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Kevin Oubridge

Blue Chip Coaching Limited


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How to Sell Your Coaching to Big Companies Via Human Resources


Some years ago I used to work for Mercer, one of the very big global consulting firms.

One day a woman, absolutely apoplectic with rage, came through on my line. She had received terrible service, had been passed around from pillar to post and was now demanding that I do something about it.

I apologized for the trouble she’d had and asked her what had happened.

She really was very angry!

So it took some time to understand what the problem was.

Eventually, it became apparent that she had come through to the wrong person, in the wrong department in totally the wrong company. I broke the news to her as nicely as I could and, after a bit of confused laughter, she apologized and rang off.

I can only assume she was able to get through to the right company, give them a bit of an ear bashing and get some sort of resolution.

This story illustrates the need to connect with the right people.

It saves time and aggravation and you get better results.

When marketing your coaching services, connecting with the right people can mean the difference between winning business and growing your coaching practice or, well, not.

But what if you have no choice but to go to the ‘wrong person’?

For example, what if your target market is senior executives but you keep getting directed to human resources? After all, there’s a good chance that this will happen because HR are often the commissioners of coaching for large organisations.

Or perhaps you just prefer going in via HR or maybe all your contacts are in HR in the businesses you want to work with.

But how do you sell your coaching services to HR?

Strategy Sessions your KILLER marketing tool


The short answer is, the same as if selling to your ideal client.

Use Strategy Sessions.

I wrote about how to deliver winning Strategy Sessions in my last blog post, so I’ll only give brief information here.

Strategy Sessions are your killer marketing tool. They help you engage with potential clients and give them an experience of your coaching service. They enable your potential clients to understand the value of working with you, and enable you to understand if and how you can help them.

At Accelerated Success we have achieved over 90% success rate in converting prospects to paying clients when using Strategy Sessions.

No wonder we like them!

Using Strategy Sessions to win business

Strategy Sessions are an excellent way of engaging with genuine prospects and winning their business.

And, whatever your preferences or the pressures on you to do differently, if you’re ideal clients are senior executives, I recommend that you approach them to sell your coaching services.

This is because, even if HR are the commissioners of coaching, using a Strategy Session to get buy-in to your services from the people who you will be coaching is a key step in selling those services.

On top of that, although the senior exec may not be directly responsible for the development budget they are likely to have influence with whoever is.

Alternatively, senior execs are often responsible for other budgets that they can use to pay for coaching.

Your preferred route into a corporate, then, should always via the people you intend to coach.

And if you deliver a Strategy Session to a senior exec, who doesn’t have the budget, your job is to help them identify who the budget holder is, and the process they need to go through to get a decision from them.

Support them in whatever way you can to get the go ahead for a coaching programme.

It may be just a case of following up with them on a regular basis to ensure they are moving things along. Or you might offer to talk to others in the decision making chain, such as the line manager, HR or whoever.

Clearly, this may take several weeks.

Be patient though.

Winning business to deliver just one coaching engagement in a large corporate will likely be the start of a long-term and highly productive business relationship, where you win further business and pick up referrals year-on-year.

That’s how we grew Accelerated Success, our coaching practice.

So that’s my preferred route in to corporates.

Talk to your ideal coaching participant and help them find the budget to pay for your coaching.

The HR angle

If you choose the HR route, however, you should offer your HR contact a Strategy Session.

You just need to adapt the pre-session questionnaire and your follow up questions to fit their situation as a buyer on behalf of others.

In particular, after a thorough discussion of the company’s challenges you would want to ask them to identify the key people who are willing and able to take on these challenges.

It’s worth noting that these people may not be those who, because of their status or position in the company structure, should be taking responsibility for leading on the changes. We all know that the people who should be doing something aren’t always the same people who actually lead on getting it done.

The people you want them to identify, therefore, are the key players in making things happen.

Having identified the key players, at the Strategy Session report back meeting, you should ask your HR contact if there would be value in you delivering Strategy Sessions for some or all of those people.

You need to take it slowly here.

You are basically asking someone in HR to refer you to someone else in the business. They may be reluctant to do this, although less so because you have just given them an experience of working with you. However, if you get it right here, they are likely to give you the go-ahead you want.

You then deliver Strategy Sessions to all those people and report back to your key contact in HR.

It is important to pitch the Strategy Session to the participant in the right way.

That is, you should make it clear that they are a key player in bringing about a major change in the company and your coaching can help them. You are therefore conducting a Strategy Session so you can both understand whether there is value in working together.

You definitely want to avoid any hint that you are approaching them because they are seen as under-performing and are being offered coaching as remedial support. Once you get into the Strategy Session it will be apparent that this is not the case, so it’s a question of using the right language when starting out.

When you report back to your HR contact, ask them if they are ready to make a decision as to whether to go ahead with a full coaching programme. And as before, coach them through the decision making process.

Again, this may take some time.

But keep your eyes on the prize! Winning business here, will lead to further business and referrals if you deliver great coaching and also focus on building the business-to-business (B2B) relationship.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to deliver a Strategy Session for the HR person. You could have a more informal meeting, where you get the names of execs who might be interested in a Strategy Session. However, there is value in demonstrating your approach to as many decision makers in a company as possible.

Plus, of course, having experienced your services, the HR person may want to commission coaching for themselves.

A few last thoughts

We have found that, once a client company is familiar with using Strategy Sessions, decision makers will ask us if we can contact so-and-so to deliver a Strategy Session and report back to them.

It might sound like a lot of work but it’s actually much less than continually chasing leads in new companies, where you have no previous track record.

At Accelerated Success, this is how we win pretty much all of our business.

We use Strategy Sessions and build long-term, highly productive relationships with our client companies, where we win business year-on-year and pick up referrals.

One other point, if you have existing contacts, who are senior execs in the sort of companies you want to work with, why not offer them a Strategy Session. Say you are trying out a new coaching tool and ask if they’d be prepared to help you.

It would be good practice and you might win some business.

My thanks to Fi Macmillan for first raising the question of how to sell to HR or L&D following my last blog post.

Want to learn how to grow your coaching practice?

Download The Alligator’s Bite - it's FREE! I reveal the step-by-step process you can use to win Blue Chip coaching clients and build long-term relationships, where you win further business year on year. You’ll also receive regular Blue Chip Tips blog posts to your email.

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Kevin Oubridge


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