[For executive coaches] No one wants you to coach

KarenBusiness success, Coaching, Leadership

Coaches – you’re lovely people.

So sincere. So passionate. So ready to change the world with these new ideas and perspectives you’ve learned at coaching school (you did go to coaching school, didn’t you?).

So why aren’t you thriving?

I’m frequently approached by coaches seeking advice on how to build their business. I regularly review coach websites, and once in a while I’ll do a show of hands survey at a local ICF meeting to see how many coaches are making a living. The answer, usually, is: not many.

Why? Several reasons, likely but one is usually that they are trying too hard to sell coaching.

Look at the average coach’s website and you’ll generally see giant blocks of text extolling the virtues of coaching. When asked by a potential client what they do, the typical coach will explain either in vague (“I deliver dreams”) or process-based (“I meet with clients weekly to…..”) terms, neither of which is helpful to a person trying to decide to spend money and time. (And before you ask, yes I’ve heard both of those pitches, and lots – lots – worse).

My first career was in consumer packaged goods marketing. One of the things that brand managers spend a lot of time on is articulating the “features” and the “benefits” of a product. Let’s take chewing gum, as an example:

Mint flavour = feature

Breath that’s kissably fresh = benefit.

Potato chips?

Crispy and salty = features

Fun food for social times = benefit

I could go on – with lots more examples from snacks and recreational food because apparently my marketing career was, as a colleague once described it, as “a specialist in the grazing habits of the North American male.” But I digress…

So the features of coaching? An interactive, conversation-based methodology, usually applied with a frequency model, available face to face or remotely, that enhances self-awareness and supports behavior change.

The benefits?

Better relationships, more effective communication skills, clearer life direction, the ease that comes with alignment between the “who” you are and “what” you do, improved emotional intelligence and better leadership demeanour.

Bottom line: “Coaching” is a tool. It’s a process. It’s a methodology. It’s a “how” not a “what.”

No one buys coaching. They buy the results of coaching.