How to Create a Coaching Program That Sells (9 Easy Steps)

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Coaches are everywhere, offering specific expertise to those who need it. It’s no longer a matter of whether people need your coaching. It’s a matter of which clients are perfect for the coaching you can provide. Your experience is valuable!

Thanks to the internet, your future clients can access countless concepts and frameworks for personal and professional growth. The problem for you, as the coach, is knowing how to structure your program for maximum benefit for your clients and maximum income for you.

So let’s talk about how to create a coaching program that’s well-structured and scaled to your and your clients’ needs. We’ll cover all the steps involved in the process and will also share an easy-to-use checklist.

Let’s get started.

Benefits of Creating a Coaching Program

When it comes to your coaching journey, you won’t regret planning your program in advance. Here are some of the benefits of thoughtfully designing your program:

  • You can anticipate roadblocks or speed bumps before you begin coaching.
  • You can develop different strategies for one-on-one and group coaching.
  • You get to test new ideas, frameworks, or approaches.
  • You will save time and money in the long run.
  • You can customize the experience for your clients.
  • You can set up your business for future growth.

As a coach, planning ahead of time is essential to the success of your business. While you may encounter many distinctive benefits of a coaching program outline, the best one will be the value it ultimately brings for your clients.

So focus on the few benefits that will impact your clients most.

1. Get to Know Your Clients

The first step in devising your own signature program is to get to know your clients to develop empathy so that you can see the barriers they face. Only then can you establish coaching programs that meet their needs.

Talking to potential clients is one of the most valuable ways to gather this information. Many new coaches offer discovery calls to get to know their clients.

One of the most beneficial activities for this is to create a description of your ideal client, including demographic and psychographic information. An intake questionnaire is a good way to do this.

Michael Walsh’s personal experience helps him know and connect with his clients
Michael Walsh’s personal experience helps him know and connect with his clients

2. Define the Outcome

The one thing that will help you develop an effective one-on-one or small-group coaching program is to define the outcome that you will promise your coaching clients. You want to become the coach that helps them _____.

  • Run a 5k in 45 days
  • Establish a new art business in 90 days
  • Find a distinctive business style to help them gain confidence
  • Conquer clutter in their home
  • Foster a peaceful home for thriving young children

So, what exceptional outcome sets you apart from other coaches? What experience and talent are you uniquely designed to create for your clients?

While getting to know your client often helps you empathize with their pain points, the outcome is best described with aspirational language that paints a picture of what they want.

The outcome can be defined using the easy A-B-C-D method.

  • Audience tells us who is doing this.
  • Behavior describes what they are doing.
  • Condition details the conditions, like timeframe.
  • Degree explains the extent or result of the behavior.

I help frustrated working moms [audience] establish simple bedtime routines [behavior] within three months [condition] so that kids fall asleep quickly without tears [degree].  

When you have this much detail, it’s easy to map out your program from scratch! This clarity also helps you market your services. The best coaching websites will have this information displayed in a clear and engaging way.

Trish Blackwell’s aspirational description clearly defines the outcomes for her potential clients
Trish Blackwell’s aspirational description clearly defines the outcomes for her potential clients

3. Decide on the Structure and Delivery Method

Your experience and way of doing things set you apart more than any other factor. Your structure, framework, and delivery system are the next most significant way of setting yourself apart. Your structure, especially if you created and honed it, can help your ideal clients trust you.

One-size-fits-most approaches don’t work. That means there’s a place in the coaching space for your way of doing things. There are a variety of factors that affect structure and delivery:

  • Your level of expertise
  • Your available time
  • The topic of your coaching niche
  • The size of your cohort
  • Your clients’ needs

There could be dozens of other nuanced factors. Assessing these factors will help you determine which platforms to use for your coaching program, whether you will do a group program or one-on-one, and how you will go about planning coaching sessions. The beauty of this is that your coaching program can be uniquely structured and delivered.

For example, Amanda Herr offers four structures in four different programs. While you don’t need to provide multiple packages, this example can show you what similar content can look like when structured differently.

Amanda Herr offers an example of having multiple options
Amanda Herr offers an example of having multiple options

4. Consider the Materials and Resources

When you understand your clients and what they’re trying to achieve, you will notice two essential elements: barriers and enablers. Barriers are those obstacles they must overcome to achieve their goals. Enablers are the skills or motivators they draw upon to gain motivation, strength, or wisdom.

