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How Coaches Can Overcome Their Fear Of Prospecting Forever with Mike McMahon

by | In the Magazine, Mike McMahon | 1 comment

Are you a coach that struggles with prospecting? Do you feel guilty knowing you should be prospecting, but find yourself doing anything but prospecting?

If you had to choose between going to the dentist or prospecting – would it be a hard choice? Okay, maybe that’s not fair to the dentist, but it’s a valid question. Seriously, does a root canal sound like something you’d rather do than prospecting for clients?

Maybe you find yourself going back over the process you plan to use or you double and triple check your prospect list or your daily routine so it’s more “organized” or “just right” instead of just picking up the phone or knocking on the door?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions you’re not alone. It turns out more than 95% of coaches admit, when asked, they avoid prospecting or don’t do it at all.

If you have all the clients you need, and you’re not looking to grow your practice, then you might not need to learn how to prospect. On the other hand, if you struggle to get coaching clients, or would just like to help more people and take your practice to a whole new level, the fastest way to make that happen is to master prospecting.

Think of your coaching practice like a river of water running through a valley. When you have a steady stream of prospects, the stream is full and healthy. It supports life and provides much-needed water to all the animals and plants that are fed by it.

If the source of water dries up, the river stops flowing and no longer supports all the wildlife or plants. The very thing that gives life has stopped flowing.

Prospecting is the source of water for your coaching practice. It’s what gives you the ability to help others. When you have a healthy pipeline full of prospects you have the flexibility to work with the people you can help the most instead of taking on a client just to pay the bills.

My guess is you know you need to prospect, but you put it off for one reason or another. I suspect you’ve asked yourself more than once why you avoid doing what you know you need to do.

Here’s what I’ve found. The single biggest reason coaches struggle is fear. Whether it’s fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of being embarrassed or even fear of success, it still boils down to fear.

Having worked through this myself and after working with thousands of individuals dealing with this same issue, I have identified the solution.

I’m going to show you how to prospect without fear of failure, rejection or embarrassment so you can build and enjoy a successful six figure coaching practice.

In some ways, what I discovered is funny when you think about it. Our primary challenge with prospecting probably started with what our parents taught us as children. In most cases you were taught not to talk to strangers and that it was impolite to talk about money.

So, what are we doing when we prospect?

We’re talking to strangers and asking them about money. Talk about hang-ups and beliefs that work against prospecting.

If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, we also get burned out on being rejected. If you’re like everyone else I talk to, you don’t like rejection, and after it happens enough times, you do things consciously and subconsciously to protect yourself.

So out of self-defense, your mind stops you from doing things it sees as a threat. Even when those very actions are things you need to do to be successful.

At this point, you might start to think there isn’t any hope if your mind is working against you. Believe me; there is a solution.

Your mind isn’t working against you. It’s just doing the best it can with the training it has been given. So the first step in overcoming the fear of prospecting and rejection is to figure out a way to prospect so you never get rejected again.

Fear of rejection is the most common problem coaches have with prospecting and once we solve that the rest will take care of itself.

How do you prospect in a way that eliminates rejection?

For starters, we have to understand what the real purpose of prospecting is. Most of the time when I ask a coach that question they tell me it’s to get an appointment or to get clients.

If that’s true then every time you approach a prospect and they don’t schedule a session you’ve failed. Every time a prospect tells you they don’t need a coach or aren’t ready for one, you’ve failed. No wonder you don’t like to prospect.

When you consider that only three to six percent of the population is ready at this very moment for a coach, it means you’re going to hear an awful lot of no’s.

So, let’s get clear on what prospecting is and isn’t so you never have to be rejected again.

Prospecting is not about selling your services. It isn’t even about getting an appointment.

The whole purpose of prospecting is to find out if the person you’re talking to is in the market for what you have to offer or not.

It’s okay to contact a prospect and find out they have no need for coaching. In fact, that’s a success. Remember the purpose is to discover if the prospect is in the market for what you have to offer. The good news is this means regardless of whether your prospect says “Yes” or “No” it’s success.

Prospecting is sifting and sorting so if your prospect has a need you can solve, set the appointment – and if they don’t have a need, move on. Either way, you succeeded.

