Let’s say you’re a life coach and you’re following the progress of two different clients, we’ll call them Jack and Jill.
Jack and Jill both have goals (to get up a hill maybe) and they need a little help getting there, which is why they hired you. So far so good.
They have the same amount of resources, the same education level and the same coach (you). After 6 months of tracking their progress, you see that Jill has met her goal, while Jack has barely made any progress.
What do you think the difference was?
On the surface, we could say the difference was action. Jill probably took more action than Jack, so she ended up accomplishing more.
But let’s keep pulling that string — why did Jill take more action?
The obvious answer would be that Jill wanted it more — she was more committed. But why?
Clearly this particular goal was very important to her. Maybe it has to do with her life circumstances, or maybe Jill is just more of a “go getter” kind of person.
But that leaves us as a coach with a bit of an existential question.
Are we just passive observers in our client’s lives? Are we just expensive babysitters watching them succeed or fail? What impact, if any, do we actually have on their chances of success?
Clearly we aren’t just passive observers, so let’s look into this concept of commitment further.
I don’t think I’d be going out on a limb if I said that a client’s success is directly related to their level of commitment — also known as “how much they want it”. So what can we do as coaches to stoke that fire?
Here’s where it gets interesting, because most coaches don’t really understand this, and they fail miserably because of it. Did you know that the average income of a life coach is 20K/year? That’s average, which means more than half of coaches are making less than that.
Client success is a crucial factor in a coach’s success — so let’s understand what actually motivates clients and how we can be a catalyst for it.
Enrollment = Commitment
At the end of the day, coaching exists to deliver results, and as we’ve seen in the example of Jack and Jill, your weekly coaching isn’t really a huge factor in whether or not your clients succeed.
If it were significant than all your clients would get pretty much the same results, but that’s not what happens. In fact, what most coaches don’t notice is the most important part of your coaching relationship actually happens before the client pays you anything.
The most important part of your relationship is the enrollment conversation.
The enrollment conversation (or conversations) as I’m defining it are in-depth, high-value conversations where you and the potential client talk about goals, dreams, aspirations, and discuss the terms of your coaching agreement. They can (and often do) last several hours.
That’s where the client really commits (or doesn’t) to their goal and it’s your job as a coach to make that a pivotal moment in their life, because if that opportunity is missed there is a far lower chance your client will meet their goals.
The good news is, before the end of this article I’m going to share the 4 biggest mistakes coaches make in enrollment conversations, but before we go there, I need to make sure we’re on the same page.
Here is how most coaches think a coaching relationship works.
Here’s what it’s really like.
That’s a big difference. But isn’t it true? Look through your past clients and consider it. When we stoke the fires of their commitment and turn it into a raging inferno, success is almost inevitable.
So how can we create that raging inferno? First we must understand what doesn’t work.
The 4 Biggest Mistakes Coaches Make in Enrollment Conversations
1. Don’t Withhold Your Genius
Most coaches don’t give away the goods until you pay. That’s a great strategy for sex work, not a great strategy for coaches.
It would be like someone auditioning for American Idol by talking about how great of a singer she is. That makes no sense. You gotta sing! In fact, that’s the time to bring your absolute best.
I believe in giving them an experience, show them you can help by actually helping. Have that conversation be a pivotal moment in their life, even if they don’t become your client. That’s another thing coaches don’t realize — someone may not sign up with you then but if you give them an incredibly powerful experience they will never forget you. They might come back a year later and be ready to work together, or they might refer their friends to you.
For example, I did a session with a client a few years ago that was really powerful for him, but he wasn’t ready to invest. He messaged me two years later and without any sales call or additional coaching he simply said “I have the money, how do I send it you”. When I asked him what changed he said “I knew from the first call I wanted to work with you, it was just a question of arranging the finances”.
Don’t withhold your genius, because you never know what the ripple of your coaching will create.
2. Don’t Be Afraid of Objections
Most coaches are hoping for zero objections in an enrollment conversation, they want it to be fast and easy — but that’s a big mistake.
Objections are important because they represent pockets of resistance your client has to their goal. Maybe they don’t see a path to success, maybe they are scared, or maybe they just don’t believe it’s possible. It’s incredibly important to address these concerns before you begin coaching with them, because no one can be truly committed until they have cleared their mind of any and all concerns they may have.
I’ve found that objections are often when the real conversation begins. It creates friction, and you as a coach want friction because it’s the beginning of a breakthrough.
3. Don’t Rely On A Script
A script is training wheels, it can be useful for beginners but once you learn how to ride and you want to attract high-end clients you must be showing up as 100% yourself.
This might be scary at first if you’re used to a routine, but you don’t have a script when you coach people, and the enrollment conversation is you showing up as a coach, not a salesman. This is about shifting your mindset from “I’m here to sell” to “I’m here for breakthroughs”. Let it take a few hours if that’s what’s needed.
Breakthroughs are what will make people want to sign up, not promises of a future. You need to deliver what you do now, because only then will that person really understand what is possible with you.
4. Don’t Aim to Please
The reason clients hire you is because you are often the only person in their life that’s willing to tell them the truth. The enrollment conversation is not the time to walk on eggshells — and yet, many coaches don’t bring that kind of intensity until after someone signs up.
It’s essential that you bring the same level of honesty and truth-telling that you do when someone is already your client. Often that can look like speaking directly to their limiting beliefs about money in a conversation where they are talking about paying you. That’s part of your job. You’re there to help them overcome limiting beliefs.
You Have Nothing To Lose, And Everything To Gain
At the end of the day, you got into this job because you love helping people. You love the feeling someone gets when they realize what’s been holding them back and are able to start on a new path toward a different future.
When we shift our mindset from enrollment being about selling to enrollment being about bringing our full selves and making a massive impact, not only are we massively increasing our ability to enroll high end clients and get them results, but we’re making ourselves happier, because we get to do the thing we’re good at.
People often talk about having a “fear of selling” but what they don’t understand is that kind of “selling” (which is really just trying to convince someone) isn’t something they should be doing in the first place. They should be coaching! Get to work changing lives and the client will ask you “how do I pay you”. I promise, it will happen.
For more on the art of enrollment, check out ____________________________.