Ep 139 – The Art of Crafting Powerful Coaching Questions

I have something really special for today’s episode, which is about powerful coaching questions and is a part of a new series on Coaching Skills.

There’s a free download that you can get so stay tuned …

First, I want to share something personal with you. I have been so buoyed up by wonderful reviews lately. So I want to give a shout out to Gemma who said recently to me:

“I’m sending a heap of gratitude to you, Rhonda, your generous podcast has helped me identify my platform and program. Also, I know that I’m not alone in this. You’ve helped so many coaches. Thank you for cutting through the noise.”

That made my week. So I’m grateful to you, Gemma, for taking the time to write that review for me on iTunes.

So let’s roll with today’s episode.

I have the pleasure of introducing you to Laurie Cameron of WAKE UP Enterprises.

Laurie is literally the best coach I know. She is also the best coach trainer I know.

In 2001 I co-created curriculum for Coach Training Alliance and I designed their certified coach program, I was their first trainer. Then I brought Laurie in. She surpassed me significantly and she is their Senior Mentor Coach now.

I first met Laurie 20 years or so ago at the Denver chapter of the International Coach Federation and we became fast friends. We were both on the board there. Beyond that, Laurie and I have been accountability partners for each other and doing a little co-coaching now and then. Something every coach needs.

LAURIE CAMERON: I am really excited and thank you for all those kind words that made my week as well. So I’m really thrilled to be here.

The Most Powerful Coaching Skill

RHONDA: Laurie, I’m going to ask you some questions. I hope they’re powerful questions because that’s the topic that we’re bringing today. So I wanted to start with … What is your favorite coaching skill, Laurie, and why?

LAURIE CAMERON: I would like to ask you a question in return. Complete this sentence: If you want better answers, you …?

RHONDA: … have to ask the right questions.

LAURIE CAMERON: Close. See when I do full day coach training workshops with leaders and managers and when I train coaches through coach training Alliance, that’s the common answer. A better answer is you have to craft better questions.

RHONDA: Nice distinction.

LAURIE CAMERON: Thank you. Questions are amazing and they’re even more amazing and more powerful when you are adept at putting words together in a way that draw somebody’s wisdom out and draw out something new and, and send them deep. That’s why I love powerful questions and learning how to craft them.

Take Your Time To Formulate Powerful Questions

RHONDA: That’s great. I wanted to notice something. You know, you asked me that question and I jumped with my answer. You’re talking about crafting and crafting takes some time. How can a coach that’s in the middle of a coaching session take the time to craft a question?

LAURIE CAMERON: Well, it’s about taking the time to do that actually. And one of the challenges that I’ve noticed that newer coaches have about asking questions is they don’t take the time to craft one before they start asking it.

So as soon as the kernel of a question pops into their head, it’s coming out their mouth, they are revising it, editing it out loud, and it actually turns into this long thing that the client just loses track of.

Learning how to craft a powerful question is more about taking the time, pausing, being comfortable with the silence — which is also a challenge for a lot of coaches — and crafting internally before they open their mouth.

LAURIE CAMERON: That’s great to know and it reminds me that a lot of times when I’m working with my own clients. I have something to say, could be a question or it could be anything, but if I don’t quite have it ready yet, I’ll just buy myself some time. I’ll just say: Give me a second, I thinking.

It’s Okay to Be Human and Transparent with Your Coaching Clients

LAURIE CAMERON: What makes coaching not only powerful is you can be transparent. You can be vulnerable. You can say, give me a minute. Or I found myself occasionally stopping mid question and saying: Wait a minute, that’s not the question I want to ask. Let me redo this.

RHONDA: Exactly. That is so important to remember that even though someone is paying you for this service, if you put yourself up on a pedestal that actually becomes worse for you and them.

When you’re training coaches, what are some of the biggest challenges that new coaches have with asking pithy questions?

LAURIE CAMERON: I love pithy. That’s a great way to describe really important, powerful questions because those are the questions that get to the heart of the matter really, really quickly.

The Continuum: Moving Towards Mastery in Crafting Powerful Questions

LAURIE CAMERON: So one challenge is not taking the time to craft a question before they open their mouth. Another one is asking what the client is doing now or what they’ve already done about their agenda.

