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5 Things You Must Get From Any Coach You Hire

I believe in the power of hiring business coaches. The practice is proven and pretty much a mainstream behavior for many in business today.

photo credit: DVIDSHUB via photopin cc

photo credit: DVIDSHUB via photopin cc

But, simply hiring a coach to help you work on some aspect of your business, career or life does not guarantee success or even progress.

One of the things I’ve learned about the coaching relationships I’ve had over the years is that it takes a certain kind of approach to get results and it takes a great amount of commitment from the person being coached if any kind of progress is to be made.

I recently started working with a fitness coach at Ward Fitness Systems as I see sustained business performance and fitness as two very intertwined notions. In fact, I think “business performance fitness” is a coaching niche begging for serious expansion.

Working with a coach in this arena reminded me of the attributes of the best coaching relationships and what you must look for in any coach you consider long-term.

1) Accountability

Accountability is the easy one really. If you know you should be improving your speaking ability and you hire a coach, you’re probably going to practice and prepare more when you’ve scheduled time and spent the money.

But, making you show up is only half of the accountability element. The real task is helping you determine what it is you’re trying to achieve and holding you accountable for making progress towards your stated objectives.

A good coach will always spend a lot of time helping you figure out specifically why you want to hire a coach rather than trying to convince why you should hire them as your coach.

2) Methodology

I want any coach I work with to have a set point of view about what I’m trying to do and a proven, practiced and repeatable process. That’s not to say that you’re looking for cookie cutter solutions, but you need a coach that can spot patterns and mold experience to your unique situation in a way that they can repeat. It’s the only way to truly measure progress and it’s the best way to create momentum.

When hiring a coach ask about their process. Even a brilliant coach can’t stay on track inside of your progress without a repeatable process and sharable language.

3) Behavior change

The job that you’ve really hired a coach for, know it or not, admit it or not, is to change your behavior. It’s the only way that growth happens, it’s the only way that habits are broken and formed and it’s the only way that you can attack any problem from a fresh framework. If you’ve ever tried to break a bad habit or, say, lose weight, then you know that you can’t simply use more willpower, you have to change the underlying behavior and perhaps the underlying reward for misbehavior before anything happens.

Maybe you’ve also succeeded in this category and seen first hand the role that your beliefs played in your behavior change. If your coach isn’t going to work on habits, behavior and beliefs as part of the entire plan, no matter what you’ve hired them to help you do, they will simply treat the symptoms at best.

4) Efficiency

Here’s a part that more coaches actually need to understand and sell better. A really good coach will pay for himself or herself multiple times over in terms of how fast they help you get a result.

When you consider what your time is worth and multiply that by the gains achieved by reaching your objectives, you can easily justify the cost of a coach that gets you results. But, there is a catch. Your coach not only needs to be good enough to help you get a result, they need to be good enough to make you faster at working towards one.

For example, one of the huge benefits of working with my particular fitness coach is that I get way more out of the time we spend together in the gym than if I am to spend the same time on my own. And, not because he pushes me harder than I might push myself, but because he insists that every single movement is done in a way that gives maximum benefit. So, I get twice the benefit of doing what I do with a coach and will ultimately reach my goal faster.

5) Measurement

The only way to reach a goal or stay on track is to measure your progress. Most coaches know this and do this, but it’s an absolute must and another great reason to work with the right coach.

My mentor of sorts Peter Drucker was famous for saying “what gets measured gets done,” but the added benefit of a coach is that what gets measured and reported gets done exponentially.

A good coach must help you measure your progress in multiple ways and require you to report your progress and continually revisit your commitments.

Again, I think fitness coaches should be on every business owner’s team – right up there with attorneys, accountants, marketing consultants, business consultants, writing coaches, executive coaches and the like, but no matter what kind of coaching your get, get it right.

So, any coaches out there want to weigh in on this?

7 Steps to Marketing Success for Consultants and Coaches

Over the years I’ve worked with a lot of consultants and coaches teaching them how to market their businesses. I’ve spent twenty-five years learning how to build my marketing consulting and coaching business and even developed a network of independent marketing consultants and taught them how to build their businesses.

quinn.anya via Flickr

Many businesses, even those that don’t call what they do consulting or coaching offer consulting in the form of services or information. So, today I submit the steps I believe are the essential elements needed to build any coaching, consulting or service related business.

