3May/120

You’re A Great Business Coach? It’s Not Enough!

Posted by Suzi Pomerantz

You're A Great Business Coach? It's Not Enough!
by Suzi Pomerantz

Being a masterful business coach is not enough. Being a great leader is not enough. Being a good person is not enough. To create meaningful change in organizations—global monoliths, public sector not-for-profits, sole proprietorships, or even families—we must network, market and sell. It's not enough simply to know how to integrate networking, marketing and sales. Business professionals must personally integrate these principles so seamlessly into who we are being that we no longer think of them as separate, independent, and somewhat unpleasant tasks, like taking out the trash or paying taxes.

It's crucial for business coaches to find the 'sweet spot' where these three domains of networking, marketing and sales intersect. Every business coach must understand the distinctions and master the activities associated with each part of this critical trinity in order to 'seal the deal.' Any deal.

  • If you're a solopreneur or small firm delivering business coaching, you must find and engage clients to have opportunities to deliver your services.
  • If you're an internal coach or human resources director in a large organization, you must create visibility, sell ideas, and garner support for programs to have opportunities to deliver your services.
  • If you're an organizational leader (particularly if you are directing an internal coaching program), you must influence other leaders, lobby support for initiatives, and communicate your vision so effectively that you inspire engaged, motivated followers.
  • If you're a successful business coach, you must help your clients to create opportunities for the delivery of their services—to influence others, to sell their ideas, or to manage their careers for increased visibility and promotion.

The success secret in each of these scenarios is the ability to master, implement, and lead from the sweet spot mentioned above. Without mastering the distinctions between networking, marketing, and sales, and the ability to teach those distinctions, we cannot help our clients move past their fears of asking for what they want. This is not just about finding and retaining business coaching clients. Our ability to seal the deal—at will—is largely determined by our understanding of the systematic, repeatable process behind it all.

Here are specific tools in each area of the 'critical trinity' to help you (and your clients) get the edge:

Networking (building relationships as the foundation for every business activity):

An informational interview is a powerful networking tool. This conversation is designed to gather information about what an individual (or his or her company) does. Since it's not a sales meeting, the encounter is non-threatening for the interviewee. In fact, most people are flattered when asked to provide this small dose of mentorship.

Informational interviews can be designed around anything your clients want to learn. You'll collaboratively co-create questions which your clients will ask people in their networks, helping to gain new perspectives and shed light on particular challenges or growth areas your clients are facing.

For business coaches, networking is a doorway into the sales process. The informational interview keeps pipelines sustainably fresh, with new things coming in continually.

Marketing (messaging about you or your business, service or product):

Marketing consists of anything you're doing to promote your business or ideas, excluding activities that directly involve relationship-building or asking for a specific outcome.

Rather than creating opportunities to deliver your services, marketing activities allow you to actively create opportunities to deliver your message.

Think strategic leverage when you generate your marketing materials. In other words, create them once and use them in several ways. Develop your message for a speech and repurpose it for an article. Write a book and repurpose the content into speaking engagements, appearances, and articles. Develop your website and use it to showcase your articles, speaking engagements, blogs, and other materials. If you create something and use it only once, you are leaving money on the table and wasting your own time.

Above all, remember that messaging and marketing should support your business development efforts, not be them. You don't get more clients by having more materials—technically, you only get more materials!

Sales (asking for what you want):

We all know this frustrating cycle: Our marketing and networking efforts create a full pipeline of leads that suddenly pop like popcorn, generating business. While we are focusing time and energy on delivering client services, we lose momentum for networking, marketing and sales activities. The result? We find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of completing projects with no further engagements on the horizon, requiring us to start generating new business all over again. Our excuse sounds like this: "But, I'm too busy to do any marketing or sales now. I need to focus on billable hours, and the time I spend selling is not billable time!"

Try Lessons Learned Meetings as a strategy to generate business while billing time. Lessons Learned Meetings are structured interviews with your clients and key decision-makers in the organization that take place midway through and at the end of the engagement. You'll check in to learn what is working and what can be improved. You'll tell your clients what they can do to help you to do your job even more effectively. Typically, these become mutual admiration sessions, which create fabulous opportunities for you to a) ask for testimonials, b) ask for referrals, and c) ask about your clients' upcoming challenges, projects or needs, so you can shift the lessons learned conversation into a sales conversation. It is a highly effective tool to actively, strategically and consistently build your business while reducing the cycle of non-billable time between engagements!