So let’s just say a client’s agenda is — I want to manage my energy better during the week. I hear a lot of coaches say something like: What have you done so far? Or … What are you doing now? Until you really learn how to craft a powerful question, that sounds like a great question.

But, there’s no pith in it, right? There’s no challenge to the client to think about how to move forward. What they’ve been doing or what they’re doing now that is not working and they want something different.

RHONDA: That makes a lot of sense. Do you have an example of a different thing that they could say?

LAURIE CAMERON: With our example — I want to manage my energy better during the week — a more powerful question might be: When you’re managing your energy, what does your week look like?

RHONDA: You’re asking them to think about the ideal.

LAURIE CAMERON: Yes. You want to help them uncover and create in their life.

Asking … What have you done so far? What are you doing now? It’s not necessarily a bad or a wrong question. Mastering coaching really is moving along the continuum from less powerful to more powerful.

RHONDA: That’s a great point. There’s the concept of continuous improvement. It’s not about being perfect today or having it all nailed down before I take a move, but rather to just say “Okay, I’m going to do what I can today with what I know.”

LAURIE CAMERON: So it’s less powerful to ask the current or past questions and more powerful to ask what do you want to move forward towards? Because that’s coachable.

The Qualities of a Powerful Question

RHONDA: That’s a fantastic distinction. Okay, so now I would really like to hear if there’s a formula for how to get further down that continuum to more powerful questions.

LAURIE CAMERON: Well and I don’t know that this is so much of a formula as it is a list of qualities of a powerful coaching question. So perhaps they’re, they’re similar in there.

First and foremost it’s short.

I hear a lot of newer coaches ask a question, ask another question with lots of different punctuation marks in it and pauses. And it’s really easy for a client to get totally lost in that.

“So client, when you think of all the things you just talked about, the timing of the project, the obstacles, the resources you have or the resources you need, what do you think is the most important piece to consider first, you know, before all the others can actually come to fruition and then you can move forward and figure it all out?”

RHONDA: Yeah, I’m overwhelmed just hearing that

LAURIE CAMERON: It’s, it’s very easy to get lost. So the more powerful question would be to say: So what has to happen first?

RHONDA: So simple!

LAURIE CAMERON: That’s five words.

RHONDA: I think most people who are overwhelmed are not able to really see themselves clearly. And that’s why coaching is so helpful. All of us get into that place of overwhelm. Getting out is about setting priorities. What is the next step?

LAURIE CAMERON: Yeah, helping a client figure out what they want to do or where they want to go and then create a strategy to bridge the gap from where they are to where they want to go and create an action plan to make that happen.

RHONDA: Is there anything else that that goes into the formula or the list of characteristics?

LAURIE CAMERON: Open-ended. And I think a lot of people are really aware of that. Being aware of it and noticing it when it’s coming out of your mouth are two different

A closed ended, yes or no question might be —and I hear this one a lot too — is something along the lines of “So do you think you can figure out how to make this viable?”

And it’s clear the coach wants to know and wanting to challenge the client and yet there are only two options with closed questions. Yes, I think I can figure it out. No, I don’t think I can figure it out.

It’s actually more powerful just to ask an open-ended question. What will it take to make the project viable?

RHONDA: Yes. Who, what, when, where, how and occasionally why. Although I’m not a big fan of why

LAURIE CAMERON: Me either.

An open-ended question assumes success. It’s saying I believe in you. This is what you want to do. So what’s it going to take to make that happen?

RHONDA: It’s empowering.

LAURIE CAMERON: definitely empowering. And at the same time there are very few moments where a closed ended yes or no question actually can be more powerful and most typically that’s towards the end of a coaching session when the coach is asking the client for commitment. Something like: Are you willing to do what it takes to make this work?

If a client says yes, then they have stepped up, they are ready for accountability.

RHONDA: And there’s a bit of challenge in that question after you’ve helped to empower the person to later on ask a challenging question is a really great thing to do with your clients, because coaches who challenge their clients actually get a lot more from their clients.

LAURIE CAMERON: Yeah. Letting clients off the hook is not really leveraging their investment in you.

Why Not Ask Why?

RHONDA: Yeah. You know, before we get too far off of it, I just wanted to go back to the why thing. You and I both said we’re not a big fan of why questions and I would love to hear your reason for why not why?

