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How to Determine Your Client’s Needs

Business Development Comments Off

To highlight the importance of knowing your prospective client, you can imagine the success you’d have if your target market was adolescent youths from broken families and you promoted your $1,500 monthly coaching service in the Financial Review!

Whilst this example is obviously ridiculous and extreme, clients can be a fickle bunch and it’s crucial that your services are tightly aligned with your prospects profile and needs.

Most novice coaches come from the mindset “I’m going to coach XYZ group”. But they give little thought to the specific challenges, needs, desires and nuisances of their target group (niche). And without this information they’re almost doomed to failure.

They first develop how they’re going to coach, and then try to impose that service onto their target client. This approach does not work!

You must be client driven rather than product driven. You should first identify the specific client group you want to work with and then develop services and products that satisfy and fulfil their unique and specific needs.

What’s the best way to determine the needs of your target client?

Ask them! Interview them; survey them; take them to lunch and pick their brains; hold tele-sessions; talk to industry professionals already dealing with them; go to industry events; read their journals.

Asking the hard questions up front is so important to the long term success of your coaching business and your market niche (more on developing that niche soon).

Remember that it’s not enough for you to perceive that someone NEEDS what you have to offer. They have to WANT what you have to offer and be motivated to buy it.

The benefit you purvey with your offer must VASTLY exceed in value your clients’ perceived risk of investing in it.

Focus your attention on client groups who are already looking for the solution you provide and are willing to invest in the solution. Here is a 7-Step Process to develop products and services that are in high demand by your target clients:

  1. First determine the top 3 most serious and annoying challenges that your target group want to solve.
  2. Determine how regularly they face these problems and the financial and emotional cost to them having these problems recur.
  3. Develop solutions to solve these top 3 challenges/problems.
  4. Package your solutions as service and product based offerings.
  5. Price point your services based on the financial costs your clients incur by not having the problem solved.
  6. Establish yourself as a specialist who can help them solve the challenges/problems they have.
  7. Demonstrate to them through quantifiable proof how you have solved their problems with like groups.

If you take this approach, not only will your services be aligned to your client, your clients will actively seek you out to have their costly recurring problems resolved!

Helping a Client in Altering Values

Professional Development Comments Off

A client has approached you with a frequent query: “How will altering my values help me achieve more in my life?” As the coach, how would you assist this client? LCI’s Master Coach Terry Neal answers…

If your client has asked this question, you should initially check on a few areas. Does your client know what their values actually are? If they do, then you could ask what’s behind the desire to alter them.

Is it from a belief that simply changing them and creating a new list or amended list of positive values (that may include recommendations from others) will produce great changes in their lives?

Or is there a genuine desire to re-examine if how they’re living their life and interacting with others at present is in alignment with their own deepest held values?

So the motivation for change for those clients who may already have a good idea of their values needs to be addressed first. Once the motivation has been talked about it might be necessary to assist your client to determine what their values are, if they don’t have a clear idea already.

There are a number of exercises and activities that you could use to help your client create an initial list that could be further modified over time or to modify what they hold to be their personal values at this stage.

The second part of the question is just as important to consider and assist them to look at as the actual set of values. Your client may tell you that they know what they want to achieve in their life but want to achieve more.

The question is: More of what? Is it what they’re doing already or do they have a feeling of something deeper, an unknown expression of themselves that they would like to acknowledge and do?

At this point you, as their coach, having helped them determine either their first or amended set of values, will need to suggest that a change in values could also mean a change in what they’re doing in their life.

Changing or determining their values could cause a change in what or how they currently do what they do in a small or perhaps even a large way.

Therefore, if your client is happy with what they are currently doing and with the knowledge of their new list of values, you could begin to support them to set new goals in this area. For this you could simply use the GROW Model with your client.

