Clients are like fingerprints: no two are the same. Whether they’re navigating career changes or need help breaking bad habits, all clients have diverse goals they want us to help them achieve. As coaches, we need to be flexible, adaptive, and prepared to tailor our services to clients from all walks of life.
It’s important to be prepared — and that’s where we come in. Let's dive into the types of clients we might encounter and how to coach them with success.
Understanding your clients
A business owner must understand their client’s needs to be successful. Knowing what motivates our customers to seek out our services helps us understand how to tailor our business’ marketing and methods to bring in new clients and serve them well.
Understanding how to classify clients into groups is the first step in this process. Not every type of client is going to be the right fit for your business — and that’s okay. As entrepreneurs, our aim is to attract customers whose expectations align the most with our services. To do this, we must understand how different clients approach their relationship with coaches and decide which we think we match.
Although archetypes are helpful tools that allow us to consider client needs broadly, we can’t forget that every client is unique. No one perfectly fits into a box, and we shouldn’t try to put them in one.
But classifying clients help us cast a net that brings the right people into our businesses — once they’ve come on board, we must create an individual coaching plan for their goals.
Classification of customers: 6 types of clients
Here are six types of clients you may encounter and how to work with them.
1. The questioner
This client wants to know all the details of our business to make an informed decision. They may scour our websites and social media and schedule lengthy discovery sessions to understand us as a coach.
We can appeal to this client with informative and thorough marketing. What do we do? What are the specifics of our coaching style? They’ll also expect prompt, knowledgeable responses to their queries, so come to meetings prepared.
To work well with this client, set boundaries in the coach-client relationship. Have a hard end time on meetings and explain to them when they can expect to get a response from you (like only during business hours) so you don’t feel overwhelmed or underserve other clients spending too much time catering only to their needs. Make sure you take the time to answer their questions in depth, too, to build trust between you.
2. The sprinter
As coaches, we’re used to clients being pushy about deadlines, but the sprinter takes this to a whole new level. This type of client needs everything done by yesterday and may not understand that complicated tasks should take a long time to complete.
To work with this client, ensure that you’re upfront about the timeline required for each new project and record the agreement in writing. Take notes during meetings and pass them along to the client to refer back to. This way, if they constantly follow up about the timeframe, you can simply divert them to your previous discussions and contract.
3. The big fan
This special client keeps coming back to schedule more sessions — we can consider them a loyal customer and one of our business's greatest assets. A client who can’t get enough of our coaching can boost our reputation with testimonials and referrals.
To show our gratitude and encourage them to keep returning, we can reward their loyalty with small gifts or bulk discounts, like 20% off every 10th session. Even small touches, like sending holiday cards, can make them feel valued. And don’t forget to thank them after every session! Customer appreciation goes a long way.
4. The bargain hunter
These customers are easy to spot — they always pop up during sales or consistently try to negotiate prices.
While giving clients large discounts generally isn’t affordable, we can appeal to the bargain hunter with small occasional discounts and promotions. Having a newsletter for your business that advertises new services and sales is a great way to engage this client, who’ll likely be happy to sign up and open to any opportunity to snag a deal.
To work well with this client, set boundaries around your pricing. Make clear that sale prices are temporary and you’ll let them know when a deal is on the table — otherwise, price negotiations have no place in your meetings.
Remember, it’s important to have empathy when working with these clients who likely aren’t trying to upset you. They simply may not be able to afford your services at full price.
5. The yes-man
This client has probably been with us for a while and observed our coaching style. They trust us, which is excellent — but this can sometimes evolve into an over-reliance on our role and expertise. Perhaps their desire to avoid disagreeing with our methods hinders their ability to express their wants and needs.
To tackle this problem, ensure that you create an open and transparent dialogue throughout their client journey. Ask them for feedback and reviews and encourage them to bring up any ways your coaching style isn’t working for them. Emphasize that you want to learn and grow with them, so they shouldn’t be afraid to speak up.
6. The Googler
If coaching were as simple as completing a Google search, our industry would be in danger. Of course, that isn’t the case: Coaches offer much more valuable and personalized advice than an article can provide. However, this type of client doesn’t see it that way, and their constant searching for answers and asking our thoughts may cause disruptions in their progress.
This client isn’t trying to step on our toes — they’re probably just eager or anxious to reach their goals. To attract the Googler to our businesses, we can provide a clear description of our services and expertise on our site. Consider posting a few blog posts with general advice that pops up on their radar during their searching.
The Googler is motivated and willing to put in the time to do research. Be positive and empathetic even if they counter your advice with something they found online, but don’t be afraid to assert boundaries and emphasize your expertise and qualifications.
Attracting different kinds of customers
Narrowing in on our ideal clients makes it easier to attract, convert, and create a great customer experience for clients with similar behaviors. Once we’ve identified what types of clients we prefer to work with, it’s time to fill our portfolio with them.
Put your new knowledge to work by tailoring your branding and marketing toward the clients you serve best. If your goal is to bring in clients searching for coaching advice online, work on improving your ability to show up in search results using SEO. If you’re comfortable with the clients you have, consider implementing loyalty rewards or repeat discounts to keep them coming back. Maybe you prefer clients who want to have a robust understanding of your services before they join — if that’s the case, emphasize your lengthy discovery sessions and thorough communication.
While it can feel weird to admit, you’re not going to be the right coach for every client. But you don’t have the bandwidth to take on every kind of client anyway, so focus on building relationships with the people you mesh with.
At Practice, we understand the importance of the client-coach relationship and just how much care and effort they take. As coaches and business owners ourselves, we know there isn’t infinite time in your workday. Let us help. We provide tools to help you streamline your communications so you have more time and energy to focus on building those client relationships from the ground up.