1) Build your email list

First and foremost you need to exist online in a way that allows large numbers of people to find you, but in addition to finding you they need a reason to give you permission to reach out to them over time.

One of the most important elements in your marketing arsenal is a great eBook that motivates people to willingly give you their email address.

This is a numbers game. You need to promote and highlight your eBook through blogging, guest posting and participating on Facebook and Twitter for the primary purpose of building links, traffic and subscribers attracted to the topic of your eBook and blog content.

These subscribers won’t all be hot prospects, but they will generate the momentum you need through their sharing, linking and otherwise supporting your continued marketing efforts.

You need to build a following first and then you can start to narrow your focus to conversion.

2) Create a hot list

Now, if the first step was about building numbers, the second step is about limiting numbers. In addition to list building you need to identify a very narrowly targeted list of no more than 100 hot prospects.

It’s so easy to get caught up in building online followers when you really might just need ten more great clients. The way you get ten more great clients is to focus a massive amount of attention on 100 hot prospects.

With this narrow focus you can target events and groups that your prospects participate in, add them to a CRM tool and follow their every social media move, send highly personalized mailings and get introduced by other members of your network.

This is how you prospect today.

3) Target social networking

With your hot list in hand you can get very targeted with your social networking. As stated above, identify groups, associations and events that your hot prospects participate in and get active their only. Don’t run around going to every event with a handful of warm bodies.

Meet people at these events and in these groups and make them the basis of your social networking activities. For coaches and consultants this means LinkedIn as far as I’m concerned. In my experience LinkedIn is the only social network that’s all about doing business. That doesn’t mean it’s all about selling, but it does mean that the relationship building time spent there, if targeted to your hot prospects, is the most beneficial time you can spend using social networking.

Target a handful of local and industry or topic related groups on LinkedIn and spend time networking there every day.

4) Build a partner team

Look at your ideal client and identify a list of all of the other services they might need to accomplish their objectives.

From this list identify as many best of class providers as possible and start inviting them to tell you about how to introduce their businesses to your clients.

Create ways for them to guest blog for you, interview them and host the interviews on your site, allow them to cobrand your eBooks and send them to their clients and think about ways to develop events, webinars and workshops with them.

By taking this formal approach to building your partner team you’ll discover your hot prospects will start coming to you.

5) Get to a podium

Your brand, your prospecting and ultimately your profitability as a coach or consultant rests in your ability to get up in front of groups of prospects and share your story, unique point of view, solution or methodology – essentially, your eBook in seminar form.

A central part of your prospecting should be aimed at getting in front of groups with your message. This can and will evolve over time, but get to just about any podium you can in the beginning. You’ll find that speaking leads to more speaking and more speaking leads to better speaking and better speaking leads to clients.

Eventually you’ll get paid just to speak, but don’t make that your goal. One or two great clients will pay you far more than the speaking fee you might be able to garner. When you get very good at delivering your message your can forgo your potential speaking fee in trade for things like the ability to make special program offers or collect email addresses.

6) Perfect your conversion

Lead conversion or selling using the approach I’ve outlined here is more of an act of educating and creating the right buying experience than it is actually selling as most think of it. In fact, if you have to do much selling, you’re not doing the first parts of this system right and you’ll likely land clients that aren’t a match.

Lead conversion for consultants and coaches starts by having a discovery process that allows you and your prospect to learn if there is a great fit. This can be a form, worksheet or evaluation meeting, but having a step that allows you to align your prospective client with exactly how you will work together and what framework or methodology you will use is crucial.

The next step is to be able to clearly and simply demonstrate exactly how you will work together, what’s expected of both you and the client, the results they can expect and how you plan to measure the results.

Your lead conversion system must contain an orientation process once the prospect says yes. Spend as much time on creating a smooth “new client” process as you do on creating everything that led them to saying yes and you’ll find the next sale will come naturally.

Finally, your lead conversion system must have a results review component. You must have a way to measure and a process to communicate the results your client has received. Build this in on the front end, tell them you are going to ensure they got a result, tell them how and then set up the process.

