it’s not always buying your product or service

Now to the sales process THAT WORKS.

THIS IS IMPORTANT. This is where most coaches and consultants get it wrong. Let’s use an analogy

Most believe their job is to lead the horse to water. NO

Their job is really to make him thirsty.

Most coaches start right off either telling the prospect all about his coaching, his process of coaching, what steps they will do, such as “we’ll meet every Thursday for an hour, we’ll work on ________” etc. OR the coach will spend this sales time coaching the prospect toward the solution that the coach THINKS the prospect has. What the coach thinks, may or may not be true, but that’s not the point. If the coach is trying to lead his prospect to THE SOLUTION he’s leading this horse to water. 

I know most coaches are trying to show the prospect that they can do it, or to find some aha moments that will wow the prospect. However, when they find their way to water by coaching their prospect to help him “find the solution” to the problems there are a few other potential outcomes that actually can become predominant.

  • They feel that they’ve just received EVERYTHING there is and don’t need anymore. So they won’t want more.
  • They don’t see that this will provide anything they need, so they don’t want any more.
  • They could see the value, but the value they received in a few minutes of your time wasn’t of ENOUGH value, so they aren’t compelled to want more.
  • Even if they do see this as valuable, without “making him REALLY thirsty” for more, they just aren’t very compelled, or excited as if you spent time to Make them thirsty

So instead of coaching them toward “find the solution to their problems” spend the time coaching them to find reasons they should be moving forward, to find the VALUE that they would get IF they did hire you and that others have discovered after they did hire you. It’s the VALUE of the results they’ll get from hiring you that will make their mouth water. We want them jumping up and down with excitement to get the same value that some of your current clients have already experienced.

Keep in mind, your prospects make their decision to buy from someone based on just one thing. They will buy the most valuable thing they can at the best price they can get it. So VALUE is the reason to buy or not to buy. VALUE is how they decide whether they hire the coach behind door #1, or behind door #10. They’ll compare the VALUE they perceive they will get from each of the coaches they talk to, or even the VALUE of coaching, versus consulting, or hiring some other service or product. 

Don’t expect your prospect to DISCOVER the value on his own just because you’ve coached him to some answers. Answers in the hand seem “so obvious” that they no longer have value. They’ll go, “Wow, why didn’t I think of that” and, yes, they may thank you for it, but suddenly, it’s just not worth that fee you lay on them. 

So, spend your time coaching them to discover how much value they will get, how much value it would be to remove that obstacle they have, how much value some of your clients have received . . . and make it measurable. Don’t say “they grew their business a LOT” say “ABC Company had exactly the same problem as you, were struggling with _________, and after we worked on ____________ they increased another $10M within 6 weeks.” Use the SMART formula, Specific, Measurable (dollars and cents, or a multiplier), Attainable, Reachable (with a challenge, and definitely make it a long reach with a huge challenge that they’d love to have), and time based. That delivers such a clear picture of THE VALUE others have received that they now know what’s possible for them, and they’ll want the same thing.

Now how do we do that?

What’s the process?

Make sure you take notes, as we’ll be stating some of these things back to the prospect at the end. We’ll need the notes.

Step 1 –Rapport — This is “getting to know them.” Spend 2-5 minutes getting to know each other. (NOTE: I assume that there has already been some initial “getting to know you, like you and trust you” in your marketing, so this step is a little loosening up and feeling comfortable. Some basic questions.

  • Tell me about your ___________ [business if you are a business coach, life issues if you are a life coach, etc.]
  • Some other ideas are using the GAIN formula, Goals, Accomplishments, Interests, Networks,  and Skills. Ask them to tell you about one of those.
  • Keep this short. It is to break the ice, to get them freely talking. If you aren’t careful it’s easy to get your prospect talking about himself for hours and you’ll discover that you won’t have any time for why you are here. So, as you ask questions, such as “what are you goals” gently start asking questions that move you into the next steps, such as “great goals, what has kept you from achieving them?” Which leads into the next step of the sales process, discovering their obstacles
     

Your prospect is likely to ask what you do at some point in this. As I say, it’s about them and not about you. BUT, your prospect, at some point, will want to know about you. Actually, what he wants to know is not about you, but about what you can do to help him. So, when he asks the question “tell me about you” then briefly say something like, “I work with ______[name him, his industry] who struggle with ________ to help them ___________ [name a measurable outcome that most of your clients get.” And then switch the subject back to them by asking, “tell me what you’d like to see happen with your ___ [business if a business coach, life or family or job for a life coach, etc.] and move into step 2.

Step 2 — Goals and Obstacles — Ask questions, get them to define clearly what they’d like to have happen (making it measurable) and by when, also another measurement). You are coaching them to get them to clearly define their goals, and what’s holding them back. Collect a list of their goals, then ask them what’s held them back, what are the obstacles, why haven’t they been able to do this before this? Make sure to have an obstacle or obstacles for every goal.