The first step to successful prospecting is getting crystal clear on who your ideal prospect is. The more precise, the better your results will be. To do this, we need to figure out the demographics and the psychographics of our ideal client.

Demographics tell us the characteristics of a client who needs what we sell. Think of age, income, profession and location to name a few.

Psychographics show us the characteristics of a client who wants what we sell. In other words, how do they think? What do they like and what don’t they like.

While demographics will help us narrow down our search and improve our results, it’s psychographics that helps us find hot prospects.

If you already have clients, start with your best ones. They’re the ones who pay, stay and refer.

Discover what they want in a solution. Don’t take shortcuts with this. Take the time to reach out and ask them what they like and don’t like. Find out why they do business with you. Look for common themes. Interview as many as you can to figure out what attracts your clients to you.

If you don’t have any clients yet or only a few, then ask yourself what problems you solve and for whom do you solve them?

Then start to narrow down whom you focus on by asking yourself some questions such as – what’s their age range? Are they male or female? If you work with both, is it with one more than the other? If it is and it’s a significant difference, go with the majority. What do they do for a living? What do they like to do for fun? Where do they shop? What is the biggest problem they want to solve?

The questions above will get you started figuring out the demographics and psychographics of your ideal client. This is just a quick way to get more focused when you’re prospecting. The more you know, the better off you will be.

After you’ve completed your research, you want to be able to describe your client’s pain better than they can. When you understand the struggle they’re going through and you can clearly state the problem and offer a solution, you will find that your prospects know you have the answer they want.

Now that you know whom you’re looking for you can aim for someone specific instead of just being general in nature.

The next challenge tends to be finding people to reach out too.

If you have identified your ideal client and you know what they like and don’t like then you can find groups that they belong too. If the groups meet in your area, then go out and network. If they’re online, then join the group and start contributing so people get to know who you are.

The fastest way to do prospecting is to make up a list of the people you want to reach out too and call them. Remember, all you’re doing is sifting and sorting at this point. The goal is to qualify them in or out. Either way, you win.

Whether you’re picking up the phone and calling a prospect or you’re meeting them at a live networking event, the process is similar.

Start by introducing yourself and letting them know why you’re calling and what problem or problems you solve. Think Unique Selling Proposition or USP and segue into getting permission to ask some questions to see if they’re a good fit for what you offer.

It may take you some time to craft the perfect intro, but the effort will be well worth it.

I have two processes I follow when I’m prospecting. I’ll share both of them with you and you can make adjustments to suit your needs.

When I’m gathering case studies for a new book, I reach out and ask if they will help me. I typically say something like this: “Hi (their name), my name is (your name), and I’m writing a book about (topic). I need a few more case studies for my book, and I was wondering if you would help me out by letting me develop a case study highlighting your profession to show how my process works?”

Now, for the case study approach to work, there has to be great value for the person helping you out, so ask yourself “what’s in it for them.”

The other approach I like to use goes like this. “Hi (their name), (your name) here and the reason for my call is I specialize in helping (their type of business) get all the clients/patients they can handle without wasting money on marketing and advertising that doesn’t work. Depending on what you’re doing to grow your business/practice there’s a possibility that what I’ve done for other (their type of business) might work for you as well, but I’d like to ask a few quick questions to see if this would benefit you as much as it did them. Would that be okay?”

This type of call doesn’t elicit a negative or angry response which so many of us dread. If they’re not interested, that’s what they’ll say – “sorry, I’m not interested right now.” No big deal! Moreover, the important thing to remember is no matter what they say; the call is a success.

I will point out that if they tell you “I’m not interested right now.” just let them go. Say “goodbye” and move on. If you think they’re a good prospect (technically they are a suspect at this stage), give it a week or two and call them back but this time use a different hot button for the problem you solve. Feel free to try this 3 or 4 times over a couple of months using a different hot button each time. Who knows, you may have just reached them at a bad time the first time you called.

Have fun with prospecting and make your calls with the idea that you’re meeting new friends. In some cases, they will need and want what you offer, and in other cases, they may have a need that you can refer to one of your contacts. This way you’re reaching out to help people instead of trying to sell them something. Good luck and happy prospecting.


 About Mike McMahon

Mike McMahon is a Master Sales Coach who specializes in helping coaches and consultants master the art of enrolling high paying clients without being pushy, salesy or slimy. You can learn more at

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