Creating great coach-client relationships

Let’s talk about how to create amazing coach-client relationships.
Building these great relationships has a lasting impact – they’ll be more likely to stay on and work with you and they will also be way more likely to refer you to other people.
These seven clear strategies explain how you can build the foundations of strong connections, and nurture them for the long term.

1. Active Listening

This is a super easy one for me to explain because my audience are coaches who already ‘get’ that building a strong relationship starts by listening actively, giving your clients the space to express themselves, their goals and their challenges.
It’s amazing how many people just don’t know how to do that so know that you are already doing great just by providing that space.
Your client would gain a lot from offloading their problems to a brick wall for an hour, so imagine how much they will gain from talking to you, who will not only be actively listening and being truly present, but will also deepen their thinking with relevant questions.

2. Empathetic communication

I don’t believe I learned much about this in my coach training. There was a lot of talk about not stepping into your client’s shoes too much.
But, personally, I think it really helps for someone to feel heard and understood.
We learn a lot in coach training about not reflecting back and about being conscious that it’s better to be quiet than to speak but, again, I push back on this theory.
I think that hearing your thoughts reflected back to you helps your client to feel understood and, when they feel understood, they’re going to be more likely to open up and be fully engaged in your coaching process.

3. Establishing clear expectations

Clarity is key in any relationship. Outline your coaching process, your role, your client’s responsibilities and your responsibilities. It really sets the tone for a great partnership.
I do this on an onboarding call, where I outline my responsibilities to my client and explain how they can maximise their investment.
This approach really helps to avoid any misunderstandings and issues cropping up further down the line.

4. Tailoring coaching to clients’ individual needs

As you will know, as a coach, every client is unique and their needs will vary.
Lots of people ask me about creating a signature coaching programme, which is what we do in my Business of Coaching programme.
We talk about how it’s absolutely fine to adapt your signature offer if your client doesn’t have those exact needs. That’s the benefit of doing one-to-one coaching – you can be flexible and make your offer bespoke to the individual.
Even in group coaching, you can tailor your coaching to be exactly what your clients need. I definitely do this.
For example, niching is a big part of my programme but I’m not going to force somebody to go over their niche again if they feel like they’ve already nailed it. We’ll just move on to the next thing and spend more time on what they do need my support with.
Personally, I like my clients to know that I genuinely care about them and about their success. I remember things they’ve told me, as it really means a lot to people.
I read an amazing book recently that I would highly recommend, called The E-Myth. They did a case study about a hotel they stayed in, and said how amazed they were when their favourite newspaper got delivered.
Little touches like that make a big difference to people feeling cared about, and it’s a huge part of building your relationship and cultivating that trust.
As an example of creating those little touches, I send voice notes to my clients checking in on how they’re doing, seeing how they are, and letting them know I’m thinking of them. I congratulate them on their wins and will take the time to send them a card if they’ve made progress on something that’s important to them.

5. Consistency and support

Regular check-ins and progress assessments are important, as are sending encouraging messages to help them to keep their momentum up.
You might be the only person cheering them on, and they might really need your support.
It could also be helpful for your clients if you provide additional resources like worksheets, or suggest books that they might need to read to deepen their learning.

6. Celebrate your clients’ achievements

It’s so important to celebrate all of the victories, no matter how small.
I always ask my group, what are your wins? Sometimes people say they can’t think of any, that they haven’t won any new clients in the past week.
And I always say, it’s not about a big win like that. It’s the little things. I say, “I’m celebrating that I managed to get out and go for a walk this lunchtime. What are you celebrating?” Look for those little wins. If you don’t notice and celebrate the small things it’s unlikely you’ll notice and celebrate the big things either.
Celebrating your achievements can also help you to gain great case studies or testimonials.
Instead of asking people to give you a testimonial, which just gives them another task on their to-do list, how about inviting them to reflect on their journey with you? This means it’s a valuable exercise for their own benefit as well as yours.
It also helps you to get amazing case studies. You can tell them that their story is truly inspirational for so many and that you would love to reflect on your journey together and build it into the form of a case study, if they are up for that?
I guarantee that you will get a much higher response rate than if you ask someone for a testimonial.

7. Carrying on your coaching relationship

Finally, let’s cover how you talk to your client about continuing to work with them after your initial coaching engagement.
I like to position this upfront. For example, right at the beginning of my Business of Coaching programme I say that, if they think they would like to stay in my programme after the first six months, I’ll get in touch with them nearer the time and ask if they’d like to stay on for a further period for a small fee.
This means that people know where they stand from the beginning.
A way to introduce the ‘shall we carry on?’ conversation, is to frame it as, “It’s been a while since we first met to set out your goals, would you like to have a call and make a new plan with me?”
If they are up for that, then you can review their wins and ask them what they’re proud of and why their wins are wins.
You can look at their participation and engagement in the programme, what they did well, and what they could have done better knowing what they know now.
Then, you can go on to talk about their challenges. Ask them what are their biggest challenges right now? Because, even if the original problem has gone away, life is full of challenges and there will always be new ones to tackle.
How do they want things to look in, say, six months or a year’s time? It might be helpful to work together to outline their top three challenges for the next 90 days.
And then, you can outline two or three main points that would help them to meet those goals and ask if they would like your help.
If so, you could suggest a monthly rate based on the price of your previous package or, if they wanted less help now they’re further down the line, you can obviously amend the rate to suit.

In summary

These strategies go beyond coaching techniques. They are about creating a really authentic, supportive, long-lasting relationship to fuel growth for your client and for your business.
By applying these strategies, you are well on your way to making a profound and lasting impact for you and for your clients.
Get the love and support you need to make it happen
If you’d like my help to implement this so you make a difference, AND make a living, you can learn more about how I can help you here.

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Hello and welcome! I’m Joanna Lott, and I’m passionate about empowering qualified coaches like you to build brilliant businesses.