How Many of These 5 Coach-Specific Sales Mistakes are You Making? | By Fiona Walsh

Coach contemplating how to make more sales at desk with notepad coffee

As a business coach, one of the areas I see coaches struggle with the most is sales. So, below I've summarised 5 of the biggest sales mistakes I see coaches making with some suggestions of what to do instead.

How Many of These 5 Sales Mistakes Are You Making?

1. Are You A Butterfly Chaser?

Monarch Butterfly

A butterfly chaser is someone who spends time generating leads, but then abandons them if they don't make the sale immediately or easily.

Coaches seem especially prone to giving up on a prospect too early on in the process. Coaching usually involves a large financial commitment. Your prospects must therefore trust you, and believe that you can help them achieve their goals before they will sign up with you.

Being a butterfly chaser is costly to your business. Generating a lead and building a relationship with a customer takes time, but it pays off in loyalty and sales.

Give your prospects time to get to know you and what you offer! Did you know it can take an average of 4 or more contacts before a sale is made? 46% of salespeople call once and quit. Only 25% of salespeople contact a prospect twice. Are you quitting on a prospect too soon? Are you letting business go to your competition?

What to do differently: Don't be afraid to follow-up—more than once! Be quietly persistent and show a clear interest in understanding the customer's needs and how your service provides a solution to them. Through persistence you will gain more sales experience, you will close the deal more often and your business will grow.

You also might want to consider creating a sales funnel. This is where you have a series of linked offerings for clients and potential clients that start with free or low-cost, and gradually, increase in price and/or access to you. As they get to know you, they will hopefully move down the funnel and buy larger offerings from you.

2. Are You Looking After The Business Right Under Your Nose?

Address Book with Pen

Most of the clients I saw in my coaching practice wanted to build their business, which is great. But their focus was always on finding new prospects. Finding new customers is great—but landing a new one takes a lot more time and energy than expanding your business with existing contacts and customers.

As business people we are all guilty of overlooking the gold in our existing networks. This is not just your coaching prospects—but everyone you know!

One of the first things I would get clients to do is to look at their existing address book and see what opportunities they might have missed out on. It's a simple process, and almost every client ended up uncovering some new business—whether it's a workshop opportunity, checking in with that prospect who is now ready to commit or a potential joint venture!

What to do differently: Go through your address book, your day timer, your notebooks for the past year or two. Make a list of people you have not spoken to in a year; see who you want to connect with. Get in touch and remind them of what you're up to—see if there are any opportunities to do business together.

3. Are You Networking? (If you don't network, don't expect to grow!)

People Networking

Clients come to me because their sales are not where they would like them to be—they want to attract new customers and get more business.

And they want me to tell them how. My answer is always the same: How much networking do you do? What do you do on a regular basis to get in front of new prospects?

I did a seminar for a group of graphic designers who were all struggling to grow their businesses. The only networking they did was to attend graphic design conferences—where they met other graphic designers! Like most people, they hated "networking".

But to grow your business, you have to uncover new opportunities. How do you expect new customers to find you?

Networking is one of the most effective ways to find new customers and build visibility for your business. It offers you the chance to expand your network, get new business opportunities—and build new relationships.

Use this free business building tool from The Coaching Tools Company to network and create your own trusted referral and support team: Free Tool "My 50" Referral Team!

What to do differently: Figure out places where your potential customers hang out. Then put together an interesting description of what you do that will encourage people to ask you questions. One businesswoman who is an executive management coach, describes herself as a "corporate instigator". She leaves every event with 2-3 good contacts and her practice is booming—she even has a wait list for new clients.

Still hate networking? Get over it!

Emma-Louise's Book Recommendation:

"Work the Pond" by Darcy Rezac.

This simple and fun read was a godsend when I first arrived in Canada. I knew no-one and was starting a brand new coaching business. Removing common misconceptions about networking, this book showed me how to make networking easy. Excellent tips and resources to help anyone become a good 'networker'!

4. Are You Confidently Asking for the Money?

Coach thinking about Money

At a "Taste of Success" Business Coaching week I was privileged to meet with 40 different businesses to discuss business development. A common theme emerged—especially with many of the female business owners. They admitted to feeling awkward talking about money. Imagine—they deliver great products and services and yet they don't want to ask for payment!

You need to get over it!

If you're going to be successful in business, you should expect—and want—to be paid for what you do for your customers.

What to do differently: You must believe in the coaching process, and in the value YOU offer. Set a fair market price and don't blink when it comes to discussing your price. We live in a market economy—people expect to hand over money for products and services.

5. Are You Avoiding Technology?

Coach stressed about technology

It has been said that technological advancement will mean the death of person to person selling as we know it, and that sales people will go the way of the dinosaur. Granted, technological innovations and the resulting ubiquity of information available on the web have made it easier for people to research products and alternatives.

But we are social creatures by nature, and human contact will always be a prerequisite for many major purchases—especially for something like coaching: a relationship and trust-based service. This means that the salesperson's (your!) job has become more complex and challenging.

The one-on-one sales relationship isn't going away anytime soon—especially for coaching. But new technology should be looked on as an additional opportunity to connect with people rather than a threat. Coaches must embrace new ways to build their networks using social networking sites for example.

There are also many invaluable marketing, sales and business building blogs to help you read and assess the market environment you're competing in and differentiate yourself more effectively.

What to do differently: Smartphones, messaging and email are ways for prospects to get in touch with you easily. Social media sites, newsletters, instant messaging, Zoom and Skype, and even on-site web-chat are a simple extension of this. You can create a blog and newsletter to stay in touch with your audience. Set-up auto-responders for when people reach out to you. These are all great places to start. Embrace technology and make yourself available at every touch point your prospect might want to contact you with—and you maximise your chance of getting a new client!

If you liked this article on Sales and Marketing for Coaches, you may also like:

Fiona Walsh Headshot

Contributing Author:

Fiona Walsh is the Assistant Dean and Director of the Hari B. Varshney Business Career Centre at UBC's (University of British Columbia, Canada) Sauder School of Business. She leads a team of 24 people who provide career development and recruitment services for Sauder students and alumni. Her background is in sales and business development in the corporate world. Immediately prior to joining UBC nearly three years ago, she was a Business Coach - and she still has a few select business coaching clients.

Learn more about Fiona & see all their articles here >>

Image of Coach contemplating how to make more sales at desk with notepad coffee by krakenimages via Kraken Images

Image of Butterfly, Address Book & Pen, People Networking, Man pondering money and Woman stressed by technology by Various images at Pixabay via Pixabay


    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks Karen! And thanks for taking the time to comment 🙂
      I'll be sure to let Fiona know you said that!
      Warmly, Emma-Louise

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear TL, Keep at it - and you will get there! Warmly, Emma-Louise
      PS. Running our own business is a bit like a hero's journey as we are constantly learning, growing, exploring and transforming - and getting stronger and better all the time!

      • karine

        Thank you for all your insights, knowledge, free tools. When I am all mess up I come to your site to find myself back. The topic of leads and money is very important, it deserves even more work 😉 Best to you and the guest writer.

      • Emma-Louise

        Dear Karine,
        Thank-you for your comment! So glad you found the article helpful. I will pass this onto the author. Warmly, Emma-Louise

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