Ep 40 – Do This Before You Create Your Coaching Website

This episode is part of a brand new series called Client Winning Coaching Websites.

This series is especially for new coaches who don’t have a website yet. I want to help you do it right the first time.

This series is also for you if you have a coaching website already and it’s not serving you well. No one is going to the website, signing up on your list or contacting you for a Discovery Session.

There are good reasons for that and I want to help you get your website working for you.

So be sure to stay tuned for each successive episode in this series because I’ll be going into details. And I truly believe you’ll have some big AHAs about how to improve your website.

This episode is about first steps to take before you create your coaching website.

  • Before you hire a designer.
  • Or before you decide to buy a Wix or Squarespace template and do it yourself. A dubious choice!
  • Or, before you ask your kid or your best friend’s cousin to slap up a website for you.

All tough choices especially if you do that BEFORE you make these critical 3 decisions about your coaching business.

First, I want you to know that I am not a web designer. But I am an international business mentor for coaches with 20 years of experience.

And, because I’m the TEACHER Archetype, I tend to learn from my mistakes by studying and creating step-by-step guides for others. So, after I launched my 4th website, which is a client generating website, I decided to pass on what I learned.

I created a step-by-step online training program called Client Winning Websites & Blogs for Coaches.

It was a comprehensive training that sold well for a long time.

But, the world of the Internet changes so fast. I took the program off the market because there are constant subtle shifts in how things work, in Google’s algorithms and in online trends.

I didn’t want to be updating that product every 6 months. I’d rather be helping coaches in Strategy Sessions and in my VIP 5 month Coaching Business Breakthrough program.

Every coach I work with, I help them write client-winning copy for their website and manage the web design process because my website and my client’s websites are proof that you can turn web visitors into clients if you create a friendly journey for your target audience on your site.

I realized recently, why not repurpose and upgrade the material in Client Winning Websites & Blogs for Coaches into bite-sized insights for Prosperous Coach Podcast.

So, over several weeks I’ll cover in great detail what makes for a client-winning coaching website and I’ll share some examples you can see online.

3 Steps to Take Before You Do Anything Else in Your Coaching Business

Today’s mini-episode is about 3 the things you should do before you create a coaching website so you don’t waste time and money.

And that’s always my aim— to help you create a financially successful and rewarding coaching business from the get go, rather than getting stuck blindly following the masses of coaches who don’t create a sustainable business. There’s no reason why you should know how to do this without support from someone who has taken the less traveled road and found an easier way.

Okay… let me tell you a story … and see if you see yourself anywhere in this.

About 1 – 3 times a week a new coach reaches out to me. They’ve been referred to my podcast by another coach — and I’m grateful for that — or done a search for “coaching niche” and so they end up strolling around my website and filling out the application on my Work with Rhonda page.

By the way that’s called a funnel or conversion process. More about that soon in another episode.

So the coach writes in their application that don’t know their coaching niche or target audience but they’re working on their website, creating ads and coaching programs.

And I think … bummer. In my minds eye I see them throwing time and money away on a blazing fire.

It’s an honest mistake. When you finish coach training there’s this emotional rush to get a website up, to start doing all the conventional things all coaches think are necessary to attract coaching clients.

Don’t get me wrong, I believe in the power of websites. My own website sends me a constant stream of ideal clients who are ready to enroll with me. That’s a client-winning website.

But, creating your website before you know who you’re serving and the problem you help them solve is like:

  • building a house on land you don’t own.
  • dressing up a manikin in finery when you’re wearing rags.
  • buying a car before you can see over the steering wheel.

Developmentally it’s better to wait until your coaching business has a solid foundation.

It’s not just the cart before the horse. There is no horse in sight. It’s a cart with square wheels mired in a swamp. It’s not going to go anywhere or do anything until it’s dismantled.

That’s what it’s like to put up a coaching website before you know WHO you serve and WHAT acute problem you help them solve.

I want you to know I made this mistake and not just once.

When I started as a coach in 1997, over the first 3 years I threw away so much money on 3 different websites. They were pretty websites with what I thought was interesting copy. I worked so hard on them.

But they were all duds. They sat there in cyberspace collecting dust. I only got hits from friends, family and myself.

Your website can be command central for your coaching business. And I do think unless you have a regional business that having a good website is critical if you want to be taken seriously. It can be an incredible tool if it’s created right. In an upcoming episode I’ll explain the distinct difference between an online coaching brochure and a client winning website.

If you’re about to create your coaching website or you have one now and it’s not serving you well, be sure to stay tuned for each successive episode.

This one is about first steps. Before you hire the designer. Or decide to buy a Wix or Squarespace template and do it yourself. Before you ask your kid or your best friend’s cousin to slap up a website for you, make critical decisions about your coaching business.

These are decisions about your future. They’re big decisions and doable. Making these decisions will help you have crystal clarity about your value as a professional coach.

What are those decisions and why are they important?

You know what I’m going to say. Step #1 is for you to choose a viable target audience to serve before you do anything else.

