When coaches undermine their own industry

Hi, Everyone!

I was just doing a little Internet research for an article I’m drafting, and I stumbled across a quote that just has my blood boiling!

The quote was featured in an article about how to select a coach — and all I can say is that coaches who participate in this strategy are making a profoundly foolish personal choice and undermining themselves AND the growth of the coaching industry.

Here’s the quote, minus anything that identifies WHO exactly it was who said this, since the source really isn’t the point.  Brace yourself for sage advice for the buying public from an outwardly successful, celebrity-level coach:

“The best way to find out which coach is best for you is to ask for a sample session and then use that time to get coached on a real problem, not to ask questions about coaching. If the coach isn’t supporting you right off the bat, say ‘thank you’ and move on!”

I’m so flummoxed by that statement — and mortified that this particular coach isn’t the only one by far advocating this sales approach — I just don’t know where to begin.

While this advice SEEMS to be good for the client — it certainly isn’t good for the coaching industry.  It trains the buying public to put coaches in the unenviable position of giving away their services for free as a way of earning the opportunity to actually get paid to be of service — that is, of course, IF the client has other issues to explore.

Can you imagine expecting ANY other professional to operate in this manner?  Plastic surgeons giving away a nip in the hope of selling a tuck?  Accountants auditing your books for free in the hope of getting to handle your taxes? Architects drawing up complimentary blueprints for you in the hope that you’ll buy … what? It’s absolutely absurd.

If you don’t think the buying public will exploit your generosity, think again!

We know of a very successful and quite wealthy business owner who has taken full advantage of this selection strategy — and, in the process, taken full advantage of literally dozens of coaches.  Over the course of the past several years, he has frequently sought out a coach — a DIFFERENT coach — every time he has an issue he’d like to explore.  Ask him why he hasn’t chosen one to work with long-term and he’ll tell you it’s because there are still plenty of coaches who are willing help him for free — and more joining the profession every day.

To cite a trite dairy-based metaphor, why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free!

But the fear of being taken advantage of ISN’T the biggest reason to avoid giving your guidance away.

From a tension management perspective, as I’ve covered in detail in the MasterStream sales training program many of you have already completed (and the rest of you will get the chance to soon enough), you should ALL be integrating the ChangeGrid into your marketing efforts and allow it open the door for the relationship to begin.

But, with or without the ChangeGrid, IF you want to offer any sort of free consultation, you should strictly limit the demonstration of your coaching skills to helping prospective clients get clear about where they ARE, where they want to GO, and what’s STOPPING them from getting there.  Most important, you must resist the temptation to provide prospects with any assistance in coming up with specific solutions, because once they have a solution, their level of productive tension WILL drop from Power-Stress (where they might have engaged your services) to POWER (where they return to feeling IN CONTROL.)

Oh, you’ll get a big smile and hearty “Thank you! You’ve helped me SO much!” — but you’re NOT likely to land the client.

There ARE more effective — and FAR more logical — ways to convert prospects into clients. But the  bottom line here is simple — NEVER give away what you’re trying to SELL.

– T –


7 Responses to When coaches undermine their own industry

  1. Bob DeMers says:

    T,you’ve made a great point here. I’d also be curious where (T deleted their name)’s tension around this issue lies on the ChangeGrid. Apathy?
    Well enough about that. I need to go test drive a sample crown from one of the new dentists here in town. There’s always the chance that both the crown and the dentist will be a good fit. But we’ll have to see about that.

    (Edited by T to remove the coach’s name)

  2. Bill Downing says:

    There are people in the world looking to take advantage of others but do you really want them as a client. To some degree they will ruin or lessen your reputation. Guess who I took advantage of last week? You just became another notch on their imaginary gun belt.
    Business is all about relationship and you need to protect your own relationship with future clients. I think what this all comes down to is positioning. Are you the best then charge the most or the fairest. There are people out there that want and expect the best for themselves and their business. If you can provide that then don’t soft sell yourself or your product. Fight for the most profitable clients while using the less profitable ones to hone your coaching skills. Build your reputation by always giving more than expected. Find unique ways to add value at little or no cost to yourself. Look for partnerships that will be mutually beneficial and increase the synergy levels for all parties involved. What types of add-on does coaching naturally relate to? What are the recurring recommendations that are given. New equipment, new staff, new location, marriage counseling, relationship counseling, self discovery, health management, etc. Find the best people you can to work with. Build a team of experts that work together that create exceptional value. Partner together in your coaching bringing in two or three coaches that will provide business wide expertise different than your own.
    The point of any relationship is to provide exceptional value at a mutually beneficial rate. The purpose of the initial consultation would be to increase the tension of the person into the belief they will be missing out (hugely) by not having you as their coach. If you can not accomplish that on your initial visit then you need to increase your marketing awareness.
    You all are being trained to be the Tension experts. If you believe you have the best product then present yourself that way. Business will always gravitate to what is perceived as the best. I hope you feel the Tension rising because that is a good thing.

  3. Steve Eanes says:

    This article is a perfect illustration of why the ChangeGrid should be used in the “sample” coaching session. The ChangeGrid consisting of activities in which you have found that you are a good fit for helping clients is a great way to illustrate your worth as a coach and to “weed out” prospects who aren’t the best fit for you.
    After hiring you as a coach, a ChangeGrid designed through use of the Path of Self Discovery with them concerning the activities on the sample ChangeGrid in addition to whatever other activities come up can be part of the “paid” coaching engagement.

  4. Dave Miller says:

    The dynamic in this article is the number one reason why coaches struggle. I learned this the hard way when I began my practice 7 years ago.

    Case in point, after some masterful free coaching and telling a prospect my fee arrangement, he replied, “Why don’t I try to put into practice what you’ve coached me on and IF IT DOESN’T WORK, I’ll hire you!”

    After a couple of months of frustration, I incorporated the principles of tension management into my free sessions and never looked back.

  5. Bob DeMers says:

    I’ve not been using the ChangeGrid with my initial consultation – and hadn’t thought of using it that way until I read your comments. Threshold of activation reached – I’ll be using it with a prospect tomorrow. Thanks!


  6. Yes, T., I totally agree with your sentiment. The way the coaching BUSINESS goes about marketing is too heavily focused on providing the services upfront and not on GETTING the business at the beginning. I’ve made that error but thanks to you have seen the error of my ways!

  7. bobdemers says:

    I just met with a prospect, and during the consult, used the ChangeGrid to plot three mission critical activities of concern. Spot on with the tension, and helped to turn the prospect into a client. Very powerful. I will make it a point to use the grid when meeting with all prospects. Thanks everyone!


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