I did something I probably shouldn’t have this morning.
I’d not yet had my morning coffee, I was a wee bit cranky, and I was in conversation with a lovely person who shared a bad experience she’d had with a coach that was affecting her still. But I’d heard the SAME heart-breaking story from so many others.
So I ranted on Facebook, which I almost never do.
You can see the firestorm I ignited in the comments on my personal profile at http://facebook.com/michelleshaeffer (I made this post public so you can read it even if we aren’t connected as friends yet).
There’s some great insight and discussion from people I truly admire and who are the good guys in the coaching world so I encourage you to check it out. I didn’t want to copy over their comments without permission but it restored my momentarily shaken faith.
Here’s the thing: I understand selling. I get the process. I get that you’ve got to dig into and identify the blocks and challenges that are holding clients back–that’s GREAT, because once we identify it, we know what we’ve got to fix. But digging into that and then telling them they’re going to fail is not okay. It’s not.
So here’s the rest of the story and why I’m so emotional about this.
An Open Letter to Business Coaches…
To the one who told me I’d fail… the ones who’ve told my (successful, amazing, talented, beautiful) friends they’ll fail… all because you wanted to pressure us into working with you…
To the coaches who feel a little uncomfortable with the sales approach you’ve been taught… unsure if it’s really the right way to sell… please consider the story I’m sharing here. It’s mine and it’s true.
I’ve lost count of how many friends, colleagues, and clients come to me with raw emotions, deep hurt, and self-doubt from what’s essentially the same story. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of seeing people crushed. Please stop it.
So here it is:
Do you remember that day? Probably not. Like so many coaches out there, I was just another name and number on your list who might agree to work with you and hand over thousands of dollars.
But I remember that day, and that conversation–vividly–even though it was years ago.
You offered “no pitch” strategy sessions claiming you weren’t going to sell on the calls. I knew it was to enroll into your mastermind program though and I was okay with that. I wanted to work with you and planned to sign up. But the sneaky positioning should probably have tipped me off that we wouldn’t be a great fit…
The program you offered was out of my budget, and I wasn’t sure we were the right fit to work together, either. But when I declined and explained why, you told me I had to put it on a credit card if I really wanted to reach the goals I’d shared with you. Not an option since I hadn’t owned a credit card in years.
You called me a liar, said that “everyone has credit cards” and that I wasn’t willing to be honest so I’d never succeed in business.
Then you told me that my lack of commitment to my dreams meant that I would continue to fail and the only thing that would change it was making the decision right then to give you my credit card number and work with you.
Did you know I was already quietly in tears? Or that after I hung up the phone my children gathered around me with hugs and wanted to know what was wrong with Mommy?
I reached out to you because I respected you and wanted to learn from you. I even knew enough to do my homework and find out what types of programs you’d offered in the past and their price ranges. I was ready to invest in what I thought would be required–and it would have been cash straight from my bank account because I’m not the only one in this world who got out of the credit card craziness. I didn’t know you’d decided to more than quadruple your prices.
For weeks after our call I felt like a complete failure. I didn’t know what to do except give up. And I almost did.
I was afraid to reach out to any other coaches or mentors for help, afraid they’d see what you saw in me–that I was nothing but a failure. I thought that no one would ever have faith in me or believe I could succeed.
Is that what you meant to create from our conversation? I hope not. Maybe you were just having a bad day.
Should one person’s opinion of me have mattered that much? No. And that’s not your fault. It’s where I was at.
Please remember when someone reaches out to you for help, you see them at their lowest, you see their challenges, they’re looking for a safe space to fall apart in and help putting the pieces back together.
I hope that you just didn’t realize the affect your words had. Maybe you were trying to follow a script, a badly written sales script, that someone told you would sell. That you were trying to “handle” my “objections” the right way to close.
Please, please don’t ever do that to anyone else. It didn’t work. And it crushed me.
[pullquote]Years later, I may not be what YOU would consider a success. But you were wrong about me.[/pullquote] I have a business I love. I’m excited about what I do, the clients I work with, and that I can be of service to those around me.
And between you and me, I don’t care what you think anymore. Because you lost my respect the minute you called me a liar and told me I’d never succeed.
Don’t tell me what I can’t do or that there’s only one possible way to succeed. In 20 minutes on the phone, all you got was a snapshot of where I was at for that moment in life. To say I won’t ever succeed based on that is a lie.
So to all the coaches out there…
When you challenge a potential client to step up and work with you… please be gentle… please hold a safe space of honesty but tread lightly… and I beg you, don’t tell anyone they’ll fail if they don’t choose to hire you at that vulnerable moment.
Remember they’ve come to you for help and your words hold great weight. Whether they decide to work with you or not, you can set off a chain reaction that either helps the world by encouraging them to share their unique gifts, or one that causes them to stumble and fall, and for weeks, months or longer causes them to question if you were really right about them, if they really CAN’T help others and CAN’T build a business that serves others. Do you really want to do that to the world?
Because it’s about MORE than just you making a sale. It’s about more than if that potential client chooses to commit to YOU.
Are you one of the coaches who care?
Before you wonder, I adore and respect the coaches I’ve chosen to work with now. They’ve been absolutely key to my success. They challenge me and push me way beyond my comfort zone and I love them for it.
But never have they told me I’m a failure or a liar. Even on the days where I fell apart and really felt like a failure.
They come from a space of truly wanting the best for me, and knowing that they can support me and help me to reach that best.
Thank you to the coaches who sell and coach with integrity.
Have you been hurt?
If you’ve ever been discouraged or hurt by a conversation like the one I’ve shared here, don’t let it stop you. I promise you, they were wrong about you. If they said you’d fail, I’m telling you that you will succeed.
Do you want it? Then forget what they said and make it happen. Do whatever it takes. You CAN do it.
And, find another coach, okay? There are great ones out there and you’ll find the perfect fit for you.