Viable is an audience full of seekers, people who do invest in their own personal and professional growth. That viable audience is easy to find and connect with. They are eager to evolve and it’s narrow enough group that you’ll stand out in a crowd.

And standing out in the crowd is a big part of what makes it possible to attract clients online. Think about it, if you’re just another voice in the crowd, no one ever listens.

And there’s another step to take before you slap up some copy about coaching. Market research. And it’s not what you think.

It’s not asking a bunch of people if they’ll pay for your coaching. It’s more subtle and scientific than that. It’s how you’ll learn exactly what your audience wants so much they’ll invest in your help to get it.

And knowing that is how you develop a smart coaching niche.

Then, you’re ready to create a brand and get a matching domain, to craft an attention getting core message and offers.

And finally, to write web copy that’s streamlined and resonates with your target audience.

What’s next then? Hiring a savvy web designer who knows how to code and how to make a customized website designed to convert visitors into fans and fans into clients.

Very few designers have all those skills. Most just know how to make a website look pretty.

Here’s the thing … the people you’re going to serve are at the center of your coaching business.

Their problems and goals are where YOU come in.

Transformative coaching can’t happen without the coachee — the person you’ll serve with your coaching.

You and all coaches love people and want to see them thrive. Your coaching website might be their first connection with you. So why would you build a coaching website before you know your target audience intimately?

Look, I get it. The target audience and coaching niche decision are hard. Why else would I get so many hits on my website from ideal clients about this topic. It’s not all I do to help my clients succeed but it is the first decision. And that decision becomes your true north. It’s how you’ll know what to do next and next.

If you’re struggling knowing who you audience is or how to make your coaching niche stand out in the crowd, let’s get that settled in a Strategy Session.

Or, if you’ve got a coaching website up and it’s doing nothing for you, let’s have a Strategy Session so I can review it with you and share step by step how you can transform it to be a client-winning website from now on.

The Next Episode is: Self Made Coaching Website vs. Professional Custom Designed Site

Ep 39 – How to Assess if a Potential Coaching Client Is a Good Fit for You

Hello coaches, this is my fourth mini episode for you on the topic of Client Management that started with Episode 34. It’s part of my series called Smart Mindsets & Habits.

You know, my husband and I have been getting our house ready for sale. Now we’ve got a fabulous buyer and it is time to pack. That’s why the mini episodes. And coaches have been loving them. Thank you for listening!

Today, we’re talking about how to assess whether a potential coaching client is right for you.

Primarily, fit is assessed during the Discovery call. That’s the Discovery Session, not a sample coaching session. There’s a difference.

That’s a time where you ask really powerful questions to draw out what’s going on with your potential client, what’s in their way of the thing that they want the most. And then, you establish how you can help them in your signature program to achieve that thing they want most.

Fit Starts With Your Coaching Niche

Fit partially depends on your target audience and coaching niche.

You know me, I’m always talking about having a target audience, a specific narrow target audience for your coaching business, learning from them what it is that they want so much they’ll invest in your help to get it.

And, then, develop your coaching niche around that and what you bring to the table regarding the outcome they most want that you’re going to help them get.

When you focus on your audience and niche, there’s a lot of power behind your messaging and your programs as everything is tailored to them. I believe in it as the most powerful way to become highly successful in your coaching business.

Why does assessing fit depend on your niche? Let me give you an example …

I help coaches build the foundation of their coaching business so they can launch with confidence and succeed financially.

My ideal clients are primed to develop their entrepreneurial business and to do the work of building that foundation together.

I ask coaches about the kind of support systems they have in place, what kind of time they have available to work on their business with me. If they don’t have enough time or support at home, if they’re not excited about being an entrepreneur, then they’re not a good fit work that I want to do with them.

You’ll develop your own way of assessing fit based on your niche.

Are They Coachable?

Another aspect of fit is about coach-ability. If you’re a coach and your client isn’t coachable, obviously that’s not going to be a really powerful transformational relationship.

There are a couple of things that you can do to assess coach-ability:

Their level of self awareness. Pay attention when they talk about their challenges, habits — things that are holding them back about what they want.

If someone is not self-aware, coaching may not be the best process for them.

Coaching works well for people who they essentially know that they are at choice. If you come across someone who seems to be blaming someone or something for their life challenges, that is an indication that they may not be coachable.

Also, what’s their attitude about paying for support? Some people are not seekers — the kind of people who are willing to invest time and money and energy into their own personal or professional transformation.

If you get to the point where you’re telling a potential client your fees and someone does not value what you’re offering for the fees that you’re asking, that’s a strong indication that you’re not the right fit for them.

Are they fully present for that discovery call? If they show up distracted, late or they miss it entirely, they might not be the best fit.

Detach From Outcome

Finally, if you are desperate to enroll a client, that is not going to set you up for a positive, powerful experience with this client.

Everyone has felt desperate to enroll a client at sometime. When you’re new to coaching there’s such a strong desire to prove you can do this that sometimes it speaks louder than your highest self.

