Why Coaching is a Relationship Business

Coaching is first and foremost a relationship business and in this short webinar (originally broadcast as a Facebook LIVE) Ankush speaks with Steve Chandler who is known as the Godfather of Coaching and has written dozens of books.

Some of what they discuss include:

– Steve’s background in this profession

– Getting more well known vs building relationships one person at a time

– Being afraid to love people

– A book recommendation to dive into this topic deeper

You can also listen to this on Facebook: LINK

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To contact Steve and find out more about his work, visit www.stevechandler.com

You can find more resources like this here: https://ankushjain.co.uk/coaches

relationshipFull Transcript – Why Coaching is a Relationship Business


[00:00:02.17] Ankush: I believe we are now live on Facebook, hello Facebook world. I’m joined by Steve Chandler, as you can see. Steve and I are doing Facebook Live as we said we would on the subject of ‘Why Coaching is a relationship business?’ And this is something that I’ve really learned from Steve, and it’s something that I’m seeing more and more every single day. And we would love just to spend about 20 minutes or so, talking to you. If you’re online, I can see a bunch of people joining us, feel free to say hello, hi Helen! I know you know Helen Steve, she joined us in London and sang beautifully for us.


[00:00:53.14] Steve:  Yes.


[00:00:53.14] Ankush: Hi Edith. If you’ve got any questions as we’re talking, please let me know, I’ll relay them to Steve, who can’t see them. But I’ll do that. So, I’m doing this on my wall, and I’m assuming everyone will know Steve, but for people that don’t Steve, if you want to give a very quick overview of who you are and why you are qualified to talk about coaching and it being a relationship business.


[00:01:23.24] Steve:  Well I don’t know if I’m qualified but I have a lot of experience working with coaches over the past 10 years, so I’ve had a programme for coaches, focussed on the business side of coaching, not focussed on how to coach, but it’s been focussed on how to acquire clients and build a profitable business and one of my students in the programme was Rich Litvin, and he attended four times, and became so good at what we were doing that he became one of the co-presenters, co-facilitators in his fourth time through, and he and I wrote a book together, called “The Prosperous Coach,” based on our experience working with other coaches.

How do they change from really struggling as a coach, and becoming prosperous and building a prosperous practice through coaching. So, that’s my background, I’ve written books, I do public speaking and I work with people one-on-one. Most of my clients are not coaches, but I do love working with coaches. It’s really my most fun thing, is teaching coaches how to acquire clients, and I want to say Kush, I’ve learned a lot from you in this whole idea of relationships, and relationship building, and as as creative skill, as opposed to just being lucky in love or having a magnetic personality you’ve had since you were two, but really learning relationship. Your relationship series is something that I assign parts of to many of my clients, so that they can use what they learned there to help them enroll people into their business or anywhere in the world of sales or enrolling or nonprofit, acquiring donors into a nonprofit system, it all works the same way, and I’ve learned a lot from you. I don’t know if you know how much for quite a bit, your relationship series is really extraordinary.


[00:03:56.04] Ankush: Thank you for that Steve, I really appreciate it and I value that so much coming from you. Really everything that I’ve learned, everything that’s worthwhile that I’ve learned around growing my coaching practice and how this is a relationship business has come from you. So, I really value that and you know, what I found was that I was good at this thing called coaching, or I learned this thing called coaching over a number of years, and I knew it would really help people and the few people that I did, it had a profound impact on, and yet I was struggling to have people sign up and hire me, and that’s where you really came in. One of the things I remember was that I was really surprised when we started working together, I don’t know what I really expected, but just how much you focussed on building relationships with people, one person at a time, as opposed to what I had seen up until that point, what I had been taught which was, kind of the opposite.

It was like building huge lists, making yourself more visible, marketing myself and that seemed to make sense, but if I’m more well known, then it follows that I’ve going to get more clients. What you did was really help me see that to turn that on its head, and really work with one person at a time, which now makes so much sense to me because that’s what I do as a coach, I work very deeply with one person at a time.


[00:05:39.13] Steve:  Yeah and that’s a primary mistake that coaches make, they kind of automatically go into “I need to be better known,” mode. Where they market themselves, they put themselves out there, they try to get more connections and leads and they do all the things that they believe will eventually help their coaching practice, self-promotion, marketing, but what they’re not seeing and this is usually a turning point in the coaches career financially, is, waking up to the fact that this is a relationship business. So as a coach tries to become more famous or more well-known, when you meet a famous person at a party, you’re actually more nervous around that person, than if you meet someone no one knows. If I meet someone nobody knows, I can relax, I’ll share things, but if I meet Jennifer Lopez or Brad Pitt or somebody at a party, then I’m nervous. How am I coming across and the chance of a relationship occurring is less. So when coaches try to get better known and they try to make an impression, it makes them less approachable and they miss the fact that this is a relationship business, and what people are eventually going to pay you for, is their relationship to you. The relatedness they feel, how relaxed and open they feel in your presence so they can share everything, and how they can identify with you and feel like, well, if Ankush can do this, I can do this, because he’s sharing with me, all the insecurities he had around this issue and now I’m really relaxed, and so that’s why the three P type of coaching and practitioners who are three P, they’re really natural enrollers, but they don’t know it.