When you do this you’ll immediately set up your referral mechanism and give yourself no option but to generate remarkable results for your clients.

7) Introduce multiple streams

Once you have your traffic, prospect, networking, partnering, speaking and converting pieces in place and you are generating clients, start to introduce additional convergent streams of revenue.

You can do this by introducing additional products and services, through joint ventures with your partner team or through passive revenue streams generated through introductions to related services and tools your clients might need.

So, there you have it, the entire marketing plan for a coach or consultant.

Oh, and if you’ve read to this point chances are you might want to learn about my consulting network and various tools we offer to create successful marketing consultants.

Author of Book Yourself Solid Visits Referral Week

This post is a special Make a Referral Week guest podcast featuring education on the subject of referrals and word of mouth marketing and making 1000 referrals to 1000 small businesses – check it out at Make a Referral Week 2010

Marketing podcast with Michael Port (Click to listen, right click and Save As to download – subscribe now via iTunes

Michael PortToday’s special guest interview for the Duct Tape Marketing podcast is Michael Port. Michael Port has provided coaching and consulting services to over 20,000 business owners. He is the author of Book Yourself Solid, Beyond Booked Solid and The Contrarian Effect: Why It Pays (BIG) To Take Typical Sales Advice and Do The Opposite and the soon to be released The Think Big Manifesto.

In this episode Michael and I talked about the new ways in which smart marketers are building their expertise and tapping into networks, both on and offline to build marketing momentum.

Who Holds You Accountable?

As the owner of a business you may have one pretty big blindside and that’s accountability.

Look I know you get up every morning, start the coffee pot, and fire up the big to-do list every single work day, and often on Saturday and Sunday, without anyone making you, but who holds you accountable for success, for achieving your stated goals?

That’s a tough one because the natural structure of business suggests that you’re the boss and nobody’s the boss of you. In my opinion, this is something you have to create and invest in making happen – you need to get a boss to hold you accountable.

    Here are a couple suggestions:

  • Start a mastermind group – Choose a select group of business owners from your local network of strategic partners or even industry peers and set-up a structure to share objectives and goals, critique marketing plans and materials and suggest ways to get better. Hold quarterly sessions as a group. You can join one too with groups like Vistage
  • Track your time – Create time sheets and note how you spend your time each day. Assign a category of work, such as marketing, administrative, or sales. Then spend a minute or two at the end of the day and assign a value to that work – in other words what you would pay someone else to do it. You may be shocked at how unaccountable you are for the way you spend your day.
  • Create an internal board - Use your professional network, such as accountant, lawyer, insurance or financial professional to hold you accountable. After all, they may have a vested interest in your success. Share numbers and goals and give them permission to prod you each month for results.
  • Hire a coach – All the best athletes do it! A coach can be a great addition to your team and act as someone for you to bounce you ideas off. It can be lonely at the top and getting feedback from an experienced coach is a great way to get around your blind spots and gain the confidence to move boldy in the direction of your goals.

If any of this is resonating with you, I’ve actually created a coaching program that has several of these elements baked right in – have a look – Duct Tape Marketing EXCELerator

Talking Coaching and Consulting with Alan Weiss

Alan WeissJoin me live – Wednesday, Sept 24th Noon CDT – for a conversation with Alan Weiss, author of Million Dollar Consulting. Register here

Anyone who is currently a coach or consultant or who wants to become a coach or consultant can learn a great deal about the industry from one of the biggest names in business consulting.

    We will discuss:

  • The difference between coaching and consulting
  • How to get significant results with your clients
  • How to create unique positioning and branding
  • The secrets to building a million dollar practice
  • How and when to disengage with clients

Alan Weiss is a consultant, speaker and author and CEO of Summit Consulting Group, Inc. He is a 2006 inductee into the Professional Speaking Hall of Fame? and the concurrent recipient of the National Speakers Association Council of Peers Award of Excellence, representing the top 1% of professional speakers in the world. His prolific publishing includes over 500 articles and 25 books, including his best-seller, Million Dollar Consulting (from McGraw-Hill). His newest is The Million Dollar Consulting Toolkit