Whew, it’s tough out there. Being a solopreneur isn’t easy, especially when you want to expand your client base. The business of coaching people in various aspects of life makes this task an even harder one. A great way to help accomplish this goal is to get referrals for a coaching business.
A referral is when someone you know suggests their friends or family to go to you for some problem that they have. There are two main advantages to using referrals to rope in new customers.
- You do not need to invest a lot of time and money into it. Instead, all you need to do is follow the tips that we will discuss later in the article.
- Even if you invest money, you will get guaranteed returns. The referrer gets paid only when their acquaintances help you generate a sizeable income.
However, many coaches face a problem of getting more clients using this method. They either do not know how to go about it or feel bad about asking. Either way, in this post, I'll let you in on a few secrets on how to get more referrals for a coaching business. If you like what you read, remember to refer your friends to our site 😉
Create Referral programs
A referral program is something that rewards a person for asking another person to hire you. Of course, there are several referral programs that you can go with. But, the type of coaching business you run might limit you to a select few.
For example, you could waive off some of your coaching fees for every referral you get. If you want higher returns you could offer a waiver only for multiple referrals.
Another possibility is to give commissions to people who send others your way. I know it is hard for you to part with your money, but it is well worth it. At the end of the day, it is the same as giving a concession to that customer. This is exactly how affiliate programs work.
If possible, you could also try and give something like a premium membership. You can give them priority bookings, free cancellations, or an option to visit you during your holidays.
The problem with referral programs is that you need to keep a track of all the people who are coming to you and who they are bringing in. Another problem that might occur is that two people might refer to the same mutual friend. This will put that mutual friend in a very awkward position. Of course, he or she will claim that the more intimidating friend was the original referrer.
You can solve these problems using certain IT solutions. That is why it is easier to build such systems online than maintaining one offline.
You can also ask your customers to give the contact information of their friends who might be interested. Then, you can contact them - either by call or email and see which contacts generate a lead. Accordingly, you can reward the clients who helped you out just like we reward our clients who help us out
Have a business worth referring
Of course, this seems like a no-brainer. Unfortunately, many people rely only on marketing to get more referrals. If your business doesn’t live up to the reputation that you or your promotional partner have been hyping it up to be, it would reflect badly on both of you. This prevents more people from referring to your practice in the future. It may also damage your reputation as a professional.
Thus, it is super important to live up to standards that are worth mentioning to others. The easiest way to do this is to deliver on the challenge you were offering to help them overcome. Let this be any kind of life problem or even helping their business grow. If you guarantee results, then people will flock to you.
Once you have the core goal nailed down, it is important to start focusing on the entire experience of your customer. You need to make them feel good about you from the minute they walk in through your door till after they step out. You can try doing this in the following ways.
- Punctuality - No matter what kind of a coach you are, everyone values punctuality. If a client has booked an appointment with you, then ensure you stick to it. Remember to give your client the full duration of time that was promised to them.
- Going the extra mile - While punctuality is important, you must also show your clients that you are willing to go the extra mile for them. If the client is facing a crisis, you can’t possibly show them the door. Imagine you work all night with a client and turn their business into a success. This client will then go and tell his or her friends how dedicated you are as a business coach.
- Privacy - In the coaching business it is extremely important to maintain the confidentiality of your clients. Thus, you should do everything in your power to be as discreet as possible when required. Some people really value their privacy, so don’t go using their face for your marketing campaign.
- Comfort - As a coach, one of your primary duties is to make your client feel comfortable. Fill the room with comfortable furniture of different sorts. Ask your assistant to deliver some refreshments to the clients waiting for you.
If you concentrate enough on building your practice into something worth sharing, then half your work is done. You don’t need anything like referral programs to get the word out. Your services will get advertised through word of mouth from many satisfied customers.
Start building relationships
One of the key practices to getting more referrals is to build relationships. Now, before you get any crazy ideas, I mean professional relationships. What you need is a general sociable attitude that gets your customers looking at you as a platonic friend. Sure, you could try and take it further. But don’t blame me when you lose your license or you’re sitting in a prison cell.
Jokes aside, you need to start building relationships with your customers so you can try and ask a favor of them. If they love your personality from the get-go, then a simple “If you liked my service, please tell your friends” can help you get referrals. But people don’t usually start liking someone from a single interaction. So take every chance you get to display your most sociable self. These clients may become your promotional partners in the future.
It is important that you don’t stop building relationships after you get promotional partners. You then need to deepen that relationship more so they want to help you out further when you need it. Inviting them over for coffee or sending postcards or sending greeting cards on special occasions might do the trick.
This will help you do two things. The first one is that your current promotional partners will want to help you out more when you need it. The second one is that they will encourage others to become your partners since they love doing it so much.
Your business isn’t the only place where you need to build relationships. It is also important to build relationships with your friends and family. They are the ones who are most likely to do a favor for you. Yes, this means that you will have to end up going to Thanksgiving with that annoying aunt or attend that intolerable friend’s birthday. But when you ask them for a favor of referring their friends and family to you, and they come through, all this torture will seem worth it. All you will hear at the Thanksgiving dinner thereafter will be the sound of money entering your wallet.
