Coaches Tip #1 – Avoiding the Sales Trap

You’ve heard it before: Everyone is in sales. As a coach, your clients come to you through a sales process. But has the pressure of trying to sell your service to a prospective client ever turned you from an adept communicator into a quota driven salesperson? If so, you’re not entirely at fault. Your prospective client’s questions may have drawn you into that role.

Prospective clients have been trained by working with vendors. They may be in sales themselves, so they don’t hesitate to ask “Why should I buy from you?” questions.

The questions may come in a softer form. “What benefits will I get from coaching with you?” Or “How do you approach coaching? I’m interviewing two more coaches, and I want to know what you uniquely provide.”

These are excellent questions. The trouble is, if you answer them by talking about yourself, your results, or your well-honed coaching processes, the client will learn little about what it’s like to work with you.

The real goal of the interview is to coach the client. That way you both find out what it’s like to work with one another and whether you’re a good fit.

But they’ve asked the questions and you can’t ignore them. So, you have to do what in sales is called a “turn-around.” You’re redirecting the prospect’s demand, turning it in a direction that’s more useful for both of you.

For example, suppose I have 45 minutes scheduled with the prospective client and she asks at the start, “Why should I coach with you?” I answer, “I don’t know yet if you should. I know what benefits other clients have received, but that doesn’t mean I’m the right coach for you. The best way to find out is to have a working session right now. We roll up our sleeves and work on something that’s important to you. Then we’ll know what it’s like to work together. After 20 minutes we can circle back and address your question. Chances are you’ll know the answer by then. Would you like to give that a try?”

The above dialogue is a bit compressed. Still, you see how you direct the process to demonstrate your competence rather than talking about it.

Usually, that is. Experience will tell you when to improvise.