In 1994, I owned a small construction contracting business and employed a team of nine. I had another shareholder, but business felt lonely. I had no one to turn to for big decisions or just to bounce ideas around. So I hired my first business coach, Martin–and one of the most important things he did for me was to help me feel more supported and less lonely in the business. In my opinion, this is one of the most important ways you can earn business coaching clients’ trust–and ultimately become a more effective business coach.
Martin didn’t offer just the standard coaching sessions and business tools, he offered the service of being there for me. Emails weren’t that common back then, so we mostly communicated by phone. I knew that if I needed advice or help with a decision, I could call Martin and he would talk me through it. I valued this tremendously and all these years later, I’ve never forgotten what it meant to me.
More recently, during one of my coaches group coaching sessions, I was saddened to realize that many on the session don’t offer this service to their clients. Even worse, they didn’t perceive the value in it!
Earn Business Coaching Clients’ Trust by Putting Yourself in Their Shoes
During the session, I encouraged the coaches to put themselves in their client’s shoes, asking whom the clients could turn to in a moment of need. Many said they assumed their clients would consult friends, family, and perhaps other business owners. I agreed that this can be the case–but on many occasions, these sources offer biased opinions or faulty advice that is not founded on solid business practices. This can result in poor decision-making that impacts the business negatively and ultimately jeopardizes the coaching relationship (because too often, coaches are the first ones to be let go in times of financial crunch).
I strongly suggested that as coaches, they should be the first ones their clients turn to for help and guidance. Clients should feel safe with their coaches and confident that any input will be for the better good, that it will be objective and challenge the owner to reach informed, profitable decisions. Heck, if only for retention purposes, the coach should be the first call.
We then discussed the value of this service. The results from great counsel can be outstanding–and hence the value is priceless.
Will this Become a Time Suck?
One coach asked how much time this might suck out of her daily schedule. In my experience, the answer is not a lot.
Sure, there are some clients who are needy and I have to be careful not to spend an excessive amount of time with them, but most are infrequent with their requests. And of course now, in a world where digital communication is more commonplace than even the telephone, I ask clients to email or message me first. On some occasions, it is necessary to have a call, but most of the time it can be handled without a phone call.
But even if you need to pick up the phone a little more frequently than you are now, consider how much time it takes to secure a new client when you lose one. To me, five minutes once in awhile to offer great value right when my clients need it most is well worth it.
How to Implement This Service
Here are some recommendations for rolling this service out:
- Make sure that this support service is part of your sales pitch and program.
- Set the rules of frequency and method of communicating between sessions – I offer unlimited contact, by the way.
- Never be judgemental.
- Refer to any contact in the next session and gather feedback on the impact or results.
- Consider using closed Facebook groups to share with your clients. They can also learn from each other, as many of my coaches do in our group.
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