Last updated on February 13, 2024
The business coaching market is expected to reach $20.9 billion by 2030, and there are over 11,502 career coaches employed in the U.S. alone. In other words, competition is stiff. The quest for new clients in the business coaching industry is relentless, making the need for effective outreach strategies more crucial than ever.
To stand out, there are several strategies and technologies you can utilize. Generally, it all revolves around relationship building and forming meaningful connections beyond cursory networking attempts. Let me explain.
Make an Impression
While we all know we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, in reality, that’s often exactly what we do. We judge people the moment we meet them.
Research shows that most people form an impression of people within seven seconds of meeting them. So, networking is all about learning to make an instant, positive impression.
How can you achieve this? Of course, you want to present yourself as a seasoned professional but also as someone approachable and receptive to people’s needs.
Openness and vulnerability play crucial roles in fostering meaningful relationships. In a Covve workshop on forging lasting relationships, Jessie Jacob, community leader at Culture Amp, highlighted that true connections reside in the realm of vulnerability.
She offered an exercise to the participants, whereby they would open up by stating, “if you really knew me, you would know that…” helping participants create a platform of openness to build trust and know each other better.
This may be challenging to achieve when meeting someone for the first time, but it is a great method and tool that you can use to stand out and be memorable.
Before attending a networking event, however, it’s a good idea to peruse the guest list and learn a bit about the people you’re going to be interacting with.
In doing so, you prepare yourself for the event by already having a few people in mind that you would like to connect with. What industry do they work in? What kind of coaching could they be seeking? Do your homework and prepare.
Personalized outreach trumps inundated, generic messages. So, rather than casting a wide net, focus on a targeted and personalized strategy.
Think quality over quantity when it comes to clients.
An effective method of personalizing outreach has to do with two very simple elements: listening and notetaking.
Renowned career strategist Doug Lester believes that by taking notes on matters that are meaningful to newly forged connections may not help you there and then, but will prove to be a monumental momentum boost in creating a lasting relationship.
Do they have pets? What are their hobbies? What is their favorite music genre? Taking notes on such matters will help you tailor your interactions with contacts in a meaningful way.
The next critical step of creating lasting relationships is integrating technology in your methods. With a myriad of notes taken on various contacts, it’s important to be organized so you don’t get lost in the shuffle and mistake the interests of a contact with those of another, for example.
Embracing technology is not an option; it’s a necessity.
Take customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, which have become an invaluable asset by allowing coaches to organize, track, and nurture relationships efficiently. The functionalities of CRM platforms range from contact management and lead tracking to automated follow-ups, ensuring that no valuable connection falls through the cracks.
CRM platforms, however, are mostly geared towards helping you close deals and make sales. A while back, before founding Covve, I realized that it’s the relationships behind those numbers that truly matter. However, there weren’t the right tools around for that, which is one of the reasons that I built Covve alongside my co-founder.
Personal CRMs act like a relationship co-pilot, nudging you to keep relationships warm through note-taking features, reminders, seamlessly integrated calendars, tags, and more.
They’re akin to a fitness app that tracks your fitness activity, but are instead tailored to help you better manage and track your relationships.
Chris DeFalco, an investment banking professional, expressed how integrating a personal CRM in his daily life and workflow helped him elevate his interactions with clients, making them more personal and memorable.
He stated that group messaging, tagging, and note-taking features helped him stay organized and timely, resulting in him being top-of-mind across his portfolio.
Social proof is a powerful force in marketing, and referrals are a valuable source for acquiring new clients. As you strive to establish yourself as an expert in your field, referrals will naturally flow in, driven by satisfied clients who witness success stories within their circles.
One simple and easy way to achieve this when you complete a project with a client is to ask them, “who else do you believe I should speak with?”.
However, before this organic process gains momentum, you can proactively stimulate referrals through incentivization.
Consider offering a commission for referrals, giving those who make successful referrals complimentary or discounted services, or establishing partnerships with fellow coaches whose clientele aligns with your expertise. You can then have bidirectional referral partnerships.
Publish Thought Leadership
In the quest to win over new clients and solidify your reputation as an industry expert, you need to have a robust online presence. This entails more than just building an online portfolio; it involves strategically showcasing your knowledge and expertise in online spaces where your target audience actively engages.
I’m not talking about social media here. I’m talking about thought leadership: authoring and publishing articles with your byline on outlets where potential clients can read them.
Mo Bunnell, business development expert, shares that actively participating in forums, webinars, podcasts, annually recurring events, and email lists can really help you establish yourself as an industry expert.
Tailor your content to address the specific struggles, trends, and aspirations of your target audience. For instance, if you’re a productivity coach, delve into strategies for optimizing workplace efficiency or overcoming common productivity pitfalls.
To wrap up, let’s revisit the essential strategies for successful client acquisition in business coaching.
Starting with making an impression, remember that the initial interaction sets the tone for future relations. It’s not just about looking professional; it’s about being genuinely approachable and creating a space for meaningful connections.
Then, there’s the art of personalizing outreach. It’s like crafting a bespoke suit; each interaction is tailored to the individual, making them feel valued and understood. This approach is far more effective than a one-size-fits-all strategy.
Technology integration is your navigation tool in this journey. Just as a GPS guides you through unknown roads, technologies like personal CRMs help manage and enhance your client relationships, ensuring that every interaction counts and no opportunity is missed.
Referrals are the milestones along the way. They’re not just markers of where you’ve been but signposts pointing toward future opportunities. Encouraging referrals through incentives creates a network of connections that continuously expands.
Lastly, thought leadership is your beacon, shining a light on your expertise and drawing clients toward you. It’s more than sharing knowledge; it’s about resonating with your audience’s needs and establishing yourself as a go-to expert.
Each of these elements works together to create a comprehensive approach to client acquisition—one that’s dynamic, engaging, and ultimately effective in the competitive world of business coaching.
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Yiannis Gavrielides is the CEO at Covve, empowering professionals to grow and nurture their contact network. With a vision for strengthening meaningful connections, he collaborates with global thought leaders to share knowledge and make it accessible to people who are interested in proactively managing their networks. In addition to connecting with people Yiannis loves food, cocktails and theater and actively supports entrepreneurship through Invelopment Partners.