Identifying these common barriers and enablers can help you provide the additional resources that deliver value and keep them engaged.

Supporting materials can generally fall into six different categories. We’ve listed them below with a short example of each. The first five are ideal for helping clients overcome barriers. The last maximizes the effect of an enabler.

  • Learning programs. What program content do you have for them to gain knowledge or skill? This could be courses or a self-study booklet.
  • Cheat sheet or template. What materials offer a quick win when they are in the middle of something? This could be a post-it note on their computer that reminds them of deep breathing exercises.
  • References. What references help them find reliable information to plan or make decisions? This could include recipes or a website with parenting strategies for specific behaviors.
  • Social networks. What people do they need around them to think or behave differently? This could be your group or a group you help them create.
  • Access to experts. What level of access to experts can help them achieve success? This could be your regular calls, a messaging app, or an online coaching program. It can also include access to other experts, like a marketing expert, as part of a business coaching program.
  • Recognition. How can you offer feedback for what they’ve already achieved? This could be celebrations or earned rank in your program.

Programs don’t need all of these. Instead, determine which barriers and enablers your clients will encounter most and choose the materials and tools that are best suited for those.

The UpCoach platform includes several tools to enhance your program
The upcoach platform includes several tools to enhance your program

5. Choose a Coaching Platform

With just a few clients, a scheduler and Zoom are likely enough. But as your business grows, a coaching platform will help you manage your time and your clients’ results! It is worth the investment to make your life easier.

There are a lot of coaching platforms to choose from. When deciding, ensure your platform supports the structure and materials you need.

Be sure to choose a platform that makes your life easier! For example, you may use a different platform for a group coaching program than you would for one-on-one. And obviously, simple-to-use features like schedulers and client management are necessary!

upcoach earns our top recommendation because it has several helpful coaching tools that promote client engagement. This platform allows you to manage your clients and visualize their progress easily.

upcoach Coaching platform
upcoach is a great option for running coaching programs

If you offer more than coaching, we recommend Kajabi as an all-in-one platform that supports coaching, online courses, podcasts, memberships, and communities. This platform makes it easy to run your entire business from a single place.

6. Come Up With an Original Name

Although the name of your program can seem like a significant decision, you have a lot of advantages with coaching. Your number of clients is relatively small, so changing names later has a minimal impact. That allows for flexibility as your coaching business matures and grows.

So, come up with a descriptive and original name that embodies your feel and philosophy. Here are some fun ways to find ideas:

  • Look through your client interviews for phrases they use. For example, maybe someone said, “I just want my dad’s time in hospice not to suck.” Your program might be Hospice That Doesn’t Suck.
  • One of your philosophical tenets for personal development might be Feed Your Mind. And that could be the name of your program.
  • Look at the aspirational outcome you want to create to see what you can use there. If you help clients quiet their minds, you might call it Quiet Minds.
  • Use a free coaching business name generator to get some ideas.

Bob Ferrell found himself frustrated over a complaint letter from a customer who explained that he had asked for an extra pickle and the employee wouldn’t give it to him. This complaint led to his successful and motivating video training program, Give ‘Em the Pickle.

Don’t let naming your program keep you stuck. Find a name you like, search it and its words to ensure it doesn’t communicate unintended meaning, and move on. If you don’t like it in two or three years, it’s simple to rebrand your coaching with a new name.

[R]evolve Consulting has an interesting name that’s suited to its diversity expertise
[R]evolve Consulting has an interesting name that’s suited to its diversity expertise

7. Evaluate Progress

While everyone’s progress is different, it’s important to set up shared milestones to measure success.

People progress at different rates often because of factors like experience, background, coping skills, resilience, and self-confidence. And some fly through some milestones and struggle with others. Having a method to evaluate and communicate progress can help maintain their confidence in their progress and your coaching.

Measuring progress often includes leading and lagging measures:

  • A leading measure looks at the positive behaviors that create success. It contributes to the desired result.
  • A lagging measure looks at the desired outcome. It’s called lagging because it follows the leading actions. It lags behind.

For example, in a weight-loss program, the leading measures often include eating the right foods in the right proportions and moving your body. The lagging measure is often the client’s weight, BMI, or waist size.

In another example, a business-coaching program, leading measures include sending emails, creating lead magnets, and following up with potential clients. The lagging measure is sales or clients.

