Wondering how to get coaching clients to grow your coaching business?
If yes, you are not alone!
Finding new clients or customers is one of the biggest ongoing challenges for any business, particularly when starting.
Learning how to say no is one of the most underutilized marketing strategy, especially when growing a coaching business.
You get the space you need to focus on what is important to you by saying no to a coaching client who doesn’t fit into your niche. It also helps you stay on track and achieve your coaching goals in your particular niche.
However, life and business needs kicks in and saying no when you need to pay bills isn’t easy.
To help you out with this, we have asked the following question from industry-leading life coaches:
How to get coaching clients? What is your best advice for coaches who are just starting out?
Check out their generous replies on how they overcome this biggest challenge to grow their coaching businesses.
Dr. Marcia Reynolds has provided coaching and training for leaders and coaches in 43 countries with a focus on establishing strong relationships.
She holds a doctorate in organizational psychology and two master’s degrees in learning psychology and communications. She was the 5th global president of the International Coach Federation and recognized by Global Gurus as the #4 coach in the world.
Best advice on how to get coaching clients:
People need to know you exist to hire you. You have to discover ways to be visible in print, online, and in person if possible.
First, decide if you want your business to be local in your city or broader nationally or internationally. This is important when considering how you can be visible to potential paying clients.
Second, determine where your potential clients go to find support services. I don’t recommend buying advertising for coaching. Most people hire coaches they feel personally connected to through conversations or when reading what they write or watching their videos. Locally, what groups do they join that you could join as well? Where do they gather on social media? What social events do they attend, including the gyms they go to? Show up with advice. Don’t try to sell them. Be of service so they experience how you can help them.
If your potential clients are national or international like mine, then create visibility by writing books, being a guest on well-known podcasts (you need to have special advice to offer), posting short, useful videos on YouTube, and above all, writing blogs. You can then post your blogs on LinkedIn, convert them into short audio and video tips you can post on your website as well as your social media sites, and send them out in a newsletter that has links to other useful sites (not yours) to demonstrate you are a valuable resource (but don’t put people on your mailing list without permission).
Third, when people thank you for your tips and ideas, ask them if they would copy and paste their comments in a LinkedIn testimonial and if you can use their words on your website. If you ask right away when they are grateful for you, they will say yes.
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask people for business after they thank you for what you gave them. You might offer a complimentary session to try coaching, or ask them if a short engagement with you, maybe three sessions, might be worth it to them to get ahead of their difficulties and see a clear path forward.
Melissa Wiggins, a Scotland native currently residing in Orlando, Florida, is a proud mum of five and an advocate for change in pediatric cancer. She holds a law degree from the prestigious University of Edinburgh.
She is a life coach who helps you become your very own life coach.
Best advice on how to get life coaching clients:
If you are thinking of being a coach a couple of things you should think about before you decide:
1. Am I an entrepreneur? Most successful coaches are
2. Grow some extra skin as you will get a ton of rejections in the beginning. That’s okay – keep going!
3. Ask yourself why you want to be a coach – if it’s just to make money that is not enough to sustain you- there must be passion and purpose.
After you have done some of that work and you have your credentials your number one job is not only to tell the world you are a life coach ( no niche the first year) but to BE a life coach! I went from a lawyer turned CEO to “she is a life coach” everyone knows this is my job now! I create content about it! My social media has a heavy push on it! Not in a gross sales way BUT in an “I want to impact people’s life type of way! “
The biggest advice I can give is to go all in! Don’t do a side hustle!
Don’t half work it I’m evenings – if you want to make $100k plus a year and be one of the top-earning coaches you should plan your start around being all in! Life coaching changed my life – when my life coach suggested I be a life coach my inside world began to match my outside! I’m more impactful and successful today than ever!
Joseph Lerner believes passion and potential are lost without direction and purpose.
Best advice on how to get coaching clients:
Two thoughts on obtaining new clients
1st – Make it known that this is who you are and what you do – “You’re calling” Passion, etc. – I refer to this as mission-driven.
2nd – make sure they know 3 things about you – They can trust you, you can help them, and you care.