Attachment will hold you back from enrolling ideal clients that pay you well.

That needy energy is like a bad smell that surrounds you turning your prospect off. Chances are they will feel it even if they don’t know what it is. It will unbalance the power differential between you and your prospect. And you’ll miss your opportunity to enroll a client.

I suggest to coaches I work with that before the Discovery call they open up their hands and surrender the need to have this client hire them.

Detaching from outcome sets you up for success. Without that desperation hanging around you, you’ll be able to hear your intuition more clearly about whether this prospective client is a good fit for you. Intuition is always the best guide.

If you’re struggling to get out of your own way with enrolling … I have a bit of room left in my August calendar for Strategy Sessions.

Consider grabbing time with me to help you to take a leap in mindset or one of these areas:

  • I want to choose a viable, narrow target audience.
  • I’d like guidance to conduct market research with my audience.
  • I want to choose a profitable niche and stand out in the crowd of coaches.
  • I’d like to create a signature program my audience will buy.
  • I’d like help to make my website client-winning.
  • I want to create an irresistible freebie and opt-in for my audience.

That’s just a sampling of bite-sized takeaways we could work on together to help you take a leap. I’d love to work with you!

Ep 38 – Should You Send Gifts to Your Coaching Clients?

Hello coaches. I have been doing these mini episodes over the last couple of weeks on Client Management topics for the series called Smart Mindsets & Habits.

I’m getting some really positive comments about these mini’s!

Today’s topic is … should you send gifts to your coaching clients?

The first answer is that it’s totally up to you and you should always do what you feel is right. I think that every coach deserves the opportunity to try things out and see how they work for them. We’re not all the same.

That said, I’ll tell you that I have changed my tune about giving gifts to clients over the years.

When I first started my business, I got pretty precious about every aspect of my business. I bought all these beautiful little envelopes and cards and all sorts of paraphernalia with my coaching business logo on it. (That was the old fashioned thing that people said you should do and I bought into it.)

I would also send my clients birthday gifts and Christmas gifts. I put a lot of thought into them.

But over the years, I noticed that I wasn’t getting the reception that I really wanted to from giving those gifts. And I think that sometimes gifts are so personal. We all have such different tastes.

Giving a gift to a client can sometimes burden the client and burden the relationship. So my new thought about it is not to give gifts.

If you do give gifts, whether they are for birthdays or Christmas or a similar holiday, I would suggest that you keep them small and relatable and perhaps something that’s relatively generic, such as an Amazon gift card. That is unless you know for sure that a specific gift is going to land with your client.

For example, if a client mentions a book they want, just send it to them even if it’s not yet their birthday. Then you will have done them a great favor and they’ll feel that you listened to them.

I think that gifts that have your logo on it, such as a cup or a pen, come across a bit salesy and they might even do the reverse of what you want them to do.

Now there is a circumstance that I still give gifts that I feel really good about …

When a past client or a colleague refers a new client to me, someone who enrolls in my long term program, I like to respond in a personal way.

Recently one of my colleagues — a fellow trainer at coach Training Alliance, the place where I wrote curriculum — sent me a number of clients who all enrolled!

I called her and thanked her then said: “I want to treat you to something that you don’t normally treat yourself to.” She loves massage. So, I asked her who her massage therapist is and got his contact information. I called him and said: “I want to gift my friend with a number of sessions with you.”

I bought her four massages and sent her an email saying: “You’ve got four sessions waiting for you with your massage therapist.” She loved that gift.

Reward past clients for referrals. They feel special when it’s something personal that they really want.

Now, if you have something that you really want to put into the hands of your clients at a special time in their lives, then you should do that

These days, because I have so much expertise in helping coaches build a successful business, I have a lot of guides I’ve written that are primers. I like to gift those out to my clients throughout my signature program.

And because there’s a constant flow of extras coming to them, I think that there isn’t any expectation or real desire for any other kind of gift.

I hope you got value out of this mini episode!

The Next Episode is: How to Assess if a Potential Clients is a Good Fit for You

Ep 37 – 8 Powerful Coaching Questions to Ask Any Client Anytime

This mini episode is part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series and a continuation of the Client Management Topic that started with Episode 34.

These are powerful questions that are standard in the coaches toolbox.

The right question can really help anyone zoom past obstacles and into a power zone of awareness and action on their own behalf.

That’s why questions are so valuable to coaches and in coaching.

So the first question unlocks a lot for your clients:

What do you want?

Well, sometimes people have a hard time answering this question, but with probing questions beneath it, you might be able to get them to it.

The second question is:

What’s holding you back?

As human beings, we do generally have a sense of this. We might be in denial about it, but we generally do know what we’re doing that’s either sabotaging ourselves or what we’re thinking, what we’re feeling that is lingering too long for us to be able to transform.

So what’s holding you back?

That question will cause your coaching client to go inside and really look at the truth with a capital T.

The third question is:

What is it costing you to continue holding back?