LAURIE CAMERON: Well, a couple of them. One, there’s an underlying judgment in a why question and even if it’s not the intention of it, and even if the person hearing the why question is not fully cognizant, it’s as if a parental unit is standing there wagging their finger saying, so why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do that?

And with that judgment comes a need to defend one’s actions.

Two, it perpetuates the story. Why questions put people on the defensive.

RHONDA: So if a coach is wondering why, how can they ask their client something without why?

LAURIE CAMERON: What would be an example of a why question that comes to mind, Rhonda?

RHONDA: Why in the world would you ask me that? Lori?

LAURIE CAMERON: Thank you. That’s great LOL. Well, I would re frame that as: Where’s this question coming from do you think?

RHONDA: Yes! And by the way, sometimes it doesn’t have to be a question, but more of an inquiry. I am a big fan of saying … Tell me more about that.

Multiple Choice Coaching Doesn’t Land Well

LAURIE CAMERON: That’s a wonderful way to invite your client to dig deeper. As long as you give them silence.

This is another challenge I hear from newer coaches … they just start asking question after question after question. A powerful question will stand on its own.

I hear a lot of times what I call multiple choice coaching where a coach might say:

How do you see yourself being accountable for tracking your progress? Do you need to track it on the calendar or maybe talk to somebody, get somebody on board with it? What do you think?

What happens in those instances is whatever options or possibilities that are popping into the coach’s head, if they put those out there in answer to their own question, it limits the client’s options. As opposed to saying: How do you see yourself being accountable for tracking your progress? Question mark. Be quiet. Let the client go through their own options, their own choices and sort through that rather than limiting them.

RHONDA: I’m so guilty of that one.

LAURIE CAMERON: You get to be human too.

Universally Powerful Questions For Any Agenda

RHONDA: Let’s move on to another question. Are there any questions that you think are universally excellent or powerful for numerous coaching agendas?

LAURIE CAMERON: Oh, of course. Yes. I definitely have my favorite —what I call toolbox questions.

These are questions that are generic and fundamentally powerful when you customize it with the client’s agenda or goal or action. Can I share three of them?

RHONDA: Yeah, please!

LAURIE CAMERON: Okay. My first one is typically at the beginning of a session just after the takeaway is clear for both coach and client is, I call it THE MAGIC WAND QUESTION.

You know … the perfect outcome, ideal resolution. You touched on that a little bit earlier. Ask a client to tap into their true desire and paint that picture of success without worrying about the how yet.

It’s saying … What do you really, really want? Don’t think yet about how you’re going to do it or if it’s possible or any of that. That’s not on the table yet. For right now be bold, be big, dream big, be creative.

And the client might not actually realize that ideal situation. But when they start with what they really, really want and you coach them to move in that direction, there are a lot more likely to get more of what they want.

RHONDA: Great. Love that one.

LAURIE CAMERON: Okay. And another is: How will you know when you’re successful?

I love this one because it asks your client to project themselves into a future state of success and describe it. It’s kind of similar to the magic wand question. And when they answer this kind of a question, what they’re doing is they’re also identifying the parameters that they’ll use to evaluate their success and their progress.

So it opens the door for them to strategize what actions they have to take in order to move in that direction. If we use the same agenda that we were talking about before — I want to manage my energy better during the week, we ask: How will you know you’re successful?

It helps the client think forward in they might say: Well, I’ll have enough time in the evenings to spend with my kids. I’ll be exercising consistently and how, you know, when I get home on Friday, I won’t just drop onto the couch and pass out. I’ll have enough energy to go out and have some fun in the client. Identifying how they’ll recognize success when they’re in the middle of it.

They already have three things that they want to make sure they do. Spend time with the kids in the evening exercise consistently and go out and have fun on Fridays.

RHONDA: I would, in that situation, repeat to them the things they said.

LAURIE CAMERON: Yeah, absolutely. And that leads me to my third really favorite toolbox.

What will it take to …? And you fill in that … with the, the agenda, action or goal.

So what will it take to make sure you have time to spend with your kids in the evening exercise consistently and come home on Fridays with enough energy to go have fun? Yeah.

That what will it take question kicks it into strategy mode and you could say: What’s your plan to do that?

