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Kevin Oubridge

Blue Chip Coaching Limited


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Coach Alert: ‘The Universe Will Provide’ is Not a Marketing Strategy


Coach Alert: 'The Universe Will Provide' is Not a Marketing Strategy

How to sell your coaching services hasn’t featured on many coaching conference agendas.

Not just this year or even last year, but ever.

This is a  dreadful shame, given how important marketing and selling is to sole-trader and micro-business coaches.

Simply put, the basic ability to sell your coaching services will ensure you win clients and make a success of your business. On the other hand, an inability to sell will stop you dead in your tracks.

No clients.

No income.

No future for your coaching practice.

But what’s stopping you from learning what you need to learn?

Last year Euro Coach List conference led the way in addressing this issue with a number of sessions on marketing and selling your coaching services. And this year’s ECL Conference at Eastwood Park, Gloucestershire, on 8-9 November offers a number of sales related sessions, including Growing Your Coaching Practice Working with Corporates, delivered by Sue Burnell.

The European Mentoring & Coaching Council has also dipped a toe in the water, withWin More Clients by Playing to Your Strengths as a Coach, also by Sue Burnell, at its 21st Annual Mentoring and Coaching Conference in Venice on 20-22 November.

I have also noticed there’s a session on business development and one on branding at this year’s Association for Coaching conference in Budapest.

As good as I’m sure these sessions will be, they are still a pretty meagre offering, considering the size of the coaching profession and the number of coaching conferences there are each year.

It has always been this way though.

I remember when we started Accelerated Success, our coaching practice, back in 2003, we scoured the conference scene for sessions on how to market and sell our services.


This apparent omission was probably a reflection of what their members wanted, or more to the point didn’t want, rather than a failing on the part of the organisations themselves.

Coaches just weren’t ready to focus on marketing or selling.

Most simply wanted, and still want, support and discussion around coaching competence, qualifications and practice.

What they didn’t want was any suggestion that marketing and selling was something to do with coaching.

If I’m honest, we weren’t keen on the idea either.

Far from embracing marketing and selling with enthusiasm, we accepted them as something we needed to do if we wanted to be successful but would rather not.

However, this stuck-in-the-mud attitude was positively progressive compared to some coaches, who seemed to think marketing and selling were an incarnation of evil, and preferred the if you put yourself out there the universe will provide approach to winning clients.

Now, I’m sure you can find plenty of coaches who claim to be earning a good living, relying on nothing more than the munificence of the universe, but I am also sure you will find a lot more who have found it less generous.

Some coaches may even view the cosmos as positively stingy.

Are you one of them?

Have you put yourself out there for little or no return?

The universe will provide might be a handy bit of spin but it isn’t a strategy for successfully setting up and growing a coaching practice. Not nowadays anyway.

The Sherpa Executive Coaching Survey 2014 found that, since 2011, earnings have dropped by more than 25% for executive coaches who have been in business for less than 5 years. Over the same period, earnings have also dropped by more than 20% for those who have been in business for between 5 and 10 years, and by 12% for those who have been in business for more than ten years.

Basically, earnings from coaching are what they used to be,

Now, you could argue that the survey isn’t representative for your location, your type of coaching or even your relationship with the universe. Alternatively, you could accept that:

  • Growing a coaching practice is tough

  • If you’re just starting out, it’s probably tougher than it’s ever been

  • There are a lot of coaches out there in the same position as you

Great! Thanks for cheering us up!

All is not lost though.

When the going gets tough, etc.

I’m absolutely sure you didn’t think that earning a living as a coach would be an easy option when you started out. Obviously, it might feel easier because you’re doing something of value for others that you enjoy, you’re in charge of your own destiny, rather than being managed by someone else, you can be more flexible with your hours, see more of your family …

But to have all that takes courage, talent and determination.

It’s very challenging.

It’s also downright scary at times.

For example, over the years we have spent a considerable amount of time mired in doubt and anxiety over whether we could earn enough to pay the mortgage. Fortunately for us we found we could. However, we also found there’s a lot you can do to help yourself other than simply depending on the unending blackness to put food on the table.

This throws up a problem of its own, that being, there’s so much marketing and selling advice to choose from it’s difficult to know where to start.

And that brings me back to where I started.


Check out the marketing and selling sessions at the various coaching conferences. Perhaps attend a couple. Talk to the presenters and other coaches you meet there.

Your aim should not be to learn all there is to know about marketing and selling your services, which is plainly impossible and not necessary.

No, your aim should be to get three useful nuggets.

It might be that you learn how to start a sales conversation. Or you make a useful connection with a successful coach. Or you pick up a recommendation for a book on how to sell coaching. Or you discover a resource for professional services marketing. Or you just feel a little bit more able and confident to sell your coaching …

As a tip, if you write down each nugget as it comes to you, you will undoubtedly find you get far more than three. That’s great! You will have exceeded your expectations and can prioritise them to come up with the top three.

In doing this, you will build your understanding of marketing and selling as a coach, and get more comfortable with the idea that marketing and selling are things that you do.

More than that, you’ll have made a start in helping the universe to help you.

PS  If you know of any coaching marketing or selling sessions at conferences, or anywhere else come to that, let us know about them in the comments section of this post.

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Kevin Oubridge


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