Good results are a way to measure coaching effectiveness so you can get paid what you’re worth. Look back at what your clients have achieved as a result of working with you, and begin creating case studies you can use in your marketing materials.
By showing documentation of your work with clients, case studies help sell future programs by adding them to your presentations. They also allow you to teach by showing exactly how your program worked with a client. Although traditionally coaching and teaching have always been separate, it’s important to be aware that people nowadays are looking to coaches for courses that aid them to reach their primary goal. Offering courses can thus add value to your worth as a coach.
Here some steps to take to create case studies you can use to promote your coaching programs.
Step One: Identify Your Most Important Indicator of Client Success
How do you know when you have achieved ‘client success’? Is it when your clients tell you that they feel successful after a win? Although feelings like excitement, hope, and pleasure are all benefits for both client and coach on the rocky journey of transformation, success is not defined by the rosy filter of emotion alone.
We all know coaches who slap up a testimonial given by an excited client who’s only had one session or even just one discovery session. Post that sort of testimonial, and visitors who look up the testament giver a few months down the road will often end up at websites that are still under construction or no longer exist. That does not do wonders for the coach’s reputation!
Nor is client success indicated solely by tangible results, like specific dollar figures. These types of benchmarks are important but they are not the be-all and end-all of a successful coaching relationship.
Before you accept any testimonial and put it on your website, make sure that both you and your client feel that the relationship is a successful one based on mutual respect and trust, as well as a steady progression of measurable benchmark achievements. Build up a history with your client and make sure tangible results that you promised as well as mindset transformations have both been obtained.
Results are a crucial indicator of client success, but the most important results are not always easy to pin down. Say a figure skater wants to skate in the Olympics and win a medal. The day she does that, her coach has helped her fulfil her chosen goal. But is that the end of the coaching relationship or is it just a benchmark as she sets her sights on a new goal, say, commercial entertainment skating.
Life coaching, in particular, is less easy to pinpoint when it comes to results than is athletic coaching. For example, say you are helping a client transform a poverty-mindset? Where is the benchmark for success? When she says so? When you observe the signs? When she makes a certain amount of money?
Once your client has achieved one goal, where do you go from there? If she moves on, it can be as much of a success for you as a coach as if she chooses to stay with you and accomplish a new goal. It all depends on the promise you made to her and the objectives you both decided to set.
To gauge true success, look to your mission. Does your client’s journey and her results validate that mission? Let’s say your mission was, “To help female clients over forty realize they don’t need permission to be awesome”. Then when you see those clients stepping out and becoming visible, claiming their own greatness with assurance and grace, your coaching has been successful. If you fulfilled your promise and got them to create the solution they wanted (and needed), and there’s a visible difference from when they started, that is true client success.
Step Two: Measuring Results
If you really want to judge client success, document it! First, create a coaching structure, with milestones for clients to reach. You have no control over whether or not your client chooses to attain them, but you can use these milestones to help build her confidence, measure progress in her own mind, and keep the momentum moving forward with each small success.
Each time your client passes one of these markers, it acts as proof that she is still on the right road. This can be a big help in building a trust-based relationship. When she decides to write you a testimonial, the specific milestones she can point to will prompt her to talk about the particular results your ideal visitor is most interested in.
It helps even more if you involve your client in setting these milestones. To keep this process structured, use tools she can start with, such as:
- Feedback sheets or forms
- Client Objective Contracts
A Client Objective Contract is not like your regular client contract governing things such as cancellation policies, payment schedules, or refunds: It should be more of an accountability contract in which you and your client name a goal and set at least 3-6 milestones with deadlines.
Once these are on paper, the client signs the ‘contract’ – a promise to take action. Use it as a reinforcement to success steps and to help keep a client accountable and on track. As well as being a metrics tracker for you, it can be a tremendous boost for clients.
When looking for results, as well as signs of transformation and change, it is absolutely vital to get into the habit of tracking everything:
- Take notes
- Take screenshots
- Follow your client’s Insights and analytics if you have access
- Keep and file emails (especially questions – and your answers)
Take note of increased client income that she reports, as well as any increases in subscriber numbers or other significant data. You are going to use this data later down the line (with her permission) to create a case study that you can share:
- In webinars
- In client success stories
- In your book, if you write one
- In courses
No matter how you decide to use them, case studies should showcase both of you. Your success is her success, and her success is yours.
