The Secret to Developing a Consistent Flow of Coaching Client Leads | By Stephan Wiedner

Coach Booking Sample Sessions in Calendar

Have you ever learned to play the piano? If so, you're probably familiar with spending countless hours plunking away at your chords and scales. In between those hours, you probably sat with a teacher who guided you along, teaching you one thing at a time.

While you may have hoped to become an expert pianist right away, you knew it would take years to go from playing "Chopsticks" to Chopin. For world-class musicians, their training and practice never stops.

The secret to marketing is the same as it is for piano

Knowing what notes are in a C-major scale requires knowledge. Learning to play the C-major scale forwards and backwards with both hands is a skill.

Becoming a masterful marketer and business builder also requires knowledge. But more importantly, it is a skill that needs to be developed over time.

I remind my kids all the time of the not-so-secret secret: The only way to get good at something is to practice.

And the same is true about marketing and client lead generation. It takes time and practice to get proficient at it.

Are you practicing deliberately?

In his book Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell popularized the 10,000 hour rule which is often misinterpreted to mean that to become expert at something you need to spend 10,000 hours doing it.

That's not exactly true. In order to become an expert in something, there's no denying that it takes time but time alone won't do it. Researchers have investigated athletes, chess players, London taxi drivers 1, and other expert performers to understand the principles of developing expertise in activities that require not just physical skills but psychological skills.

In summary, there are three basic steps to deliberate practice that get repeated over and over again:

  1. Learn the skill
  2. Practice the skill
  3. Measure outcomes

For example, if you want to learn how to shoot a basketball, you would:

  1. Learn the basic mechanics of shooting
  2. Practice shooting the ball (e.g. practice shooting 10 times)
  3. Measure how you did (e.g. 3 for 10 from within five feet of the hoop)

Once you've completed the cycle, you adjust your shooting mechanics and redo steps 2 and 3 while increasing the difficulty level. For example, at first, you might practice shooting from within five feet of the hoop, then slowly move further and further away until you can shoot from the 3-point line.

The goal is to always be at the edge of your ability (but not so far that you quit), constantly pushing yourself, so you're continuously growing and improving.

So, what are the most important marketing skills to practice?

In my many years of experience interviewing financially successful coaches, I've discovered there are many ways to build a successful coaching business, such as:

  • Blogging
  • Building a powerful network of referrers
  • Public speaking
  • Getting media exposure
  • LinkedIn marketing
  • Cold calling
  • Pay-per-click advertising
  • Webinars and Joint Webinars
  • Membership sites
  • And more

And the most important marketing skill to practice...

But there is one skill that trumps them all, especially when you're first starting out. And it's a skill that can produce a whole lot of fear: offering people free sample sessions.

You need to get skilled at 'hunting'

I remember going to a local ICF meeting years ago and in attendance was a brand new coach who was just starting his journey. He had this wonderful vision of being like a gentle soul at the park holding out bread crumbs for the birds. That's what he wanted for his coaching business. He wanted to hold out his hands and have people come and try what he was offering.

That's all fine and dandy but the fact is, although there might be a lot of opportunistic birds in city parks, most birds out in nature will not feed from humans.

Relating that back to the business of coaching, people who have not yet experienced the power of coaching aren't going to clamour for it. They need a little more prodding and in many cases, a direct invitation. That's what I would call hunting.

Farming, on the other hand, consists of planting seeds, watering them over time, and harvesting crops for many years down the road.

And one of the biggest problems I see in the coaching industry is that most coaches only want to do farming activities. While this is understandable, they often fail to survive as coaches long enough to harvest the fruit. We need to be hunters and gatherers/farmers!

How many free sample sessions have you delivered in the last 6 months?

To succeed as a coach, you need to have a lot of coaching conversations. Every day, you would be well served to talk to people about what you do, who you do it for, and offering them or their colleagues free sample sessions.

If all you did was invite one person per day to have a sample session, you could have a full practice in 60 to 180 days.

The Secret to Developing a Consistent Flow of Coaching Client Leads

There are three steps:

  1. Ask people if they'd like to have a free consultation.
  2. Deliver top-notch value during the sample session so they want to hire you.
  3. Measure the results, tweak your approach, and repeat step 1.

It's simple but it can also be very scary.

That's why I recommend that you start with your friends and family and slowly expand out of your immediate circle of influence.

Here are the 5 repeatable steps that you can take to deliberately practice your (client) hunting skills:

  1. Learn: Write out a script for how the conversation might go.
  2. Practice: Do a dry run with a colleague or coach and when you're ready, pick up the phone. Start with your mom (she won't turn you down).
  3. Measure: Keep track of the results in a spreadsheet (Did they want to have a free consultation? Yes or No).
  4. Adjust: Tweak your script based on how it went.
  5. Repeat regularly: Shoot for 5 per week minimum.

Are you interested in deliberate growth?

Coaches need to harness the power of deliberate practice of their coaching—and sales and marketing—skills to grow their businesses.

So what action steps will you take after reading this article? Will you get out there and start offering and holding sample sessions until you get absolutely fabulous at them? Will you keep practicing asking for the sale until it's the easiest, most natural thing in the world?

Because that's the secret to developing a consistent flow of coaching client leads.

1  Peak: Secrets of the New Science of Expertise by Anders Ericsson and Robert Pool, published in 2016.

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Contributing Author:

Stephan Wiedner is the co-founder of, the web's largest company dedicated to matching coaches and clients. He holds an ACC credential with the International Coach Federation. As an Internet entrepreneur, Stephan works remotely and enjoys travelling the world with his young family.

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