There’s something about the word ‘plan’ that is abstract and they have to start thinking in different ways.

But the question: What will it take to do what you want to do? is simple, more direct. And I’ve discovered that it’s easier for clients to go right into planning and strategizing mode and then you can coach them:

  • to figure out what level of accountability
  • how are they going to put this into place

There are three variations that I have of the What will it take question:

  1. What has to happen?
  2. What has to be different?
  3. What has to be in place?

The Coaching Skills Quickstart Giveaway

RHONDA: Great. They’re subtle but they’re simple. And Laurie, I know that you have something that you’d like to give everybody listening. What is it? And where can they find it?

LAURIE CAMERON: A list of Sample Toolbox Questions — all the ones that I’ve talked about plus a handful more.

This list of toolbox questions is adapted from a self-study guide I wrote for leaders and managers called The Coaching Skills Quickstart and I retooled it back to professional coaches and what they might come up against in a session with a client.

RHONDA: Brilliant gift. You can find that at https://wakeupenterprises.com/prosperous-coach/

By the way … know that whenever there are links shared with you verbally on these episodes, it’s really easy to go find this stuff. If you’re listening to the podcast on a podcast app, then it will be in the show notes. If you click details on there. If you’re listening to it on my website, well it’s right there in front of you in the SHOW NOTES.

So Laurie, I just want to thank you so much for your time, for your incredible expertise and I’m definitely downloading that baby for myself!

LAURIE CAMERON: Wonderful. It’s always such a joy and a treat and an honor to spend any kind of time with you, Rhonda. Thank you.

RHONDA: You are so welcome. My absolute pleasure. I feel the same way about you, so virtual hugs to all!

Ep 101 – Authentic Marketing Is Alot Like Coaching

This episode was inspired by a recent conversation with a coach …

I’ve never met a coach who loves the idea of marketing. And most coaches tell me they hate the idea of selling. And that’s why it always surprises me when I see coach’s websites, emails and social posts worded in a salesy way.

I made up that word. Salesy is when you make your marketing about you and what you do instead of your target audience and what they want. Salesy is about pushing and convincing prospects to buy your program way before trust and connection are established.

For example, imagine …

  • a coach’s website whose brand, domain and messaging is mostly about them and the wonders of coaching. That’s salesy.
  • or social posts that spout the tenets of coaching. That’s salesy.
  • or a lead magnet — also called a free offer or freebie — that delivers a bit of coaching guidance about limiting beliefs, balance or imposter syndrome — addressed to no one in particular.

These approaches shout “hire me for coaching” but coaching isn’t something most people know they want.

Listen, I did ALL of these salesy things when I started as a coach, so I totally get why coaches do this. None of us knew any better.

No One Likes to Be Sold

So then how will you convince people to hire you without selling coaching? First, let’s shift that to a more powerful question:

How can you EARN the attention of IDEALclients and INSPIRE them to hire you WITHOUT selling coaching?

Let’s break this down. I ask the question this new way for 3 main reasons:

  1. Earning attention comes way before asking for the sale.

In our fast and full marketplace with so many marketing messages flying at everyone, earning attention is a true art. Before you throw out social posts or throw up a website develop a smart strategy.

Attention is earned when you show up consistently focused on what’s most important to your target audience. Speak their language. Build trust and connections.

The word ‘coaching’ or ‘coach’ is not present at all in that effort.

  • It’s better for you and your prospects if you DO NOT TRY TO CONVINCE them to hire you.

Think about a time when someone tried to convince you of something. How did that feel? If someone tries to convince me of something I am turned off and will quickly get excuse myself.

If I’m online I’m bouncing away so fast it will make your head spin!

Convincing someone is to try to hard sell them. It’s the stereotypical car salesman joke – relentless high pressure. Human beings are wary of pressure. Inside them the walls go up.

As a coach you want to run your business with integrity. You want to feel good about what you do 100% of the time. You want to put out positive energy.

Yes! So let the pressure off. Let go of any whiff of desperation to enroll a client. Instead SERVE your target audience faithfully. Serve as a form of marketing. That’s called generosity marketing.

Generosity marketing is about connecting to your target audience with respect for them and for yourself. You repeatedly show them that you understand them because you’ve taken the time to do that.