Every solid relationship in life is built upon these principles – then you can discuss their reality and how to align that with goals/coaching!
Alexandra Whitesell is an established, motivated, highly detail-oriented Certified Meeting Professional, and Certified Event Designer with over 10 years of experience and knowledge.
She is Level 1 Certified with Precision Nutrition as a wellness coach. She has the drive to learn, enjoys strategic thinking, and believes in the power of stories through meetings and everyday life.
Best advice on how to get coaching clients:
Utilize your existing network and ensure that your friends and family understand your new business and audience/demographic so that if in conversation someone says, ‘I have thought about X coach or I need help with Y,’ your friend or family member will say, ‘I know a person!’
I think social media is also an important building block and creating content that speaks to pains/gains is helpful in sharing your story and also sharing commonalities that someone else might be facing.
For me, I have tried countless diets, ‘lifestyles,’ low carb, and clean eating and I shared on social media and the response was outstanding…a lot of people have experienced what you have, and the biggest difference is now you can help them, too.
When you are first starting out, things might be slower than you anticipated, and that’s okay, know that you serve a greater purpose in changing the lives of others, and keep going!
Michael Dolan is an executive coach committed to helping leaders get out of their own way. He is a Certified Integral Coach, and productivity expert (GTD).
Best advice for coaches who are just starting out:
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Just as you invite your coaching clients to repeat new behaviors and practices so that they can push their edges, as a new coach you need to take every chance you can to practice your new craft – and perhaps FIND your unique way of working with clients along the way.
Spread the word to colleagues and friends that you are taking on new clients at a discounted rate to grow your practice, and make it clear to new clients that one of your requests, should the engagement go well, is that they write you an authentic testimonial and potentially refer colleagues to you. Since leadership coaching is so personal and intimate, personal referrals tend to be a big source of new business. And even if you don’t get a referral from a client, you’ll have had the opportunity to practice your new craft for a few months, refine your approach, and gain confidence.
2. Network with other coaches
While, of course, you’ll want to be spreading the word about your practice among your ultimate target market, I’ve found it very effective to build lots of ongoing relationships with other leadership coaches whom you respect. Coaches tend to develop specific specialties along the way.
For example, one of my specialties is workflow/productivity coaching. Since most other coaches don’t have that specialty but get lots of leads for coaching, I get a fair amount of leads from other coaches who have known me for a while and respect the work I do in that specialty.
Another way to develop yourself and your business through other coaches is to become a contract coach for a larger coaching company or partnership with other coaches. As long as you have appropriate training and they trust your work and credential enough, they can offer a few coaching gigs here or there, with you receiving a percentage of what is billed. When I was a relatively new coach, this is a key way that I developed my confidence and approach. And I still do a fair amount of this work through coaching partnerships, alongside engagements I book through my own business.
Jamie Mason Cohen is a certified leadership development and resilience expert. He is a keynote speaker as well as a regular commentator on CNN, Forbes, and The Morning Show.
Best advice on how to get coaching clients:
1. Focus on getting 1 client and serving them as if they are the last client you will ever have. If you can help one client solve their problem and be extraordinary to work with, they will refer you. One referral leads to another leads to another.
2. Do your research first. If you are interested and believe you are well suited to coach in a particular industry, then read the industry publications, websites, and books to be up-to-date.
Attend these professional conferences virtually or in person. Look at what other coaches or speakers in their industry are coaching or speaking on by attending their events and speaking with people in the industry. Get infinitely curious about the trends, problems, and challenges that this industry faces now.
Find a way to speak onstage or at a webinar at their industry events (through persistence, networking, and a new perspective that fills a gap in their niche). Be creative. Volunteer to help the event to get to know people. Ask about how you can be a sponsor, which will give you V.I.P. access. Offer a coaching session as a prize.
3. Write a short book or create a podcast specifically geared towards the industry that you want to coach in.
Reach out to 50 of the top experts in this field and ask for an interview because you’re interviewing the top experts in their field. A small percentage might say yes. All you need is one. Again, do your research on each industry expert first. Once one expert says yes and you do that interview, you have a little social proof and credibility to ask for another interview or to be referred.
