Anytime I tell someone how much my first coaching client paid, I get an almost similar reaction. Invariably, people ask, “Your first client paid you what!!?” Some go as far as asking, “And why did you accept that?”

They’re not wrong to think this way. You’ll probably echo their thoughts as you read on.

My very first client paid Kshs. 500/- for a month of coaching.

Yes, you read that right, and it’s less than $4 at today’s exchange rate.

I was so happy getting that client because I was two weeks into my training as a coach. So I was just two weeks ahead of her, and I told her so.

How did I get my first client?

I had gone to the bank to open an account for my new coaching business. When I told the lady who was helping me that I was a Life Coach, she perked up and started peppering me with questions.

She had heard about coaching and wondered whether there were Kenyan Life Coaches.

I didn’t know what I was doing when I told her that we needed to have a chat before I took her on as a client. Later on, I learned that I followed a powerful process of enrolling clients – having discovery sessions.

We booked our discovery session (I think I called it a get to know each other better meeting). She came for the session, and we had a blast!

As we wrapped up, she said, “OK, Caroline. I’m in. How much do you charge, and what’s the coaching process?”

Me: (BLANK?)

I had no clue how to go beyond this! Remember, I was just two weeks ahead of her in my training. Additionally, my training didn’t include how to get clients for my business.

I responded that I didn’t know what to charge, but I was willing to work with her if she didn’t mind being my guinea pig.

Then I asked her how much she could pay.

Her salary was low given that she was just getting started in this job. So she worked out her expenses as I watched, cut out a few things here and there, and told me she could do Kshs. 500/- for the first month, then Kshs. 2,000/- (about $20) per month for the second and third months.

She paid the first month’s fee of Kshs. 500/- to force herself to commit to the coaching.

And that, dear reader, is how I got my first client???

I walked on air, I tell you!

I was so excited that I didn’t even think about the expenses I’d incur along the way. Nothing mattered except the fact that someone had paid me to coach them.

And I coached the heck out of that client. So much so that she still keeps in touch and remembers the coaching…11 years later!

I always smile when I remember the excitement of getting my first client. While I didn’t need the money then, it still was a powerful experience to get a client so effortlessly.

Getting that client opened the doors for me. Within a year or so, I increased my fee from Kshs. 2,000/- per month to Kshs. 19,000/- ($190) per month.

I stayed at Kshs. 19,000/- for some time because I couldn’t imagine someone paying more than that. But the next time I raised my fee, I more than doubled it! And I doubled it again…and the story continues.

Learning to market coaching in an African setting

It took a lot of self-talk and mindset shifts each time I raised my fees. So I committed to learning about marketing because that wasn’t taught comprehensively in coach training.

As I learned more, I realized that some of the training wasn’t working for me in Kenya. I needed solutions that took care of our peculiar habits to quote Michael Joseph, the former CEO of Safaricom.

Marketing coaching or other professional services in an African setting can be distinctly different from the West.

While the foundations of marketing are the same, there’s more that you have to consider when you’re in this setting. So using cookie-cutter solutions will not work all the time!

Furthermore, when I moved from Nairobi to Mombasa, I faced a different challenge. I had gotten used to marketing coaching in Nairobi where people were more aware of this service and what it could do for them.

However, Mombasa was a green market. It’s also more of a relationship-based marketing place than Nairobi. So I had to unlearn some of the tactics and strategies I was using and learn new ones.

Over time, I started wondering whether there was something that could be used across the board. Was there a way I could master some basics and then tweak them depending on the situation I was in?

That led to a new search. I learned online, attended numerous courses, and tried different systems. I also paid loads of money to trainers, coaches, and consultants to help perfect the marketing arm of my business.

A powerful way of getting clients

A couple of years ago, I analyzed where my best coaching clients have come from. These are clients who:

  • Show up on time for our initial call or meeting.
  • Sign up during this consultation or immediately afterwards.
  • Sign up at my fee.
  • Show up strongly for their coaching sessions. They only miss sessions due to emergencies or if something important comes up.
  • Complete their coaching.
  • Give testimonials.
  • Send referrals during and after their coaching.

As I looked through the list, I also realized that one thing was bringing me these high-fee clients consistently and without a lot of effort: Discovery Sessions.

Each of them signed up after a 1-1 session with me. Some of these sessions were on the phone, others via teleconference, others physically, and more recently on Zoom.