Show your vulnerability. Be real.

The amazing result is that over time you build trust and your ideal clients will want to hire you totally without you exerting any pressure.

  • Lastly, it’s far better for you if you DO NOT SELL COACHING at all!

Coaches may think I’m crazy when I say this … at first. But then they shift their mindset and a big AHA happens. It’s such a relief not to push the idea of coaching on anyone.

Coaching is a Toolbox Not An Outcome People Know They Want

For a moment … open your mind and think about what coaching really is. It’s a highly effective set of skills. It is part of your toolbox. It’s a process.

However, and this is critical, coaching is NOT an outcome. It’s not an ultimate desire. Coaching is not something people readily know they want.

Selling coaching will feel for you like pushing a large boulder up a steep mountain with lots of false summits. Again I know this because I tried to do it for years and failed.

So if you’re thinking of naming your business with the word coach or coaching in it. Don’t. If you’re thinking that your website should have a whole page about what coaching is and why they should want.

Don’t. There’s a better way.

My 99th episode was called What Coaching Clients Want Vs What You Think They Need. I invite you to listen to that after this if you haven’t already.

With big hearts wanting to help, coaches often feel people need coaching and then decide to spread the word about how great coaching is. When it doesn’t result in eager clients it feels so disheartening.

Why aren’t more people hiring you and staying with you longer?

Authentic and effective marketing is about listening to the words your target audience uses to describe their most urgent challenges and their specific urgent goals. Then you relate back what they’ve shared and provide a pathway to their ultimate desired outcome. Authentic marketing is a respectful and patient process.

In your toolbox are freshly minted coaching skills and other talents. Your paying clients will appreciate you but won’t be focused on your toolbox. They will be focused on their results — a testimonial to your value.

In the Next Episode: You Can’t Succeed in Your Coaching Business Without This

Ep 89 – Do You Shrink or Inflate Your Power with Coaching Clients?

This episode is part of the Client Management series.

In the last episode, I covered 7 RED FLAGS to watch for with clients and also how you need to watch your feelings for indications of losing your integrity in sessions with clients.

Well, this session is one way you can lose your integrity and disempower your client.

What do you do when a client comes to a session resistant, as if their arms are folded across their chest? Coaching seems to bounce off them.

Or worse they seem to have the expectation that you’ll fix or figure out things for them, but aren’t willing to be part of the solution. What’s going on there?

Power dynamics.

For coaching to happen, both coach and client must show up co-creative, resourceful and whole. In other words … standing in their personal power.

How can you do your part to encourage that?

The Helper in You May Overdo it

Most coaches I meet genuinely want to help others. In fact, it’s often a driving force in their lives to give.

Are you familiar with the Enneagram? What’s your number?

I’m a 2 – The Helper. And I’ve gone many turns around the spiral learning to become ever more conscious about the heavy shadow side of that noble desire to help and give. Do you feel me?

Wanting to help and give all the time can actually disempower others.

While it’s an obvious choice to become a coach if you like to give and help, that very impulse needs to be monitored.

So, for me learning how empower clients begins with “right sizing” myself. My intention is to show up as powerful as I am without inflating or deflating myself through my thoughts, words and actions. Because I know if I’m not right sized it will upset the power dynamic and disempower my client.

Think about it … in your last coaching session were you RIGHT SIZED?

It’s not a set it and forget it sort of thing. It requires centering before beginning any session and then tracking yourself

5 Ways to Empower You and Your Coaching Clients

1.  Hit the reset button before sessions.

  • Take 5 minutes of quiet to breathe and reconnect to your Highest Self.
  • Value yourself intrinsically.
  • Own your gifts, talents, and skills (as different but not more than your clients.)
  • Show vulnerability without being self-deprecating.
  • Get your needs met outside the coach/client relationship.

2. Let your clients take full responsibility for their role.

  • Charge fees that pay you well.
  • Never adjust fees to get a client.
  • Treat clients as resourceful adults.
  • Don’t do your clients work for them.
  • Set time boundaries and ask clients to honor them.

3. Promote original thinking and self-starting.

  • Verbally appreciate your client’s unique abilities.
  • Praise self-awareness, intuitive action and insights.
  • Reward initiative with enthusiasm and ask about their next steps.
  • Challenge them to do more than what’s comfortable.

