Most coaches — if they REALLY slowed down the conversation with the person in front of them — would be astounded at what could be created.
REMEMBER THE LAST TIME YOU SAT DOWN
OPPOSITE A POTENTIAL CLIENT?
Maybe you were a little nervous initially.
But then again, maybe you knew deep down that you could really help them.
The small talk felt a little uncomfortable. You know that feeling, right?
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.
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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
YOUR UNIQUE COACHING METHODOLOGY IS IRRELEVANT
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
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.
A DREAM CLIENT
I recently referred a coach I know to a high-performer at one of the top fifty Fortune 500 Companies. He wanted coaching on starting a new career running a non-profit and they set up an initial conversation.
The coach rang me later to thank me for the referral. He’s a DREAM CLIENT, she told me. She explained they’d had a good conversation and yet she had received no response to his emails or text messages since then.
So I called the guy and discussed things with him and I discovered why he wasn’t ready to move forward.
Counterintuitively it was because he was afraid that the coach will help him to get everything he wants!
I spent some time in conversation with him and dug down deep to discover that he has a range of commitments that compete with his professed desire to seek a new career. He doesn’t want to leave his company and miss out on making a ton of money that can support his family. He doesn’t want to quit his job and discover he can’t succeed in the non-profit world. He doesn’t want to leave the lifestyle he has. He doesn’t want to leave a job where most of the time he has complete freedom to do whatever he wants. He doesn’t want to start a new job with such high demands that he can’t spend time with his kids. And the list went on…
In fact he felt relieved when he listed all these competing commitments to me. Because he’s been judging himself as lazy and unmotivated for the past few years. And he said, if I hired a coach I am afraid I would leave and these things might come true.
The status quo is powerful and too many coaches, just like this one, jump straight to third decision behaviors before REALLY exploring every aspect of the competing commitments and biggest fears of their potential client.
And that’s a tragedy because it undermines the impact of coaching and it leaves people without the support to make the changes they truly desire—or to understand why they are not making them.
SLOW DOWN TO SPEED UP
In a world that is so fast-moving we invented speed-dating, speed-dialing and speed-reading, when you are willing to really slow down your client intake sessions you will stand out from the crowd.
When you slow down long enough to discover whether or not the person you are with really wants to change, you can serve them powerfully.
And when you serve the person in front of you with that kind of impact, you will become one of those rare coaches who helps their clients be more powerful than the status quo.
And that is life-changing.
For them and for you.
(With thanks to Jill Konrath and her book SNAP selling).