Why You Should Question Your New Client’s ‘Yes’ to Working With You - International Coaching Federation
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Why You Should Question Your New Client’s ‘Yes’ to Working With You

Posted by Jan Broders, PCC | June 23, 2022 | Comments (0)

How great do you feel when a client says “yes” to working with you? Are you smiling from ear to ear? Sensing a hint of relief that you will be able to pay the bills sitting on the kitchen counter?

What if we were to propose that instead of celebrating and sharing your payment details, you take a step back and question your client’s yes? You heard us right, no champagne just yet. Rather, taking a deep breath and inviting your client to give it some more thought. 

Sound crazy? You are in good company. I’ve mentored both newcomer and experienced coaches over the past few years, and when I suggest questioning a client’s yes, every single one of them has stared at me in disbelief. Let me explain. 

The Reason Why Coaches Tend to Accept Clients Too Easily

Many of us coaches approach selling from a place of neediness. The coach needs the client more than the client wants to work with them. This may be due to financial pressure, the need for approval, the fear of rejection, or simply the desire to help everybody on the planet. Simply put, many coaches take it personally when the client doesn’t sign up. Both factors are toxic to the creation of a fruitful coaching relationship. In fact, this type of neediness on the coach’s part lays the foundation for an unhealthy type of power imbalance. It may lead to the coach becoming a people pleaser, rather than staying detached from their client and truly serving in a professional and ethical manner. The conversation no longer happens at eye level.

Why Questioning Your Client’s ‘Yes’ can be Extremely Powerful

Questioning your client’s yes may sound counterintuitive, but it empowers your client to create even more buy-in and commitment to the coaching journey.

When questioning a client’s decision, one of two things will happen:

  1. Prospective clients who weren’t 100% on board to commit will choose not to work with you.
  2. Those who are still fully committed after you question the yes will show up even more ready. And the good thing is, this greater level of commitment will be evident throughout their coaching journey. These clients are all-in, and their dedication will show in the way they go about their coaching and also in their results. These are the types of clients who are over-the-moon happy with your work and who rave about their coaching experience wherever they go. Something the half-committed clients would never have done.

And questioning the yes is easy. Let them know that all you care about is that their decision is true to the heart, whether that’s a yes or a no to partnering with you. Make this a collaborative effort rather than a game of seller against buyer. You are a coach. And I suggest you do exactly that: make this a coaching conversation. You would be surprised how many clients I’ve seen change from yes to no, but still recommend me to their friends. They could feel how genuine I was  about having them make the best decision for themselves rather than trying to close a sale.

The Mindset to Embody When Questioning your Client’s ‘Yes’

Freeing yourself of the neediness of having to enroll a particular client changes everything. Yes, you need money. But no, it’s not your client’s duty to feed your kids or contribute to your travels. It’s also not your client’s duty to make you feel better about yourself. That’s up to each one of us to take care of. Why not hire a coach for that?

There is a general mindset that will help you become a better coach and better at enrolling clients: “we always serve, we never please.” Whatever we do is always in the best interest of the client. It’s not about the client liking us or us feeling financially safe. Our work needs to be 100% client-focused, and it’s a constant exercise to remove ourselves from the equation. So, throughout the enrollment journey, ask yourself again and again: “am I truly being of service, or am I trying to please my client or put myself first?” Yes, you are a coach, but you are a human first. So be kind to yourself when playing this game.

Headshot of Coaching World contributor Jan Broders

Jan Broders, PCC

Jan Broders, PCC is an executive and life coach with individual and corporate clients around the world. Together with his wife and fellow coach Sarah Antwerpes, PCC, Jan hosts retreats and co-creation/co-living experiences for other coaches on the beautiful island of Mallorca, Spain. Please visit Jan at www.JanBroders.com and connect via LinkedIn.

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

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