Do you remember the last time you sat down opposite a potential client?
Maybe you were a little nervous initially but you knew deep down you could help them. The small talk felt a little uncomfortable but then you asked them to tell you about their challenges. And finally you began to relax a little. After all, you’d helped clients like this many times before. You listened to them carefully for a few minutes and then it was your turn.
You began to talk about coaching. Your confidence grew a little because you were on your home ground. You explained what you do. You told them why you love coaching. You told them why your approach is unique—and it is—and that feels great to share, right? And they were really interested in the conversation. So all that was left was to ask one final question.
Well, potential clients have only one decision to make, right? It’s simple: would you like to work with me—yes or no?
The problem is that potential clients actually have three decisions in front of them, not one. And one of the biggest mistakes coaches make is to take action without being clear whether or not a potential client has decided to change. In fact, the majority of potential clients you will meet would consider changing but have not yet made a commitment to change before meeting with you.
Have you ever heard the words “I’d love to work with you…” and then never heard from that person again? Then you are probably using third decision behaviors far too early.
You see, a client’s very first decision is: Should I spend my precious time speaking to you? (They have to decide whether or not to give you access, whether it’s a ten minute phone conversation, an hour long meeting, or a two hour Deep Coaching session).
Their second decision is: Do I want to change from the status quo? (This is actually the hardest decision they have to make. You see, they need to get really clear on what this will mean, what the issues are, what their new commitments will involve, what their competing commitments are, who else will be impacted—such as how their husband or business partner may react—and so on. It’s an incredibly tough decision).
Their third decision is: If I do want to change, who am I going to work with?
Different behaviors are required of coaches at each stage. So if a potential client has not yet decided they are ready for change and you go in and talk about your wonderful coaching and your unique methodology and your training and credentials, that is an irrelevant conversation, for someone who hasn’t yet made a decision to change.
You might think they need to understand the unique and deeply impactful nature of what you offer but if they haven’t decided to change, it’s still irrelevant.
This failure to differentiate causes most coaches to use third-decision behaviors (such as explaining your coaching methodology or sharing your intellectual capital) when the conversation should instead be focused on the client’s biggest dream, or their biggest fear, or what’s holding them back the most, or the goals they’d love to achieve.
Talking about your unique services before the person has decided to change is one of the biggest reasons so many coaches hear a genuine “I’d love to work with you…” and then never hear from that person again. They really did love what you offer but they hadn’t yet made a powerful commitment to change, so a single conversation with a husband or a friend was enough for them go back on their decision.
There’s only one thing more powerful than you when speaking to a potential client. And there’s only one thing more powerful than the potential client in front of you. And that’s the status quo.
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