Step Three: What Client Cases Tell You
With each client, you broaden your experience, but more than that, you start to see patterns and identify common problem areas and sticking points in your coaching process. This can mean that you need to refine steps around these areas. It might also mean slowing down and exploring in more depth, or it could mean trying different tactics to get clients past these humps.
Finding patterns allows you to automate some of your processes by creating reusable resources such as workbooks, worksheets or checklists that apply generally to more than one client.
Don’t underestimate the value of these simple tools. You may find them ridiculously easy to create, but to each new client, the right worksheet or checklist can feel as if you just gave them Harry Potter’s magical “Marauder’s Map”.
The right tool can help clients go places and give them access to what may have always eluded them – no matter how simple the tool. (In fact, the simpler the resource, the better!)
Client case studies are also a measure of your own coaching:
- How you’ve improved
- Where your best skills lie
- What you need to add or work on to get even better results for your clients
It’s important to take note of your own feelings when you check out your Case Studies. Ask yourself the following:
- Which particular case studies are you most proud of?
- What was gratifying about working with a particular client?
- What was most frustrating?
- How did you get past the frustration?
Finally, be aware of your overall emotions with each case study. Which case study(s) are you most excited about? Why? Noting case studies that were particularly satisfying can provide confirmation that your mission is the right one for you, or it can alert you to areas you need to explore more thoroughly since they bring great satisfaction and fulfilment.
Keep in mind that to some extent, clients mirror their coaches, so be sure you are modelling what you want each client to reflect.
Step Four: How to Put Together a Powerful Case Study
It is essential to know why you include a case study on your website or in a webinar or course. Ask any online coach why she uses case studies, and most likely she’ll tell you, “To prove that I get results”.
If that’s your instant answer, however, you may want to re-think it. Coaching is all about helping, and if you make the case study about your goals, it will not resonate with your ideal client nearly as well as if the position you’re coming from is, “This is how I helped…” Done from this latter position, you will add extra intangible proofs such as demonstrating that your test subject is important to you: Not as a statistic that provides you with a pat on the back, but as someone worthy of your best help.
A compelling case study contains a repeatable structure and specific steps:
ANATOMY OF CASE STUDY STRUCTURE
Your case study should take the problem out of the realm of the hypothetical and show how it was solved in a real-world situation.
- Demonstrate a more effective way of solving the problem than the client was using before
- Show people how challenges can be successfully dealt with
- Show what is possible to those who feel stuck
- Prove that “it can be done by real people like you.”
Take the time right now to read “6 Rules for Creating Powerful Case Studies” on the Zen Pilot blog. It’s especially important to take note of Ben Butler’s observations on the benefits of including a permission clause right in your client contract, stating that the client understands that she is granting the right to publish case studies and that signing the contract indicates consent.
As he points out, even if you have included this clause in your contract, it is still wise to ask permission again when it is actually time to create a case study; but note that what including a permission clause in the contract does subliminally is to set your client up to be prepared for this request.
You may want to create a client exit survey – another strategy that collects valuable information you can use in your case studies. Read more about how to make one in this article: “20+ Customer Exit Survey Questions To Supercharge Your Sales”.
Step Five: Your Most Important Client Achievements
Analysis of client achievements is vital to ensure you are still on track with your own life goals. You might help a particular client land a million-dollar movie deal for her book – but you might also realize when putting together her case study, that you hated having to deal with movie company personnel, or you hate negotiating dollar figures, or it just took you away from your regular coaching too much.
In fact, you might discover that the most satisfying client achievement emotionally was helping someone break a lifelong pattern of never speaking out rather than making a million dollars. That sort of sudden realization can be an indicator that you are in the wrong coaching niche and need to become a mindset coach instead of a writing coach or a business coach.
Following the coaching path most satisfying to you is the secret to gaining confidence in every step you take as well as the secret to endowing your clients with confidence.
- Keep a list of client achievements and milestones.
- Pin this list up where you can see it.
There are many valid reasons for regularly reviewing – and using – client results, so get into the habit of doing so. Build tracking into your coaching practice – starting today. If you do this, it will help ensure you get paid what you’re worth, because the value you give your clients is now documented.
Download the workbook for this article HERE.
(Stay tuned for Part 3 next month. Read Part 1 HERE.)