Here at the-Coaching Blog-run by Gerard O’Donovan, our aim is to constantly bring value to those seeking to improve their lives. Therefore we have a policy of publishing articles and materials by guest authors whom we value and appreciate. Today’s guest author is Alex Khrapov (Switzerland).
There are many reasons why the coaching profession is so attractive. Few careers allow you to be totally mobile, modern technology allows you to work with clients across the globe. As a coach, you can set your own fees and gain control of your financial independence. You can choose your own clients and work with them wherever and whenever you want to.
There are so many markets that need coaches: individuals, companies, groups, teams in multiple variations and many areas of business and self-development. However, the idea of an open market where you can work with any type of client can be the downfall of many coaching school graduates.
Let’s see how the majority of coaching courses’ graduates get themselves trapped in a set of beliefs that often prevents them from business success.
Development of Confusion
- Theoretical Concept Of Coaching
Take a look at the theoretical fundamentals of coaching. Usually, it is very clearly articulated what coaching is not. Every certified coach will tell you without hesitation that a coach is not a – therapist, mentor, consultant, advisor, trainer … but very few will clearly articulate what a coach really is.
And here comes a simple question: how are you going to sell something which you cannot even properly define? Let us take a look at the definition of coaching from two the most respectful sources: ICF and CA
“The ICF defines coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential.”
“A collaborative solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the coachee.” is a CA definition of coaching
Do those definitions help a newbie coach to articulate his or her services and “sell” it to potential clients? Well, you can judge it for yourself. Try to market “partnering process” or “collaborative process” where the partner does not provide expertise, advice, does not train, consult or help with some therapy or mentoring support. I assure you – it will not be easy :)!
Am I criticising definitions of coaching? Absolutely not. I am a professional coach. I love coaching and honestly believe it is one of the extremely powerful methods to facilitate a change. I am pointing out that the way coaching is defined does not make it easy to sell at all.
- Coaching Training Courses
Coaching education is a multi-billion dollar business. In order to sell their services, some of the schools sell the promise of golden opportunities to earn your fortune working with anyone from any background or business. It brings thousands of people who are unsatisfied with their current professions into coaching schools to have a share in this amazing business opportunity. “You mean that I can coach a CEO of a company or a parent with a family communication problem? Or any business owner who struggles with health issues and I don’t need any expertise or knowledge in any of those areas? I can coach anyone who wants to achieve any particular goal? Awesome!”
The idea of training someone so they can coach anyone to reach a particular goal works very well for coaching schools, whose goal is to attract students. However, the reality is a little different.
As you can see practically every student of a Coaching Certification Course goes through mental conditioning which comes from two sources or roots. As a result majority of graduates have following beliefs:
- “As a coach, I do not provide solutions and I do not provide expertise. I believe my client is the biggest expert in his life and in his problems, my job is to help him or her to find their own solution”
- “I can coach anyone and the less I know about my client’s area of expertise – the better. The less familiar I am with his or her area, the easier it is for me to stay unbiased and not impose my own opinions, which is the essence of the coaching approach”.
These are logically decent ideas, aren’t they? These beliefs are in line with the coaching method and everything is perfectly fine when one coach communicates those ideas to another coach, but let’s check what happens when you “test” it and try to “sell” it in an open market.
When we have a problem we are more engaged emotionally than logically. Think about it, all our life we seek help from professionals and specialists. Would you hire a Spanish teacher if he is not fluent in Spanish or a football trainer who cannot play football? It doesn’t make sense, does it? Will you listen if that trainer tells you – “I cannot play football but I use a special method called “coaching,” which allows me to help you reach your goal and become a great football player!” Would you listen?
You could argue that my simplified example of skill building is not the prime purpose of coaching and can be done better through training, teaching etc. But this is exactly the point. Our Clients are trained all their life to seek help from professionals when they have a problem.
The core of any business relationship is trust and credibility. You cannot turn a prospective client into a real paying client unless you establish a high level of credibility and expertise. Can you imagine what happens with your credibility if you tell your potential client: “I do not know much about … but coaching will help you. I am not providing solutions to your problem but I am a good coach …”.
So, as a result, the very same message which works well to attract people into coaching schools stops graduates of those schools succeeding in business. I’m not judging any coaching school’s sales strategies. My point is that as long as you, as a Coach believe the message and allow it to control your actions and communications with clients, your business is at risk.
Why would your client hire someone who is not an expert in their area of difficulty? It doesn’t make sense. As soon as they realise you have no extensive, deep knowledge and expertise in their particular specific problem, there will be no business transaction. It’s as simple as that. Your client doesn’t know or care about coaching concepts or ideas. His only concern is to resolve his problem, and this concern is so high that he is willing to pay you to help him to resolve it.
The above examples might be an exaggeration but one way or another in many more subtle forms this is what happens when coaching school graduates attempt to make their first steps in business. This is the reason why so many coaches feel awkward offering their services. They can not articulate what exactly they are offering: … partnering process?… collaborative process? There is a natural mismatch of what their client is looking for and what newbie coach offers.
Quite an interesting fact that if you have not had the proper coaching training you obviously do not have ideas about “not providing expertise” and automatically will be in a more advantageous position in the market. Unfortunately, those untrained individuals call themselves as coaches and that fact create real market confusion (http://coachfederation.org/prdetail.cfm?ItemNumber=1977&RDtoken=19237&userID= )
Breaking out of the trap.
Now when we investigated the roots and consequences of the problem, the solution became quite clear:
We need to accept the position of our potential customer and drop attempts to implant our own ideas into his or her head.
There may be exceptions where your potential client has been already highly educated and very familiar with the concept of coaching and embraces the same ideas. The corporate world, for example, is familiar with coaching methods but even there, top management usually prefers to hire coaches who are highly competent and familiar with the type of business they are about to serve. It just makes more sense, doesn’t it?
So if you are up to make real business today, be on the same page with your today’s potential client. Forget for a while that “you are not an expert”, choose your area of expertise, choose your niche, position yourself as an expert, build your reputation and credibility, gain trust and then … apply your coaching skills in full power! Isn’t that what you really want? … to help people?
By the way, the ice is breaking. If you check CA “Coaching Defined” page you can find several other definitions of coaching and one of those:
“As for personal coaching, but the coach is an expert in addressing one particular aspect of a person’s life e.g. stress, career, or the coach is focused on enhancing a particular section of the population e.g. doctors, youths.”
PCC, MT ASTD