I don’t know if we normally as human beings think about what the costs are of our actions, of our thoughts, of our habits, but to ask someone that causes them to look at themselves from a place of self responsibility.

The fourth question is:

How could you show up differently?

Presumably you’re talking to them about a circumstance or a situation and this question allows them to wonder, Oh, I’m at choice here. How could I show up differently?

I remember this one time where I was going to be speaking in public at a pretty big event for coaches and I was just so nervous. I called my husband for support and he has asked me: How do you want to show up, Rhonda?

I paused and I thought about it. Well, I want to show up standing in my power, believing in myself and being open and vulnerable to my audience as well as delivering something that is actually valuable to them.

Those four answers just grounded me. They made me feel good again, made me feel ready again. And I realized that it was okay to be vulnerable with my audience. It’s okay that I was nervous and I didn’t have to try to obliterate that nervousness before getting on stage.

The fifth question is:

What is a new perspective that you could adopt right now?

Oftentimes when our coaching clients are telling us how they feel or what they think about something, it might be a gripe. It might be the raw feeling and there’s nothing wrong with that.

As a matter of fact, I invite my clients to share their raw feelings.

You can respond to that raw stuff with the question: What’s a new perspective you could adopt right now about that?

You’re inviting them to pick themselves up out of the situation and get a 30,000 foot view. Look at it from the other person’s point of view. Or from their highest self point of view.

The sixth question is:

What is the most meaningful action you could take right now?

So often when our clients are stuck, it’s because they’re unwilling to or afraid to take an action and when you put that word meaningful in front of action, it helps them think differently.

Meaningful to them could be journaling. Or it could be having a conversation with you or someone else. Meaningful to them could be deciding not to do it at all and to take a different direction.

The seventh question is:

What new habits will you put in place right now?

Habits are amazingly powerful in our lives and in the lives of our clients.

We all have bad habits. If you take any aspect of our lives on the life wheel, we’ve got bad habits in those areas, whether it be finances, or how we behave at work … how we feed or exercise ourselves.

We all have habits that can be improved and habits are amazingly powerful if we put the right ones in place.

That’s partially why I’m talking to you about client management because these are habits that we can have in place with our prospects and our clients.

 And the last question, number eight is:

What new skills or support systems will ensure your success?

We want to teach our clients and ourselves to realize that sometimes we have to learn something new or go get help in order to ensure our success.

I always ask my prospects about their support systems. I want to know do they have a family? Do they have a partner? Is that partner supportive of them building a coaching business? Do they have childcare? Do they have ways that they’re going to be able to segment parts of their day to work on their business?

With your own target audience around the niche you have, the ultimate outcome you’re going to help them achieve —be sure they have support systems in place and not just you. You don’t want all of the help and succor to be on your shoulders.

Going back to the skills too, of course everyone who is undertaking something new or trying to do something big.

Hopefully, you’re helping your clients achieve something big to get past or solve a big problem they have or to achieve a huge goal they have. Because if you’re doing that with your clients you may not be able to earn enough as a coach

New skills might something like developing a stronger intuition. It might be developing greater awareness of themselves, of their body, of what their mind or emotions is telling them. Or it could be something really nuts and boltsy such as taking training in order to succeed.

These questions are useful for coaches, for nearly any client at any time, so I hope you use them for your success!

The Next Episode is: Should You Give Gifts To Your Coaching Clients?

Ep 36 – Ten Big Questions for Intake with Your New Coaching Clients

This episode is part of the Smart Mindsets and Habits series. And it’s a continuation from Episode 34 about client management systems.

This questionnaire I’m about to take you through is one piece of a good client management system.

This episode and the next 3 will be mini episodes because I’m moving house! So you’ll get a bitesized idea in a short time. I hope you find them valuable.

By the way, Prosperous Coach Podcast just passed 10,000 downloads! That’s one sign among many that these episodes are landing well with coaches. Thank you for listening and sharing this with other coaches! We are growing a community.

If you’d like to be part of that community, join us in the Prosperous Coach Club on Facebook

Questions are the life blood of what we do with clients. Open ended questions are so powerful that a single one can evoke a positive shift.

It makes sense that the coaching client intake would include powerful open-ended questions!

Here are the 10 questions I have in one document of my intake packet:

  1. What are your strongest beliefs about yourself?
  2. What are your strongest beliefs about the world?
  3. What wisdom has come out of your greatest life lessons?
  4. When in your life have you felt the most generative?
  5. What does prosperity mean to you?
  6. How do you define your success?
  7. What is your BIG WHY for creating an ongoing business?
  8. How might you sabotage your own success?
  9. What do you want me to do if I notice sabotaging behavior?
  10. How can I best empower you?

The Next Episode is: 8 Powerful Questions to Ask Coaching Clients Anytime

Ep 35 – 2 Powerful Shifts To Enroll More Committed Coaching Clients

This episode is an ON AIR Coaching Session with David Smith.