To be able to lead with a book geared towards the audience you want to coach to help solve a priority problem will make you stand out from the noise of business and life coaches out there.
Instead of spending thousands on a coaching certification, which is what the majority of new coaches do, consider investing that same amount of money in a coach to help you finish and publish a book, podcast, or media platform where your audience is to position yourself as a top coach in that niche.
4. The core value of – playing the long game – is crucial. Put people over profit and put relationships over being transactional. When you focus on doing your best to serve and create value for people, you will be focusing on what’s in your control to become a world-class coach.
And then one day all the cumulative value you’ve added to people’s lives will start to come back to you in the form of trusted relationships, referrals, new clients, and returning ones.
Kathy Caprino, M.A. is an internationally recognized career and leadership coach, writer, speaker, and educator dedicated to helping professional women build successful, rewarding careers of significance. A former corporate VP, she is also a trained therapist, seasoned executive coach, Senior Forbes contributor, top media source on careers, and the author of two top-selling books
Best advice on how to get coaching clients:
To obtain new coaching clients and create a sustainable funnel for getting new clients, here are 5 tips:
- Start immediately building a robust referral network of great colleagues who offer complementary services and will be happy to recommend you to their communities
- Identify a tight, targeted niche of people you love to serve, and then get much better at serving that target group. Do that by getting additional training, supervision, receiving mentorship, developing free content that will move your prospective clients forward, and consider running a group coaching program where you can hone your skills and know-how, and be of service in affordable ways.
- Build your own, proprietary “model for change” that is your unique process of bringing clients from where they are to where they wish to go. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that “it’s just all about the questions we ask.” Effective coaching is more complex than that. And make sure you’re truly trained in the process of coaching from a reputable training organization.
- Engage in your own proprietary surveys and research and start regularly publishing new thought leadership offering free content that moves your target niche forward. Offer that material on your site, with an effective free downloadable gift that will move prospective clients forward in the key areas that you cover in your coaching.
- Start now in building a sizable mailing list of followers that you serve consistently (every week or two) who can benefit from your free content. (Note: New coaches have to be of service to people in many different ways, and often for free, through their new materials, writing, interviews they conduct with experts, coaching assessments, or other free content, far longer than they’d expect before people will consider investing money working with them. It’s important to offer material that proves your efficacy as someone who can make a difference in their lives.
While there isn’t a silver bullet approach that guarantees new coaching clients will flood in, I’ve found that there are 6 essential ingredients to a successful process of attracting and engaging ideal clients who will be rewarding and joyful to work with, who will pay you well, and who will be a great fit with what you uniquely have to offer.
In my 4-part video training for new and seasoned coaches called “The 6 Critical C’s To Building a Success Coaching Business” I explore what I’ve found are the 6 essential elements of coaching success required if you’re to continually attract and serve new clients in a rewarding, successful way (and I also share the 10 Crippling Mistakes New Coaches Make):
The 6 Critical C’s that coaches need are:
- Clarity – you need to know and articulate clearly who you are serving and why you stand apart from other coaches who also serve this target audience. (If you believe you can coach everyone on anything, you just won’t be successful today.)
- Confidence – you need to develop confidence in your coaching skill based on realism and real-world results, and that comes from working with lots of clients and having a solid coaching framework and methodology that takes clients through a successful and replicable process of change. If you’re just starting out, take on some pro bono clients to work your process and give you that confidence that you’re an effective change agent. You’ll need to explain your framework to potential clients and offer them verifiable information that reflects you have helped other people like them to achieve great results
- Connection – start building a sizable support/ referral team that offers complementary services to your coaching and is happy to refer clients to you
- Competitive Advantage – you’ll need to develop a strong competitive edge in the way you coach and what you focus on – an approach to your specific brand of coaching as well as unique thought-leadership, knowledge, and experience you bring to it, so potential clients can feel and understand (and be drawn to) your “sweet spot”
- Communication/Marketing/Sales Savvy – Coaching is an online, global business now, and you’re in competition with thousands of great coaches in your same niche, from all over the globe. You will need to be able to be found online, be ranked highly in your niche, and have a compelling website and marketing/sales materials that powerfully reflect what you offer. Coaches today need to know how to market and sell their services and programs in ways that get high exposure and reach their core target audience.
