How NOT to Sell Coaching & What to Do Instead (Create a Coaching Package!) | By Ellen Ercolini

Man and woman shaking hands isolated on a white background.This week's great article from Ellen Ercolini looks at how the "traditional" way of selling coaching fails us as coaches, and suggests a way out! Read on...

Selling coaching is not as easy as it seems when you're talking to people who are not coaches themselves. For many people, coaching is an entirely foreign concept, easily confused with therapy.

And it's very common to sell coaching by the hour, session or month.

When we sell by the hour, session or month, here's what a potential client hears:

  • "It's 150 an hour, how many hours it takes will depend on how hard you work!"
  • "It's $150 a session, you choose how many sessions you'd like!"
    "It's $300 a month, and when we solve your initial issue, we'll dive into everything else you don’t realize is wrong, and we'll work together basically forever."

The common thread to all those answers is it puts all the responsibility on the client! But the client doesn't know how many hours/sessions/months it's going to take to get resolution on their issue! They've probably never worked with a coach before so they have no idea what it's going to be like.

Also, all those answers are open ended - both time and money wise. They ask the client to commit to you financially with no end date. While this is a pretty common and accepted module in therapy, it's a lot to ask from a potential coaching client.

The reality is many potential coaching clients don't convert to paying clients because of the open ended nature of the financial commitment.

It's very hard to make a long term, open-ended, high value financial commitment these days - so clients don't book, and coaches feel discouraged.

This happened to me all the time and it was so discouraging. When I wised up, I changed my pricing module and now have tons of happy, paying clients.

The new system to sell coaching is simple: create packages that clearly solve your clients problems.

Yep. Out with making the coaching scope the client's responsibility, and in with your expertise and clear results.

I can hear you saying "Wait a second, I don't know how long it will take either! I don't know what their problems are! Every client is unique and different!" I hear you. But I'm here to tell you that doesn't have to be true. If you look back at your old clients, you know about how long it took them to achieve real movement towards their goals. You know what the top three reasons people hire you as a coach are. You can create a clear program that solves their problems. Yes, you totally can.

You need to be the expert for your clients in this. They want a clear solution to their problem, one that is easy to understand on their calendar, and in their bank account. At that moment of crisis and confusion, they don't care so much about how you are going to do that (values exercises, life purpose, etc.) they just want you to say you can help them solve it in, say, 8 sessions.

If this seems overwhelming for you or a total departure to how things have been done, that's OK.

Here are 3 questions to get you started creating your coaching packages:

  1. What are the top 3 problems people hire me to solve?
  2. How long does it usually take to achieve real movement or to solve those problems?
  3. How long do you want to work with your clients? (Keep in mind they can always re-sign with you at the end of the program)

That's the baseline of your coaching package! It could be 12 months, 4 months, 10 sessions, whatever works best for you to do your best work with your clients.

Feel like you're over-promising or committing?

Well, you are. This will make you work harder to make sure they achieve their goals or solve their problems in the allotted time. It's important to create a package that you know works – so be really honest with yourself looking at old coaching clients and how quickly they saw results. And, as always, design around this. Explain to them that you are 100% committed to their success, and occasionally things take longer, or you end up somewhere different then where you intended to go. Remind them that if they want to, they can book another package with you to keep the work going. I've told all my clients this and they understand it, and then we both work really hard to achieve what they want in the time we've committed to each other.

People want solutions to their problems.

They want results for their investment. They want you, the Coach, to be the expert in helping them solve their problems. When can step into your strength and expertise, when you make it easy for them to commit to working with you, you will sign more clients.

I can't wait to hear how this goes for you! Leave success stories in the comments or shoot me a note.

ellen_ercolini_headshot_redContributing Author: Ellen Ercolini is a Business Development Coach + Decision Making Expert. She currently works with coaches who have big visions and small practices to stand out from the crowd and make more money. She also co-founded Coaching Business Jumpstart to help new coaches build stronger businesses. Learn more about her and her work at The Creative Giraffe.

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  1. Renee

    I am fairly new to the business coaching arena. I have offered coaching packages from the start. However, initially,I only offered 10 coaching sessions over a 12 month time period. When I added the option of 5 coaching sessions over 6 months, my clients doubled. Our clients need options in order to feel comfortable moving forward with a coach for the first time. Thanks for a great article!

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Renee, I'm so glad you found this article helpful! Ellen has a lot of spunk and great ideas. Keep up all your good work. Warmly, Emma-Louise

  2. Deaunna

    Loved the insight and happy to know I'm doing it right! When you create your package with a time they can expect results I.E. relief from their pain, you are then able make a big bold bodacious claim! My example: "Super Moms Coaching will help you turnaround your defiant teen's behavior in 30 days or less so you can get back to joyful parenting!"

    How do I know that? Because my clients and I were getting bored with the 12 week program (results came very quickly) I had to cut it down to 8 weeks- the extra weeks built in to stabiliZe new behavior.

    I don't remember the author of this quote but I think you'll like it: when you can articulate someone's pain more clearly than they can- they automatically credit you with the solution!

    Happy Coaching!
    The Super Moms Coach

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear Deaunna! Thanks so much for sharing - and what a great example! Love the quote too. I hope people read your comment and that it inspires them. Warmly, Emma-Louise

  3. Johnny Kinsella

    Love this article. Clients usually have a problem to solve and adding more confusion or uncertainty doesn't help. The ideas in this article offer clarity and time bound results. Following your program your client can choose to expand on it or even discover a new coaching agenda.

    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks Johnny! So glad you love this article. And yes, clarity around what issues you solve - and a time limit, SO essential for helping clients make the decision to sign up. Thank-you for taking the time to comment. Warmly, Emma-Louise

  4. JC

    Hi Emma,

    Thank you for your article. How does this approach work when you are a brand new coach and don't have any clients whose progress and success you can reference when creating your packages?

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi JC, thanks for your question!

      Hmmm. So, I would suggest that you look at the clients (even practice clients) you have had so far, and consider feedback you have received so far. Then/and I would keep these questions in mind going forwards, so that as you work with people you begin to notice patterns as you go.

      Do your best with the information you have so far, then as Ellen says, "Explain to them that you are 100% committed to their success, and occasionally things take longer, or you end up somewhere different then where you intended to go. Remind them that if they want to, they can book another package with you to keep the work going. I've told all my clients this and they understand it, and then we both work really hard to achieve what they want in the time we've committed to each other."

      Warmly, Emma-Louise


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