David Smith is a Washington DC – based career coach. He is a Fulbright scholar. After 30 years in law, as a University professor and  overseas working for a think tank, he came to realize that his collective experiences provide insight into inside DC careers.

For two years he has coaching two different audiences:

  • people 20 – 30 emerging into international or policy based careers inside the beltway
  • people 50+ looking for their encore career

Two Problems Related to Coaching Client Engagement

David said he was looking for some wisdom. Specifically he was having two challenges in his coaching business:

  1. Sometimes clients disappear without notice.
  2. Younger clientele are difficult to engage into a longer term coaching relationship.

These classic challenges are related. And both are things that David can fix with a shift in his approach to enrolling.

I asked David to describe what he tells prospects about his offer.

He offers a Discovery Session and admitted to a common problem coaches have … over-delivering in the discovery call.

Shift #1: Stop Coaching in Discovery Sessions

Some coaches offer a sample coaching session to enroll clients. I used to do this myself and found that, much of the time, prospects would walk away from that experience feeling satisfied and uninterested in taking a next step.

I was so intent on showing my value that I over-delivered. And the prospect would say: “Thanks!” But she had no interest in taking a next step.

Can you relate to that challenge?

I remember feeling sort of demoralized by the lack of interest in coaching, something I felt so passionate about.

That’s because coaching is a hard sell.

People don’t wake up knowing that they want coaching. Instead they seek out solutions to specific problems.

So, unless you’re offering a sample coaching session that focuses on a very specific coaching niche — a specific solution to a specific problem — then your sample coaching session is going to feel general and not highly relevant to people.

Even if you have a specific niche, a sample session isn’t the most effective tool for enrolling a committed long term coaching client who pays you well. Because the tendency to perform and over-deliver is strong in that type of session.

When I shifted away from offering sample coaching sessions to offering discovery calls, I immediately started enrolling more ideal clients and earning more from coaching.

Here’s the thing … a Discovery Session isn’t meant to be a coaching session.

You can absolutely use the coaching tools of asking powerful questions and listening in a Discovery Session. But you don’t want to step into the Co-Creative Relationship with a prospect because they have not paid a fee for the coaching. That’s part of the client’s responsibility.

Instead, a Discovery Session is a get-to-know-you call. Ultimately, it’s about assessing fit between the coach and prospect.

David knew this. He just had not framed the Discovery Session that way to prospects. And, because he is passionate about helping his prospects he would “give away the farm”.

In your Discovery Sessions ask powerful open-ended questions to:

  • Learn basic information about your potential client, especially as it relates to your niche — the specific problem you solve for a specific target audience.
  • Connect the prospect emotionally to what they want most and what’s in the way of that outcome.

Then, once you’ve heard all you need to hear to fully understand what motivates your prospect and what’s been holding them back, share how you work with clients.

And this is where my second recommendation to David came in.

Shift #2: Offer a Signature Program Tailor Made to Your Target Audience

David has been charging for session-by-session coaching.

No wonder he was having trouble with clients “ghosting” and not responded to his check ins!

Part of David’s background was as a lawyer where most clients would pay an hourly rate. So it’s understandable that this is the practice David applied to his coaching business.

When I started as a coach, I charged for monthly coaching and I had similar challenges where clients would suddenly disappear.

Have you ever experienced something like that?

You’re going along, thinking you’re doing good work together and then suddenly the client doesn’t show up or respond to emails.

It’s weird. And it feels awful!

But then I realized that, monthly or session-by-session coaching isn’t positioned well. It’s not oriented around big enough outcomes for clients. So they aren’t motivated to keep it up.

More on that in a minute …

For now, what is a Signature Program and how can it possibly work with coaching?

It works better than you might think.

You can still let clients bring the agenda. You still use coaching skills to serve them. The difference happens when you enroll clients.

Instead of selling coaching when you have a Discovery Session, you’ll connect the desired outcomes and challenges your client is having to a structured program.

Milestones Are the Secret to Enrolling Long Term Coaching Clients

Let’s say you’re a coach and you want to be successful but it’s not working out the way you thought it would.

And then you hear about this podcast that supplies all sorts of helpful tidbits about mindset, habits, tactics and strategies to build your business.

You realize this person putting out these episodes could help you. So you go to her website, check her out and there’s even more free valuable information there. You fill out the form on the website. And you’re invited to a Discovery Session.

In that Discovery Session, you’re asked a bunch of powerful questions that help you articulate what you really want and what’s been in the way of that.

And then, you hear that there’s a program you can enroll in that would help you accomplish all the tasks you’ve been struggling to do on your own. It’s accomplishing those milestones in a step by step fully supported way that turns you on.

So you go for it. You enroll into that Signature Program because it’s clear there’s a structure and it’s thought through.

On the other hand, if in that Discovery Session you heard that you could have session-by-session or monthly coaching and no milestones or outcomes were clearly laid out as part of the value, you might just walk away.

Because you weren’t inspired.

