Tuesday, November 30, 2010

THE PROBLEM WITH SELLING COACHING

Coaching is a beautiful calling. Everyone who does this work, loves it. New coaches love their training and immediately recognize the power of a coaching relationship in assisting others to make important changes in their lives, careers and businesses.

For clients, once they try coaching, they love it too. Many studies have shown that over 96 percent of the people who try coaching are very happy with it. Most clients will stay with their coach for over six months and some never leave. When you take coaching into organizations it routinely generates returns on investments of 500 to 700 percent.

Further, more and more clients are becoming aware that certain types of changes are very difficult to accomplish on their own. These bigger, “adaptive” changes are rarely achieved through books or “one-size-fits-all” or “drive-by” training solutions. Rather these types of changes benefit from individualized attention. The support of a good coach can facilitate crucial shifts in perspectives and an overcoming of limiting beliefs. A coaching relationship can provide the feedback, accountability and support needed, over sufficient time, so that new knowledge and intentions can be translated into new behaviour. This is what coaching excels at.

So if coaching is such a valuable and effective service, why do so many coaches struggle to fill their practices? The simple truth is that coaching is still a relatively new service that most people have never tried, and people are hesitant to purchase things they don’t understand.

This will change in time. It has improved noticeably over the past decade. However, if you are currently trying to build a successful coaching practice, I encourage you to minimize your pain by:


  • Not trying to sell generic life coaching, business coaching, career coaching, executive coaching, etc.
  • Identifying an existing niche–a specific group of people with an existing set of challenges.
  • Finding out what the people in your niche are struggling with–the acid test is to find what percentage of them are actually spending money now to find solutions or achieve specific outcomes.
  • Finding out how you can easily create relationship with them. In person? Through writing or talks or workshops? Online, through social media, newsletters or by optimizing a website to the keywords they type into Google? Remember to market in the vocabulary they speak about the challenges they face and the outcomes they seek. (Coaching is just the way your deliver your solution.)
  • Making it easy for them to experience coaching, understand its benefits and how it contrasts to the current solutions that are not working well for them.
  • Communicating why you are the best solution provider. Ideally you want to highlight three compelling reasons/strengths.
If you follow some of these hard-earned lessons (from the thousands of coaches who have walked this path ahead of you) you will find it much easier to attract clients. Hopefully, you will more quickly arrive at that lovely place where you can enjoy doing what you love, while earning a comfortable living.

Yes, coaching is a beautiful calling, and a great service to the world. Wherever you are on your journey, please take good care of yourselves. Do your homework, get well-trained, pay attention to the marketing, and know that there are many who have faced the same challenges you face.

They did it. You can too. Keep believing, and know you are not alone on this path.

Steve Mitten CPCC, MCC served at the 2005 ICF President and runs ACOACH4U.COM

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Playboys to stay-at-home moms: research shows reasons for coaching may overlap

Ever since American television actor Charlie Sheen hired a “sobriety coach” earlier this month (reportedly to assist in steering him away from drug and alcohol use), professional coaching has once again been pulled into the media limelight.

The real story is not about Sheen’s wild lifestyle but that people all over the world, from Hollywood playboys to stay-at-home moms and corporate executives to college students, are working with professional coaches. Circumstances may vary but people of every age and race have utilized coaching over the last decade.

As a coach, you obviously realize that people hire coaches for an array of reasons…thus the wide assortment of coaching niches out there. But according to the new ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study*, the most common reasons people hire coaches are to:

  • Improve work performance;
  • Expand career opportunities; and
  • Increase self-esteem.
Think about your own clients, past and present. Would you agree that these reasons are the most common? What factors persuaded them to engage in a coaching partnership?

Other reasons noted in the study were to improve business management strategies and manage work/life balance. Learn more in this ICF issued press release, Coaching helps organizations achieve business results during economic downtown.

*The awareness study surveyed 15,000 participants (aged 25 and older in 20 countries), was conducted independently by the International Survey Unit of PwC. Findings around the awareness of coaching can be found in this study—use them in your own marketing endeavors. Learn more at Coachfederation.org/works.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Global Conversations Continue Past the ICF Conference

Our "Internationalism Becomes the New Norm" Global Conversation table at the 2010 ICF Annual International Conference exchanged cards and we are continuing to stay in touch through e-mail. With coaches from Italy, Turkey, Mexico, and the US, our table enjoyed our global diversity and look forward to additional opportunities to connect, not only with each other, but also future culturally rich discussions within ICF.

How will you continue your Global Conversation and seek other ways to connect? Are you connecting through social media, a designated blog or website page, a yahoo group, Skype group calls…?

In case you missed this year’s conference, Global Conversations was a new offering, where we had the opportunity to choose a topic we were most interested in and listened as a subject matter expert presented on the topic. We then discussed the topic at our individual tables, and each table “captain” shared a two minute summary with the larger group. To tie it all together, one ICF participant per topic shared a brief summary in our Saturday closing.

Our table wants to know: as cultures become more mixed, how does that effect coaching? How does that effect the perception of coaching? Related to the conference, we want to know: how can the conference become a more international experience? (More intentional, fun opportunities to connect with participants from other cultures.) How can we honor those traveling a long distance (besides our wonderful conference opening)?

I have been a facilitator for citizen forums in Kansas City, USA, where I live. At the end of those discussions, participants have the opportunity to plan and commit to action from possibilities generated during the discussion.