- Proven Model for Change – I have found that so many new and seasoned coaches simply don’t have a proven model for change, meaning, a firmly established process by which they know how to help the clients move from one stage of their lives to another. You will find that your coaching will be much more powerful and effective, as will your sales and marketing efforts when you can break down exactly what you’ll be doing in your coaching sessions and share key information that helps clients understand how they will achieve the results they long for.
In summary, to be compelling as a coaching provider and reliably land new clients you enjoy serving and who will pay you well, you have to begin by identifying clearly and specifically 1) who you want to help, 2) why you are qualified to help them (we’re not qualified to help everyone with any problem, 3) the process you will engage in when you work with clients, 4) how to be of help to people and move them forward BEFORE they are ready to buy your services. And you will need to build a great support community of mentors and referral partners who can support your own growth.
8. Ross Nichols
A professional business mentor and professional certified coach with a holistic approach and a passion for helping others to succeed.
Ross provide a bespoke service, responding to your individual and group needs and help you take control of your business or organisation, set a direction and achieve the success you want.
He partners with professionals in transition in a thought-provoking and creative process so that you can be your authentic self, follow the career or business that ignites your passions and purpose, and live life courageously.
He has a wealth of professional knowledge, skills and experience. He’s faced hundreds of different situations in a 26 year career in the Army as a Royal Engineer, latterly in strategic management and business management. He’s also a member of 5 professional institutes and a wide range of national and regional business organisations and networking events. Ross love getting to know people and invest heavily in his own continuous professional development.
Best advice on how to get coaching clients:
I used to set targets for how much I needed to earn to be ‘successful’ however they didn’t feel right and I didn’t achieve them. My motivation for being a self-employed business mentor and coach is to be fully myself and do things my way. I still do voluntary work and I always have some clients who are unable to pay however I choose to work with them because they energise me and make me a better coach.
Heck, I even started writing poetry In 2018 and using it in my coaching simply because it’s me being me – quirky or what? It’s my experience that the more real I am, the more fulfilled I am and the more clients I attract.
Clarifying your intentions brings positive energy to your coaching and helps you serve your clients to the best of your ability because you understand what you want for them. Like your DNA, this will guide the development of your personal brand if you allow it to.
No matter how quirky, embracing your uniqueness will help you stand out and attract the right clients while diverting those who aren’t right for you. It’s easier too because you’re not trying to be anyone or anything else. Here are my tips for developing a personal brand, which is the essence of you.
1. Ask yourself, ‘How does being self-employed serve my Life Purpose?’ Understanding your motivation for being a self-employed coach gives you permission to be more ‘you’; and the real ‘you’ is the best brand ambassador you could ever wish for
2. Take every opportunity to identify your values. The more you understand your values, the more empowered you are to navigate the coaching journey in the way that is right for you
3. Reflect on your intentions for your clients before and after every coaching session. Notice how your intentions change over time as you become more self-aware and grow into your coaching practice. This will help you to give your best coaching every time
Did I mention my poetry? This is the second poem I wrote, which feels appropriate to share for this topic
What does it mean to be, not do?
How can you finally be more you?
How do you find a life that you love?
How do you find a way to choose?
Questions, questions, is where it starts,
Questions to open your heart,
Open your heart and let light in,
This is how your journey begins.
Is it so simple, simply to be?
Yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Take your time to know yourself,
Listen and feel for your inner voice.
The road may be long and tough,
Yet this is a journey to love,
Love for yourself, love for others,
This is what really matters.
What’s the secret, how do you start,
To find a way to open your heart?
Sit still and simply be you,
See what comes up and embrace it in full.
This is your way, your truth, your light,
It comes from within, no need to fight.
Yes, courage is needed to face your fears,
And facing them brings a power to heal.
So, let go of others’ voices,
Simply be you,
It’s your life,
Who are you?
We appreciate all the leading coaches who took the time to share amazing responses. We hope the advice from those who have done it will help new coaches find clients and grow their life coaching businesses.
Did you find these answers helpful?
If you are a coach, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.