When you work on building all these relationships, you will see that people start hiring you without much effort from your side. The ‘friendly coach’ will become a part of your personality and it will all come naturally to you.
One of the golden rules of building relationships is to always thank your referral sources for the people who they sent your way. Remember to do this whether their referrals were a solid lead or not. Posting a thank you card or a similar gesture would be perfect for this, but a simple thank you in person or call will work too.
Pro tip - You can use Cloze.com to manage all your professional relationships with your clients and promotional partners with ease.
Start networking wherever possible
This point is a bit like building relationships. But, for this you do not need to put in that much amount of effort. All you need to do is mention that you are a coach working in your field. But, the timing and location are important.
Imagine, someone dear to you is having a heart attack and you ask the crowd around you if there is a doctor present. Then, a person steps up to the plate brimming with confidence and announces that he is a life coach. Now I don’t know about you, but if that happened to me, the crowd would have to call an ambulance for not one, but two people. I’ll let you guess which ones.
You should focus your networking tactics in more social settings. Parties or business seminars are a great place to do this. You can introduce your profession when asked - a common ice breaker at several social gatherings.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t create the best opportunity for people to refer you to their friends. Sure, when the time arises and someone asks for a coach, your name might be at the top of their heads. But think about it, they do not want to refer someone questionable to their friends. And neither would you.
That’s why you might sometimes need to display your skills, even if it is for free. I know that parting with your money is hard, but you are playing the long game. Fortunately, you will not have to do conduct an entire session to display your skill. All you need to do is show them a part of what you can do to help them. The great thing is that you can use this as a way to attract people just like a magician.
Imagine you are at a business mixer of some sort and you somehow get to talking about your profession as a business coach. You now have the stage to exhibit your skills and possibly draw in an even bigger crowd. You must have seen the ending scene of ‘The Wolf of Wall Street’ where Jordan Belfort teaches others about businesses by asking them to sell a pen to him. You don’t have to pull off the same trick, but if you can sell a used tissue to an unwitting guest for over $100, I’d be super impressed.
Once you leave the crowd awestruck with your selling skills, try and slip in a word about how they should come to see you if they want to learn to do the same. While you’re at it, ask for their contact information and remember to follow up after networking with them.
Social gatherings are not the only place where you can put your skills up for display. With the boom of social media, there are a lot of opportunities opened up to you online. For example, if one of your acquaintances on Facebook puts up a status about going through a bad break up, as a life coach, you can share some wisdom. This will help you stay longer in their minds as a good coach who can help out others when needed. Networking like this has the added advantage of making new friends. This, in turn, can contribute to my previous point on building relationships.
Help your partners help you
The person who is lobbying for you at social gatherings can only do so to the best of their talents. Sure, your friend might know that you are a Business Coach by title, but what does that job title entail? If your friend doesn’t know about you or your services they won't be able to advertise it properly to their friends. Moreover, they wouldn’t be able to suggest you to their friends who might require your services.
Hence it is important to always have your partners informed about what all services you offer. As a business coach, you might specialize in startups. However, you can also be experienced in dealing with marketing, production or many other aspects of a business. But your partner who has attended your sessions about startups won’t know of your other services. Thus, when that person is asked if they know anyone good in marketing, their mind will be drawing a blank. Hence, you need to keep all your clients informed about the various services that you offer.
Unfortunately, even if your customers know which services you offer, they may not be able to explain each one of them in detail or how these services may benefit their friends. Hence, it is a good practice to share something like a brochure (explaining your services in detail) with your customers. This enables them to share these brochures instantly with people who might need them. Hence your chances of lead generation will increase.
Printed media is something that people with offline coaching businesses can share. If your business is online, you can share links or even newsletters with your current customers to help them spread the message. This is much easier as it saves a lot of time and money.
Another great way to help your partners would be to organize free (or low-cost) events. This way, rather than just mentioning your name or handing out a brochure with your name on it, they can bring their friends and family along to get an example of what happens in your sessions. Every person has attended some boring event just because someone they knew asked for a favor. This is their chance for some payback.
The best part about these events is that you will receive a wide audience. This will consist of your customers, their plus ones, and strangers who have come in only for the snacks. As long as you provide useful content for free (along with free food), people will flock to you. Thus, you get a chance to market yourself and improve the possibility of someone referring to their friends and family to you.
Pro tip - Remember to keep your social media (everything from Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and LinkedIn) updated about your profession. You don’t need to market it, just highlight the services that you offer in your “About Me” section.
The best kind of advertisements are the ones that seem organic and genuine. That is why you should try and get referrals for your coaching business. Just to summarize, you can do this in multiple ways.
- Creating a referral program that benefits those who help you.
- Improving the overall standards of your practice so people genuinely want to hire you.
- Build relationships with your clients, promotional partners, and your friends and family.
- Start networking online and during various seminars.
- Keep your partners well informed so they can help market your services.
If you start following the tips given above, I am sure the number of referrals will keep rising. It might take some time, but don’t lose heart. The most important qualities that a solopreneur can have is patience and perseverance. So don’t worry and keep trying; soon, you might just get more customers than you can handle.