The best way to get your first coaching clients is through your existing network.
At Coach.me, we call this client prospecting.
Most new coaches think they should start out by marketing on Facebook or Twitter.
But if you don’t have any track record, any followers, or any feedback on your coaching pitch, digital marketing won’t work.
If a friend doesn’t trust you do be their coach, a stranger won’t either.
How to Get Your First Coaching Clients
The #1 rule of coaching marketing is that you need to talk to your friends first.
This has two benefits:
- You’ll build a track record. In the beginning, your friends and acquaintances are your most likely clients.
- You’ll get feedback. By talking directly to people, you’ll learn what sort of coaching is necessary and how you should describe yourself.
Below, I’ll share a script that will help you improve your coaching and get your first coaching clients.
Here are a couple of things to note before you start prospecting:
- You’re not a coach if you don’t have clients. As a coach, finding clients is a daily responsibility.
- Sales are partly about volume. That’s why sales scripts exist.
- You should use your existing network. The script I’m going to share is for people you already know.
- If you can’t sell to friends, you won’t be able to sell to strangers. So, this script will help anyone who is a new coach.
Let’s get started.
Prospecting in 3 Steps
Here’s a quick overview of the prospecting process:
- Choose the right people — Contact people who will open your message because they know you.
- Send an email — The recipient doesn’t have to be a potential client because the script covers asking for introductions as well.
- Follow the script — You’ll ask for advice and if your coaching is a good fit for the recipient or anyone they know.
In the following sections, I’ll explain how I go through these steps in detail.
1. Choose the Right People
I go through my LinkedIn by letter.
For instance, I’ve reached out to every one of my contacts whose first name started with A, and who I thought would respond to me.
That turned out to be no less than 14 people.
I then reached out to those 14 people and asked them for advice.
Rather than trying to sell them, I simply asked them to share their thoughts with me.
And since they’re my friends, their happy to give me advice.
2. Send an Email
I use the following email:
I’ve recently joined a community of coaches, Coach.me, because I’m starting to coach online. Do you have 15 minutes to give me some feedback on how you approach your own goals and whether you have ever considered coaching as a way to boost your progress?
I hope you’re well otherwise. [Submit some small talk, i.e. Saw that your son just turned 8, he looking so big!]
That’s all the email needs to say.
You don’t need to convince the recipient of anything, so you don’t need to say much.
Either they like you enough already to spare 15 minutes, or they don’t.
3. Follow the Script
Let me be super-clear about this script.
It’s not a sales script— it’s a customer research script.
Most people will just give you interesting answers that will make you smarter.
A few will be excited about coaching and practical force you to get them a coach.
Either way, if you use the script, both sides will feel like it was a worthwhile call.
The script works like a mad-lib.
There are parts where you fill in your own details.
So, before you get started, you should know your:
- Topic — Take what you coach and name the most general topic for it. For instance, weight loss is a health topic, productivity is a work topic, and so on.
- Inspirational fantasy — You should be able to talk about the epic outcome that is motivating your clients. If you don’t have clients yet, you should guess what the inspiration is.
- Coaching style — Be ready to share a little bit about the underlying mechanism of how you help people achieve the fantasy and the scope of your service.
You’ll find the script below.
I put commentary in [brackets].
Print a script for each call and scribble notes on the margins.
Client Prospecting Script
Part 1: Opening[Get them talking about themselves. You can pitch coaching at the end.]
Thank you so much for taking the time. I’ve been doing a couple of these calls, and it’s been super-helpful just to hear how people are thinking about their goals right now. Is it ok if we start with a little bit about you and then if you want, I can tell you more about what I’m up to at the end? It’s really exciting.[Most people won’t have articulated a top goal. The question below is worded so that they have to pick something.]
Great. First question. If you had to share your top goal right now, what would you pick?[Almost always they’ll give a general goal.]
That’s great. Can you be more specific? What does success look like? What does it take for you to get there?
Part 2: Analyzing[Now that they’re warmed up, get them to offer more goals. Make sure to list your topic. If they don’t list a goal in your topic then that means then that’s a sign — don’t press them.]
That’s a great example of a goal. Can you think of any other goals you might have, for example in terms of eating, exercise, productivity, relationships, or health?[Now get them thinking historically.]
