Lately, I’ve had a handful of conversations with CoachingMBA members about why they struggle to gain clients. In these conversations, I have discovered an area of the enrollment process where most coaches still need to improve.
Here’s what happens—towards the end of an introductory coaching session, their new clients are impressed with the conversation’s power, potent insights, and deep flow. However, the coaches then fail to set up another call to discuss working together in the future. As a result, the opportunity slips away, and this is where many coaches ultimately lose their clients.
With this in mind, I want to discuss how to transition from serving someone with coaching to actually being their coach, so that you can apply it in your own practice and start making this transition yourself with power and skill.
The Powerful Transition
Benjamin Franklin once apologized for writing a too-long letter because he didn’t have the time to write a shorter one. Every time a coach transitions from serving to selling, they should apologize for the same.
Keeping things light is the key to making a compelling transition from serving with coaching to creating the possibility of coaching a coach.
This may seem like a simple idea, but in reality, this takes some time and practice to do well.
When things are easy
Every coach must learn how to navigate the scenarios when things are easy, because those are the scenarios in which, more often than not, people tend to fall off your radar.
Here are a couple of scenarios that can arise when things are easy, and my suggestions for what you should do to decrease the risk of people slipping away.
What They Do: At the end of the conversation, your prospect is blown away by your coaching. You ask if they’re complete, and they say something like, “The only thing I’m still curious about is what working with you looks like.”
Why It Happens: You’ve created a powerful context and container for your conversation. You primed this response by letting the prospective client know this might happen in advance. As a result, they enrolled in the idea of you as a coach and in their power as a client.
What To Do When This Happens: If you want to work with them and there’s time to discuss the next steps, go for it! But I generally like to set up a second conversation for a proposal conversation. The key here is not to force the next stage and try to propose to them in 10 minutes or less.
Remember, the proposal is powerful coaching in and of itself, so give it the space it needs.
What They Do: You ask them about continuing this conversation, and they say Yes!
Why It Happens: You’ve created a powerful context and container for your conversation. You primed the person’s response by letting them know this might happen. They are enrolled in you as a coach and are open to hearing more.
Some coaches think they’ve done something wrong if clients don’t ask about working together. And if you’ve served a client powerfully and set up the context, often clients will ask you about what’s next. But while this is something to shoot for, it doesn’t mean you did something wrong if they don’t ask.
Most people still need to learn how these things typically go, and even at the end of a powerful conversation, they can still be unsure whether they should ask or if you’re going to.
It might also mean there’s still some uncertainty in them about your work or their ability, so pay attention to this as you transition, but otherwise, don’t worry about it too much.
What To Do About It: Just like in the first scenario, if there’s time to propose, then go for it. But as I said before, make sure you give the proposal time to breathe. Set up another conversation before moving forward if you’re short on time.
When things go right, they usually go right in one of these two ways. Either they ask, or you do, and the client accepts your invitation into a proposal.
An artful transition is very light
When you master the art of the transition, it almost looks like nothing at all has happened. But in the same way that professional gymnasts make doing flips look incredibly easy—just because it went smoothly doesn’t mean it was random.
If your transition is smooth, it means you already did many things correctly before that point. And this is actually a really great opportunity for self-reflection.
Coaches often obsess about when things go wrong, but fail to study their successes to see what worked. So whenever something happens smoothly, take some time to reflect on what went well in the lead-up to that point, so you can try to replicate it in the future.