Someone on Facebook a few months back asked how people checked out coaches. I replied that one of the things I did was look at Companies House and Duedil for info on the person. I actually listed all the steps I’d take and it was a detailed response. The person who posted this question decided I was wrong to do this, and then deleted the question along with all the other responses, some of which agreed with me and others that disagreed.
Another person has asked in a similar way about checking coaches out, and again, all hell breaks loose with coaches defending their shoddy, and borderline legal marketing activities.
The Truth about What Coaches Can Say
I’m not a lawyer, I’ve never been one, and I’ve never played one on TV, or written a book about one. I’m a business owner who tries to do their business and comply with all the rules and regulations. Sometimes I win, sometimes I fail, but mostly I try.
Firstly, people can say whatever they want online. But your actions and statements have consequences. If you’re a coach and you’ve frequently updated social media to say you’re having regular 10k months, and you’d like to show others how to do it too, then you’ll generate interest from people interested in working with you who are looking for the same.
Why? Because one of the big premises of NLP and being successful is to find someone doing what you want to do, and then model their behaviours.
So if someone is looking to make 10k a month, they look for someone doing that, and book them. Do people just take their word for it? No, they don’t, they do a bit of research first because they want to model the right person.
As a coach, myself, I believe my role is to show a more efficient way of doing things, because my success is down to actually doing the work. I don’t actually run around yelling “Make a fortune with me” because it depends on so many variables, and you know none of them until you speak with someone on the phone or face to face. I also personally think it’s tacky rather than aspirational to include this in your marketing.
Prospects can ask for proof of earnings if you’re talking about your income, and you’d show them. You’d show them because you know you have to comply with the advertising laws of your country. In the UK it’s the Advertising Standards Authority, in the US it’s the FTC. Every country in the world has a government department that regulates what you can say in your advertising. Just ask Frank Kern.
Now, looking at Duedil, or the Better Business Bureau won’t give you the complete picture, it gives you the starting point. There can be many different reasons why the company saying they’ve earnt 10k a month for the last year but only show a 6k annual profit. They may not even be registered there if they’re a sole trader, a partnership or another legal entity. If a prospect is smart enough to be looking you up, they’re smart enough to work this out.
Most coaches I know will be happy to share their business set up with you and why they chose that way. Personally, I have no fricking idea what we have and why we have it because Kevin does this side of things. I can tell you we’re both sole traders, but the reason why I’ve no idea. I know he plans to change our status at some point. Again I’ve no idea why, I just do as I’m advised because I trust him and his experience.
Now, if you’re thinking I have HUGE money blocks and I need to know things, then you’d be right. I focus on the lead generation activities and content creation, Kevin focuses on the other side of the business. We’re a team. Other coaches often have teams. Working with husband’s and wives is very common. Being a sole trader is very common.
Wait! A status update isn’t advertising
Well, all those influencers who’ve been fined will tell you differently. Sure, it’s about product placement, in this case, someone else’s product. In your scenario, you’re talking about your own services, so you come under the same rules.
You’ll find that your status updates are not editorial, or observations but are borderline advertorials. Status updates you put into Facebook groups talking about where you were, and where you are with an aspirational image followed with a call to action – they’re advertorials. Facebook is the publisher. They’re regulated by the ASA, FTC etc. Now you may be thinking they’re not because no payment has been made for this type of promotion but you have a reciprocal arrangement with the platform that’s presenting your content. They get to see who is interested in that type of content, they get the data and tailor adverts accordingly, and you get the exposure.
If you make earnings claims or turnover claims anywhere you can be challenged on them. If the thought of someone asking you about your business brings you out in hives don’t make income claims in public. Don’t bash the person who is looking for the right person to model!
But wait, Sarah! You spoke about the 7 figure contract you won through blogging. Yup, I indeed have mentioned that. A contract is what I speak about, and the value was 7 figures based on a variety of factors. Transport has high overheads and the contract was valued over a certain period of time. It was not a month, and it was longer than a year. We can produce the contract, Kevin has it on file, I’ve no idea where it is, if someone needed to see it. It might take a week or so to find it as I’ve moved house and not unpacked everything.
So if you’re saying you took eleven billion in sales last month then you should be able to prove it. If you can’t prove it then don’t say it.
Be honest. If people can’t take your honesty, that’s a bonus. I know that writing here that I’ve not unpacked everything since I moved will have people judging me. I know others will resonate with me. I don’t get to decide, the prospect decides.
There’s the old adage that the cobbler’s children run around in bare feet because the cobbler is so busy on other people’s shoes. Having a coach that doesn’t post about their 10k months or their client’s 10k months does not phase me. Because I know from experience that the very best people are often their own worst example. What I will do is after I’ve checked them out is to go through what they’ve said online and look for the evidence of them doing what they say they do with their clients. If I’m looking to invest a significant amount of money I’ll ring up a person who has given a testimonial.
I spoke to one person who had a horrible experience with a coach. I could tell from the way the conversation went that the person shouldn’t have hired the coach – they weren’t ready. I could also tell the coach did the best possible job with the client. I could tell from what was said that the coach went above and beyond to support the client. I hired the coach. My experience wasn’t the same and I was delighted with the outcomes. Would the coach let me speak to that person? Probably not, but I was sold on the coach’s integrity from the call.