4. Spark their wisdom without manipulating.

  • Let go of assumptions of what you think they know or don’t.
  • Ask their opinion about how to best coach them.
  • Ask a lot of direct open-ended questions. Let go of impulses to lead.
  • Own your opinions as just that … opinons. Don’t make them wrong for theirs.

5. Listen for their truth.

  • Validate their feelings without taking them on.
  • Separate your story from their story.
  • Ask questions to help them separate facts from interpretation.

What are other ways you’ve found to empower clients and stay out of the trap of fixing or saving them?

In the Next Episode: Test Your Coaching Niche with 4 Powerful Questions

Ep 7 – Why is Coaching a Hard Sell?

This episode might blow your mind. But I hope it OPENS your mind.

You’ve probably suspected the truth of this already. It’s been nagging at you but you haven’t known what to do about it.

Coaching is a hard sell.

You don’t want to have to sell at all, but you definitely don’t want to do a hard sell on people!

And, I hear you thinking …

“What the fork, Rhonda!

I’m a coach and you’re telling me

it’s not a good idea to sell coaching?

What else am I supposed to do?”

Bear with me, because there is an important mindset shift wanting to happen here.

Yes, it is a super valuable skill. It absolutely does help people transform. And we — you and I — are completely sold on the idea of it.

But most people are not.

The Origin Story Explains the Disconnect

To help you understand the disconnect between what we know and what our prospects don’t know, I’ll share what I call my origin story.

See if you recognize your own origin story in any of this.

I remember when the idea of coaching sparked in my mind and started burning like wildfire.

I was a Marketing Director of a small corporation. From the outside, it seemed like a perfect job. Great salary, good benefits, weekends off. My boss was the President and an engaging leader. I had authority and a lot of freedom.

Still, each day I came home from work feeling soul-less.

I felt sick on Sundays and dreaded the coming week. When I got home from conferences, I’d cry in the airport parking lot. I was so spent.

I decided I had to break free and deep down I knew that just getting another job wasn’t going to do it for me.

I summoned the courage to go to my boss and I told her I’d be gone in 6 months. In the meantime, I’d like to shift from employee to consultant, train my replacement and work from home 4 days a week.

To my surprise, she agreed to everything I asked. I think she valued me but knew somehow that I was a short termer.

Then, I had more bandwidth to consider what my next steps were.

During coffee with friends I asked what they thought my strengths were and we brainstormed entrepreneurial possibilities.

One friend said: “You’d be a good coach, Rhonda.”

A tingle zipped up my spine and in days I was immersed into a year long training program.

My life flipped over in the most exciting way.

Selling Coaching Comes Off Salesy

I became coaching’s best advocate. I became obsessed.

So you can imagine how confused I was when I talked to people about it their eyes would glaze over and they’d slip away from the conversation.

In a not very subtle way I was trying to convert them. To convince them that coaching was wonderful and that they wanted it.

In reality the only people who really wanted to hear about it were people who were thinking of becoming one themselves.

I’d argue that it is an even harder sell now because there is exponentially more marketing for services out there than there ever was.

And people don’t pay attention unless messaging hits every hot spot for them.

I wrote about topics like limiting beliefs and how to find confidence. There are sooo many articles out there on those topics so it wasn’t surprising those topics didn’t get read. I gave talks on similar topics at Chamber meetings and in libraries.

What happened?

Crickets.

Much later, when a few clients did enroll, they stayed no more than 3 months with me even though they said they loved working with me.

Obviously, I wasn’t earning well.

My problem was, that …

I Mistook What Coaching Is

It’s a skillset, not a solution.

But mostly it’s associated in most people’s minds with services for the elite or for corporate executives.

It sounds expensive but not in the same way as a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes or a two week beach vacation without the kids. People can easily justify those types of indulgences.

Hiring a coach doesn’t hit the desire button.