How about in the past. Can you think of the last big goal you set for yourself? It could be a New Year resolution or a goal at work or something you were working on in your relationship. What was that goal, and how did it turn out?[Get them thinking about solutions.]
When you set a goal for yourself, do you have an easy time following through, or do you feel like you need help with accountability? Do you have any tricks of your own?[Start them thinking about coaches.]
Have you ever had someone in your life that played a coaching role? For example, a sports coach growing up, an excellent manager, or even a time when your parents really helped?[Have them examine the coaching relationship.]
What did you like or not like about this relationship?[Start investigating their willingness to try a coach.]
If you were to consider working with a coach again, what goal would you work on, and what would be most important about the coach?[Now, get their feedback about you.]
That’s all very interesting and helpful just to hear how an ambitious person like you approaches their goals. Can I tell you a bit about what I’ve been working on?
I’ve been coaching, and many of the people I’ve been coaching are motivated by [insert inspirational fantasy]. The way I coach for this is by focusing on [insert how]. When you hear that I’m coaching people in this area, what questions come to mind?[Answer their questions, except for the price.] [You might not be in the right place, so allow them to suggest adjacent areas to coach.]
Are there other related goals that you think would be important to coach for yourself or for other people?
Part 3: Closing[Now, price.]
I have a price for my coaching. But I’m curious what people’s expectations are. Based on what you’ve heard so far, what do you think I’d charge every month?[Now it’s time to close them. There are three options and you need to use your judgement. The three options are below: A, B & C.] [A: If they are not excited by now about the idea of coaching, then thank them profusely for their time. ABSOLUTELY DO NOT TRY TO SELL THEM PERSONAL COACHING. You’re talking to a friend, and you don’t want to burn the relationship. Instead, ask if you prompted them to think of a friend or colleague who should talk to you.]
Thank you so much for your time. Your feedback was incredibly useful. One last question. If you had to pick one person in your life who would be most likely to get coaching, who would choose? Why? If I wrote you an email, would you be willing to forward it on?[B: They are excited about coaching, but not on a topic where you are the right coach.]
I happen to know a bunch of coaches who specialize in X. Do you have an interest in getting an introduction to one of them?[If the answer is yes, find a suitable coach through the Coach.me referral network, and send the link with your referral code to your friend. Ideally, you should do this on the same day that you talked to your friend — they’re all hyped up and ready to do work. So, make sure to join Coach.me well in advance.] [C: They are excited about coaching, and you are the right coach for them.]
This goal you have is something that I specialize in. Would you consider using me as a coach?
Why is This Script so Long?
The script is long because you can give it to anyone.
You can use it with your uncle, minister, old boss, or UPS driver.
By the time you talk to them, they’ll all be sharing one characteristic: they want to do you a favor.
It’s not a sales script.
That’s why it’s safe to use with your uncle.
Instead, it’s a script about reciprocity.
The people you contact will give you feedback, referrals, or sign up for your coaching.
In return, you will help them find a coach for themselves or for one of their friends.
If the script was shorter, it would look and feel like a sales script.
And that wouldn’t work with friends and acquaintances.
How to Pivot the Script
You’ll find out in about ten conversations if you have a coaching offer that people want.
If ten people in a row don’t want your coaching and can’t think of anyone who does, then you have to change your pitch.
The What for Whom framework is very useful for doing that.
When some people sign up or make referrals, although most don’t, you’re on the right track.
You can now use the pitch to work through your entire network.
That might take you an entire year.
And right about that time, you’ll get new referrals from all the great clients you’ve already worked with.
Congrats — you’re on your way to a fully booked coaching business!
How to Get Your First Coaching Clients, Key Takeaways
- The #1 rule of coaching marketing is that you need to talk to your friends first.
- You can use prospecting to get your first coaching clients through your existing network.
- When you’re prospecting, choose the right people, send them an email, and follow the script.
- The client prospecting script is widely applicable and runs on reciprocity.
- If you don’t succeed at first, change your pitch until you do.
- When some people sign up or make referrals, use the pitch to work through your entire network.
Now, go out there and get your first coaching clients!
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