How do you know if a coaching program will work for you? How do you know whether or not a coaching program is any good, or will do what it claims? Frankly, how do you avoid getting ripped off when you buy a coaching program?
Like all professions, there are good coaches, and there are bad coaches. Fortunately most people feel like they receive a lot of value when they purchase a coaching program; 98% of people have a good experience and are satisfied with a coaching session. However, there are some bad apples out there that spoil the bunch.
If you are considering hiring a coach, or if you’ve ever felt like you didn’t get what you paid for when you bought a coaching program, this blog post is for you. Unfortunately it happened to me, and also to a friend of mine who ended up cancelling the coaching program, only to have the disreputable coach continue charging his credit card monthly after he had cancelled. Integrity is everything in business. To deliver what was promised, and in most cases, give your clients more than they expected, is crucial to getting referrals and getting hired again.
So how do you know what to invest in, and how do you know which programs are good vs. not? Here are some things to look for:
Are they a Certified Life Coach (CLC) or some other kind of a Certified Professional Coach?
There are a lot of people nowadays who call themselves a coach. Many may have had success in business, or in a previous career, but are they a certified life coach? Many “Internet gurus” call themselves coaches, however many have never bothered to invest in their own training when they changed careers to become a coach. Unfortunately they may just be selling a program.
Certified Life Coaches have been through specific training classes to learn how to coach and how to talk to people, which is not always an inherent skill! There are specific coaching techniques and practices that true coaches must master. Some study and practice these techniques for years.
Be careful when you hire a known guru – just because they bill themselves as a speaker/author/coach – doesn’t mean that they are equally good at all of those things. Some people are better writers than they are speakers, and vice-versa. Plus their coaching may plateau after a certain period of time. A client of mine who hired a guru met with her for two sessions, and she told me that by the third session the “guru” had nothing new to say! Trained life coaches will always offer you another perspective because they are trained in coaching techniques, and there is a big difference!
Are the “coaches” you are considering actually certified coaches? Aside from Certified Life Coaches, there are several levels of coaching certifications available through the International Coaching Federation (ICF). These range from Associate Certified Coach (ACC), and Professional Certified Coach (PCC), to Master Certified Coach. Do your research. Buyer Beware!
What kind of track record does the coach have?
Who have they helped? Ask for a list of clients and/or references you can call. This is different from testimonials. While website testimonials can be helpful, in many cases they are actually written by the coaches themselves! For a true recommendation, look up the coach on LinkedIn.com. Recommendations on Linked In are truly written by other people, and can’t be forged, because the person doing the recommending must post the recommendation themselves.
If they coach is new – eg. just getting started as a coach – they may not have recommendations yet, which can sometimes be tricky. If this is the case, ask about their experience. They may have a lot to offer in other areas. When Michele Scism (The Results Lady of DecisiveMinds.com), was just getting started, she didn’t have a lot of clients at first (nobody does when they first start out), but she had 15+ years of working in her family’s trucking business where they made millions of dollars. This is definitely firsthand experience and knowledge she could apply on behalf of her clients!
Are they committed to their clients and to the success of their clients?
Is the coach actually committed to your success, or are you just a number to them? Once you hire them, do they check in with you in-between sessions (ie. in a personal email – not just a newsletter)? Or do they ignore you, but yet continually market themselves to get new clients? Do they genuinely care about you? Or do you only hear from them during your scheduled session time?
Yes, coaches need to market themselves to earn a living, but they need to be authentic too. Do they follow-up with you? Do they care if you finish their program?
Look at the Results of the Participants vs. How well a coach is doing
Many coaches have tons of followers on Facebook and Twitter. Sometimes it can be difficult to discern who is legit and who has the most media coverage/hype, or “social proof.” It’s very easy today with social media to get lots of visibility, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into that person being a good coach and/or the right person for you to work with. Look at the results their clients have actually achieved, versus how many followers they have on Twitter.
How long does the coaching program last?
I don’t care what the coach claims, a year-long program is TOO LONG! I am a coach and I know. Three to six months is about right to make a change in habits. One year is too long; by the end of the program interest wanes.
I once paid $5000 for a year-long coaching program. It did not deliver what it was supposed to (it overpromised and underdelivered), it was too long, and there were no refunds. Bottom line – it didn’t work for me and was a complete waste of time and money – a lot of money!
Does the coach you are considering hiring exhibit professional behavior? What is their reputation? How do they treat their clients? Are they responsive? Do they support you or insult you? Believe it or not I have seen coaches do both! Insulting clients or potential clients is certainly NOT professional behavior.
If you have a gut instinct about someone, a “weird” feeling, or think that someone is flakey – don’t ignore that feeling! It could be disastrous for you in the end.
Avoid any coaches who preach “Don’t have expectations” (of other people). This is a (very convenient) ploy so they don’t have to deliver what they themselves promised to their clients.
Also make sure that the coach you are hiring will be the coach that you will be working with throughout the entire program. The connection you have with the coach you hire is critical. As stated above, coaches are not interchangeable (one coach is not as good as another). The connection you have with that coach and the trust you develop between the two of you is critical to the coaching relationship, and ultimately to the client’s progress and success. A bad coach can hold you back, and there are coaches out there who let someone else take over or deliver their programs once you have paid for them. This “bait-and-switch” or “round robin” coaching technique is not a good business practice. Make sure you ask about this up-front, before you purchase a coaching program. Most people don’t know to do this.
So ultimately, how do you know who to hire and if their program will work for you? Sometimes you do have to take a leap of faith, and sometimes it doesn’t work out. Unfortunately you’re not going to have a good connection or experience with every coach. My final word of advice is to be very very picky –excruciatingly picky – about who you spend your money with and which coaching program you buy. It can be critical to your results – whether those results equal success or failure.