Being a successful coach is all about finding the right client base. Not every client is going to be a perfect fit for your unique coaching style, and that’s okay — it’s better to focus your time and energy on the people who will truly get the most out of your services.
With the right branding, marketing and evaluation tactics, you can attract more of your ideal clients and weed out the ones who won’t work well with you. According to a panel of Forbes Coaches Council members, here’s what you can do to find the best clients for your coaching business.
1. Be Authentic
The clearer you get on who you are and what you stand for, the better idea you will have of who you ideally want to work with. Get very precise on your ideal client. What are their top five attributes? What location are they in? What challenges are they trying to solve? Then, figure out where those people look to hire people like you and market there. Follow the trail of your ideal client. – Monica Thakrar, MTI
2. Stay True To Your Brand, No Matter What
Doing business costs in more ways than one. Be astute and assess potential clients’ goals and work ethic to ensure it aligns with your brand. The biggest threat to your business is working outside of your brand and taking on clientele for money only. The wrong client can bankrupt your time, energy and reputation. Don’t be afraid to refer them to a coach or practice that will be a better fit. – LaKisha Greenwade, Lucki Fit LLC
3. Hold A ‘Warm-Up’ Session
Invite a “warm-up” session and ask probing discovery questions: What do they expect from you as a coach? How did they perceive you based on seeing your profile before the meeting? Questions like these give insights. In addition, it helps to be mindful of your edge competence and areas of interest to assess the fit accurately. – Deep Bali, Recalibrate.world
4. Be Consistent In Your Messaging
Since the coaching relationship focuses on the client, coaches often forget that who they are and how they present themselves matters. Letting your personality show through all interactions (website, calls, etc.) allows the client to make an informed decision in hiring you and, ultimately, create a more empowering coaching relationship. – Jean Ali Muhlbauer, The Muhlbauer Companies, LLC
5. Reconnect To Your ‘Why’
Get reconnected to your “why.” This will help you get re-centered on the event or person that fueled your passion to begin your work in the first place — and help you understand the ideal client for your program/package. Then, allow your “why” — or the inspiration behind your “why” — to help you hone your voice. – Lakrisha Davis, Lakrisha Davis & Co.
6. Qualify Your Leads With An Application Process
Coaching is only a win-win if it’s the right fit. However, I find that qualifying your leads before even offering a free strategy session will provide an idea of whether or not a potential client is a good fit. By setting up an application process, you are setting standards for yourself, your business and your clients. By attracting the right clients, the wrong ones become clearer as well. – Valerie Martinelli, Valerie Martinelli Consulting, LLC
7. Know What You Are Really Selling And Identify Who Will Pay for it
Get crystal clear on what you are actually selling and the transformation you deliver. (Hint: You are not selling coaching.) Match this with the profile of your “qualified buyer” — somebody who admits to having a problem that you can transform and is willing to pay to have it resolved. Master this to attract clients who will be a great fit and will invest without hassles or objections. – Michela Quilici, MQ Consulting and Business Training, Inc.
8. Understand Your Dream Client’s Biggest Challenges
When you are not only clear about who your dream clients are but what their biggest challenges and needs are, you can easily attract them with a core marketing message that addresses those challenges or needs. The content and tone of your messaging must offer a solution that your prospects are searching for. Once you’ve hit the nail on the head with your message, your ideal clients will respond. – Lori A. Manns, Quality Media Consultant Group
9. Determine How Willing They Are To Be Honest
Whatever your coaching style, methodology or practice, if your client is not willing to be honest, you will be chasing ghosts. Establish their willingness to be self-effacing, honest and open-minded. If they are not open to critique, you will not be able to help them. – Antonio Garrido, Absolute Sales Development
10. Create A Checklist
Executive coaching must be a win-win relationship. I create a clear checklist of the best potential clients so that I know whether they will be a good coaching client for my practice. Although the potential client does not have to check all the boxes, it does help for me to discern where the potential problems might be and if I want to move forward with this person. – Ken Gosnell, CEO Experience
11. Gauge Their Level Of Commitment To Change
Coaching takes courage and commitment to achieve results. Start each client engagement with a formal application, and be sure to ask, “How important is making a change to you?” If they get defensive or don’t respond quickly or thoroughly, it’s fair to say they may not be committed to coaching. Look for clues, and follow your instincts before you engage. Success equals commitment from both sides. – Cheryl Amyx, 4CEO, Inc.
12. See If Your Expectations Align
Mismatched client to coaches often occurs because there is not enough talk upfront about expectations. Expectations may not be reflected clearly in the contract signed, but they need to be talked about. Expectations on both sides mean just what is implied. This means talking about how things will be done and expected outcomes of services rendered. Are you miles apart? Maybe you don’t get started at all. – John M. O’Connor, Career Pro Inc.
13. Find Who You Are Called To Serve
Understanding your voice and true audience is your deep work. Seeing who your true clients are is seeing who you really are. It’s where your honesty is. It’s what your silence whispers intuitively to you. Understanding the psychographic or behavioral, motivational and emotional intelligence profile of your ideal client may surprise you. Beyond what we want, we find who we are called to serve. – Jay Steven Levin, WinThinking
14. Speak Your Truth And Trust Your Gut
There is an alignment with you and your ideal client. Something resonates with you when you work with someone in that group. In all of your communications, be authentic. It will resonate with your ideal client. It is the principle of like attracts like. When interviewing a potential client, use your instincts as a guide to dig deeper to determine that ideal fit, and don’t be afraid to say no. – Lisa McDonald, Career Polish, Inc.