My Sustainable Client Breakthrough Story: Serving Instead of Coaching

By Sarah Lightfoot

799My whole body was feeling tingly, as I hung up google hangout after a 90 minute, powerful conversation with my brand new client. I was so excited, because she agreed to a rate that would sustain me, right on the spot! Finally, my new marketing strategy of inviting people into powerful coaching conversations was beginning to pay off.

I met her at a party, and she told me about a problem she had — she said she was too hard on herself. Following instructions from my new marketing approach, I said, “I actually think I could help you with that problem. Would you like to have a powerful conversation,” and explained to her about what that meant.

It was pretty uncomfortable to invite people into “powerful conversations” at first, but I was determined to try something different in order to live my dream of becoming a paid coach. I had graduated from Leadership That Works recently, but I had only one client at $50/session. I spent years as a successful fundraiser, so why couldn’t I “raise” money for the mission of coaching, a mission that I believed in!? I spent a lot of time networking to find clients, being proactive, but it wasn’t working. I tried different language, but nothing I said conveyed the power of coaching as I had experienced it.

When a classmate directed me to read The Prosperous Coach, I was intrigued. In sum, the book suggests that if we simply fill up our calendar with tons of “powerful conversations” and serve people well, the money conversation will happen more naturally, and people will buy into your coaching fee.

I soon found that inviting people directly into coaching conversations was actually easier than just “talking about” coaching in the abstract. As a fundraiser, I experienced something similar: I always preferred to introduce potential donors directly to people affected by a social problem where possible, rather than just “talking about” the people or the problem. There was nothing like meeting clients or community leaders to help a donor “get it.”

At the end of the powerful conversation with my first breakthrough sustainable client, she asked about my fee. There was a little voice in me that said, she is going to say, “No way…” but most of me knew that she would say yes. That’s because right before we discussed money, I checked in with her about her insights. She said that the parts work we did was “like going in a time machine” and that she was so excited to have discovered coaching. She instantly said, “Great. Where should I send the check?!”

If you are a CFT Grad I hope you’ll join me for the upcoming Graduate Teleclass webinar that goes into more detail about what I’ve learned about this approach. –Sarah Lightfoot

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About the Author:

1185Sarah Lightfoot helps Executive Directors and social entrepreneurs raise more philanthropy for impact through leadership coaching and organizational consulting. She completed the Leadership That Works distance learning course in December 2015 and has fully transitioned to a thriving coaching and consulting practice, including a group coaching course for social entrepreneurs and Executive Directors. Learn more about Sarah at her website.

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