Extract: The GROW Model

The GROW Model is an effective technique which can be used to structure a coaching session. This technique can also be shared with business people to help them structure a business meeting or for people who work with committees. The letters GROW form the acronym for:

Wrap up/Way forward

The following provides further details about each stage of the GROW Model:

  1. Set goals and write them down
  2. Establish what the client wants out of the session
  3. Agree on the topic for discussion
  4. Agree on specific objectives for the session
  5. Set a long-term aim if this is appropriate


  1. Let the client tell their story
  2. Invite self assessment
  3. Ask the client questions such as:
  4. What’s happening?
  5. When does this happen?
  6. What effect does it have?
  7. Offer specific examples of feedback
  8. Avoid or check assumptions
  9. Discard irrelevant history 


  1. Brainstorm options
  2. Ask for ideas – don’t tell
  3. Empower
  4. Ensure choices are made
  5. Invite suggestions from client
  6. Offer suggestions carefully


  1. Identify specific steps and any obstacles
  2. Write action plans on a time frame
  3. Look at the way forward
  4. Get a commitment to act
  5. Identify possible obstacles
  6. Agree on what support will be given

However if you’ve become aware from what your client has said  that they want to achieve more in their life but not in the way that they are currently living or working, you could suggest to them to create a Life Purpose Statement.

Click here for more information on a Life Purpose Statement.

So by the end of this session your client may have a life purpose statement and a list of their own personally held values.

Encourage them to spend some quiet time noting thoughts and ideas that arise while considering both the completed activities from their time with you, their values and Life Purpose Statement.

Then the next step of “bringing them into existence” can begin!!

3 Rules of Education-Based Marketing

Business Development Comments Off

Education-Based marketing is the process by which you attract and convert highly-qualified clients by giving them what they want… valuable information and advice that solves their problems; AND removing what they don’t want a SALES PITCH.

Education-based marketing is generally undertaken by delivering Credibility Marketing techniques such as public speaking, information based teleclasses, publications, networking, repetitive communication systems (newsletters, communities, eZines), hotlines, free educational give aways (such as reports, assessments, tools, eCourses), etc.

To develop effective education-based marketing products there are 3 Immutable Rules that you should keep top of mind:

Rule #1: It’s OK to lose money at the front end.

Whilst the development and delivery of education marketing products can be revenue positive, it’s Ok if it costs you money at the front end. As you’ll recall in previous articles, we discussed the Lifetime Value of a Client and the Client Acquisition Cost.

Many businesses often use “Loss Leaders”, or products and enticements that cost them money up front, knowing that they are going to make money at the back end (when clients convert and purchase their products).

For example: You may deliver a free Workshop on “Learn the FIVE groundbreaking strategies used by Super Star mums (including Elle McPherson and Liz Hurley) to SHED FAT after giving birth and be at normal weight within 3-months”.

The workshop may cost you $5,000 to develop, promote and deliver. You may have 30 attendees. Your upfront loss is $167 per attendee. But you may convert 12 clients and know that each client, on average, is worth $2,700 revenue for you. In this example, you have netted $27,400.

NOTE: A free coaching session upfront is probably the most common use of the loss leader principal amongst coaches, although we don’t necessarily recommend its use!

ALSO NOTE: Notice how the promotion is ‘education-based’ not sales-based. An attendee at the workshop will GAIN VALUE from the workshop REGARDLESS of whether they take up your product offer at the end or not.

You have also positioned yourself as an EXPERT by delivering valuable educational content, and have put yourself in a position to link ALL attendees into an ongoing value-add program – such as a Tele-Workshop Series; eNewsletter; etc.

Rule #2: Must be of high perceived value.

The product that you provide should be of very high perceived value to your prospects. One of the most significant barriers for business people to get their minds around with the education-based marketing concept is the idea of ‘giving away’ their valuable intellectual property.

Education-based marketing is NOT about giving away your service or information. It’s about INVESTING it.

By demonstrating the high value of your service you build substantially higher levels of TRUST and rapport with your prospects. And you position yourself as an EXPERT.

Withholding of knowledge only leads to DOUBT in the mind of your prospect as to your ABILITY to deliver on your promises. If you readily INVEST your intellectual property by giving it away, your prospects will TRUST you; acknowledge your ability to help them; and develop the perception that you have significantly more information of value to provide them (through your pay-for-service products).

Rule #3: Must be ongoing.

One of the greatest advantages of education-based marketing is that it lowers your prospects defence mechanisms, and it allows you to showcase your skills. To take full advantage of that opportunity you MUST continue to educate your prospects through an ongoing process.

At any point in time only a very small percentage of your prospects will be READY and willing to purchase.