Additionally, more than 75% were referrals from past clients or my personal and business circles. The rest had found me through social media, this blog, or the email newsletter.

Even more importantly, I became aware that the Discovery Sessions were working because I was relaxed. The sessions didn’t feel like work. I had found my marketing style, and it worked well for me!

The courses, training, and coaching programs I had taken don’t teach this! They all provided cookie-cutter solutions that I was supposed to fit in.

Now don’t get me wrong. These solutions do work, and even I have some as part of my training. But I’ve also found that it’s important to boost this knowledge with a mindset that allows you to create something that works for you.

On top of this, you need to be really good at what you do. There’s no need to perfect getting clients and then provide them with shoddy services!

How then do you get people to love what you do so much that they become your unofficial marketing team?

My solution: Kickstart Your Business

This challenge is not limited to coaches. Many self-employed professionals struggle when selling. Even worse, you can waste a lot of time with prospects who don’t sign up.

So how can you determine whether the person you’re marketing or talking to is considering working with you? And how can you confidently turn your prospects into clients in the shortest time possible?

If you want to work with premium clients, you need to master three things:

  1. Where to find these clients.
  2. How to get in front of them in a non-sleazy way.
  3. How to conduct powerful discovery sessions or consultations that convert most of the prospects.

This is what I teach in my program, Kickstart Your Business.

I’ve packaged all my knowledge and experience signing up premium clients into this program. I also share tools, templates, and other resources that have made marketing much easier for me.

Here’s what you’ll learn in Kickstart Your Business:

  1. I’ll teach you how to get high-fee clients for your coaching, training, or consulting business.
  2. You’ll get clarity about exactly what you offer and identify your ideal clients.
  3. I’ll work with you to help you unearth the natural marketing style that will make you a marketing superstar! This includes modifying the discovery calls or consultations to match your style.
  4. I’ll help you create or refine your client onboarding and offboarding processes. If you don’t know what these two terms mean, then you need to sign up asap!
  5. You’ll learn how to ask for referrals and get testimonials as you work with your clients.
  6. Best of all, you’ll gain the confidence to sign up premium clients who need you, and who are willing and able to pay your fee.

I have some referral lines of clients that go back to 2012/13. They’ve all been referrals, and they all signed up after a Discovery Session. Some sessions last as little as 15 minutes and others run for an hour.

I also have clients who have come back to work with me 2 or 3 times. Each time they scale up to a new level or when they’re ready to scale, they call, and we have a discovery session (even returning clients first go through a discovery session).

  • For some, this session is enough to give them clarity.
  • There are others I refer out because they need a different expert or if I know someone who will help them get the results they’re looking for faster.
  • Some sign up for 3-6 months of coaching…and they sign up at my current fee, no questions asked.

Premium clients are the lifeline of my business because the stream of income from them is stable and more predictable. I also love the 1-1 interaction, which allows me to create a deeper relationship with someone.

Finally, while group programs and courses bring in more money, they require more time and effort to market and fill. Time and energy are in short supply if you’re a solopreneur or if you have a small team!

Over to You

Getting your first client is an experience you’ll never forget. It proves that someone believes in you and that what you’re doing is worth paying for.

Unfortunately, it’s easy to price your premium service(s) low and stay at that low fee. Eventually, this will erode your confidence and leave you feeling resentful about your business and/or clients.

Kickstart Your Business is the kind of program I wish I had found when I was a new coach. I was already onto something great right from the get-go when I signed up my first client. However, I allowed all the noise on the internet to veer me off track. It took years to get back on track.

Maybe you too have fallen prey to the hype created by internet marketing experts, some of whom masquerade as coaches. They tell you that you need to do this new thing or go all over social media to get clients. You spend money and time trying to get more traffic and conversions from your online presence, but nothing seems to work.

I invite you to join me in the next Kickstart Your Business group. Through training, coaching, peer-to-peer accountability, and a private community, you will finally overcome the mindset and physical blocks that keep you from marketing effectively.

We also have a private members area with amazing resources, bonus learning activities, and templates you can customize for your business. Join us and learn how to start signing up your ideal clients faster and more confidently.

Click here to find out more about Kickstart Your Business

You can also book a complimentary 30-minute Discovery Call with me if you’d like to find out more about coaching and how it can work for your business.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at Biashara 360. She's an avid blogger and also oversees our content creation. This ensures that we give our readers quality and well researched information and tips.

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