Disclosure: I never badmouth anyone in public. EVER. Even if they deeply and richly deserve it. And I’m not about to start now, even though this story may send chills down your spine. All names have been removed to protect the goofy.
First, check out this exchange (via Facebook message) between me and a successful international keynote speaker with whom I am friendly (and who earns in excess of $20,000 per speech):
HIM: hey you do ongoing coaching type programs, right?
like you get clients that pay you X per month or year for telephone time or something else?
im asking because i was approached recently by a CEO who wants me to do executive coaching/mentoring for him. do you have some sort of outline i could follow please? i havent structured a deal like this before
I do marketing coaching, not “executive coaching” but many of my clients DO - usual structure is 2-3 phone meetings per month with email access to you in between and for CEOs I wouldn't charge less than $5k per month. 7500-10k per month if the meetings are in person. Normally you'd lock them in for a 6- or 12-month commitment.
That's all you need to know to close the deal. Boom - you owe me a Pepsi.
HIM: lol thanks. but what do they get for their money ? in terms of time commitments etc and i dont have any formal program structured. or is it pretty informal? they call and you just shoot the shit?
If the content of the expertise you're trying to sell isn't in line with what the CEO needs or expects, you're toast - you can't just charge for something and "wing it" - don't mean to be harsh, bro - but are you playing to your strengths here??
HIM: he approached me, not the other way around
he was in my audience recently and came over to me and said he wants to hire me to be his executive coach
so i certainly havent promised him anything i cant deliver
but i dont have a bunch of papers and programs and checklists or any formal program, because this is not something i normally do.
I’ll stop there simply to spare you the pain and embarrassment of more.
What’s wrong with this picture? I could go on and on but I promised myself this would be a short post.
PLUS I want to hear from YOU in the Comments section below about your reactions and advice in avoiding this type of train wreck.
Here’s my 6 cents on what is dangerous and crazy about this exchange:
- Someone who can deliver a killer keynote speech (regardless of fee level) does NOT automatically qualify as an executive coach. Totally different skill set. It’s like hiring a virtuoso pianist to build a custom stereo - yes, they both make music. But the similarity ends there.
- “Do you have some sort of outline I could follow?” Imagine this question coming from a jet fighter pilot, a brain surgeon, or a trial attorney. There is no outline -- it’s a skill set that takes YEARS of study, serious expertise, and deep experience. You don’t “follow an outline.”
- “I don’t have any formal program structured.” Here’s your first clue, Sherlock Holmes - if you don’t have a formal program for what you’re trying to sell, then you have no business selling it. Holy cow, do I really have to spell this out? Shouldn’t this just FEEL wrong? Apparently not...
- “They call and you just shoot the shit?” Umm, no. I just gave my friend some pricing guidance that a high-level executive coaching program is at least $5,000 per month. And he asks me if that money goes toward “shooting the shit”? Seriously? (Maybe I should reconsider going into the executive coaching business after all.) Meanwhile - there are serious, committed, high-value executive coaches that just read this and their foreheads are about to explode. And I don’t blame them.
- “But Dad - HE started it!” OK, that’s not exactly what he said. It was “he approached me, not the other way around” as if THIS makes it OK to charge money for a service that my friend is neither qualified nor prepared to offer. But wait. we’re not quite done - it gets worse...
- “I don’t have a bunch of papers and programs and checklists or any formal program, because this is not something I normally do.” Again, let’s transplant this statement to a different profession - forensic accounting, cancer research, or defusing bombs. You’d probably want each of these professionals to show up with more than “a bunch of papers and checklists” to fulfill their responsibilities, correct? And you might even be more nervous to learn that “this is not something they normally do.” The lesson? THEN DON’T DO IT!!!
Not to brag, but I’ve presented over 600 marketing keynotes, seminars, and strategic work sessions since 1992. I’m certainly not a $20,000 speaker like my friend, but I’m pretty damn good at what I do in front of a group.
I’ve also served as a marketing coach and marketing mentor to nearly 400 executives and entrepreneurs both individually and in my group programs since 2002. I’m pretty awesome at that.
(By the way, if all this seems too bragalicious for your personal taste, I would challenge you that if you don’t understand what YOU are truly GREAT at, you’re going to have a hard time getting clients to pay you premium fees that reflect your value.)
Bonus question: As a marketing coach, do I have a “bunch of papers and programs and checklists”? As a matter of fact, I DO. But guess what? It’s not those that MAKE me a marketing coach. They simply make my clients BETTER clients - and more successful, too.
What do you think of speakers who offer coaching "just because"?
Please use the COMMENTS area below to chime in with your advice, insights, and experiences on both sides of this equation - as the speaker or coach AND as the client who may have had a “disconnect” experience with a professional who was GREAT in one delivery mode and surprisingly disappointing in another?