This post is the fifth part of the ‘How to Become A Coach’ series.
Now that you have given much thought into carving your niche and identifying your target market (from Part 4), it is time to consider how to qualify your coaching clients, specifically in terms of their attitude and readiness.
Do you accept any client from your chosen industry? Or do you have a clear criteria on the qualifying process?
Let’s face it. As coaches, we don’t work perfectly well with all types of clients. There are some who seem to gain better outcomes from the coaching relationship, there are some who are better coached by someone else; and there are some who just aren’t ready for coaching.
Like many beginner coaches, I was also guilty of committing this mistake when I first started out – accepting any client who wants coaching. Doing this did not serve me nor my clients well. Firstly, it created a perception of neediness from my part. And secondly, the quality of the coaching relationships became diluted, and hence, the quantity of successful outcomes were few and far between. That could affect the credibility of any coach.
The last few years of my coaching practice has taught me to refine my qualifying process. I have a better sense of the type of clients who would work well with me.
In this post, I will share from the angle of managing the conditions and agreements – first with the sponsors (if any), and the clients themselves.
Communicate Your Criteria With The Sponsors
If the coaching is paid by a sponsor, it’s best to discuss with the sponsor on what type of clients are most suitable to be coached by you.
For example, in my coaching practice with sales leaders and business owners, I have a strong bias toward working with clients who
1) TAKE 100% OWNERSHIP of their work and results,
2) TAKE ACTION.
I communicate this to the sponsors before they select the people to be coached. I would say something along these lines:
“I only work with clients who are bias toward TAKING ACTION. And here is WHY that matters……..”, or
“I enjoy working with OWNERS, people who take 100 % of responsibility of themselves and their work ….. and here is WHY that matters……..”
I would go on to describe what it looks like to coach with people who fulfill my criteria, and how that would benefit both the organization and the clients. I may share a couple of examples and stories from past successful coaching engagements.
This would help to avoid situations whereby a number of ill-suited clients are sent for coaching, which would likely to produce undesirable results. That would compromise the effectiveness and credibility of coaching, and is a waste of resources and time.
In the same way, do you know what sort of clients who would work very well with you? What does it look like to have an amazing coaching relationship with you?
In your own words, be clear on what sort of clients you would want to coach when you communicate with the sponsors.
Managing Agreements With The Clients
During the first session with the clients, define clear agreements that would make the coaching relationship an effective one. This is vital.
I would normally ask something on this line: “What would make this coaching relationship for the next ______ sessions amazing/useful for you?”
After listening to the client’s vision and goals (don’t rush this), I would say something to this effect: “I admire and respect your big goal. In order to achieve that together, I am committed to give you my 100% as a coach. And on your part, this is what I require of you….” and I would list down a few (usually not more than three) criteria I’m expecting to see in him.
“This is what I require of you….” is a very crucial part of the agreement. Ensure that the client pays full attention and understands what is required of him to be an amazing client.
Some examples of criteria I would use:
- Be willing to be open to the coaching process (especially if the client is unfamiliar to the non-directive style of the coaching approach)
- Be willing to face the truth about yourself and be truthful to your coach (me)
- Be willing to be challenged
- Have a strong desire to succeed
- Be committed to follow the action plan discussed during the coaching conversation
Again, keep the number of requirements short; keep them clear and memorable.
When the client is agreeable to that and could see that it’s for his own benefit and growth, then true coaching can begin. Whenever I sense that the client is not holding up to his end of the deal, I would remind my client of the agreements we had made in the beginning.
I believe you get the idea. Write your own list of strong, clear agreements you can make with your clients. Communicate clearly what each of the requirement means.
What else do you do to qualify your coaching clients? We would be happy to hear from you in the comments section below.