Step 3 — Make them emotional–  I’m sure you’ve heard that people don’t buy logically, they buy emotionally and then justify their decision to buy logically. So, don’t assume that they will just hear the value you bring and they will HAVE to buy because it is soooo valuable. We also want to help them find the emotional value. After you have developed the measurable goals and obstacles, ask them the questions that make them emotionally involved and literally COMPELLED to move forward. Questions that dig deeper into other reasons why they’d have to do this. Here are some that might be helpful for a business coach

Talking with your prospect–You said that you wanted to take this business to $10M (goal) but you haven’t been able to get enough clients (obstacle), what has that done to you personally (or to your family life). It’s likely that your prospect is putting in 10-15 hours, not home with the family, AND somewhere in the back of his mind he remembers that originally when he started this business he had a picture in his head that it would allow him to spend more time with the family, and have the money to do some great things. In other words there is an even bigger vision that we haven’t discovered yet. And that vision has some other pain with it, emotional pain that he isn’t spending time with his kids as they grow up, or they are not being able to do what they wanted to do. DIG FOR THE EMOTIONAL Pain. Also, dig for what it will look like WHEN he gets there.

Step 4 — BUILD THE VISION, BUILD THE DREAM

Ask them not only about that dream they’ve always had, not just about the business, but digging deeper into what that will allow them to do personally, with the family, with others.This is very important. This is a brain shift. Think of this like you used to shift gears in your car (assuming a manual gear shift). You can’t get up to speed when you are stuck in low. It just isn’t going to happen. So, we are going to shift this sales process into the next gear, getting the prospect moving faster toward his answers and decisions.

When we’ve been talking about goals, and obstacles, to a certain extent we are thinking logically, we’ve also been talking about how things have been with only a slight shift toward the future. Now, we want to shift from logical thinking, to even more emotional thinking and creative thinking. That’s the key. To make that shift to emotional and to creative thinking shifts from one lobe of the brain to the other. In fact, it shifts to the lobe of the brain that actually makes decisions, the ones you want your prospect to make.

So, let’s spend time asking questions like “I’m sure that you had a dream about what you’d be able to do if you succeeded at this business. Tell me what you (or the business) will look like in 6 months if you could [achieve the goals we’ve discussed, or knock down those obstacles we’ve discussed}. Get them telling you not only what it’ll look like business wise, but what they’ll be doing personally because of that. Get them DREAMING and CREATING the future. This will become extremely emotional. I’ve seen CEOs cry.

It’s very likely during this step that your prospect will become very involved, and could go on and on. Let him. He is getting EXCITED about what could happen (you’re getting his mouth to water. That was our main goal here.)

Even if you run out of time, let him take this as far as he wants. In fact, make sure to participate in this, not by making your own suggestions (DON’T), but by just encouraging him to dream. Interject (Hmmm! I’d love that too, or Wow, you know I had a client who____ [just don’t take too much time from his own dreams. Keep your comments short and exciting. Build on his excitement.]

If you do run out of time, ask him if he’d like to continue this conversion toward finding the answers to (then start naming some of the goals, dreams, and obstacles you have in your notes) and when he’d like to achieve those goals. Set the next appointment with a specific goal of: coming closer to achieving those goals, dreams, and overcoming those obstacles.

Notice something? We have not mentioned anything to the prospect about coaching, or about you.

Step 5 — Making the turn toward  home — The Close

This should be the first time you even mention what you do. But again it’ll be focused on what your prospect wants.It’s time to summarize what you’ve helped this prospect learn. Repeat back his biggest goals and obstacles. Repeat back his dreams, and emphasize those dreams, encourage those dreams, “Wow, I can understand how important is to you,” or something similar.

It’s now time for questions that ask if they’d like to resolve this, or to achieve those goals, or when they plan on achieving these goals. These are questions around “are you going to do anything about this and when will you do it”Don’t hesitate to repeat the values we’ve discovered if he does achieve his goal, or if he remove the obstacle. One of the things you should have already done in the asking about his obstacles is “what’s the impact of not removing that obstacle” while making it measurable and time based. A good questions would be what does this cost every day (or week, or month) that this obstacle is not removed?

Now’s the time to repeat the cost of not fixing it as opposed to the extra income, or whatever, that will be generated if he does move forward, mixing that with the emotional values you’ve discovered, and simply asking,

When do you plan on removing this (or accomplishing this)?

If you could have similar results to (name one of your clients you mentioned above with the value they received), what would that do for you? And, “is that something you’d like to have?”

Now wrap it up. He’s likely to ask what it costs, but don’t just drop it out on the table. Position those measurable results against the cost. Would you like to see another $10M (or double your business) with my help?

Step 6– What if

Most of the time you will have answered any sales objection they have by now. But if the prospect still has questions or objections, ask them (don’t tell them) about their concerns. Validate the fact that these are valid concerns. Tell them a story about a client of yours who also had that same objection, but once he moved forward this or that happened (make it measurable), and as what they’d need to be satisfied.

Follow this sales process and watch your sales go UP and UP. Review your results from time to time. Are you moving from 1 in 10 to 2 in 10? Are you constantly getting better at this? Are you on your way to 4 or 5 in 10?

Your answers are in this article. Look to see if you are doing each of these steps and getting more and more prospects buying and ask yourself which of these are working and which are not? Are you doing these steps or leaving some out? Are you connecting with the prospect.

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