Coaches Profiting from Other Coaches – The Reframe

by Pamela on November 10, 2009

Why the Coaching Industry Should Focus Their Efforts on Creating Opportunities

My last article certainly caused a stir among my friends in the coaching community. Many wouldn’t comment publicly because of their affiliation to, and subsequent disappointment with, their own coach training institutions. It was hard for me to hit the ‘publish’ button when I wrote the post because I didn’t want to inadvertently insult any of my peers.

I published the article because I value honesty and I truly believe it’s irresponsible to keep turning out life and business coaches in a saturated market, when many won’t make a living wage. Yes, I practice abundant thinking and accepted it when those at the top always said “there are enough clients in the world for everyone.” But I no longer think that mantra holds water. And judging from the email and comments I received, I’m not alone in my thinking.

This isn’t a whine fest. Every successful business takes hard work and any business owner who believes the people who say it’s easy, is headed for a rude awakening- coaches included.

Last week, I presented what I feel are the two problems within the coaching industry: coaches (real or so-called) preying on their peers with promises that purchasing their ‘proven systems’ will make them six-figure coaches, and as I already mentioned, coach training institutes continuing to churn out more coaches in a saturated market. I like to suggest possible solutions when I see a problem. I’m going to reframe some of my ire to come up with something constructive that I think could work. If the people who keep trying to sell me their ‘proven systems’ are SO good at selling, they might be better served to put their energy into finding opportunities for coaches to coach. The same holds true for coach training institutions.

Here’s just one thought:

The economy is bad. Lots of people have been laid off. Many of them received very expensive outplacement services to help them with resumes, career services, practice interviews, etc. Unfortunately, a lot of these very reputable companies didn’t have the bandwidth to provide the services that they were paid to give. I live in the Boston area, and when large companies such as Fidelity Investments and State Street Bank had to lay people off, most if not all employees were generously provided with outplacement services. Many of my friends who were laid off said that it took months for them to get appointments because the companies were slammed with people who all needed services. I see this as an opportunity that coach training schools could be chasing if they’re worth their weight in salt.

The lay offs aren’t over, so the internet marketers could put their ‘proven systems’ to good use and consider chasing large companies to pitch coaching services for those who are laid off in the future. Now, THAT would be impressive! They could charge one thousand dollars less per person than outplacement companies, take a cut for themselves, and still pay the coach a decent fee per client. It may be short term, but it’s a start. “Sell’ opportunities to coaches. Not bogus opportunities, real ones. When I recruited coaches for Coaches United for Success In America, I came across a huge pool of talented coaches who had corporate backgrounds in human resources, career transition, financial services, talent management, etc., so I know they’re more than qualified for the job. It would be the coach approach to outplacement.

Now, coaches, you aren’t off the hook either. You have to think outside the box and find opportunities as well. For example, I met someone at a convention who was impressed with the fact that I got over 100 coaches to donate their time for Coaches United for Success. He wanted to talk to me about his venture to help people who have been foreclosed upon to get back on their feet and avoid the financial missteps that got them in trouble in the first place. He sees a huge coaching piece in this process and he wants me to run the coaching program. He set up a non-profit foundation and has applied for grants. No luck with grants so far. It’s a work in progress. I have no control over the viability of this project. I just keep plugging away and continue to stay in touch with my new friend so that I’m there when it does happen.

And, my goal is to put coaches to work with me. It really is that simple.

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Connie November 12, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Hi Pamela,

I have now read both articles, and I first want to say “kudos to you” for writing two very insightful and compelling articles on the subject of coaches profiting from other coaches. I don’t necesarily have a problem with this just out of hand. However, from the beginning of our coach training experience, I have had the same thought that you have articulated so well: “…I value honesty and I truly believe it’s irresponsible to keep turning out life and business coaches when the market is saturated and many won’t make a living wage.”

Being a Coach certainly involves coaching clients, successfully and well, as a primary goal. However, it takes more than being a skilled coach to attract clients. One also has to be good at marketing or selling oneself. Most coaches I know are way better at coaching than they are at marketing or selling their services. So, it makes some sense to me that the coaches who are good at marketing and selling would develop, as a part of their business, programs or workshops designed to teach other coaches how to market themselves. However, that being said, to do that exclusively or to guarantee “six-figure incomes” and other such nonsense is, in my opinion, irresponsible and false advertising.

But the question remains: Why do coach training organizations continue to churn out coaches long after the market is saturated?

I feel strongly that coach training organizations need to train fewer new coaches and pay more attention to helping their graduates build skills and experience and attract clients or find paid staff positions. In addition to training coaches to market themselves (and coach training organizations do this, but not enough of it), they could also offer internships and/or job placement opportunities so that newly trained coaches gain experience and connections in the marketplace. They could also do more to help market and promote their graduates, perhaps by publishing directories, running referral services, and perhaps even setting up group coaching practices affiliated with their programs and staffed by their graduates.

We do have so many talented coaches out there. Let’s see what opportunities we could create together for each other!


Pamela November 16, 2009 at 10:49 am

Hi Connie-
Thanks for your insightful comment. I like your suggestions for how coaching institutes could better serve their graduates. Perhaps if we all speak a little louder, they will hear us.
Thanks for visiting!


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