But people will also spend money on solutions to urgent problems. So this is the opportunity to …

Get Creative with Your Coaching Niche

Let’s say you’re a wellness coach. If you specialized in working with engaged couples you could offer these programs:

20 Weeks to Get Fit for Your Wedding

then later…

100 Days to Build Stamina for Parenting

and later…

120 Days to Lose the Baby Weight

Or, if you’re a career coach, you could specialize in working with women re-entering the work force:

4 Months to Land Your New Job

and

90 Days to Onboard With Confidence

Notice how each offer…

  • is geared to an urgent problem for a specific audience
  • doesn’t mention coaching at all

Once you have paying clients you’ll draw from your skills and tools to help them achieve their goals.

They’ll hire you because your messages and offers hit the mark.

This approach really works when:

  • you narrow your audience
  • the problem you’re speaking about is urgent for them, and
  • the outcome is specific with both emotional and tangible benefits

That’s also how you’ll be able to get and keep the attention of your audience long enough in this distraction-heavy marketplace to build a relationship and inspire them to invest in your programs.

Are you beginning to see how this could work for you much better than trying to sell coaching?

Now I know that hearing this could be a bit of a shock.

And it’s possible you might prove me wrong about this. If you’ve found it easy to be financially successful selling the type of coaching you learned to do, I want to hear your story and so do my listeners.

If, on the other hand, you’ve been stuck with a few happy but low paying clients, this mindset and approach shift could open all the doors and windows for you.

With this kind of focus for your business …

  • you know what to do day to day
  • you know how to find your audience
  • you know how to inspire them to open blogs and click links
  • you build trust and a fan base
  • you’ll know how to help your clients re-up for the next step with you
  • and you’ll build expertise quickly which can be leveraged into books, online training, masterminds and more

Want Help Making This Shift?

Grab a Strategy Session with me. It’s perfect for choosing your audience and nailing down your coaching niche. Or, if you’re already done a good job at that, we could brainstorm irresistible offers.

Let’s get your business on the right track so you can feel proud of it and earn well!

The next episode is 3 Crucial Parts of a Smart Coaching Niche

Ep 3 – Do You Really Need to Be Certified?

This short episode is part of the Start Smart Series.

Let’s explore a sticky question today. Do you really need to be certified in order to say that you’re a professional coach?

It’s sticky because there are two camps — the yeas and nays — with strong opinions.

Ultimately though, whether you certify or not is your decision.

2 Types of Coach Certification

  1. Certifying through a coach training organization. You enroll, complete training and certify through some sort of review process when training is complete.
  2. Independent certification such as through the International Coach Federation (ICF). You work towards it by completing requirements and paying an application fee. You’ll need a certain number of hours of paid coaching, completed training with an accredited organization, and being mentored by people who are certified at the master level.

To maintain or advance your ICF certification you have to re-up every few years. It’s a significant ongoing investment in time and money.

NOTE: The ICF and other certifying bodies often change requirements for the various levels of certification. So, if you’re on route to certify, stay in touch with the requirements so you’re not blindsided by changes.

Independent certification helps to mature emerging fields and garner acceptance in the marketplace. ICF launched in 1995, when life coaching was burgeoning, and now has a presence in 140 countries and over 30,000 members.

There is a segment of the coaching industry who will firmly say YES, that you must be certified to be considered a professional coach. I was in that camp when I first became a coach but I’ve softened on this over the years. Let’s look at the reasons proponents give …

6 Main Reasons to Certify with an Independent Body

Reason #1    That coaches who certify are more likely to earn more and not drop out of the profession.

Reason #2    That certification distinguishes you from all the people who co-opt the term ‘coach’ but who have not been rigorously trained.

Reason #3    That maintaining certification requires you to stay in tune with best practices.

I’ll chime in here and say there’s a logic to these reasons to certify. A professional path does help you stay in the profession. However, independent certification does not necessarily mean you’ll earn more.

Your income largely depends on your coaching niche, target audience, offers and your ability to market and enroll.

Reason #4    That the public will perceive you as being a more skilled coach if you’re certified.

Reason #5    That your clients will require it.

If you go into the executive or leadership coaching track where you’ll provide services to people within corporations, coaches that are ICF certified will likely have a competitive edge.

But for many other tracks, niches and audiences, certification is a non issue as far as clients are concerned.

In my 20 years in the industry, only 2 people have asked me if I was certified and that was early on by representatives of ICF. None of my potential or actual clients has ever asked me.

And, I’ve checked recently with experienced fellow coaches, who either have never certified with ICF or haven’t maintained it. We agree that for most niches the client does not require or even ask about certification.