It’s All Related to Target Audience and Coaching Niche

The reality is, you cannot create a Signature Program as a coach until you:

  • Have narrowed to a specific target audience.
  • You know exactly what they want so much they’ll invest in help to get it.
  • And you’ve made it your niche to help that audience achieve that goal or set of goals.

I invited David to eliminate one of his two audiences, because having two was keeping him from creating a Signature Program. It was keeping him from getting specific on his website, in his marketing and Discovery Sessions.

Even people who referred clients to him would be able to send him ideal clients if he would target only one audience.

An amazing bunch of things happen when you target a specific niche and make sure that everything you do — every email, social post, your web copy, your free offer, your programs — are tailor made for that audience.

You KNOW exactly what they want and what’s challenging them.

And that intel, applied to every aspect of your coaching business, makes the difference between whether you succeed and earn well or not.

It also would solve David’s two problems.

Once a client is enrolled into a Signature Program and they invest up front for the whole thing, their mindset shifts.

No longer will they think “Okay, I’ve gotta pay for another session with David.” Instead, they are thinking:“I’m on a complicated journey and David is helping me get there, step by step with ease and grace.”

David agreed he’d drop the older audience he was working with because his passion was about helping young people emerging into international or policy based careers.

David reported feeling great after our session. His mind was buzzing with ideas for his Signature Program and he sounded determined to make the 2 shifts that would solve his 2 challenges.

If you are challenged with attracting, enrolling and keeping ideal clients, consider having a Strategy Session with me.

One session could make the difference between being paralyzed and confused and surging forward in your business with confidence.

I would love to work with you!

Ep 34 – Coaching Client Management the Free and Simple Way

This episode is part of the Smart Mindsets & Habits series. And it was inspired by a segment in the last episode called 3 Power Packed Online Tools Every Coach Needs.

That episode has been super popular so I’ll do a quick review to set up today’s episode. I covered 3 critical tools all coaches need:

  • A client-winning website preferably on a WordPress theme.
  • An email campaign service — Aweber (affiliate link) is my favorite.
  • And an online scheduler.

The main message I had for you was to invest wisely in your success. Not all expenses have the same long term value to your coaching business success. For example, it’s worth it to invest highly up front in creating a client-winning website with a conversion process to help you enroll clients.

But, investing in a lot of apps with monthly fees is not the best investment unless those expenses directly support you to earn more. For example, why spend $20 – $30 per month for an online scheduling system when you can spend 1/2 – 2/3 less using a great service like TimeTrade?

I also warned about those all-in-one online services designed for coaches that include a website with a client portal and a scheduler all bundled into one high monthly payment.

Beware of this kind of investment because at best, the websites are clunky and don’t allow for much customization. They’re set up as online brochures only without a conversion process to help you attract and enroll clients who pay well.

I totally get the attraction of a single solution offer especially when you’re new to running your own business and have so much to learn and do. It seems like the right thing to do. And I know that the idea of a client portal seems professional.

But, in reality, client portals are a hassle for clients and there are free ways to serve your clients well.

So, over the next few episodes I’m going to share my client management systems with you. They are ultra simple and work beautifully. At the end of the day, they cost little or nothing and are easy to use.

No client portal or expensive monthly fees necessary!

Client Management Starts with Prospects

Before I dig in to the actual moving parts of my system, consider this …

Connection, not selling,

is what will attract and enroll your coaching clients.

Client management actually begins the moment you have a first connection with a potential client. That might be through social media or a networking event. It might be through your blog or podcast.

Your care and attention comes across in absolutely everything you do when you do these 3 things:

  1. Your website speaks the language of your target audience and names their specific challenges and desires.
  2. You deliver unique value and invite a Discovery Session in your free offer and follow up emails .
  3. You hit the mark about what’s important to your target audience in your blogs, podcast episodes and social posts.

Before you can do those things, you’ll need to understand exactly who your target audience is, what they want and what’s been in the way of that.

When you’re crystal clear about those things and all of your efforts to build your business are centered around that knowing, you easily attract and enroll your clients.

If you’ve been struggling with this piece — to land a viable target audience and learn what it is they want so much they’ll invest in your help to get it — let’s have a Strategy Session and get that piece solidified in your mind so you can shift from selling coaching to offering a solution your audience will buy.

So … client management begins the moment you have a first connection with a potential client. And connection is not the same thing as selling.

I’m not a fan of the salesy approach.

I’m a big fan of what I call the high touch approach.

High touch means personal connection. It’s being a human being with the human beings in and around your target audience.

Creating smart systems help you free up time to connect with prospects in a high touch way.

Email is Universal

For the most part, my prospect and client management system is based on email.

Why? Because email is still universal. It’s a rare person that doesn’t use email.

I use my email program on my computer as my primary tool to collect and maintain important information about and for my clients.

Now, I’m a super organized person. I can’t stand having a bunch of unprocessed emails in my inbox. And, I hate to waste time searching for things. Also, I don’t want to have to remember everything. I want systems that help me access information when I need it to serve my clients well.

