“I waste hours scouring LinkedIn because I don’t know how to find the right person to talk to about my corporate offer”Far.Too.Many.Coaches
This has gotta be one of the top hurdles that coaches come to me with when they want to sell to larger organizations but are not having much luck.
Maybe they have tried the HR route and hit a wall (“We have this in house”, “This is not a priority for us right now”, “We’ll be in touch when we need something like this” are typical responses from many HR departments – if you hear anything at all).
Or maybe they’ve sent a bunch of messages to their network and on LinkedIn but have heard crickets back…
Often the question of the “right” person is based on the idea that they need to find the decision-maker – a concept touted by countless gurus and B2B sales trainers.
The guru advice usually states that you should either:
- “Don’t waste your time on people who cannot make the buying decisions” or
- “Find a champion and get them to take you to the decision-maker”.
Even though on the face of it they seem contradictory, both of these scenarios work on the assumption that there is this one person who has the power and desire (and budget) to buy a particular coaching or consulting service.
And that is exactly where the problem lies.
Because this is not how large companies buy services from independent consultants or coaches.
For example, notionally, HR or Learning & Development departments are in charge of people strategies and people development. And they are likely to hold the budget for those activities. So they would qualify as the decision-maker.
Yet, it is very rare, that those departments are the only ones who buy certain services. And they are certainly not the only point of contact for an individual expert selling e.g. wellness coaching, productivity consulting, or even employee engagement advice.
Similarly, the CFO holds the purse-strings in an organization (aka, decision-maker), but it would be a mistake to limit yourself by approaching only them as they are unlikely to buy e.g. stress coaching for the marketing team (they might buy it for their own team, though).
Different functions in a company will have different priorities and goals and make their decisions accordingly.
So it’s time to let go of the idea that you have to find “the” decision-maker and instead look at who are good people to speak to.
There are 3 types of people who you should contact – and yes, you should contact all of them.
But you should be careful not to just send the same message to each one as each type has a slightly different angle of how they perceive the issue that you can help with – and that means your message must hit the right focus to get them interested.
The first and most important is the person with the pain at a tactical level.
These are the people who struggle directly because they have the issue that you can help them with. Maybe their team keeps missing deadlines because they don’t communicate well (if you’re a communications expert). Or maybe their employees are off sick a lot due to stress and burnout (if you’re a wellness coach).
These people generally have both a personal and professional challenge here.
They are unhappy because they are missing deadlines, goals, and targets. This puts them in an uncomfortable position in their organization. They might worry about losing their top people or they might be under pressure from their bosses.
The challenges are personal, too because they mean these people are missing out on bonuses or promotions. They probably spend too much time at work, causing personal stress and maybe even problems and resentment in their personal lives.
These people are the most keen to buy your solution if you can demonstrate that working with you will help them resolve these problems.
They might need to get the buy-in and support from higher-ups and find the budget (both not as difficult as it sounds)
The second group of people also feel the pain but at a different level. They are one (or more) steps removed from the impact of the challenge but they have strategic goals and targets they cannot meet because of the issue.
This means they are still stressed about the challenges faced, they are still worried on both professional and personal levels but they probably don’t feel it as acutely as the people with the tactical pain.
To illustrate the difference: a senior manager or director with a tactical pain worries about their direct team of e.g. product developers who miss client deadlines. Whereas the director or VP at the strategic level worries about the impact in client relationships and plans for market expansion when clients are unhappy about the missed deadlines.
The people at the strategic level will likely listen to suggestions for how the challenges should be resolved and have often larger budget authority to buy quickly.
Then there is the last group of people and those are even further removed from the direct impact of the issue that you help with. These are the people in support functions, e.g. HR, Finance, Marketing, IT, Change management.
For coaches aiming to sell to corporates, the support function most likely to be interested is HR but their pain is different from the other two groups.
While the first two groups will be concerned with the impact on the production of whatever the business sells (and all that’s involved in producing the goods or services), the HR function’s pain points come from not meeting goals around hiring & retaining staff, keeping absence to a certain level and maintaining the employer brand image. Your message here needs to address how your work can help with those points as opposed to your message to say the person with the pain at the tactical level.
Understanding who those three TYPES of people are in any given company is crucial to reaching the “right” person to speak to about your coaching or consulting offer.
Because once you know these types, you can research your ideal corporate clients to find the likely candidates among their staff and ensure you reach out to them on a topic that is of actual interest to them.
And because you tailor your messages to their specific needs (see the examples above), should be able to book 2-3 sales conversations a week with corporates clients (assuming you are reaching out to sufficient targeted prospects.
What I shared above is one of the crucial elements I address with my clients in my 12 weeks, 1:1 program that takes experienced coaches in the self-improvement and wellness niche from earning less than $100k/year in their business to adding a reliable 6-figure + income from working with just 8-10 corporate clients a year. In the program, I also address how to package your expertise so that you can sell it fast AND for repeat work, how to attract prospects without cold-calling and how to create conversation conversations and proposals that convert at above 80%.
If interested, just send me a DM and we will chat to see if you’re a good candidate to get results. If you are, we can decide the best time for you to get started.