When You Don't Ask

 

Last month we ran a quick survey.

We wanted to find out what you, our dear blog readers, thought about coaching

One response stood out.

I want to share it because it speaks to a challenge we can all face when seeking to engage new people into getting advice.

 

The first question we asked was, "What's your opinion of coaching?"

Answer: "We've thought of engaged a coach, but not until when we have more revenue. First, we need to nail our systems, got our marketing right, train our team and all that stuff"

 

The second question; "Do you know what engaging a coach costs?"   

Answer: "No idea. We probably couldn't afford it"

 

First things first, this isn't a crack at the person giving the feedback. 

It's not the first time I've heard this, and the point of sharing this isn't to take aim at anyone but to use this as an example of a certain way of thinking about advice.

To me, this thinking is utterly contradictory.

 

Belief

"Before I work with someone who specialises in doing the things I need to get done to progress, I believe the best approach is to have a go all by myself. When I've achieved it (sooner or later), I believe that's the best point to circle back and get help, as then I'll be able to afford it" 

 

Contradiction

"I actually have no idea what getting help might cost - nor any sense of whether the help might actually unlock a return on investment - but I believe I can't afford it and haven't investigated further because of that belief"

 

It's interesting how easily assumptions stop us from exploring the possibilities.

I'm guilty of this myself.

In February, we ran our first two-day Excelerator program event of the year at BridgeClimb Sydney.

We actually ran the event within the facility then, at the end of Day 2 experienced the climb ourselves.

This was more than just an activity in between sessions. There was a very specific reason I chose to do it this way.

For years, I've been using BridgeClimb as a real-life case study of a business that is:

  • highly successful,
  • has a value prop strongly linked to outstanding client experience,
  • has succeeded in one of the most heavily regulated operating environments I know of.

Spotting the link?

 

I've been using this example for years but had always written off the possibility of doing an actual event like the one I just had for one simple reason.

I assumed it would be too expensive.

Over 10 years of telling that story, until finally, I picked up the phone and asked the damn question.

Guess what? It wasn't expensive at all. It was completely reasonable.

All those years running events and, sat in front of me, was the perfect venue to run a workshop on client experience... and I'd discounted it all that time.

 

I want to share this for two reasons.

The first is probably the most important.

How many clients out there do you think made a decision that they might need help but instantly make the decision they can't afford it?

If the many research surveys I've read are anything to go by, a lot.

It makes little sense because the action itself of asking usually doesn't cost anything.

So, what is it? Are people:

  • Frightened of being coerced into something?
  • Not open to accepting assistance?
  • Wanting help but worried about the cost of it?
  • Some other emotional force at play that isn't obvious?

 

I think this is one of the more widespread challenges that we can face in advice. I know it's one of the most significant challenges I have in coaching.

Like me, you've probably worked at your ability to sit down with someone 1:1 and, in the space of an hour, walk them through a framework which will, at the end of the meeting, provide them a roadmap, help them decide what they actually want and start them on that all-important first step toward achieving clearly defined outcomes. 

My guess is you're willing to do this with most clients you feel you can help, regardless of whether they begin with the intention of becoming your client or not, right? 

I'm also guessing you don't expect them to outlay anything to take this initial step either?

That first engagement, when done well, can be a complete game-changer when...

  • Approached with the right intent. 
  • Delivered without undue "always-be-closing" pressure to expect a conversion at the end of it.
  • It allows value to do the heavy lifting, and the framework to uncover where the mutual benefit of working together might be.

 

Over the last five years. I've taken numerous advisers through my version of it as potential clients.

Some of them startups we agreed together weren't ready for coaching

Some were mature businesses who I told they had more important things to get done first.

Some were advisers who thought they needed my help but discovered the solution was much simpler, because I told them so.

We're kind of in the same boat.

 

My BridgeClimb moment reminded me that asking is usually the best first option.

The knock-on effect is I will never, ever hesitate again.

(Well, until I forget the lesson and need reminding again...)

If there's something I want to achieve and someone else who knows how, and I hear that voice inside start with the whole, "You can't afford it..." line that'll be my trigger for asking first.

At a client level. I'll be working really hard over these next months - both through market research and looking at how I position those initial steps - to remove whatever I can that might stop the people I love working with reaching out.

 

 

PS: That client survey I mentioned, is something I'm doing both with people who've been on a program but also those who haven't. If you would be willing to help me out, I'd love to know a little bit about;

  • whether you've used coaching before,
  • how you perceive it.
  • the things you know that we don't, like how you view what I do and who you see as our competitors.

If you're willing to help me out, the link is here

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