(Plus What You Can Do About It)
If you’re an executive coach, chances are you went into the profession because you want to do something that’s rewarding and genuinely makes a difference in the lives of others… as opposed to a burning desire to market and sell coaching services.
Of course, one side of that coin does not come without the other. But the better and more efficient you are at marketing and selling your leadership coaching services, the more you get to do the coaching work you love.
And yes, there’s a lot of marketing advice out there these days.
But I can tell you after more than a decade of working executive coaches (as well as other consultants and self-employed experts) across 72 countries to help them win high-value corporate clients, there’s one “sales sin” that rises above all others.
That is: creating once-and-done, dead-end client engagements.
I’m talking of course about the times when a company or other organization hires you to…
- Coach just one or two specific people among hundreds or thousands of employees;
- Lead a half- or full-day workshop on a narrowly-defined topic;
- Run a set of people assessments (like Kolbe or DiSC) on a group of co-workers;
- Facilitate or design an off-site meeting or team-building exercise; or
- Help with some other “check-the-box” project that barely scrapes the surface of the transformation you could create for them if only given the chance.
No doubt you’ve had clients like this. And while on the one hand it’s great to win a client, on the other hand, these dead-end scenarios are actually a big problem for you.
Not just in terms of your satisfaction as the executive coach — but much more importantly as a business owner who runs a company that markets and sells coaching services.
In fact, dead-end client engagements can be the fastest path to a defunct business.
It all comes down to math and time. Here’s why…
On one side of the equation, you have your Minimum Revenue Requirements, which are the costs of running your business + your baseline personal income needs. (I’m not even getting into your lifestyle income goals here. We’re just talking in terms of your basement number.)
And on the other side of the equation, you have the number of times you win a client within a 12-month period (i.e. Frequency of Closing Clients) multiplied by the Average Revenue that you’re making on each client transaction.
In order to stay afloat without running up your debt, you need the above equation to balance.
Let’s run through an example. And we’ll be wildly conservative and say it only costs you $20,000 a year to run your coaching business. (That, of course, leaves nothing for investing in your personal development as a business owner.)
And to cover your personal expenses as the bread winner in your household, plus a little more so that you’re not miserable and living in a lack mindset, we’ll say you need a minimum of another $70,000.
So in this example your baseline income needs are $90,000.
Now we’ll look at the other side of the equation.
Let’s say that, based on your current approach to marketing (a topic for another day!), you’re bringing in one new client approximately every 6 to 8 weeks. That would mean you’re winning about 8 clients total throughout the year. (By the way, this is actually a pretty generous estimate, given the average income of the typical coach today.)
And let’s say that you charge $5,000 for a training workshop, and you charge $12,000 to coach a manager. That means your average income per client is $8,500.
Next we multiply the average of $8,500 by 8 transactions and that equals just $68,000.
So, very quickly you can see that despite the wins, in this scenario, you are already under water.
What’s even more fascinating about this, however, is that, at $68,000 a year (which is certainly nothing to sneeze at, and a lot of coaches would be thrilled with that number right now)… if you’re this coach, you are likely pretty exhausted at the end of the year.
If you’re like the thousands of coaches we talk to every year, you’ve run around like a chicken with its head off to win those eight clients. And you still don’t have the freedom-based business you’d expected.
On the contrary, for folks for whom this is the reality, the added stressors of credit card debt and other financial pressures can significantly limit their peripheral vision for what’s even possible for their business.
So what’s the answer?
Well, let’s start with what’s not the answer.
It’s certainly not running even faster than you already are. It’s not writing even more content. Or throwing even more spaghetti at the wall.
It’s about taking a more strategic approach on both the marketing and the sales side in order to win clients that are spending significantly more dollars with you on EACH transaction.
By driving up your Average Revenue Per Client Transaction, you change the game.
If instead of averaging $8,500 per client transaction, you instead make about $45,000 per client, you just took your business from $68,000 a year to $360,000.
And if you were to charge $100,000 per coaching client, you’d be looking at $800,000 per year as a coach. That’s a life-changing difference.
And here’s the thing: there are systematic, strategic approaches that any coach can use to make this shift. Let’s look at three steps to start.
Step 1. Expand Your Vision of Client Engagements
The first step in increasing your revenue per client transaction is to lay out what larger, more strategic client engagements look like for your business.
Interestingly enough, however, what we found over the last 10+ years of working with coaches, is that a lot of folks have a hard time picturing what this is going to look like for their coaching business.
That’s exactly why we created our new guide: “7 Simple $100K Packages to Sell Corporate Clients,” which you can download here.
(If you’ve never mapped out a six-figure or multiple-six-figure engagement, or need fresh ideas on how to make these engagements infinitely scalable, this is a must-have resource.)
Step 2. Change Your Positioning & Your Language Choices
It’s rare that you’ll meet with a prospective new client who hasn’t done at least a little research on you ahead of time. That’s why the way you position yourself on your website, LinkedIn profile, and articles is critical.
Specifically, you need to make sure that you’re not including content that unwittingly pigeon holes you into once-and-done, dead-end client engagements
Because if those are the kinds of service offerings that you’re highlighting in your marketing materials, that’s exactly the type of client projects you are “anchoring” in the mind of your prospects, and exactly the type of client projects you are going to land.
Step 3. Have a Defined Process for Your Conversations with Prospective Clients
This is one of the most valuable “secret sauces” we teach our clients. And that’s how to take control of every aspect of every sales conversation from the word GO.
Because either you decide how clients buy from you, or they dictate it to you.Either you decide how clients buy from you, or they dictate it to you. Click To Tweet
And if you allow clients to dictate the sales process to you, you’re in a tail-wagging-the-dog situation.
For example, now you might have a prospect who is “ordering up” a check-the-box solution to what is a much bigger problem than what coaching a few people or putting on a half-day workshop could ever fix.
Conversely, by having a defined process, you’re able to collaborate with your prospect on how best to solve their problem, as well as proactively educate them on the best approaches — including ones they may not even know are on the menu of options.
Let me leave this with you as the closing thought. There’s a lot of talk these days about mindset, and indeed, it’s critically important. But sometimes what folks see as a mindset issue is really about shifting awareness and access to strategies.
This is one of those areas that falls into the latter. When you shift your awareness about how you can serve your clients in a larger way, and you combine that with proven strategies on how to handle client conversations, suddenly a lot more starts “clicking” in your business in a way that felt far from reach up until now.
If you’re ready for the strategies and support to scale your coaching business, let’s talk! The first step is hopping on a call with our team.