A good coach will say no
A great coach is a coach who will say no and recommend you to someone closer to your needs. Too many coaches act in a one size fits all manner and then trots out phrases like “victim mentality” the moment you disagree with the recommended course of action.
I point blank refuse to work with anyone who uses the phrase “victim mentality”. A stuck person, or a person that’s unhealed doesn’t need labeling and boxing. They don’t need to be bullied. Calling someone a victim isn’t calling them on their BS, it’s blaming the client for the coach’s failings and lack of compassion. This is why I go through social media feeds and look at what they say.
My cousin was raped 20 years ago. I recall how she was treated, and how the male members of the family treated her (it wasn’t kindness and compassion it was a whole lot of victim-blaming from short skirts to drunk to an unlicensed taxi). I felt sick to the stomach for her. None of what happened was her fault, but the way people treated her wasn’t pleasant. When the #MeToo came about a lot of coaches condemned those that had been raped and assaulted as “seeking significance”. I think back to my cousin and what happened to her… None of it was “seeking significance”. She was violated and blamed for what happened. I made a list of every coach that failed to understand, who victim-blamed and propped up the patriarchy. They could teach me how to turn straw into gold, but I’d never hire them. I’d die of starvation before I hired one of them. None of this information is on the coaches website, or Companies House, yet if you saw they had made a loss for 3 years running, you’d be tempted to say this is the reason why they didn’t get hired.
Have you noticed that who I hire and who I don’t hire to coach me has zero to do with how much they earn and everything they do with how they act?
A coach willing to share their income is of little interest to me. A coach who blogs… I’ll sit up and take notice. That very same coach who shared a post about a client’s wins on their own site would also have me take notice. The client commenting… That scores some points too. A coach who promotes their clients is always a good way to get my attention – it shows the coach believes in what the client is doing.
Anything my clients achieve is down to them. I may write an email sequence that makes them a fortune, but it’s the client’s win, not mine. Coaches who claim every “victory” instead of celebrating their client’s win have an ego issue. Coaching is about empowerment, courage and recognition – of the client.
Any lawyer will tell you…
You have to be able to back up your claims. Let’s take social proof for example, you need to keep the original of your testimonials. So if someone sends you a testimonial by email, you need to print out that email and keep in on file in case you are asked to produce it.
Other things lawyers advise
Alongside keeping copies of your social proof, your legal people will advise you NOT to make income claims. They will advise you not to allow your affiliates to make income claims on your behalf (see Frank Kern link above), or on their own behalf to their audience.
They’ll tell you all sorts of things to keep you safe and protect your business. It’s well worth having one available and acting on their advice.
It’s not just cash
It’s not just income claims that cause trouble. The health coaches that claim meat causes cancer and a supplement cures it are in trouble. Why are they in trouble?
They need evidence to back up their statement.
Those that claim Marijuana cures everything… in trouble. You need evidence to back it up!
Let’s talk about evidence for the moment
An anti-pharma site isn’t good evidence because they have a bias. Evidence from the British Journal of Medicine, or your country’s equivalent is a good starting point. Followed by papers from reputable universities.
What’s a reputable university? One that if you said the name out loud people would recognise it. Quoting Hogwarts as your source will also get you in trouble.
What about coaching qualifications?
I first trained as a coach in 1997. I know it was done through the University of East London, I could not tell you the exam board or anything else about the company that trained me. I know how I was taught to coach is very different from how people are taught these days. NLP seems to be the de rigeur of coaching these days. Coaches can learn online, in person or some other way.
Unlike martial artists or shamans, coaches tend not to focus on their lineage. I do focus on this. I want to work with someone who has trained from the source, or the source themselves. If I want to learn NLP I’ll go to Richard Bandler. I’m sure there are millions of great NLP coaches, but he’s the source. If I can’t learn from him, I want to learn from Paul McKenna. I stay as close to the source as possible.
So if you’re the type of coach that doesn’t share you lineage, you’re never going to get me as a client.
When I learnt to cook I had two incredible teachers. Clive was a chef in the merchant navy, and he was all about timing and speed. Andrew was trained by the Roux brothers and some fancy-schmancy chef whose name I’ve forgotten. From him I learned how to serve food. When I’d done a few month’s training with Andrew I realised I needed the basics. Do you know who he sent me to? Delia Smith. He felt I’d learn from Delia. He was right, I did! My colleague, he sent to Pru Leith. My colleague is still cheffing and I cook once a month for my family. A good coach will evaluate you, your skills and make a recommendation for you. They won’t always say “Let me teach you that”.
I’d never let an unqualified surgeon operate on me (unless that was my only choice). I don’t let unqualified people into my mind – it’s my biggest asset. A qualified coach who is sexist, and racist is far more damaging than an unqualified coach, or a coach qualified from Durmstrang.
Wrapping it all up
- A coach who makes earning statements or income claims have to back them up.
- A coach who doesn’t like a client doing their research has something to hide.
- A coach may have cobbler’s children syndrome – be smart enough to recognise it
- Get legal support – here’s a good example Scroll to the bottom and see what she says… Remember your coach cannot give you legal advice, but your lawyer can give you coaching advice.
- There are so many human variables (as I’ve shown) that stop you getting hired as a coach.
- I’ve no doubt my thoughts in this post will send people running for the hills.
When you chose a coach, you’ll choose one based on your needs, not theirs. If they don’t like it, you need another coach, and there’s plenty of them around.
How do you research your coaches?