1. You aren't clear on your target market
Simply saying I'm a leadership coach isn't enough. What type of leaders do you coach? What type of company do they work for? What challenges do they face? What outcomes do they want? Being clear on this stuff means you can quickly engage potential clients in conversation. And not waste time nurturing false leads.
2. You don't focus on the value you bring
When you're clear on your target market you can write your value proposition, a brief statement that explains who your clients are and the value you bring. When you meet a potential client you can demonstrate that value. Ask them about their work situation. What are their challenges? What outcomes do they want? Basically, you coach them. You will also be able to see if this person is your ideal client - do their challenges and desired outcomes fit with you target market?
3. You connect with as many potential clients as possible
There's an assumption with marketing that the way to win business is to connect with as many potential clients as possible. Perhaps that's why so many of us fail to get clear on our target market - the theory being, the vaguer you are the bigger your potential client pool. This is nonsense! Knowing what to do with potential clients is what counts, not how many you can meet.
As a leadership coach, you've probably already got enough contacts. You're just not making the most of them. Identify who you want to work with from your existing list and make sure they understand the value you can bring them before you go chasing after new leads.
4. You don't follow a step-by-step process
You shouldn't be trying to sell to people at first contact. You should be engaging them in conversation, starting to build the relationship and trying to move them on to the next step. This might be to say that you have an article you can send them that you think they might find interesting. You can then ask for their contact information. The next step would be to email the article and follow-up a few days later with a telephone call. In this phone call you need to know what you are going to say and the next step you are trying to move them on to. Perhaps to offer a more in-depth call or Strategy Session, where you will dig deeper into the challenges they face and the outcomes they want.
5. You don't develop tools to support you
If you've got a process you follow with all potential clients you can develop tools to support you at each step. Why spend 45 minutes agonising over an email, when you can tailor a standard email? Why stress over what to say in a telephone call, when you can develop a standard script that covers all the bases and moves you on to the next step? Of course, this takes us back to mistake No. 1: if you are not clear on your target market, it is difficult to develop standard documentation and scripts, as they will need to speak to a more varied audience.
6. You don't follow-up
Surely everyone knows by now, you must follow-up. And keep following up! Statistics abound on the value of following up. 10% of people selling services win 80% of the business. 90% of business is won after 5 to 12 follow-up connections. Most people selling services give up after 1, 2 or 3 connections. It may feel uncomfortable but you've always got your process and supporting tools to fall back on. Simply follow the steps and use the tools you've developed, such as standard scripts.
If you follow-up you will win business. If you don't, you won't.
7. You don't play to your strengths as a coach
You're a coach, not a sales person. Play to your strengths as a coach and don't try to reinvent yourself as something you are not. Your stock in trade is asking questions and listening. So, ask questions and listen. At all stages of your marketing process, ask potential clients about their work situation, their challenges and the outcomes they want. Dig deep into the pain in their role, and into the gain they will achieve if they overcome their challenges. You will quickly find that coaches make great sales people.
8. You don't know how to convert prospects into paying clients
This is the difficult step. How do you get people to buy your services? Well, it's more of the same. At some stage after you've connected with a potential client and established the relationship, you can offer them a Strategy Session. A Strategy Session will help them dig deeper into their vision and challenges and the outcomes they want. It adds real value for them and gives them an experience of working with you. If you get it right, your potential client will leave their Strategy Session wanting more.
Send potential clients a questionnaire prior to their Strategy Session. Then go through the questionnaire in more detail during the session. At the end arrange a report-back meeting, where you will take them through a two-page written report, summarising what they said. At the end of the report-back meeting you can start the sales conversation: Are you in a position to make a decision about whether you want to go ahead with a full programme?