While every client is unique and has their own needs, our goal in coaching them is always to help them find solutions to problems and steer them towards their full potential.
To accomplish this, coaches need specific skills. Here’s a guide to what those skills are and how to master them. Learn why it’s essential to know your clients and take away some best practices to build a solid foundation for a successful coach-client relationship.
Working with clients
Coaching is an inherently personal experience. We play many roles — subject matter expert, mentor, personal cheerleader, friend — and are often the first to be consulted during decision-making. We walk with our clients every step of the way as they work towards accomplishing their goals.
Even if we communicate well and are confident in our skills, it helps to check every so often to ensure we understand the needs of our clients. This level of care and attention to detail is at the heart of an effective relationship between a coach and a client. It helps build trust, set expectations, and create a lasting bond.
Why it’s important to know your clients
Understanding who your clients are before they come to you is key to building rapport with leads and growing your business. This understanding is, of course, essential, especially in the case of exciting clients.
When we’re proactive about learning the needs of our clients individually, our business benefits in many ways.
- It helps you customize the marketing strategy: Pay attention to your clients’ needs. This applies even to leads who are yet to become customers. In a competitive industry like coaching, people are looking for a personalized fit and someone they can trust and lean on.
In your marketing strategy, go above and beyond to establish trust and good faith. What does it mean to understand clients? It means we’re familiar with their communication style and preferences, their needs and pain points, and how best to help them. This way, we can tweak our marketing strategy to highlight what our business has to offer.
- You serve your clients better: Clients come to us with specific goals. The more we understand what motivates them or what may turn out to be potential roadblocks, the better placed we are to help them meet those goals. This process functions smoothly when there are clear expectations on both sides and actionable next steps. When we offer our clients relevant ideas and actionable steps, we streamline the coaching process and create a great customer experience.
- It builds trust in the relationship: Our clients have busy lives and obligations that often take priority. Knowing these priorities provides a clearer picture and allows us to be empathetic and supportive. It’ll also help us understand how and when a session's performance may be affected.
When we put time and effort into developing our client relationships, we set ourselves above the competition.
- It helps grow your business: Happy clients are loyal ones. They may even help us promote our business. When we do great work as coaches, our clients are more inclined to help boost our brand reputation through online channels, reviews, and referrals. This brings us new clients and reduces our costs in marketing and promotions.
With all these benefits, how do we get to know our clients better? Let’s get started.
6 tips for working with clients successfully
Many skills foster effective client relationships, but here are a few key ideas to remember.
1. Establish deep trust
The coach-client relationship can involve vulnerabilities on both sides and is built on cooperation and shared goals. If our clients feel distant from us, it’s harder to connect and effectively work together. This might lead to clients having a negative customer experience with our business.
Right from the start, aim to establish comfort and trust. It takes time, but it makes sessions effective and hitting milestones a lot easier.
2. Anticipate their needs
While we’re not teachers, we do have a mentorship role in client relationships. They often come to us when they feel stuck or have run out of ideas. So it’s up to us to give them the tools they need to move forward with their goals.
To do so effectively, consider what kind of support they’ll likely need. Getting to know our clients will help with this process as we’ll have a more holistic view of where they are in life and how other obligations may affect our coaching sessions.
3. Be a problem-solver
The creative process of coaching is often underrated. A core part of the job is problem-solving, which is easier when we’re excited about trying various methods with our clients.
There’s no guidebook here — experience, being open to new ideas and information, and being resilient and patient are the best tools to help ourselves and our clients through rough spots and meet client expectations.
4. Communicate effectively
Whether we’re coaching our clients through video calls, webinars, phone calls, or in person, great communication skills are a crucial foundation for a good relationship. Let the client take center stage and practice the skills of active listening and asking great questions. Seek and offer feedback. Pay attention to non-verbal cues and body language to gauge a client’s emotions better.
5. Manage expectations
While we’re all excited about making progress, ensure everyone’s on the same page on expectations. Milestones must be attainable within the time and resources that we have.
When our expectations with clients are aligned, there’s a lower risk of miscommunication. Setting realistic expectations can also prevent upset further down the line.
Remember that coaching sessions are only one aspect of a client’s life. They have other priorities, and we must be supportive when a roadblock hits their performance. If misunderstandings occur, give your client the benefit of the doubt and endeavor to communicate clearly and compassionately about how you can help with the situation.
All of these tips are easier to use when we’re coaching clients face-to-face and may be harder to put into practice when we’re coaching remotely. But any effort we make for our clients shows them we care.
It goes both ways
Implementing these tips will not only make it easier for us to coach our clients, but it’ll also make them want to work with us. When we are consciously empathetic and communicate clearly in our relationships, people tend to do the same for us.
At Practice, we understand the work that goes into maintaining relationships. Try our all-in-one client management app to make the process easier and more efficient.