How to Enroll Coaching Clients in Any Situation

Dr. Reba J. Hoffman, a former member of Prosperous Coach, has had a lot of wins in her coaching business. Recently she shared a client enrollment story that tickled me so much I had to pass it on.

Everyone who goes through the process of building a coaching business will encounter skeptics who just don’t “get” how valuable coaching can be. If any part of you feels inadequate or unsure of your value, it’s easy for prospects to find that button and push it.

But if you believe solidly enough in yourself and in the power of coaching, you won’t be put off by off-putting opinions about coaching.

When Reba ran into someone with a negative attitude toward coaching, she met it head on, with a very edgy, coach-like response that shifted the experience for both of them. Here is Reba’s story:

I was waiting for a delayed flight in an airport last month when a fellow passenger mentioned coaching. Unfortunately, not in a good light. He asked what I did and, of course, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to serve up crow on a platter. I told him I was a coach.

He looked at me thinking I was some sort of athletics coach. I told him I was a coach for women entrepreneurs. He guffawed. For the next few moments, we exchanged comments. I told him I would never recommend that he hire a coach. He said he’d never consider one anyway, but asked why I’d said that. I told him it takes a person with certain attributes, and that he probably did not possess them.

He was taken aback by that. Insulted really, yet intrigued at the same time so he couldn’t let it go. I told him the coach was powerless if the client didn’t possess those attributes. Now he was fired up. He asked me three times what those attributes were. Finally, I told him.

  1. They have a desire to change.
  2. They have a clear vision of what they want.
  3. And they have the courage to make the trip.

He asked how I could possibly know that he didn’t have the attributes. I told him he’d worked at the same job for over 20 years, didn’t like it, and had no plan whatsoever to change it. He stammered. It was like I’d punched him in the gut and knocked the wind out of him. He asked me how I knew. I pointed to his 20 year company pen he wore as if it were a medal pinned to his lapel. I told him I saw no creativity in his eyes, and that he slumped like he was thoroughly bored with his miserable existence.

OK… I know I took a chance… but we WERE beyond the security checkpoint…. surely they’d removed all weapons… right?

They called our flight. He asked if he could sit next to me. Thank God it was an airline that offered open boarding. We could sit wherever we wanted. So for the next five hours I told him how he could change his life if he wanted to… how he could pursue what he really wanted to do, which was not to work for an insurance company at all. He’d always wanted to open a bookstore / coffee shop combo. His father had insisted he have a “stable” job and was so proud of him when he landed employment with the insurance company.

At the end of the flight, I told him I gave him my card. I invited him to call and I’d refer him to a business coach friend of mine. He called that same day. Then, this gentleman invited me to dinner with him and his wife. She said she hadn’t seen so much life and hope in him in years. They’re going through the steps to open their bookstore!

Coaches may think that a naysayer cannot be redeemed, and just avoid engaging with them. Often that’s wise, but sometimesif we take time to unearth what lies at the root of their disbelief, we have a client just waiting to be enrolled.

Obviously, we all have our own voice and our own style of enrolling clients. While this was a very unique and challenging approach, the result was powerful. The “moral” of the story is: Next time, don’t let someone else’s opinion of coaching prevent you from speaking what you know to be true.

If you can find that level of certainty and belief in yourself, maybe you’ll experience what Reba did – that you can attract a client just about anywhere.

Have you enrolled a client in any unusual environments or circumstances? Share your comments here.

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  • What a great story! And a great reminder to be true to ourselves and that what other people say and do is really about them, and has nothing to do with us. Interesting how ‘bullies’ just need a little pop in the nose (figuratively speaking of course), and they come around
    -Michael Van Osch
    .-= Michael Van Osch´s last blog ..Marketing Goal #1 – Attracting Clients, part 2 =-.

    • Reba J. Hoffman

      Michael,

      A pop in the nose is a great way to get a potential client’s attention. You clearly see how we sometimes have to jolt people to the reality of their unfulfilled lives to compel them to change.

      At the ring of the bell, come out swinging!! Ding!
      Reba

  • Rhonda, I love this story. It is both inspirational and encouraging to those of us who encounter naysayers for coaching when they really have never tried it. I also love that it has a happy ending. Thank you for sharing this.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..How Business Coaching Helps Practice Managers =-.

  • Inspirational! Now I want to go take a flight! I just hope that the right words come at just the right times!

    • Reba J. Hoffman

      Christie, what you need to say at the right moment is already inside you. Believe in yourself; hang on to Rhonda’s coat tail; and remember this: EVERYONE has a dream and it is way too important to remain unlived. The world needs YOU! Be yourself and let your brilliance bubble up. The world will be glad you did!
      Reba

  • Barb

    Reba, all I can say is that you are a rockstar coach, a courageous and powerful woman and that this story made my day! Congratulations and thank you Rhonda for sharing it with us.

    • Reba J. Hoffman

      Barb,

      It is YOU who is courageous. To be a coach, you must have that pioneer spirit… be the one who goes where no one dared in search of the possibilities! To some it may seem ridiculous, yet to a trail blazer like, it is the burning, compelling force that thrusts you to heights unlimited! Keep up the great work and NEVER, NEVER, NEVER let your entrepreneurial flame go dim!
      Reba

  • Thanks for sharing that Rhonda and great job Reba for “duking” it out.

    When someone feels so strongly about something, especially a negative feeling, my inner alarm tends to goes off.

    There’s usually something juicy abrewin.

    Great job challenging him.

  • This was a great story and really underscore the fact that as coaches, when we have the mental strength to stand in our own power and KNOW what we do helps, opportunities will present themselves.

  • Loved it, loved it, loved it. Thx, Rhonda and Reba, for letting us be the fly on the wall for this conversation. A true testament to the power of coaching. And I personally believe it was no “accident” that Reba and Mr. Skeptic met when they did. Isn’t the Universe amazing?

    • Reba J. Hoffman

      Kenn, it’s interesting… sometimes when I hold a mirror up to those who feel so negative about something, they realize their biggest obstacle in life is that image in the mirror. When it hits them, many times they are willing and desiring to change.

      And Carol, you are absolutely right. There is NEVER…count them… NEVER times when I just happen to connect with anyone. It’s always because I somehow was supposed to make that connection. I haven’t worked in decades. I’ve just had a series of divine appointments! 🙂

      Reba

  • Thanks for sharing this lovely story – it was risky but I sense Reba already knew she could turn around this gentleman skeptic 🙂
    I had a close friend come to me for advice about her sister, my friend wanted her sister to “have” coaching, and was going to have a conversation with her to encourage her. I coached my friend and it turned out she was the one with the issues (concerns), not so much her sister.
    It was very empowering when she realised, and I felt I had done a great service.

    Thanks for sharing a simple yet powerful observation with this man. He is living his dream because of a “chance” encounter – I agree with Carol it was no accident!

  • Thanks for sharing this lovely story – it was risky but I sense Reba already knew she could turn around this gentleman skeptic 🙂
    I had a close friend come to me for advice about her sister, my friend wanted her sister to “have” coaching, and was going to have a conversation with her to encourage her. I coached my friend and it turned out she was the one with the issues (concerns), not so much her sister.
    It was very empowering when she realised, and I felt I had done a great service.

    Thanks for sharing a simple yet powerful observation with this man. He is living his dream because of a “chance” encounter – I agree with Carol it was no accident!

  • florabrown

    Reba,

    I love this story. It will help me structure my approach to building my client practice. Like you, I strongly believe that clients have to have certain attributes in place to be coachable. Without these, even if they did enroll with a coach, they would be the client from Hell, fighting personal growth all the way.