I use the touch-it-once method of time management. As much as possible, I read email once and process it fully. I check my email about 3 – 5x each day depending on the day. And I block time to do it.

The first part of this simple system is to set up folders in your email program. Here are the folders I’ve set up:

  • One named for each coaching client
  • Past Clients
  • Do Soon
  • Records to Keep
  • Handy Stuff
  • Templates

Let’s go through each of these email folders.

Coaching Client Folders

Any email connection I have with a client, including those that came before they hired me are pulled into that folder. I also put in that folder a copy of any email I send to my client. Email programs will keep back and forth emails in a thread of course.

Past Clients

When I finish working with a client I move all their emails into the past client folder and eliminate the named folder. Many of my clients come back to work with me after my signature program is finished and I want to easily access their history.

Do Soon

In the rare event there’s something I need to save to read and process later, I only leave it in my inbox a day or two. If it’s something I want to keep beyond that, it goes in DO SOON and I clean that folder out monthly.

For example, let’s say a prospect fills out the form on my Work with Rhonda page but our Discovery Session is a few weeks away, I tuck that form into Do Soon. That way I can re-read that before our session. And if they hire me, that info gets tucked into the folder with their name on it. Also, if I order something online I tuck the order confirmation into Do Soon.

Records to Keep

This is pretty straight forward. It’s official emails including receipts, payments, copies of invoices, emails from financial institutions, apps or software programs that I want to keep in perpetuity.

Templates

This is the gold mine. Templating is the simplest kind of system.

If you do something more than once in your business, template it!

I like to customize my templates to fit each prospect and client. So only the information that is always the same is in the template and I build in space for me to put in personal information to connect with the individual I’m emailing.

Handy Stuff

This little folder has 4 templates in it that I use nearly every day plus one more email to keep me organized.

1. A templated email to invite a Discovery Session.

When coaches arrive on my website, some navigate to the Work with Rhonda tab and fill out the application there. I receive that form by email, read it and reply. The template has some prepared copy that is always the same. To use the template I simply click forward and then customize it to respond personally to the coach who has applied.

Because my coaching business is so targeted and niched, lots of people fill out that application to work with me on my website.

2. A templated email to take notes during Discovery Sessions.

Rather than a sample coaching session I offer a Discovery Session which is a more effective way of enrolling clients. This email template has a set of questions I usually ask prospects and space for taking notes.

I have trained myself to listen deeply and take notes at the same time. And the electronic notes help me to remember what my prospects shared so that if they become clients I can recall those things to serve them well.

3. A templated email to send after the Discovery Session.

Although I tend to send this immediately after a Discovery Session, if I need to create it later, the Discovery Session notes help me to customize this template. It includes the details of my Signature Program including the milestones I help coaches achieve, the cost of the program, the number of sessions and other features included. Things I don’t want to type out every time.

Some of my clients hire me on spot. Most people need a day to think about it. This templated but customizeable email provides details they can look at after our call.

4. A templated email for Session Recaps to send to my Strategy Session and VIP clients after a call and store for my notes.

This just has a structure built into it. I take a lot of notes because I go deep into processes with my clients and each client is very unique. My clients have told me they appreciate the Session Recaps I send because it keeps them on track and accountable. And, they don’t have to take as detailed notes for themselves. It’s a gift I give to my clients.

5. A list of links that I use a lot.

Such as links to TimeTrade activities, to often referred to pages on my website, to affiliate links and more. I don’t keep passwords here. I used LastPass to keep my passwords. It’s totally worth $36/year.

To recap … your computer’s email program can be the centerpiece of your client management. I’ve never paid for any type of online service to keep track of what’s going on with my clients.

In the Next Episode I’ll cover other aspects of client management. Stay tuned.

Ep 33 – 3 Power Packed Online Tools Every Coach Needs

This episode is about the minimum online tools you’ll need to effectively run your coaching business. It’s part of my Smart Mindsets & Habits series. I think systems fit well into that topic.

I’m going to share my 3 all time favorite online tools. The kind of apps that save brain cells, time and money.

We’ll also talk about pitfalls new coaches fall into when they grab up lots of tools with monthly costs.

If you’re totally tech savvy, this might be remedial for you.

But most coaches I meet are a little tech shy. They don’t love learning how to use online tools. They just want to coach so every additional thing they need to use to find, attract and enroll their clients feels heavy.

I’ve heard many a sigh and fear in the voices of my clients who worry about how tech will impact their time.

If that’s you, I get it. When I started as a coach I was a total luddite — the last to know anything tech related. Now, on the tech savvy scale I’m somewhere in the middle. I know how to use a few things extremely well and most things at a small percentage of their abilities and that’s okay.

This may be a relief to you … you don’t have to be a techno geek to leverage a few choice tools well and have them help you attract and enroll clients.

I like tools that have depth and that I can wade slowly into. I want to learn what I need to know now, then learn more later once I’ve mastered the basics.

So let’s get this rolling …

First, I’ll cover a set of applications that all coaches need to run a smart business.

