What Do People Want From Their Online Coach?

Coaching is a competitive industry these days. It seems like everyone wants to sell their knowledge and experience by the hour. But that doesn’t mean everyone can be an online coach, at least right away. Some people have the skills for it. Others need time to learn.

If you want to be a successful online coach, you need to have the right collection of skills and attributes that your clients need so they can be successful.

1. Experience

The first thing clients want from a coach is a history of experience. They want to see that you’ve done whatever you say you can teach. If you promise you can help them grow their businesses, they want to see clear evidence that you’ve done that before.

What clients don’t want is a coach who simply regurgitates what they’ve learned from other coaches and online courses. They want someone with tangible experience who has achieved results in the past.

Most importantly, clients want to know that your experience relates to their needs. They want to see evidence that you’ve helped other people with similar problems who require similar solutions.

For instance, let’s say you’re a life coach who helps make people more productive. A busy mom who’s trying to juggle a career and family comes to you looking for help. But all of your experience is with single executives who focus solely on their careers. In this case, your coaching experience doesn’t match the client’s needs.

2. Conviction

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Your clients want you to stand by your positions. They want you to have clear opinions about what works and what doesn’t and what’s right and what’s wrong (in the context of their problem). They don’t want you to be wishy-washy, undecided, or skeptical.

Think about it like this: Your client has a problem and isn’t sure how to proceed. If you also seem unsure how to proceed, your client will wonder why they’re paying you for advice. If your service doesn’t provide them with a clear path forward, they might as well save the money and figure it out for themselves.

Conviction also means you’re willing to say “no” to your clients. You can’t be afraid to tell them why their idea is bad, why their plan won’t work, or why you won’t “just do it for them.”

How do you get conviction? It mostly comes from experience. You’ll grow comfortable in your opinions and methods if you’ve seen them work in the past.

3. Accountability

Your customers may not admit it, but they often need someone to hold them accountable to the goals and plans they set. They need someone to add a little pressure to their lives so they feel compelled to take action.

As a coach, you have to walk a fine line here. You have to create enough pressure to keep your clients moving forward, but not so much pressure that you add stress to your clients’ lives. If you don’t push them hard enough, they won’t succeed. But if you push them too hard, they’ll resent your coaching.

Push your clients to set clear goals and establish actionable steps to work towards them. If they achieve their goals, praise them, ask why they were successful, and then prompt them to come up with ways they could be even more successful. When they fail to achieve their goals, have them explain why and what they’ll do differently next time.

As you can imagine, holding your coaching clients accountable will create some uncomfortable conversations, but your clients will thank you for it in the long run.

4. Accessibility

Online coach

Imagine hiring someone to help you with a problem, but they never answer your calls or reply to your emails. That would be frustrating, right? If you felt ignored, it wouldn’t be long before you found someone else to help.

Your clients want you to be accessible to them throughout the length of your relationship. If they’re paying for your time, they expect to get it.

This doesn’t mean you have to be at their beck and call at all hours. But you should absolutely be available to them when you say you will be. For instance, if you promise to reply to their questions within one business day, you need to meet those deadlines.

In fact, this is one of those areas of your service where it’s best to under-promise and over-deliver. For instance, if your service gives a client two hours of one-on-one phone call time per week, don’t charge them if they go a few minutes over or if they call to ask a quick question after they’ve used their allotted time. This will make you seem especially accessible.

5. Problem Solving

Coaching clients come to you because they want individual help with their specific problems. They don’t want generic advice that you try to apply to everyone. So you’ll have to be good at solving problems as they’re presented.

Solving problems requires an analytical mind that doesn’t shy away from collecting research, combing through data, and running experiments. You may have to pick apart your clients’ problems in order to offer solutions.

Solving problems also requires a degree of creativity. You’ll have to solve some unique problems, some of which may be new to your industry. Experience helps here, but you’ll also need a degree of resourcefulness and outside-the-box thinking.

6. Connections

Your relationship with your clients won’t last forever, but your clients will always wonder, “What comes next?” If you want to be a truly effective coach, you’ll want to help your clients be successful after your relationship ends.

The best send-off you can give your clients is a connection to someone else who can help them succeed. You don’t need to send them to another coach, but you could put your clients in contact with someone influential who could support their goals.

For example, let’s say you teach people how to run paid advertising campaigns. At the end of your relationship (or at any point, really), you could help them join your friend’s private mastermind for paid advertising experts. This would help them build their network and continue their learning.

7. Results

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At the end of the day, your clients want results more than anything else. They’ll overlook a quirky personality and unusual methods if your work helps them defeat their problems.

It’s smart to help your clients achieve some kind of result – no matter how small – early into your relationship. This will help them see that they aren’t wasting their time and money by working with you. It will also encourage them to work hard by putting your advice in practice because they know it will impact their life and business.

Results aren’t just important for the current client. A history of results for your clients is the kind of marketing you can’t buy. Over time, the results you achieve for each client will spread and grow your reputation as a coach who delivers what he/she promises.

What This Means for You

If you have the skills or attributes listed above, you’re well on your way to being a successful online coach. If you don’t think you have them, it’s never too late to learn. If you mold yourself into an effective coach, you’ll never have a problem finding clients.