Most businesses have a marketing system that TOTALLY NEGLECTS this critical fact.

If 100 people enquiry about your services, most likely only 8 to 15 will be seriously looking to purchase your services at THAT point in time. The others are simply inquisitive or think they may purchase at some time in the future.

As we mentioned in an earlier article, this process is called the Cycle of Life. You MUST recognise that your prospects are going through the Cycle of Life. You MUST have a means to add value to them in a non-intrusive and informative manner. And your process must be educational, informative and REPETITIVE.

Understanding Life Coaching, Part 4

Professional Development, The Contributor Forum Comments Off

In this 4-part special series, Noel Posus provides a great overview of Life Coaching including: WHEN it started; the development of techniques and skills; HOW and WHY it works.

Concepts discussed in Part 1, Part 2  and Part 3 (click to view full article):

  • Overview of Life Coaching (Part1)
  • Definitions of Coaching (Part1)
  • Types Of Coaching (Part1)
  • Coaching versus Counselling and Other Helping Professions (Part 2)
  • The Research Behind Life Coaching (Part 2)
  • Coaching Methodologies and Tools (Part 3)

Professional Standards & Organisations

There are many organisations around the world that support the coaching industry in one way or another. Some profess to be “The Professional Association” for coaches, however, there is little consensus within the coaching community as to which is the “right” one.

Some of the larger professional groups within the coaching community are:

  • International Coach Federation (ICF)
  • The European Coaching Institute (ECI)
  • The International Association of Coaches (IAC)

Many coaches, but not all, have some affiliation with one or more of these associations and organisations.

There are also specialty groups for business and executive coaching, coaching psychology and mentoring.

The coaching industry is unlikely to be regulated in the near future, and although there have been some attempts by various organisations to drive self-regulation, the coaching fraternity has not yet agreed who is best to drive this process.

Selecting a Coach

Choosing a coach can be a very personal thing, and it may be important to take time to find the right match of personality, skills, qualifications, experience and style.

Qualifications widely vary and are not always recognised by certain professional associations. This is not necessarily something to be concerned about as an individual’s credibility, capability and competency can be measured through interviewing techniques.

Below are some areas for consideration when interviewing a potential coach, in no particular order.

  • Coach training
  • Ongoing professional development
  • Industry affiliations and credentials
  • Personal and professional experience
  • Styles of coaching
  • Assessments, tools and models
  • Testimonials and references
  • Coaching topics and areas of expertise
  • Philosophy of coaching
  • Services offered & delivery methods (eg. in person, phone, etc)
  • Rates, packages and special deals
  • Terms and Conditions
  • Availability
  • Referral process if needed
  • Insurance

For some clients, it may also be incredibly important to pay attention to intuition and what feels right or not with the potential coach.

Many coaches have a Coaching Agreement, where the coach and client agree to certain terms and conditions, rights, responsibilities and permissions based on their individual roles.

In some cases, these are binding contracts, while in other cases they are coaching tools to ensure there is an operating and performance measurement system in place to ensure all parties are aware of, and demonstrating integrity to their responsibilities within the coaching relationship.

Coaching is most successful when the relationship between client and coach is trusting, open, confidential, supportive and frequently reviewed to ensure it is providing value and meeting the expectations of both parties. Coaching requires a commitment to make it work by both coach and client.

Acknowledgements & Further Reading

Many sources of information have been used to create this document. The key references have been:

  1. “Coaching Psychology”, Grant, InPsych, June 2007.
  2. “Cognitive-Behavioural, Solution-Focused Life Coaching:  Enhancing Goal Striving, Well-being and Hope”, Green, Oades and Grant, 2006.
  3. “Positive Psychology Progress:  Empirical Validation of Interventions”, Seligman, Steen, Park & Peterson, 2005.

For further reading on Positive Psychology, visit the University of Pennsylvania Positive Psychology Centre website’s listings of media, articles, videos, research and books. Many Wikipedia definitions where also explored, and components where included in some sections of this document.

About the Author:

This article is an excerpt from the paper Understanding Life Coaching written by Noel Posus, Master Coach and Director of, reprinted here with his permission. Noel is also the current Coach of the Year awarded by the Australian New Zealand Institute of Coaching. He is also a Master Coach and instructor with the Life Coaching Institute.