Go Get 'Em!

We often think in a box when it comes to our business development mindset. 'Rainmaking'—generating new business—is similar to the need within organizations to influence others. Rainmaking requires a systematic business development process entailing concurrent, seamlessly integrated action in the areas of networking, marketing and sales. When we recognize our innate strengths and eliminate our self-deception in these areas, we can get out of our own way, allowing ourselves, our clients, and the organizations in which we coach to easily seal the deal.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (2007, Volume 3, Issue 2). Copyright © 2012 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Suzi Pomerantz, MT, MCC, is the CEO of Innovative Leadership International LLC. Over the past 14 years, she has helped 120 leaders and organizations worldwide to find clarity in chaos. She is the author of the highly praised Seal the Deal: The Essential Mindsets for Growing Your Professional Services Business (HRD Press, 2006). Suzi can be reached by email at suzi@innovativeleader.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
10Nov/110

Are you 20/80 or 80/20? by Ken Ingram

Posted by Ken Ingram

To run a successful and competitive coaching business or any business for that matter it is essential to follow a set of rules, principles and laws. Failure to do so will result in a short and regrettable business venture. That being said, it’s interesting to learn that one of the laws that can have the biggest impact on your profits is being ignored by most businesses. Are you aware that in 1906, Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto created a mathematical rule of thumb that states 20% of something will result in 80% of something? As an example 20% of your clients represent 80% of your revenues and the inverse is also true: 80% of your clients represent only 20% or your revenue. It’s come to be known as the Pareto Principle, and if you’re not employing it, you probably should be.

As a Coach, the value of applying the Pareto Principle in most aspects of your business is that it should remind you to focus on the 20% that matter the most. This means you need to take the time to identify and focus your energy on that group because during any given day you’ll end up fire fighting and this will saps your time. So you must remind yourself that your top priorities always need to be addressed first. If something in your schedule slips, or if something is not going to get done, make sure it's not part of that key 20%.

The importance of using this system is to remain focused on ways to increase your coaching practice revenue without working harder. You can make equal or greater income in less time; reduce the stress on the business and all your team if you have one by working smarter. If you have the option, and I believe that you do, develop a strategy for choosing your customers or clients. Reflect upon where you can get the best return on your investment of time, energy and marketing dollars. I know as coaches most of us want to help everyone but strategically it may not be in the best interest of your business.

So what can you do?

Profile the top 20% of your client base who represent 80% of your revenue by:

  • Uncovering existing ‘marginal clients’ who have the potential to become profitable clients’ and open the door to selling them more products or services.
  • Define what constitutes a profitable client based on your ten clients who give you the most business each year.
  • At every opportunity ask the people in your network for someone to contact who match your criteria.

If you could develop and groom 10 more clients just like the ones in your top 20%, you would see a huge jump in your revenue.

So what's holding you back?

Why aren't you already leveraging your profitable clients and reducing the time you spend with marginal clients?  The process makes perfectly good sense, but very few coaches - set themselves up to win by creating a strategy focused on the high payoff group of clients. As a bonus you can now pay more attention and provide WOW coaching to the people who earn you the most profit. I assure you, they’ll love the special treatment.

In reality, you probably can't convert all of your marginal clients and maybe my suggestion doesn't even make sense in your business. But I challenge you to take a good hard look at where you are spending your time.

If you are hesitating, determine your real reasons for not pursuing this strategy with enthusiasm.

Below are Five Steps to help put Parato`s Principle at the top of your agenda:

  1. List all your clients - preferably in a spreadsheet program. Enter the clients’ name, the revenue that they generated this year and last year. Estimate the average revenue from them over the past five years and the potential revenue for next year. Is it going up or down? What percentage of your total revenue does this client represent for your coaching business?
  2. Sort your columns by the margin of revenue and you should be able to identify a pattern. Who are your profitable clients and who are your marginal clients? If something is changing, what are the reasons? Predict which ones will be in your group of profitable clients next year. Do you have all of their business or are you sharing it with others coaches? What percentage of their business do you have now?
  3. To determine what are the common traits of your profitable clients consider:
    • What types of coaching products or services they purchase?
    • Do they have untapped potential?
    • What is the strength of your relationship with them?
    • How did they become a client?
  4. Look at your marginal client group to see if you've overlooked people who, with some effort, could be moved up into the profitable client category in order to increase the amount of business they do with you.
  5. Develop a specific plan to give away, or manage your marginal clients in a way that is relative to their business value.

