As a professional coach, the success of my business depends on retaining current clients as well as getting new prospective clients. Same as any service business. For assistance in getting new potential client perspectives, I’m registered on several websites that help service professionals do just that (i.e. Thumbtack, Bark, etc.). However, there are a few things that will make me hit “PASS” very quickly. Since people go to these service sites with the best intentions and expectations, I wanted to give prospective clients some insight as to why they are being overlooked.
The request is too vague
Adding a simple sentence like “I need to get my life together” is something coaches loathe. It sends the message that the prospective client is someone who is unclear about where they want to start. This comes across as jumbled and scattered and no professional coach wants to deal with that!
Any person making a request through these service websites should complete the additional details section. They should be meaningful details about themselves. 1-3 sentences are sufficient.
The information has red flags
Just like when a person reads an online dating profile and there are red flags that go off about a person, with a coaching request, similar mental warnings occur. Words and expressions such as:
- “mental health”,
- “suicidal thoughts”, and
- “have no hope” are a no-go.
These are red flags for professional coaches and many reputable coaches will not contact a prospective client with such words in their details. What these words are telling the coach up front is that the prospect has deeper emotional and mental issues that need to be handled by a qualified and certified therapist or counselor. As I explain on my home page, coaches are not mental health professionals.
Only open to face-to-face professional coaching
This one really bugs me, especially for prospective clients who have never experienced professional coaching. First, those who want to employ the services of a professional coach need to understand there are two fundamental reasons many professional coaches do not do face-to-face coaching:
As I stated earlier, professional coaches are not mental health professionals. That being said, based strictly upon our training as coaches we do not have the tools to deal with the erratic and potentially dangerous behavior of a prospective client who may not want to hear what we have to say.
One of the first things I learned in my ICF-approved professional coach training was “when in doubt, refer them out”.
Here’s a quick scenario: A professional coach responds to a coaching request on one of the services I mentioned earlier. The prospect wants to meet face-to-face so they agree on a great public location where there is some privacy. Like a public park. So they meet, exchange pleasantries, and sit on a bench to chat. It becomes apparent to the professional coach very quickly that this prospect:
- is better suited for therapy,
- is not be a good fit for coaching, and
- has some serious anger and impulse control issues.
Now, this coach is in a tight spot. For the exact reasons they have identified, they don’t feel comfortable (or safe) telling the prospect that they will not take them on as a client.
So my question is, why would a professional coach put themselves in this situation?!
The answer is simple. Most of us wouldn’t. I do not do face-to-face coaching to avoid the very scenario described above. When a prospect books a session with me, it’s either for a phone or Zoom/Skype session. This makes it more comfortable and convenient for us both and certainly a safer set of circumstances for myself.
Please note this is just how I see things. Every professional coach is different and needs to do what works best for their business.
The cost of traveling to see a prospective client is something that many people don’t consider when they state that they only want to meet with a professional coach “face-to-face”. This to me translates as a prospect stating that they expect me to take on unnecessary costs (i.e. travel, gas, and commute time) with no guarantee that a paid session will be booked.
This is a bit of a red flag and gives me the impression that a prospect is not serious about wanting professional coaching services.
Details are too exacting with “dos” and “don’ts”
I have seen this scenario way too many times to count and it always makes me chuckle. A prospective client will put in a request for a professional coach through a service site and in their details, there is a long list of “dos” and “don’ts” for the professional coach and “wills” and “won’ts” for themselves. I smile and instantly click pass on such prospects.
The reason is simple. If a prospective client has already decided what they will and won’t do and what a professional coach needs to do or not do for them, then this is not a person who is serious about wanting to make positive changes in their life. Now, to be clear, I am not talking about anything to do with:
- professional behavior,
- ethical standards, or
- basic respect.
What I am referring to is a prospective client who basically wants someone to agree with their current behavior and not effectively challenge it. The impression a professional coach gets is that this prospective client has control and accountability issues (which is also a red flag).
I hope this was insightful for readers and makes it a little more clear as to why those seeking professional coaching, personal trainer, or other personal services may not be getting any responses.