How to Win Corporate Clients

Are you a coach who is ready to tap into the lucrative world of corporate coaching and gain high value clients?
If so, this article is for you.
It’s packed with actionable strategies and insights to help you to land corporate contracts.
When I first started my business, I gained a contract with a corporate client and it was an absolute godsend because it gave me a steady income in those early days when I needed it most – when you have no audience and you’re feeling really panicky about how you’re going to make it work.
Was it luck? No, because I’d put the work in. 😉
How did I get this valuable contract?
By contacting a Head of Learning & Development who I had worked with in the past. I didn’t know her well, but I emailed her saying I was setting up my own coaching business and asked her what she would be looking for if she was going to hire a coach like me.
The week it took her to reply felt like forever. You can imagine the negative thoughts whirling round my head as I tried to second guess what she might be thinking.
When she did get back to me, we set up a call and I was completely upfront. I explained the impact I wanted to have, but that I had no idea how to get into organisations.
We talked about what I did, and how I was super passionate about making a difference.
I wasn’t thinking of it as a potential business development call, I was just sharing my story. So I was surprised when, at the end of the call, she said it sounded exactly what they needed, and asked me to send in a proposal!
Obviously, I jumped at the chance. It was an amazing start to my business and I will always be hugely grateful to her for that opportunity.
So, as the famous author Simon Sinek says, let’s start with WHY.
Why do we want corporate contracts?
Because they offer a huge opportunity for growth and stability in your coaching practice.
They often have larger budgets, which allows you to charge higher rates for your services. It also avoids that discomfort and pressure you can feel when you’re charging an individual. I know we shouldn’t feel that way, and should probably do some inner work to remind ourselves that we’re worth it and we’re making a huge difference to that individual, but let’s be real and acknowledge that those feelings can be there.
Working with corporates also gives you the chance to impact a bigger audience and enhance your reputation.
So, here are six strategies to help you to gain those valuable corporate clients.

Strategy 1. Research and identify your ideal corporate client

Write down three organisations that you would absolutely love to work with.
This exercise might even help you to nail your niche, if you haven’t already.
Research those companies that align with your values and have a genuine need for your services.
If they are the organisations you’re interested in working with, this will hopefully mean that they are the type of organisations that prioritise employee development and have a record of investing in coaching.
Once you are clear on your top three organisations, it will really help you to do your research and, as we move through the rest of the strategies, you can really tailor your message to those people.

Strategy 2. Leverage your network and establish connections

Think about who you know that you can reach out to to have a research conversation with. This could be someone who’s in an L&D (learning and development) or HR role. You never know where it may lead.
But, also, don’t rule out people that you don’t think will help you get a foot in the door – you could be talking to a friend who says they’re happy to put you in touch with someone who could be a useful contact.
Don’t be afraid to ask anyone you know if they can introduce you to any decision makers or HR professionals within their network.
Attend conferences, seminars, events – anywhere you can connect with these individuals.
But don’t get preoccupied by your need to get clients. Just concentrate on being curious and building genuine, lasting relationships because that is what counts in the long run.
Someone contacted me with a work proposal recently, and that was just because I’d stayed in touch because I like her, not because I was trying to get more work.

Strategy 3. Craft a compelling value proposition

When you are approaching corporate clients, you will need to clearly articulate the value you are bringing to the table.
I was talking to a client of mine who also has a part time Head of People role. She said that my Business of Coaching Programme has been incredibly valuable to her because she’s using what she’s learned about ‘creating packages to gain buy-in from your potential clients’ with the directors in her organisation.
After all, no matter what role you are in, we are all in the world of marketing and ‘what’s in it for me?’.
Before I learned everything I now know about marketing, I never realised that most of our communication is marketing – we all need to position our messages and requests in a certain way that will get people to say yes.
To do this, we need to know and understand their specific challenges. We need to position our solution from a ‘nice to have’ to a ‘must have’.
We also need to talk about tangible results. If you have any success stories from previous coaching engagements, including these can be a powerful way to highlight your experience and your credentials.
Make sure you are super clear about how you can help the organisation with their greatest challenges. This could be helping their employees develop new skills, increase their productivity, create a great work culture and so on.
Being specific is really important. Now you know who you are targeting, you can talk about their particular industry challenges.
One of my clients works in agencies and she has been really successful recently because when people say, “It’s different for us, agencies work in a different way,” she now mentions in her outreach that she has many years’ agency experience and she understands how they work and what their particular challenges are.

Strategy 4. Develop tailored proposals

This is back to focusing on making sure the corporate clients you are approaching know that this is for them. A generic “here is a proposal for leadership coaching” won’t capture their attention and resonate with them.
Make sure that all your proposal content is highly targeted to address their unique needs and the goals of their organisation. Choose an image that encapsulates their industry.
Do as much research as you can. Have a briefing call and capture exactly what they said their challenges are, including them all in your proposal.
Then, include a clear outline of how your coaching programme can help them to achieve these goals.
This is when you might want to bring in some high-level milestones that you will be covering, so they can see that if they were to go through your programme they would get the results they want.
Bring in specific metrics and demonstrate the potential return on investment that they can expect from engaging with you.
Tailor your proposal. People can tell if it’s a cut and paste job.
Show that you have done your homework and that you are genuinely invested in their success. Make it obvious that this is not just a blanket message that you have sent to lots of people.

Strategy 5. Pilot programmes and demonstrations

Sometimes, a corporate client can be hesitant to commit to a long-term coaching engagement without experience of working with you first.
On these occasions, you might like to offer pilot programmes or demonstrations that showcase the value of your coaching services.
Recently, I worked with a Training and Development Manager who was keen and fully on board, but she needed to show her leadership team that the investment would be worth it.
I did 25 sessions with people within that organisation, which we followed up with feedback forms that had very specific ratings – enabling us to show that the value was worth the investment.
So, you could consider offering a limited time trial period, or a condensed version of your full coaching programme, to build that trust and demonstrate the value of your services.

Strategy 6. Build strategic partnerships

Collaborating with other professionals in related fields can open doors to corporate contracts.
Who else works in those organisations?
It might be other consultants, trainers or other coaches who offer complementary services to yours.
Perhaps, together, you can provide a one-stop shop for that organisation’s coaching and development needs.
These partnerships not only enhance your service offering, but also build your credibility and visibility in the corporate coaching landscape.
It’s essentially about getting your foot in the door and getting your name known.
And, if other organisations ask them if they have ever run leadership coaching or training, they’ll say yes, and tell them that they have used you.
So, have a think about who you could approach to do a partnership with.
To summarise, it does often take longer to gain and sign a corporate contract because there are more hoops to jump through in an organisation’s sign off and procurement process.
Just keep going, and keep refining your approach. Learn from each experience and adapt your strategies accordingly.
Some people I have worked with have gained most of their corporate work through networking.
Other people I’ve worked with are doing direct email, being super targeted and following up consistently to gain that conversation.
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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.