by Todd Sivers
In my early years as a coach, I viewed my coaching business as a practice. 1-on-1 coaching was the only service I offered, a potential client could take it or leave it. And I made a living practicing coaching, as I developed skills and systems that led to the Four Switches training my business is built around today. But my sales process was awful. Yet the vast majority of coaches I talk with today are using that same exact process. Here's how I made mine 90% more efficient...
Like any business, I had a sales funnel. I did networking and advertising to get in front of potential clients and pitch them on the benefits of what I could offer them. And a small percentage of those I engaged in an initial conversation would move on to a sales conversation. Then, I would propose my services to those people, and a percentage of them would say yes. And then I had clients.
Whenever I ran short of clients, I would start networking and advertising again. It was a simple system that sustained a single coach in a 1-on-1 coaching practice. But it was ridiculously inefficient.It worked. I ate. But barely.
Between networking and following up on paid advertising, it would take about ten follow-up conversations to find a potential client, someone who was genuinely interested in considering being coached, and genuinely capable of paying me. The other nine conversations usually showed some small interest in coaching, but not enough for me to put out a greater effort to warm them to the idea, or hard sell them into it. Hard selling was never anything I wanted to try or get good at.
It would take about ten ‘sales’ conversations, deeper talks with those warmest leads, to sell the idea of a coaching relationship, and actually gain a client. So for each client I actually gained, and got paid for, I would have 100 conversations. 10 to get each warm lead, times 10 to get an actual sale.
100 conversations = 1 client. That was my marketing plan in a nutshell. And it worked, but it sucked.Once I had a client, I was a fantastic ‘practitioner’ of coaching. I was able to keep most of my clients for a very, very long time because I delivered them value for their investment in coaching, over and over. Some of those early clients are still clients.
But I was working like crazy to get clients, and it severely limited the time I had available to serve clients. I only had so many hours in a day, and I did all I could with them. And then I stumbled upon an idea that changed my business forever. I became 80% more effective with my clients and with my time. I wrote about that here.
But once that happened, the biggest problem in my business became painfully obvious. I was working much harder and longer to get work than I was to get paid for that work. And because I only had so much time to go around, even though I was 80% more efficient than I had ever been, I was still making far less money than I wanted to make.
To make more money, I had to shift from thinking about working in my business, as a practice, to thinking about working on my business, as an enterprise. And even though I was suddenly 80% more efficient at delivering coaching, I was still ridiculously inefficient at selling coaching. But because I was completely out of time, I knew working harder or working more hours was not the solution.
I knew having 100 conversations to get 1 client was not at all efficient. But I didn’t know how to break down the process. I didn’t know how to find people who were warmer to coaching (still don’t) and I didn’t know how to present my offer to them in a way that was more compelling (I’ve improved that a little.)
They say (whoever they are) that if your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. My only tool was 1-on-1 coaching. And I was turning away 99 people I had connected with who weren’t ready for 1-on-1 coaching for every person I connected with who was ready.
All those people weren’t ready for 1-on-1 coaching. It was too much, for a variety of reasons. Too much cost, too much time, too much pressure to change… But each of those people gladly took a business card from me and stuck it in their pocket. They wouldn’t buy, but they would take something for free. And if they would take something for free, why not give them something more valuable than a business card? Why not give them something that would help them remember, appreciate, and trust me?
I wrote a short ebook and started offering it to my prospective clients. 90% of them would take it. And I moved from connecting with 1 in 100 to connecting with 1 in 10 instantly. But the number who were actually taking me up on coaching didn’t change initially, and I was too impatient to wait. So I did something spontaneous that changed the direction of my business and my life forever.
I turned that short ebook into an online course, and put it on a site that already had traffic looking for courses. I offered the course for free, and within a few months I had 10,0000 students taking my course.
I had gone from a situation where 100 hard-earned conversations yielded me 1 paying client, to a situation where 10,000 people were experiencing the same sort of initial conversation – the same sort of preparation for a sales conversation – almost instantly, with absolutely no effort on my part once the course was set up. The difference was amazing.
Now, every conversation was a sales conversation, and that meant that 1 in 10 became clients instead of 1 in 100. I needed a lot fewer conversations to fill up my practice. It was almost Nirvana. Except, even though my delivery process was now 80% more effective, and my sales process was now 90% more effective, I still had only so many hours in a day. And soon, I hit an earnings ceiling once again. It was much higher ceiling, but a ceiling just the same. We'll get to the solution to that problem tomorrow. Want great training to live your dreams? Join here.
The 9th Day - 7 Ways