What happens when you take on the “wrong” life coaching client, and how can you tell a “wrong” client from a “right” one before you start to work with them?
As the co-founder of Life Mastery Institute®, the world premier training and certification center for heart-centered life coaches, my clients ask me all kinds of interesting questions…
And I’m occasionally asked what to do when you find yourself working with a difficult client – one who doesn’t seem to want to do what is needed to in order to transform their results.
This situation can be frustrating and demoralizing for both the coach AND the client, and can even actually affect your reputation as a coach
Fortunately, this situation is easily avoidable, and the first step is to carefully vet each new potential client that comes your way to make sure they are a fit for you, and you for them.
After investing the last 30+ years teaching the invisible side of success to tens of thousands of life coaching clients all around the world, I’ve established four specific criteria that I look for in potential clients who want to work with me:
Four criteria to look for in a potential life coaching client
Coaching client criteria #1: They are ready for transformation
You want clients who are 100% ready to transform their lives, not simply rehash and repeat what hasn’t been working for them up until now.
Your primary role as a life coach is not in listen to your clients rehearse their painful stories from the past, but to help them design a life they would truly love living, and then to help them move from one plane of existence and results to another, more expansive one.
For this reason, you want to work with people who are open to growth and ready for transformation, and who want to change their results.
Coaching client criteria #2: They either have a dream for the future, or they want to have a dream
A potential client may not know exactly what their dream for their future is, but they DO know there is something more out there for them to be, do, have and give that’s not currently present in their life.
Ideally, you want your clients to have an idea of what they’d like to create and experience. However, if they don’t have a clearly defined dream yet, that’s okay too – in fact, it’s part of what they need your help for!
What’s important is that they have an idea of what they would love their life to be like, or they’re willing to have you help them design a dream, so that they can begin to live by design and not by default.
Coaching client criteria #3: They’re coachable
There are some people who will ask to be coached, despite the fact that they don’t actually WANT to be coached.
Deep down, these people aren’t truly willing to learn and grow, or to take the action steps that are required to create the results they desire.
The clients you want to attract are the ones who are 100% willing to be coached.
They’re willing to listen and apply the transformational principles that you’re guiding them through, to do some experiments with their life, and to operate from a relationship with their vision that will actually transform their results.
Coaching client criteria #4: They are willing to invest in themselves to create the result they say they want
There are clients who will want results, but they are not willing to invest in themselves by means of investing in a program with you.
These people tend to argue for scarcity, saying things like, “I don’t have the money. Could you just help me? Could you offer me a discount and work with me for less money, so that I can afford to move forward?”
When you hear this type of response to working with you, remember three things…
- First, you want a client relationship that feels good for both of you. Discounting the investment for doing a program with you may secure you the client, but it may not feel good longer term. You may wind up feeling as though you’ve compromised too much, which can be detrimental to the coaching relationship.
- Second, you have the opportunity to help them see that the dollars they’re trading for the result they want really is a good investment, because they’ve desired this result for a long time, and their life will be vastly better once they’ve created this transformation.
- And third, there are plenty of people who will be willing to invest at the level you’re asking for, once you understand how to build a highly successful coaching business. This is something I train my coaches in inside Life Mastery Institute®.
When you only accept the right clients, your work will feel far easier, more fruitful and more fun
Imagine seeing a client’s name in your calendar, their phone number appearing on your phone as they call you, or their face as they come into a room for an in-person session with you…
Imagine that you immediately felt a strong sense of happiness and gratitude that you get to work with this client!
And every time you thought of them, you felt how much you love the way they’re transforming, and how inspiring their willingness to grow and learn is, as well as their vulnerability.
This is precisely how you want to feel with each client you work with, and it IS how you’ll feel if you only work with clients that fit the four criteria I’ve outlined above!
How does taking on the wrong life coaching client affect your business?
Let’s say you have someone who is interested working with you, but you can sense that they’re not truly ready for transformation, or they seem argumentative, and you get the feeling that they aren’t actually open to letting you help them create their ideal life.
They may be willing to invest in a program with you, or even pay for the entire cost of the program up front, but your intuition is telling you that they aren’t totally open or receptive to your coaching.
You may be tempted to sign them on as a client, but here’s the deal:
When you take on the wrong client, you not only do a disservice to the client, but you also do a disservice to the business that you’re seeking to build for yourself as a heart-centered life coach.
A client who isn’t truly ready for transformation, or who is uncoachable, is going to be very challenging to work with. It will be difficult to help them create positive results in their life, because they’re not really willing to do the work required to transform their dreams into their reality.
Because they weren’t ready for transformation, at the end of your time together, they’ll likely still have the same results that they had when they began… only now, they’re going to blame YOU for this!
Not only will this upset your client, but it can also cause you to feel drained and frustrated at the end of your sessions… and it may also result in some negative word-of-mouth for your business.
How to decline the “wrong” potential client
If you sense that someone you’re considering working with does not meet the four criteria I shared above, then it’s best for your potential client, your existing clients, and your business to respectfully decline the coaching relationship.
If they’d like more information as to why, you can be honest with them!
Just let them know that there are four criteria that you look for in potential clients, and you didn’t feel like it was a good fit.
Let them know you want their investment in your coaching to be worthwhile, and they don’t yet seem to be really ready for transformation, or they don’t seem coachable.
You can share whatever the issue is, as long as it’s always communicated in a caring and respectful way.
Let them know that when they’re ready, or they really want to be coached, or they’re prepared to invest, you’d like them to come back, because you would honestly love to help them and you know that you can.
Now, here’s a question for you:
What’s something that YOU look for, or that you look to avoid, in a new life coaching client?
Go ahead and share your thoughts with me in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you!