1. An Email Marketing Service

2. A Client-Winning Website

3. An Online Scheduler

Let’s talk about each of these and I’ll share my favorite tools for each.

Email Marketing Service

Sometimes called an Email Blast Company or Email Campaign Company, this service is all about getting your messages out to people who have trusted you by opting in on your website for a free offer. It’s also called a leads list but what I like to call your community.

This type of service helps you:

  • manage email addresses of people who have opted in for your free offer
  • get your emails delivered in a way that meets regulations
  • automates everything so you save time
  • build trusting relationships with followers

No doubt you’ve heard of Mail Chimp and Constant Contact, there are dozens more that get more and more technical and costly up the scale.

For a startup coach I suggest a relatively inexpensive and easy to use service. my hands down favorite is Aweber (affiliate link).

It’s been around a lot longer than most Email Marketing Services. Here’s why I LOVE them:

  • Customer Service
  • Customer Service
  • Customer Service

I’m the kind of person who wants a person I can talk to in real time if I need help. Most tech companies don’t share their phone number or at best only have an online chat. If they do let you speak with someone you reach an overseas call center. And your problem takes 3x longer to fix than it should.

Whenever you call Aweber you get to a highly trained person within a minute or two who will help you or find someone to help you in one phone call.

They’ll patiently teach you how to use their systems so it’s easy peasy. And no one says anything like: “I understand your needs, Miss Rhonda.”

The other reasons I like Aweber is:

  • They are highly respected by ISPs (Internet Service Providers) so emails from them get priority delivery.
  • They constantly improve their systems in a user friendly way. There’s never that feeling of disconnect between the way their online tool works and the way you think it should work.
  • Aweber is comparable in price to Constant Contact.
  • And, Aweber integrates extremely well with WordPress, which is my favorite for tool #2 …

A Professional Website

There are loads of debates in Facebook groups about which is best web platform … the venerable WordPress, or newer on the block Wix and Squarespace?

I always advise WordPress over the others for 3 main reasons:

  • It’s self hosted. Which means you own your website.
  • It has unlimited customization capabilities.
  • It gives you access to more 3rd party plugins.

Bottom line … if your intent is to succeed in your business and be in it for the long run, WordPress beats the other platforms hands down because it can grow as your business grows.

WordPress templates can easily morph into a home for your blog or podcast, a membership site, an online store. You can add sales page builders, survey or forms builders, advanced analytics, SEO builders, Live Chat, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg for WordPress plugins.

By the way, I recommend A2 Hosting (affiliate link) to host your website. I used with Bluehost, which is far more recognizable but they were bought by a big conglomerate and try to sell you stuff you really don’t need. A2 is pretty much set and forget it.

In another episode I’m going to talk about 3 Agonizing Mistakes Coaches Make with Their Website. For now, let me just say, don’t go cheap with your website. This is the place to invest in your success. And hold off on creating a website until you are crystal clear about who is your target audience and what specific problem your help them solve with your coaching niche.

Any site you create without that as the centerpiece will be a waste of time and money.

3. An Online Scheduler

There are places to spend the big bucks (your website) and places not to. When you can find a tool that does an excellent job serving your needs and keeps your overhead low, that’s a place to save.

I came across TimeTrade a decade ago and I continuously sing it’s praises. Why do I love it so?

  • Customer Service – They are well set up to solve challenges with local, positive and knowledgeable support.
  • Price – Compare Time Trade for $6.50/mo or $78/yr with Acuity, which is $15/mo or $180/yr.

Sure Fire Ways to Reduce the Profits of Your Coaching Business

Monthlies can add up and steal your profits. I know coaches who have 10 – 15 tools they’ve purchased that they don’t really need and that stack up their overhead horrendously.

Yes, there are so many wonderful tasty apps out there and it’s easy to go crazy on them at first. But most people don’t have time or inclination to fully leverage those tools.

My goal for the financial aspect of my business is high profit and easy cash flow. Believe me, I’ve had a high tech, low profit coaching business before. It’s a lot more work and no more joy.

It’s also tempting to purchase systems you may use someday.  Consider another approach, only invest in what will help you succeed.

Free Apps that Pack Value

Dropbox (affiliate link) is wonderful if you have an assistant, web designer, colleague or others you want to share files with. Google Drive is good for that as well.

Another free tool is Zoom. That’s my choice for a free online video or audio calls that you can record. I have a lot of international clients. And this tool is a great solution for sessions. I sometimes use Messenger for those calls if a recording isn’t needed.

The last thing I want to say is I’m not in favor of those supposed all-in-one solutions that are marketed to coaches. I won’t name names but it’s those services that say they’ll give you a website and an online portal for your clients. They’ll host the site for you and provide other client management tools.

I have never seen one that provides a client-winning website. More often those services are very expensive and simply not worthwhile on any level.

It’s very easy to do client management in low tech ways using email. I’ll talk about that in the next episode and plan to have a couple giveaway documents that you can use to organize and manage your clients with simplicity and efficiency.