Have you ever felt nervous or inarticulate when talking to a coaching prospect? You know the moment of truth is upon you… it’s time to enroll this new client — but how?
With practice, this process is effortless. Follow these seven steps to winning conversations with prospects. The first two steps of having powerful conversations with prospects begin before you meet the prospect.
Step #1 – Understand Your Target Market
Don’t make the mistake of just trying to get any client. Champion a single target market instead. If you have expertise in your market, tap into your insider knowledge. Otherwise research what motivates them by having a few informational interviews with folks in your chosen market. Take a look at these targeted coaching markets and their top challenges:
- Realtors = competition, market slump, and understanding what their clients want.
- Corporate executives = making the numbers, managing employees, and board politics.
- Hair salon owners = standing out in the crowd, keeping ace stylists, overwhelm.
Interview 10 — 15 individuals in your target market by asking:
- What is working well for you right now?
- What are your top three challenges?
- What are the three things you want most that have been elusive?
- What are you learning about right now?
- What is missing for you?
- What publications or blogs do your regularly read?
Tailor your message to serve your market. Practice explaining the specific benefits that you offer that provide solutions to their top challenges. Never talk about vague concepts such as helping them achieve goals and fulfill their dreams. These have no selling power.
Step #2 – Get Your Mojo Working for You
In everything that you do and say show that you believe in your coaching services and value your time. They will perceive your value too.
Step #3 – Connect
Talking to prospects is not a performance. Don’t perform. Connect! Good conversation is a weaving of mutual trust and understanding.
Step #4 – Use Appreciative Inquiry
Once you’ve introduced yourself, ask your prospect meaningful open-ended questions. Respond briefly with appreciation for them, validation for their feelings, and endorsement for their ideas. If you start by asking what is working well in their lives, their challenges will arise naturally.
Remember — they are able to solve their own problems. Resist the temptation to make suggestions unless they ask you directly. Listen and respond with understanding. Let them have the floor. Be curious!
When it’s your turn to talk, be briefly enthusiastic about what you do. Weave in a short success story or two about your work with coaching clients (without names) that relate to the challenges your prospect has just told you about.
Step #5 – Invite the Next Step
A clear moment may open in the conversation to enroll the prospect into your coaching practice. Invite them to a sample session or consult. Be ready to set an appointment, and ask for their email and phone number so that you can follow up.
This part of the conversation may go something like this:
You: “I know exactly what you mean, Susan. What do you think it would take to make that change in your lifestyle?”
Susan: “Well, I’ve been thinking about this for years and haven’t tackled it.”
You: “What would the payoff be if you could achieve this now?”
Susan: “I’d work 20 hours less each week and have more fun in my life!”
You: “That would be amazing, wouldn’t it? Is there one step you can take now in that direction?”
Susan: “Yes, I’d find time to create some products to give me recurring income.”
You: “Susan, you really know what to do, it’s just a matter of making the commitment and focusing on steps. What would it mean to you if you could do this now?”
Susan: “It would improve my family life for one.” (Ask “What else?” to draw out more.)
You: “You’re speaking about things that are close to my heart. In fact, my specialty is helping women entrepreneurs to create a lifestyle driven business rather than a business driven lifestyle.”
Susan: “You’re kidding! I need that!”
You: “Well, you’re my ideal client! We’d start by developing a complete vision for your new lifestyle, and then we’d set incremental milestones. With what you’ve told me I think it would be possible for you to free up time, expand your income streams and meet many of your lifestyle goals by the end of this year.”
Susan: “I really do need to do this. I’ve been tolerating this for too long.”
You: “I hear that! Let’s sit down and set up a plan…”
Notice that it’s not even necessary to mention coaching, which removes the obstacle of having to define what coaching is. It’s all about being patient, letting the client reveal the things that will compel them to enroll in your coaching.
If the prospect isn’t ready to take a step with you now, ask if they’d like to sign up for your free ezine/report/blog so that you can continue to contact them. Or, invite them to your upcoming event,– workshop or teleclass etc.
Step #6 – Follow Through
Heads up! If you do everything beautifully up to this point and then drop the ball here, it could cost you all the effort that’s gone before. Always follow up within 24 hours or the lead may go cold.
Step #7 – Detach from Outcome
Let go of any worries or attachment to whether they engage further with you after the conversation or not. If you get attached and needy, your prospect will feel it. Even if they don’t pick it up consciously, it may dissuade them from hiring you. Focus on enjoying them, valuing yourself and staying light.
Talking to prospects may be one of the most difficult aspects of getting coaching clients at first, but practice and the right mindset will ease the way. And, if you master this piece, you will be unstoppable!