7 Things That Clients Really Want in a Coach
This is a guest blog post written by Tim Brownson. Want to contribute? Check out the 2016 publishing calendar.
Most successful coaches build their coaching businesses around an ideal client, in order to stay focused on their niche and further sharpen their coaching skills. And while a career coach’s ideal client will have completely different goals and challenges from a relationship coach’s client, the fundamental needs of those two people are very much the same. Here we take a look at what every coaching client really wants when they sign up with any type of life coach:
The client needs to feel confident that the coach they hire knows his or her stuff. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need a decade or more of experience, just that you exude a quiet confidence in your own abilities and this can be seen, heard and felt through your website, your writing skills and your consultation.
Confidence is a much misunderstood word. It’s not chest-beating, bragging or arrogance, but a self-assuredness that we know what we are doing and are there for our clients.
Humans are far better at recognizing genuine confidence than we give ourselves credit for. If you sound nervous, apprehensive or unsure of yourself on a consult, then your prospective clients will pick up on it, even if it’s only unconsciously, and will move on to another coach.
[Want to gain more confidence as a coach? Sign up for the Noomii Coaching Circle]
There may very well be people who don’t realize this, but as life coaches we are just as responsible for the privacy and confidentiality of our clients information as any doctor, attorney or therapist.
A client has to trust that we will respect their confidentiality and that we will not be on Twitter, Facebook or our blog writing about their issues. It extends past that too. Conversations about client issues are a total no-no if we in any way come close to identifying them.
How many times have you hired somebody for a service who you actively disliked? My guess is, either never, or very rarely.
It’s the same with coaching. People hire people who they like and they like people who they feel in rapport with.
A consult call gives us a massive opportunity to build rapport by pacing our clients (matching their tone and speed of speech), acknowledging their issues and not spending the entire time trying to ‘close’ the deal. Remember: People love to buy, but hate to be sold to.
4. A Non-Judgmental Environment
You are not your client. You have different beliefs, values and priorities than they do. As coaches it is not our job to judge our clients, because they are always different to us. In fact, it is the antithesis of good coaching.
Clients neither want nor deserve to be judged. We have to make the room to treat them with the respect and common decency they deserve. In other words, park your own opinions at the door and allow you client to feel relaxed and never judged.
5. To Feel Heard
Feeling heard is a simile for feeling appreciated and understood. Not only that, but it deepens and cements rapport.
Listening is not waiting until we have a chance to offer our brilliant opinion. Equally, it’s not just being there filling time until the client has vented their spleen.
Active listening involves listening for tone, crucial language that may be missing, observing body language (and yes, you can get a sense of body language on the phone with a client when you get skilled) and simply shutting up until the time is right to speak.
In my early days I had a client fire me and I was at a loss as to explain why because I ignorantly thought things were going great. So I followed up with an email asking if he could explain why what I thought was a good relationship had gone south.
The response shocked me. He told me that he would often take long pauses to process information and I had a habit of rushing to fill the void with solutions whilst he was still thinking.
Get comfortable with silence because it’s your friend more often than not.
6. To Be Challenged
I thought long and hard before I included this because I have worked with dozens of clients who on the surface of things didn’t seem to like to be challenged.
But really, they did.
Did it make them uncomfortable? Yes, on many occasions. Did it temporarily test rapport? Most certainly. Did it make them squirm and even make me feel uncomfortable? Absolutely.
Our job isn’t to feel like we live in a land of unicorns, rainbows and children’s laughter all the time, it’s to help our clients. And sometimes we need to use tough love to break their resistance and help them overcome hurdles.
Never back-off from asking the tough questions (within reason and presuming it has value, as there’s no points or credibility in creating unnecessary conflict) because you think either you or your client will feel uncomfortable.
Our job as coaches is to help change the way our clients think and view things. It is in that space that change magically occurs. If we cannot do that then we are in the wrong career.
We have to be able to change our clients because without it you fail and you fail your client. Even if they don’t seem to want that, they really do, so don’t be afraid to test the limitations of your coach/client relationship in order to help them get to where they want to be.
7. A Valuable ROI
At the end of the day all the client is really interested in is the return on his or her investment.
They may like and trust you and even think you are a good coach and great person, but if you don’t help them make the changes they want to make, they will probably feel deflated.
Like almost every other industry, we are a results-driven business. We have to do our best at all times and help our client achieve whatever it is that is important to them.
At the end of the day, results matter, so always do your best to focus on that.
About Tim Brownson
Tim Brownson is an English-born life coach who has lived in Florida for 10 years. He has been a full-time life coach for over a decade, is an internationally published author, NLP mater practitioner and certified hypnotherapist. He now coaches other life coaches on both the technical and client acquisition side of coaching at www.coachthelifecoach.com.