As a business coach or consultant, do you really know your clients? Let me ask you this: have you ever found it awkward when working with your coaching clients? Do you sense a level of unfamiliarity or distance that prevents you from assessing their personal challenges? Would knowing them better make it easier for both of you to relax so you can understand some of their struggles?
It’s not uncommon. You may find yourself so busy with multiple accounts that your time with any one client is limited, not to mention the limited time of executives and c-level leaders (they’re busy too). But meetings limited to business discussions greatly reduces your insight into their life, and thus the solutions they need from you.
A great percentage of executives struggle not so much with general business practices or methods, but with their ways: their style or mindset. Some of their behaviors, responses or decisions are detrimental to their organization, and few of them see this. Coaches help leaders develop greater self-awareness and skillfulness, enhancing relationships and improving operations. But it requires real knowledge and understanding of the client.
Have you noticed that other service providers make the most impact when they’re friends with their clients? Whether it be insurance reps, financial advisors or sales account managers, stronger ties yield greater results. You see, by spending time with your clients, you get to know them better: their aspirations, motivations and what they truly value. You care about what they care about.
Of course, this takes time, but look at it this way: invest a bit of time now to effectively help your clients and future friends, or have all the free time in the world later when your coaching services are no longer wanted because you weren’t able to truly help your clients.
If time is really an issue, consider having fewer clients that you can know well, rather than more clients that you are not helping well enough. You want a reputation that reflects the former. The old adage comes into play: quality over quantity.
Getting to know clients personally can be done a number of ways. Here are a few suggestions:
- Invite them for coffee or lunch (offer to treat.) Focus more on the client’s life than their business. Business may come up, but ask about their lives, family, hobbies, bucket list, whatever. Draw them in with your interest in their interests (other than business), and you’ll win a friend.
- Offer to help them with something outside of work: a task around the house, advise on a personal project, or something their family needs help with.
- Play a round of golf, go fishing, take in a ball game, it doesn’t matter, as long as you get to share life.
- Introduce them to your family and friends, and be open to meeting theirs. This is a great connection point that strengthens a relationship and builds a network of friends.
If you show interest in the client’s life, they’ll trust you to have their best interests at heart. Your coaching sessions will be much more transparent and effective when trust is raised. When a service provider shows more interest in their business than the client, it becomes clear. They are soon dismissed.
Let your coaching business be marked by a visible interest in your clients and their lives. Let us know what enjoyable experiences you have with this. We’d also like to hear other ideas or approaches you’ve used to get to know your clients better!