We want to hear your ideas and action plans! Your ideas will be noted.

- Marilyn O’Hearne, MCC, vice president, global ICF Board of Directors

Thursday, November 18, 2010

We Care For…Your Continuing Education

Since late October, coaches have been sharing what it is that they care for…and the answers are as varied as our 17,000+ members! For instance, Tuncel in Turkey cares for “creating better politicians and citizens on this planet by creating more enlightenment and awareness” and Aurora in the USA cares for “supporting coaches as they help their clients through grief.”

Have you shared your story yet? Tell us what you care for at ICFICarefor.org. You can also join the conversation on Twitter or Facebook.

Here at the ICF, one of the things we care about is the continuing education of coaching professionals.

To assist in the ongoing development of coaching professionals worldwide, the ICF offers several educational opportunities including Virtual Education sessions, the ICF Annual International Conference and the world-renowned ICF Credentialing program for both members and non-members alike.

If you are looking for a regular opportunity to meet new people, learn new techniques and ideas, and earn Continuing Coaching Education Units (or CCEUs)—to be used toward applying for or renewing an ICF Credential—look no further than ICF Virtual Education (VE).

VE sessions offer coaches personal and practice development through presentations by guest speakers. Several sessions are offered each month and are free to ICF members. Topics range from Coaching Abrasive Leaders to Personal Branding for Coaches and everything in-between. Learn more about ICF Virtual Education here.

Through 2010, the Virtual Education program was expanded—offering more than 45 presentations in five languages across numerous time zones. This has allowed even more people to get involved! In fact…2,156 participants have taken part in VE sessions to date in 2010 (compared to 1,823 total participants in 2009—also in 2009, there were only 31 total VE sessions compared to this year’s 47).

Have you attended an ICF VE session this year? Was it beneficial? What topics or speakers would you like to see through the ICF Virtual Education program?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Credentialed or certified? Your clients may be more satisfied.

Across the board, it seems that most everyone, from those who have never heard of coaching to former coaching clients, agrees that certification/credentials are important for professional coaches. And not only are they important, but they contribute to higher consumer satisfaction.

These findings stem from ICF’s latest research initiative, the ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study. Some 15,000 participants aged 25 and older, in 20 countries, took part in this independent study by PwC.

It found that 84 percent of respondents, who had been in a coaching relationship, considered certification/credentials important or very important. Despite being on the opposite end of the spectrum, the percentage was still high—at 73 percent—for those with no prior experience with coaching.

Perhaps the best illustration of this is the immense growth of the ICF Credential…currently held by more than 6,800 coaching professionals in over 70 countries around the globe. In fiscal year 2010 (which ended March 31, 2010), ICF Credentialing experienced a 24 percent increase in credential holders!

Not only that but applications constantly pour in for all three credentials—more than 1,570 applications have been received to date (a 25 percent increase over this time last year). And it’s no wonder: the ICF offers the world’s only globally recognized, independent credentialing program. ICF Credential holders have received coach-specific training, achieved a designated number of experience hours and have been coached by a mentor coach.

The study also found that consumer satisfaction with coaching is very high, especially for those who had an ICF Credentialed coach. Eighty-three percent of the general public who have been involved in a coaching relationship were either satisfied or very satisfied. The level of satisfaction rises even higher to 92 percent among those with an ICF Credentialed coach, 55 percent of which were very satisfied.

So what does this mean to you? If you haven’t already, look into coach specific training. There are training programs and courses of all shapes and sizes—begin your search in the Training Program Search Service, here.) Interested in learning more about the ICF Credential? Begin your search here.

If you are interested in learning more about the findings of this study, visit Coachfederation.org/works. Nation specific data will be released very shortly—check the website often for updates!

Do your clients ask if you are credentialed or certified?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I Care For…unleashed at the 2010 International Conference!

Did you make it to conference this year? What an amazing event! More than 1,000 international coaching professionals were on-site in Fort Worth, Texas, USA for several days of networking, education and all-around growth.

The entire conference was infused with elements of our 15th anniversary celebration—we saluted our past and our beginnings, and were able to collectively look toward our future.

As such, it made sense that the ICF launched the I Care For campaign at conference…the first visible element in our ongoing brand evolution. Attendees had several opportunities to share what it is that we are passionate about…what we care for.

For some, their cares revolved around various ICF strategic priorities, including the growth and development of ICF Chapters and members. And for others, their cares and passions spread beyond the boundaries of the ICF community and into the rest of the world…from orphans in Uganda to coaching teachers in Nepal, there are so many stories that need to be heard! We encourage you to share what you care for (and why) at ICFICareFor.org.

One of the things we care for here at the ICF is coaching research…without it, we would be walking blindly without any facts or figures to back up why (and how) coaching works.

The ICF stands at the forefront of coaching industry research…our most recent research initiative, the ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study, asked some 15,000 people, aged 25 and older, in 20 countries to provide feedback in terms of their knowledge and experience around professional coaching. And you will be amazed at what this study found…

For instance, half (51 percent) of all respondents were generally aware (either somewhat or very aware) of coaching. Isn’t that great? Learn more and check out other findings from this study here: http://coachfederation.org/works/.

The intention of the I Care For campaign was not to end with the close of the Fort Worth conference, but to expand and include every ICF member and professional coach out there. We all deserve the opportunity to be heard. And through this, we really can create an IMPACT on the world!

So what is it that you care for? Share it with us at ICFICareFor.org.