Also consider what benefits your profitable clients are receiving by dealing with you. I suggest that once you have identified this niche group, call and ask them to help you define your business more clearly. Every important client will value the opportunity to help you grow your business and appricate that you value their suggestions and feedback.

If you react blindly to your customer base and treat all clients the same, then you are definitely working harder - not smarter. Therefore develop a client strategy that enables you to intelligently identify your top clients and spend more time with them and others like them. Are you 20/80 or 80/20?

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
29Sep/110

Success Secrets: Selling Your Ideas, by Suzanne Bates

Posted by WABC

Wouldn't you like to know how to persuade others and, in the process, get what you really want?  Persuasion is both an art and a science. The secret is to find out what others want, and then learn some essential skills of persuasion.

Assume that you have an initiative that is mission-critical, but you're encountering a lot of resistance. You're proposing change, it costs money, and it isn't absolutely guaranteed to work. Sound familiar?

As Robert Louis Stevenson, the Scottish poet and novelist, once said, "Everyone lives by selling something." If you want to lead an organization you must learn to sell. Building support for your ideas, winning converts, and getting things done are largely dependent on your sales skills.

Quick question: What's the most important word in selling?

Answer: The word "why."

You must learn why people would want or need to buy your idea, concept, program, service, initiative or new, new thing. If you do not know about them--their problems, needs and views--you will never successfully sell your ideas, period. People tune out when they know you're only focused on what you want. They tune in when they sense that you have an interest in them as well.

Another question: What's everybody's favorite topic?

Answer: Themselves!

People want to hear about themselves. They want to hear about their projects, initiatives, goals, timelines, challenges and interests. Unless you have factored their concerns into your presentation, go back to the drawing board. Don't show up at the meeting until you've sat in their seats or walked in their shoes for awhile. Actually imagine yourself on their team, working in their office, managing their project. Remember, this is not about you and what you need. It's not about how great your ideas are. It's not even about what's good for the company. Face it--a lot of people really don't care. What they care about is getting through their day, meeting their quotas, hitting their deadlines and making their bosses happy.

So remember, your talk should focus not on you and your idea, but on:

  • Their problems
  • Their hopes
  • Their dreams
  • Their goals
  • Their needs
  • Their timetable
  • Their budget
  • Their success

How do you learn about their problems, hopes, dreams and goals? It's pretty simple. You ask! Long before you give a presentation, make the effort to meet informally, by phone or in person, to ask questions and gain some understanding of your prospects' concerns. At the very least, take any information you already have and extrapolate their highest priorities.

People appreciate it when you take the time to sit down with them, learn about what's going on in their world, and understand what they're up against. If they are going to buy into your proposal, they must first feel comfortable with you, believing that you're on their team and that you are sensitive to their needs. Anyone who can influence a decision, get it approved, or implement it has a choice--support you, ignore you, or undermine you later.

Here are some questions you can ask to find out what you need to know:

  • What is your goal?
  • What is most important to you?
  • What are your priorities?
  • How do you need it to work?
  • When could we make it happen?
  • What are the budgetary considerations?
  • What are your human resources?
  • Who needs to be involved?
  • What does an ideal solution look like to you?
  • What would make this a success for you and your group?

What do you do with this information? Incorporate it into your presentation! You might even mention the great opportunity you had to meet with a key group member and learn about the group's concerns. Then, when you outline what you're going to discuss, address those specific issues, confirming that those issues are also priorities for you. With that reassurance, your prospects will relax and be more receptive to your ideas.

Of course, one of the greatest benefits to doing this homework is that prior to presenting any plan or initiative in the future, you'll be more likely to take others' needs and priorities into account from the very beginning. You'll go through fewer revisions, receive fewer objections, and be applauded for thinking of the big picture. Those are outcomes that get you noticed and win you rave reviews!

