How to explain what coaching is to a potential client

What is coaching? Do you have a clear, articulate answer when a potential client asks?

Is your answer one that wows them, hooks them in, makes them say to themselves “YES this coach is for me!”

Or does your answer sound more like a vague, general spiel, perhaps even sounding like “um...uh…ramble ramble

As a coach, it’s so important to know how to answer this question. Because if you can’t even explain what you do, how is a potential client supposed to know if they want it?

And a confused client does not buy!

So let’s break down how to answer this question so you have a clear, articulate answer every time.


What is Coaching?

Coaching is a process of facilitating a person's development and the achievement of their goals primarily through questions and feedback.

Whilst this response provides a great starting point, it’s not really a complete answer. And certainly, not one that will win the client.

Why? Let’s say you’re experiencing back pain, and you go to see a chiropractor. You asked her, "I’m not sure if you’re right for me, what do you do?". If she replied, “I will focus on the intimate relationship between your nervous system and spine, and use my hands to diagnose and treat any disorders I find of your musculoskeletal system.”

Mm...say what now?

Sure, that’s what a chiropractor does. But if she said this to you, you’d probably be scratching your head, and have no idea if she was the right person to help you.

But instead, if the chiropractor was to say “I can help cure your back pain, by examining if your spine and nervous system are aligned. I will then treat you with subtle movements of your body, without surgery or medication.”

Well, now she is telling you something worth listening to!

In the first example, she’s telling you what she does. In the second example, she’s telling you what she can do FOR YOU - how she can help cure your back pain without surgery or meds. And that’s the key difference.

Potential clients don’t want to just know what you do — whether you’re a chiropractor or a coach — they want to know what you can do for them. 

The Real Question

And so this is the real question you need to answer, not just what is coaching. But what result will your potential client achieve by coaching with you? What’s in it for them?

Coaching is simply the vehicle your client will use to get from where they are in life now, to where they want to be - the destination.

So when talking to a client, describe the destination. This is the only thing the client is really interested in and what they will throw their money at.

How do you do this? Take some time to really think about how your coaching will help your client. Some great questions to ask yourself:

  • What headache does your particular coaching solve?

  • What urgent pain would your potential clients pay to get away from right now, that your coaching would allow them to?

  • What compelling desires would your potential clients pay to have met, that your coaching would enable?

It’s important here to get as detailed as possible. The clearer you can make your answer, the easier it is for the client to say yes.

Another important step in getting specific is choosing a niche.


What is a Niche?

A niche is an area of coaching you specialise in.
Some niches include career transition, parenting, weight loss, relationships, and leadership just to name a few.

Once you choose a niche, then you can revisit answering some of the questions above to tell others what your coaching can do for them. For example:

  • “As a career coach, I help people find their purpose and passion, and help them transition from their current job to their dream one.”

  • “As a health coach, I help people lose weight permanently without restrictive diets or crazy exercise regimes.”

  • “As a relationship coach, I work with couples to improve communication, connection and reignite the flame in their marriage.”

As you can see, when you specialise in something, you’re able to share with your potential clients the specific destination or outcome that you can help them achieve in their lives. Now that’s going to get their attention!


Putting it all together, now when a client asks you "what is coaching?”, you can answer as simple as 1, 2, 3. Using the steps above, you even have the perfect 30 second elevator pitch - "I help X person, get Y result, for Z benefit".

Here’s an example of mine:

"I help new coaches who do not know how to get started, hone and translate their skills to deliver successful coaching programs that get results and referrals.”

If I wanted to get more specific, I might say:

“Specifically, I teach a framework for coaching programs, and coach and mentor you on your skills to deliver them. If you have not yet launched your first dozen successful coaching programs, working with me will help you launch, and get confident, competent and more clients.”

Taking this approach to answer the question “what is coaching?” might take a little bit of groundwork, but it will enable you to get real clear on your answer and land more clients!

How do you explain what coaching is to your potential clients? Let us know in the comments below.


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