There is No Difference Between Serving and Selling

By Toku

The biggest mistake I’ve seen coaches make as they transition between serving and selling is imagining there’s anything different between these two stages. And to be honest, this mistake is so prevalent that I believe almost all other money-related problems that arise for coaches at various stages of their practice are directly related to this illusion. 

As a coach, you love to serve people and nurture their growth. And in general, as coaches, we feel some aversion to selling or monetizing what we do. 

There are lots of reasons for this:

  • We understand that money is a poor analogy for what we do
  • We have a negative view of sales or salespeople habituated by our usually very negative experiences of being sold to
  • We don’t want to sully the sacredness of our work
  • We feel guilty that we have to ask them to pay
  • We feel guilty about getting paid for something that we love to do
  • We feel some shame around needing or having money 

The list goes on and on—you show me a coach, and I’ll show you someone with a money-related story and a reason for their aversion to the conversation.

This is one reason why the scarcity mindset is so prevalent in an industry of people who work so hard at helping others escape their scarcity mindsets. 

And it’s also why this illusion is so important. 

If you think about the enrollment process as “Serving and then Selling,” you’re screwed because you’ll always have this ethereal gate in your mind: “Now I’m coaching,” and “Now I’m selling.” 

This gate will trigger shame, fear, doubt, resistance, and awkwardness—feelings that make transitioning hard. It, of course, will be made even worse because almost all of our clients will react similarly to this illusory transition. 

And it’s why it’s so important to overcome.

The most important way to disrupt this illusion is to stop thinking of selling as different from coaching.

The Two-Arm Hug of Selling & Coaching

I like to think about this as a one- versus two-armed hug. You don’t need to step away to add an extra arm; you just add the arm. It’s still the same hug either way. 

Of course, you might not give everyone a two-armed hug. Maybe you don’t want to hug them, and maybe they don’t want to hug you. Maybe they have a bad memory of getting hugged. Maybe they’re claustrophobic. Maybe their father was killed by a boa constrictor. 

But whatever the case, it’s no big deal if it’s one arm or two—it’s still the same hug. 

And in the same way, if you’re selling with honor, it can still be masterful coaching, still of service. You don’t serve people powerfully to then sell to them. It’s not about serving them first, selling to them next. 

It’s all about service if you can do it artfully and with honor. 

And the way to do that is to remember to always be serving and coaching, even as you sell. Always aim to draw out the most powerful answer — whether it’s a powerful YES or the most powerful NO they’ve ever said in their lives.

This takes time and practice, but it all begins with learning to let go of how we intuitively separate the art of selling and coaching. 

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