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (February Issue 2005, Volume 1, Issue 4). Copyright 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

Suzanne Bates is a speaker, media personality, business consultant, executive coach, and author of McGraw-Hill's new book, Speak Like A CEO: Secrets for Commanding Attention & Getting Results. Read more about her work at www.speaklikeaceo.com. Suzanne may be reached by email at Suzanne@bates-communications.com.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.
7Jul/110

An Interview with Marshall Goldsmith, by Wendy Johnson and Donna Mills

Posted by WABC


By any objective measure, you have had an extremely successful career. What are the highlights?

Often, people complain because they don't get enough credit, so I guess someone has to get too much credit. That's me! My work has been recognized in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Business Week, The Economist, Fast Company, Business Strategy Review, Project Management Magazine, and by most professional organizations in our field.

My professional work involves four basic activities: Executive education, executive coaching, writing and editing, and providing executive coaching services through our coaching network, Marshall Goldsmith Partners.

My mission is to help successful leaders achieve positive, lasting change in behavior. My greatest success comes when my clients reach that goal, and help their co-workers do the same. Those leaders serve as role models in their organizations, effectively working with and through others to accomplish objectives. This is what constitutes "good leadership skills." Great achievement is about "me"—great leadership (or great coaching) is about "them."

Who are your clients?

I have worked in all sectors—corporate, non-profit, military and education—with a worldwide client base. Today, my personal coaching is strictly with C-level executives in major organizations. As a pioneer in customized 360-degree feedback, my executive coaching only addresses behavioral change. Coaching helps leaders turn feedback into positive changes in behavior, and changes in behavior lead to changes in attitude. People may change through training, but are much more likely to change through coaching.

What differentiates you from other business coaches?

I only charge my clients if they achieve positive, lasting change in agreed-upon behavior, as determined by agreed-upon co-workers. I don't get paid for "activity" or "time." Prior to an engagement, the CEO agrees that major improvement in pre-selected behaviors is worth the time and money invested in the coaching process.

How did you decide to offer this guarantee?

By accident. A CEO client grunted, "It would be worth a fortune to me if this guy would change."

I replied, "I like fortunes.  Maybe I can help him."

He laughed and said, "I doubt it!"

I thought for a second, and took a leap by replying, "If he gets better, pay me. If he doesn't get better, it's all free!"

The CEO said, "Sold!"

I have been paid only for results ever since.

How has the results guarantee impacted your practice?

Since my clients have high personal integrity, and are definitely results-oriented, the guarantee makes them more likely to do the work necessary to obtain the result. They want to meet and exceed the measurement.

I get paid for about seven of every eight client engagements. When I don't get paid, it's my fault. No one makes me work with anyone, and I always learn when I don't get paid. Perhaps I was just the wrong person for the job or company—there wasn't the right "fit."

How do you translate your personal spiritual practice of Buddhism into your coaching work?

There are many schools of Buddhist thought, and mine has been very important in influencing my coaching process. Letting go of the past and "feed forward" are Buddhist concepts. I have also realized that most of the "issues" I see in the world are simply aspects of myself that I have trouble accepting. Almost every time I become self-righteous or judgmental, I am making more of a statement about my own problems than I am about the conditions of others.

How do you see the links between world issues and self issues?

In 1984 I spent nine days in Africa with the Red Cross, and I saw lots of people who were starving to death. If we want to get upset about the unfairness of life, we can always be upset. When we are upset at what is happening in the world, we are often illustrating aspects of our own ego that we are having trouble dealing with.

What was your best preparation for your work as a business coach?

Experience has been my best preparation. I have worked with over 70 major CEOs and their management teams, and most of what I've learned has come from that experience.

What advice would you give to a novice business coach?

Determine what type of coaching is the best fit for you. Then, either establish a great personal reputation or work with someone who has already established one. Meet the world's experts in your chosen niche and learn from them. Pay your dues.

How about a more experienced coach seeking the next level of success?

Write, speak and network. If you believe in yourself and in the value of what you do, work hard to do the marketing required to establish a great brand and invest in it. Don't be ashamed to market yourself. It is not complicated—it just requires a lot of work!

What issues do the business coaching industry and the WABC need to address?

