How good are you at describing the value and impact of coaching to potential clients? In this episode, I am going to help you to unpack the benefits of coaching in a way that gets prospective clients interested in learning more and working with you.
Recently, I was having a conversation about coaching in a workplace context, in terms of mental health, seeking support and duty of care for your own wellbeing.
As I was describing how coaching works with an employer, his eyes lit up as he totally ‘got’ the way coaching could support his workforce. It got me thinking about how we often describe coaching, why that falls flat, and then what to do instead.
A lot of coaches struggle to sell their services because they find it hard to describe what they do and how it works. I’ve done several previous episodes about this, such as episode 116 Explaining Your Coaching Services with Fiona Cosgrove and more recently, episode 205 How to Create a Magnetic Value Proposition.
And the problem is exactly what I’ve just said – we try to describe COACHING – not the value or benefits of coaching.
What I mean is this – we get caught up trying to explain what we do as a profession or HOW coaching works, so we end up talking about US and our modality or methodology, rather than THEM – the value, benefits and results that THEY want to achieve.
If we focus on how we do the method, then people are therefore ‘informed’ about us and our method, but they have no idea what’s in it for them. So that’s what NOT to do.
The way to communicate value is to answer the question – ‘what’s in it for me?’ – and this is what I want to talk about today.
Back to that conversation, I had recently with an employer about coaching in a workplace context, the conversation was about mental health, seeking support and duty of care for your own wellbeing.
We were discussing psychosocial risks, and how they impact worker safety. I positioned coaching as part of the solution, by explaining that the two key goals of coaching are to raise self-awareness, and to help people generate self-responsibility. By coaching around these two aspects, we could empower workers to be more aware and proactively seek help or take action themselves, therefore improving the individual’s duty of care and as a consequence, reducing mental health risks and incidents at work.
He really got the importance of coaching to HIS organisation. I used language that the employer was familiar with, and that tied into the ‘industry vernacular’ that he was familiar with – and showed how coaching can help him achieve the benefits and outcomes he wants. That said, he really understood the value of coaching and his eyes lit up.
The way you describe ‘value’ is probably different for different market segments, but the point is that you need to use the clients’ language and talk about what’s meaningful to them, to the results and benefits they are after so that the value of your services is really obvious.
It’s time to think differently about how you communicate value.
In the example I’ve just described, I thought about the fact that mental health problems are initially hard to see, so it makes sense that self-awareness is valuable.
Currently, workplaces are focussing on identifying mental health risks and priorities, so it makes sense that helping people self-identify is half the battle won. I didn’t waste time trying to explain coaching – I described coaching in terms of the benefits and impacts it can create.
See how unpicking the market’s problem helps you talk about the value?
In what I’ve just explained, it’s clear that the value of coaching needs to be positioned around what drives people to change and to pay to get your help.
Have you ever wondered what those drivers are, and how to know when someone will pay?
Here are four conditions for change and for buying.
As you learn in coaching, the first condition of change is ‘a sense that something isn’t right’- in other words, self-awareness is the first step, because if you know or are self-aware that you have a problem you will more likely do something about it or seek help.
A lot of the general marketing a business does is to make people ‘problem aware’ – and some of the ways we do this are with quizzes, case studies, stories and questionnaires, and by inviting reflection.
Knowing you have a problem is one thing but doing something about it and paying to get help is another.
So the second point is, in my experience, that the problem the person has identified needs to be big enough that it is disrupting their daily lives – they can’t ignore it (and they describe the impact on families, relationships, work, and their own wellbeing). Most people are reactive, so they tend to wait until things get really bad until they seek help.
Thirdly, they feel they can’t tackle this on their own (and they use feeling words around this like frustrated, helpless, irritated, guilty etc). They have obstacles that are situational, behavioural, cognitive or emotional and often talk about what’s hard, or what’s getting in the way.
Fourth, feel ready, willing and able to get help to make the change (and there are positive feelings they want to have right now).
These are the four general things that drive people to buy and pay to get help.
When you have spoken to people in your niche and truly understand these four elements from the niche perspective, using their ‘feeling words’, then you can use the information to formulate a statement of value that aligns with them.
To sum it up, we need to start describing the value of coaching by talking more specifics about the things that matter to the niche client and how that feels, rather than talking about us and our tools or methods.
For example, when I used to coach in weight loss, a lot of clients talked about not being able to commit to themselves or being consistent and loathing themselves for that.
If I was speaking to one of those types of people, I’d be talking about how coaching helps you to make a solid commitment to yourself and then learn how to honour that commitment so that you can be consistent, authentic and live with integrity, feeling aligned with who they truly are, and feeling proud and confident.
Can you see how that very different explanation could be very valuable for someone who really wants to commit to themselves and be consistent and stop beating themselves up?
There’s no description of visions and goals or what coaching is – just a clear, feelings-based description of what coaching can help the person to achieve, using their language.
What I’m saying is this – think about the outcome that people want, because it’s a key part of the value of what you do – in your niche client’s eyes.
To really get into the client’s shoes – get coached yourself. This is essential for a few reasons – so that you can be a role model for change – but also experience what it’s like to make and honour a commitment to yourself.
Then you can authentically talk about the value of coaching from your own experience.
When people want to know HOW coaching works, you can speak honestly about what it’s like to make a commitment to yourself, how it feels, and how you develop certain skills (e.g. self-regulation, self-discipline, consistency, scheduling, self-accountability) that can transfer to other areas of life. When people want to know WHAT the RESULTS are, they can speak emotionally about the feelings and changes they experience. For example, you will finally stop quitting yourself and feeling guilty. You’ll be aligned with your values and dreams. Having some wins in one or two areas builds your confidence to do more and build on those wins. And how, when you are living in line with your values, it is living with integrity which gives you a sense of self-respect and self-worth.
In other words, we are communicating how forming a few simple habits can give important skills and insights that can be applied to other areas, so they don’t have to doubt themselves anymore or rely on experts anymore.
Now, how would you feel if someone describe coaching like that to you?
Today we talked about how we often get caught up describing “coaching” when we should be describing the VALUE of coaching.
To do that, you need to know what drives people in your niche, and even better, get coached yourself so that you have the lived experience.
Then you can more easily craft a statement that describes the value of coaching with such richness that people are excited to join you on the journey.
Understanding who you are and what you need will allow your business to thrive! If you’re truly ready to break old habits and get out of the rut I encourage you to check out the Habitology membership.
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