How to Become a Business Coach

Find Your First Business Coaching Prospects the Old Fashioned Way

By on February 1, 2019

In the long term, of the most impactful ways you’ll grow your list of business coaching prospects is through online marketing–a slow and steady process of producing high-value, high-engagement content over time.

But if you’re just getting started in the coaching business, or you need to boost a stale pipeline, don’t rule out old-fashioned, real-world approaches. They still work, and work well.

One of the most effective is to buy a list of “suspects” (a term I use for companies that meet my ideal customer profile, but with whom I have no relationship yet) from a reputable list broker and market to them.

Quick note: do NOT buy email lists. Sending emails cold is SPAM, and is not only poor etiquette, it can get you fined. The strategies I’m talking about here are analog, not digital.

If you do this right, you can reap significant rewards.

How to Create Business Coaching Prospects from a List of Suspects

First, target well.

You need to know your ideal customer profile like the back of your hand. In general, this should be businesses turning over at least $250,000 in annual revenue per year–otherwise, you’ll get a bunch of leads that are too cash poor to be worth your time. However, don’t make the mistake of excluding businesses between $250k and $750k in revenue. I’ve had numerous business coaching clients with revenue in that range that happily paid me $2,000 or more per month for years on end! In fact, one of my favorite clients was turning over just $475k per year when I signed him up for a business coaching program. Six years later, he’d more than doubled his revenue, and paid back all his start-up debt!  

Also consider the niche you’re targeting and the location of your customers if you’re operating a local business coaching firm.

In general, I recommend:

  1. $250,000 to $20 million in annual revenue.
  2. At least five employees so you avoid “one man band” companies.
  3. The following roles: Owner, President, CEO, Partner, etc. so that you only get the decision-makers in the businesses you target.
  4. Include data from any of the major industry categories that you hope to target, such as retail, manufacturing, professional services, healthcare, information technology, construction, etc.

Your goal is to come up with a list of at least 5,000 to 10,000 records, so play with the criteria a bit to come up with this range of businesses. In the United States and Canada, my favorite list broker is Sales Genie.

Second, be consistent.

Your list should be the basis for all your marketing campaigns for years on end, especially telemarketing and targeted direct mail campaigns. When I started in the business, I worked the same database of about 10,000 records over and over for about four years. It got warmer and warmer, eventually yielding hundreds of business coaching prospects and clients.

When I started in the business, I worked the same database of about 10,000 records over and over for about four years. It got warmer and warmer, eventually yielding hundreds of business coaching prospects and clients.

A hint: you can convert a suspect to a digital prospect by sending cross-media offers. For example, send a postcard that leads to a landing page where suspects can download an ebook or tool in exchange for their email address. Now they’ve become digital business coaching prospects, which provides you more granular insight into their behavior and saves you marketing dollars!

Third, maintain your list.

Your database needs regular maintenance in order to perform well. Are you wasting money on postage and ineffective telemarketing calls? You are if you’re not keeping your database updated. It’s a time consuming but necessary task to maintain the accuracy of your marketing database. Remove addresses and phone numbers that are no longer active, and honor it when a suspect communicates to you that they are no longer interested. This is critical!

From Suspects to Business Coaching Prospects: A Case Study

But does it work?

You bet it does. For example, during a networking time before one of my seminars, I remember walking up to four guys and asking them why they came. Their response? “We’ve been getting your direct mail letters and telemarketing calls for over six months so we wanted to come check you out. What do you have planned for this morning?”

“Well,” I said, “I’m going to teach you how to build an amazingly profitable business and then get you started on one of my business coaching programs.”

“Okay,” they said nonchalantly.

Two hours later, they were signing a business coaching agreement at the back of the room! That relationship added at least $20,000 of value to my business (and probably more when you consider the value of their referrals) and it took me just six months to develop using “old-fashioned” marketing strategies like these. Cool!

Want more in-depth training like this on building your business coaching practice? Get a FREE 30-day trial of our comprehensive business coaching system and take a peek behind the scenes of everything we recommend to start and grow a profitable business coaching firm.

Eric Dombach

About Eric Dombach

Eric Dombach is the Founder of Coaches’ Coach. In 2001, he founded a business coaching firm that, by 2005, was generating more than $1 million USD in revenue, 23% operating profit, and average annual growth rate of 140% per year. In 2005, he sold the firm to 4 of his employees for $1 million U.S. dollars, generating a return on capital of more than 800%. Since then he has trained more than 1,300 independent and franchise business coaches in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Australasian markets.

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