Identify your leading measures, and those positive behaviors that contribute to success. Then evaluate progress in terms of consistency and excellence in executing leading measures. This is the progress that leads to the desired result.

Here are examples of measures you can incorporate into a coaching program.

  • Self-awareness measures: Tracking your spending, eating, interactions, emotions, and thoughts
  • Self-assessment measures: Using a Likert scale to assess daily confidence, clarity, energy, or pain
  • Daily habit measures: Taking vitamins, contacting leads, meditation, journaling, or healthy movement
  • Weekly check-ins: Coaching calls, self-assessment, financial reckoning, review of daily successes

Some platforms have tools that make it easier to track progress using measures like these. It could include a daily habit tracker or a board that allows you and the client to see when they’ve moved from one milestone to the next.

UpCoach’s Kanban Board can be customized to help you visualize your clients’ progress
upcoach’s Kanban Board can be customized to help you visualize your clients’ progress

8. Collect Feedback

Feedback is the magic that transforms hours of practice into expertise. Most people have heard the 10,000-hour myth—if you practice something for 10,000 hours, you’ll become an expert.

But the original study included two caveats. The practice was intentional, and it featured expert feedback. Anyone can spend 10,000 hours shooting hoops or writing novels on their own. You only reach excellence with experienced feedback.

Your coaching provides the feedback that makes your client’s intentional practice more effective. You suggest tiny changes that yield remarkable results.

Similarly, your client’s feedback provides you with that same level of insight! After working with you, they have a familiarity that can help you identify blind spots and suggest small changes that will significantly impact your coaching.

When requesting feedback, ask specific questions that get to the heart of what you’re trying to create. The best feedback questions are well-crafted and take time for your clients to answer.

Here are a few examples of questions you might want to ask:

  • Regarding sales calls, how confident do you feel in asking your ideal client to sign up for your business solutions?
  • When you recognize a “red flag” during a first date, how confident are you that you could walk out without feeling guilt or shame?
  • When you think about retiring in 10 years, how confident are you that you’ll be able to live the lifestyle you mapped out?

Focus these questions on your most important outcomes. If clients can’t answer these as you hoped, ask follow-up questions! Follow-up questions about their doubts and remaining obstacles will lead you to tweaks or changes that improve your coaching.

You might be surprised to hear your client needs more confidence when you know they can achieve their goals. You mustn’t correct the client at this moment. Listen instead. What they have to say can improve your coaching results.

9. Promote and Market Your Coaching Program

You can’t have a coaching business without clients. So you’ll need to consider how to promote and market your services to your ideal clients.

Here are some easy ways to get started:

  • Create and grow an email list: If you still need an email list, start with your friends and family and ask them to share with people they know. Then exchange free content related to your coaching services for an email address. If you’re a photography coach, it could look like “10 Mistakes You’re Still Making When Setting Up Indoor Lighting.”
  • Create a landing page: As you create the content for your landing page, you’ll hone and practice how you talk about and pitch your services.
  • Increase your visibility: Create compelling content on social media, land guest spots on podcasts, and speak at virtual summits. These activities position you as an expert and help you leverage other people’s audiences in win-win situations.
  • Find referrals: As you talk to people about your business, ask them if they know anyone who might benefit from your expertise.
  • Collect testimonials: Ask those who’ve successfully worked with you if they can provide a testimonial. You can offer a few limited spots at a discounted rate in exchange for the testimonials. Place these on your landing page or in your social media feed.

As you promote your services, you might find yourself in a pattern of feast and famine—times when you have many clients and don’t have time to market, and then no clients, with tons of time to do marketing. Look for ways to automate to create a steady flow of clients.

And while visibility is essential to marketing, you may need to turn down those opportunities that don’t align with your goals. For example, you might turn down a chance to speak on a podcast whose listeners differ from your ideal clients.

Marketing is vital to a business but also a lot of work. So you’ll need to find what gets you the most for your goals.

Elizabeth Dias offers a free planner so she can build her email list
Elizabeth Dias offers a free planner so she can build her email list

Conclusion

Are you ready to design your coaching program? Your willingness to journey alongside your clients and help them accomplish their most meaningful goals is incredible. We wish you all the success in your business because of the impact this will have on their lives and yours.  

We have also created a checklist that includes a detailed overview of everything you need to kickstart your coaching program, including your clients, structure, materials, and more. Click here to download the free checklist.

Tell us a bit about your coaching program or your hopes for it. Who do you serve, and how do you help them?

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