Reason #6.    That you may be legally required to be certified in the future.

This could happen, however, I don’t see a lot of energy being put forth to move in that direction.

Regulation would likely only come about if coaching, as an industry, becomes a nuisance. In other words, enough coaches irritate enough clients that those people lodge complaints or sue. If there’s a push for regulation there will likely be a ramp up period and it will be licensing rather than certifying. Although the ICF will definitely lobby for certification to be a part of the regulation. And who can blame them?

The Bottom Line

Here’s what I tell my clients … why not work towards certification?

Research the requirements and work diligently towards them while growing all aspects of your busines. It will keep you on a professional path.

Then, as you grow in your coaching business, if your integrity tells you that to feel legitimate and be valuable to your clients you must maintain certification, then you’re ready. If not, trust yourself and find other ways to walk a professional path.

I keep records with the number of hours I coach/mentor each client. I also have a Terms & Agreement document that I ask each client to initial and sign that gives me permission to share their name with ICF as proof of our professional connection. Although I’ve heard that ICF eliminated that requirement.

Know that independent certification is a significant and continuing investment of time and money. I’ve been through it and I respect the rigorous effort and institution.

On the other hand, through the years, some of the best coaches I know are not only NOT certified but some are not even trained through a coach training organization. They are financially successful, highly respected and doing great work.

In any case, some sort of familiarization with what coaching is and is not is critical if you’re going to call yourself a coach.

And here’s something to ponder …

How will you learn and maintain best coaching practices?

How will you challenge yourself to higher levels of skill and integrity in your services?

Because it’s only through maintaining your integrity that you’ll achieve true professionalism in any field.

Mentioned in this episode:

International Coach Federation (ICF)

Click here to download an example Terms & Agreement document. Note: This is not a legal document. Have your lawyer assess your own final Terms & Agreement document.

The next episode in this series is: How to Feel Less Isolated in Your Coaching Business

Joel Bass created my theme music. Thanks Joel!

10 Powerful Questions to Enroll Coaching Clients Everytime

The secret is to enrolling more coaching clients is surprising. Don’t coach them in the Discovery Session.

https://prosperouscoachblog.com/powerful-questions-enroll-coaching-clients/Many coaches find their prospective clients walk away from a sample coaching session feeling “done”. It may be because a sample session is oriented around selling coaching rather than attracting the individual to what they already know they want — the vision of their ideal future.

If you want to transform your ability to enroll new clients, engage them in their own story and vision. Help them feel the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Then tell them how you can help them close that gap.

Could This Be the Reason Your Coaching Business Hasn’t Arrived Yet?

Your mindset.

It’s true. The make or break factors in coaching business success are rarely about education, specific business skills, or experience. Instead, it all comes down to how you manage your mind.

Nearly all my clients have struggled with believing in themselves at one moment or another. I’ve struggled with it on and off myself. What’s pulled me forward again and again is a BIG WHY. With all my heart I want to serve and earn with the freedom to do it my way. Over the years I’ve learned to use obstacles as my prosperous path.

Change Your Mind

https://prosperouscoachblog.com/reason-coaching-business-arrived/When you break through, it’s a shift in perspective that does it. You simply change your mind. Suddenly, what seemed like a steel wall in your way becomes a wisp of cloud. If the steel wall persists, it’s not because it’s real. It’s just waiting for you to see the wall come down. You have the power.

There’s a simple tool you can deploy whenever you feel that knife edge of wanting to give up: Turn what feels like a big deal into no-big-deal. Release your fixation on whatever you think is lacking and put their focus back on serving.

Move forward like a toddler reaching for a toy – with joy and determination.

Is online coaching effective?

It’s a good question.

Once I would have said “no”. Fresh out of coaching school in 1997, I was a purist and believed a coach has to be in real time connection with their client for coaching to be effective.one email can have a huge impact for your coaching business

Now, 15 years into coaching, I’d say “yes” as one of several ways you effect change with clients. Sometimes small incremental shifts have a huge impact. Those kinds of shifts are absolutely possible through online coaching.

Think of it this way, have you ever read a passage in a book that transformed your thinking? Then you know that a powerful question or message can do the same thing online.

There is one caveat…