We need to be clear on the various types of business coaching available. Each type of coach needs to be clear on how success is measured. The WABC can offer examples of great coaches who provide different types of services that meet different client needs, expanding beyond "generic" coaching to include specialists in strategy and organizational execution.

As a proficient self-marketer, what are your top five self-marketing strategies? Are those strategies available to the "average business coach"?

  • My first suggestion is to get published—books, articles, columns and/or interviews. Get writing—someone will read it!
  • Speaking is a great way to promote yourself. Consider keynotes, concurrent sessions at conferences, or local Chamber of Commerce or networking groups. Start speaking—someone will listen!
  • Teach in executive education programs, particularly if you have opportunities at colleges or universities. Start teaching—someone will want to learn!
  • Research (especially on the impact of your work) is very powerful. Research lends high credibility to your work. Start measuring—someone will care about what you discover!
  • Try to "hang out" with people who know more than you do. Many of the top thought leaders in our field are very generous, open and giving people. More experienced coaches may be willing to let you "follow them around" and learn from them.

In terms of the "average business coach," I contend that staying "average" is a choice. There is nothing wrong with average, but no one has to live there. I have made huge investments in marketing that produced absolutely no immediate revenue, and have spent hours writing, speaking and networking as an investment in my future. In life, we "get what we pay for," and some coaches want to get the benefits of being well known without paying the price. Life seldom works this way!

One of my friends was upset because another speaker was making $10,000 per day, while he was making only $1,000. He asked the client, "If my customer satisfaction scores are higher than his, can I make as much money as he does?"

The client replied, "Definitely not! He is famous and you aren't."

Some people's reaction would be, "That isn't fair!"

My reaction was, "Get famous!"

In addition to your professional role as a business coach, what are your other life roles, and how would you personally define success in each of those roles?

  • I am a Buddhist. My philosophy is to be happy now. I believe that happiness is our choice, and it is determined by what we have on the inside, not by what we possess on the outside. We cannot be happy by having more or by having less. We can only be happy with what we have.
  • I am a husband and father. I've been married for 31 years, love my wife and kids, and ask them at least once a week, "What can I do to help you have a great life?" I make no judgments about anyone else as a partner or parent. I have been lucky.

Material possessions make no difference in my happiness. People from 119 countries have visited my website in the past four months to review my material and take away whatever they want at no charge. Some of these people are from very poor countries. What is this worth? It is worth a lot to me.

If I died tomorrow, I would be more than satisfied. I was brought up poor. My whole life has seemed like a happy dream. For example, I had dinner with Bono several months ago. It turns out that he was also brought up poor, and he feels the same way that I do—he is just trying to make the world a little better.

What personal and professional legacy would you like to leave?

I would like to make my coaching process available at no charge to people around the world. Ultimately, my goal is to help as many people as possible to have better lives.

What would you most like to be remembered for?

I'd like to be remembered as a nice Buddhist guy with a great family who gave all of his knowledge away to anyone who wanted to use it—who wandered around the world being happy and helping other people to become the persons that they wanted to become.

That would be enough for me!

Any final advice?

This is a great field. Do good. Help others. Life is short—be happy now!

Marshall Goldsmith is a world authority on helping successful leaders achieve positive, measurable change in behavior for themselves, their people, and their teams. He also works extensively in the field of executive education. Last month, California's Alliant International University named their management school after him—the Marshall Goldsmith School of Management. Marshall plans to work with the school to develop a program which provides practical education at all levels, including a premier leadership development website.

In addition to writing numerous articles and columns, Marshall has authored or co-edited 20 books. The most recent, co-edited with Laurence Lyons, is the seco nd edition of "Coaching for Leadership: The Practice of Leadership Coaching from the World's Greatest Coaches." Released in October 2005, it shares the well-researched best practices of the world's greatest leadership coaches.

Marshall's articles and videos are available at www.marshallgoldsmithlibrary.com. You can also read more about Marshall in the WABC Coach Directory.

This article first appeared in Business Coaching Worldwide (Summer 2006, Volume 2, Issue 2). Copyright © 2011 WABC Coaches Inc. All rights reserved.

If you wish to reproduce this article in any material form, you must first contact WABC for permission.