They think, after I market and advertise myself and promote myself and sell and get a client, then I’ll really show them what I can do, and after that, I will show them how good three P is, and how normal their feelings are and they’re going to love it, but first I’ve got to sell. And what they don’t realise is they’re hiding the very thing that they’re selling, and they’re replacing it with an attempt to promote themselves and manipulate another person and persuade another person to do something, and it becomes… it’s distancing, it’s actually distancing, and this is a relationship business and people are more likely to hire you when the relationship starts to happen between you, and when coaches wake up to that, sometimes it takes years, sometimes it only takes week, but they slap their forehead and they say, “Oh my goodness, this is a relationship business.” And so, you might think, well what does that really mean?

Well when you think of a relationship, think of your family. Think of somebody close to you and your family. If your daughter or your significant other, your partner, or your sister comes to you with a problem, you cut to the chase and your first thought is from a fearless heart. How do I help her? How do I make a difference? How do I serve to her? And so your first question is, what’s going on, what’s going on in your world? You look like you have a challenge or, you look excited tell me more about that? So that’s how related people communicate with each other, and it’s the same way a doctor, if you come into the doctor’s office, come into the emergency room, the doctor says, “what’s going on with you?” And he doesn’t say, “Oh let me tell you where I went to medical school?” And, “let me tell you the kinds of people I work with, let me tell you what the billing is going to be like.” He says, “where does it hurt?” And that’s what I mean by a relationship, and so many coaches waste hours and hours and they schedule meetings and talks and then more talks and they do this flirtation, this dance, the distancing dance, where the other person is seen as other, not related to me at all, in fact. Not a friend, not a family member, and this person is a target, this is a target of opportunity, so actually this person is being thought of, almost more like a military person sees the enemy. How do I get them in my sights? How do I close in on them? How do I close, how do I close in on them? And I have coaches say, “when they say this, what do I say?” But nobody says, “when my daughter says I’m scared, what do I say? Nobody says that, they know what to do, because that’s a relationship, so if I wake up to the fact, oh, that’s what this business is, and that’s what people value the most in a coach, is relatedness, connection, and what occurs between us, they don’t really care about my background or any of that, that can be off putting.

In fact, I had a client, and I’ve talked about this before with you. She was on the Oprah show. She did all these self-publicising things, and couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t getting clients as a coach. Well people felt not related to her, like they couldn’t identify with her. They didn’t feel connected. So when people wake up to the fact that, you know what this is a relationship business, this is not a promotion/sales/marketing/personal branding/niche finding/ list building. That’s not what this is, and when they wake up to that, it’s so good, because now the next person they talk to, their only intention is to relate and connect, it’s not, “what do I say when they say this?” “When do I say my fee?” And that’s how, most of the questions we ask about alien beings, what are their ways, they’ve come out of the spaceship, what do I say to them? How do I know if they speak English?

People talk about potential coaching clients that way, like they are other. Now the problem with other in building a coaching practice, is it collapses me into my ego and my personality, it reduces you to a target of opportunity, which dehumanizes you. And now we have to somehow put together an agreement to working together, based on the greatest distance two people have ever felt from each other. Here’s one person trying to get you to pay money, and here’s another person with their skepticism, and sales resistance, and the coach is thinking, well, once they pay me, I’ll be able to let my guard down and really show them what this – if you’re a three P person – what this understanding, how their life can get so much better, and less stressful and how they can get into the flow of life with this understanding, but for now, I have to sell them. And de-humanise them, and disconnect. So I’m unrelated, and coaches actually do things that make them less related to this person than they would be if they just sat down next to them on a park bench.


[00:15:27.03] Ankush: Yeah I love this Steve, everything that you’re saying and you’re reminding me of a client I’ve got. She’s got a big email list, and we’ve been working together for six months or so, and she was struggling to get clients. She was really struggling to get clients, and she had no relationship with her list. She’d been running this list for 10 years, she’d been sending out newsletters, she had lots of people reading them, but there was no relationship, and what I encouraged her to do was start building a relationship, both in the way she was writing the newsletters, but actually talking to the people on her list.

Not selling them things, not trying to promote herself and she found some really interesting things like, some of the people on her list were like, “oh we never thought you would coach someone like me, we thought you only coached corporate types.” Or, they had such a different view on who she was, as opposed to who she really was, and it’s the opposite because I found certainly for me that when I was learning about coaching and trying to build my practice, I was encouraged, I felt whether tacitally I was encouraged, rather than build relationships to be impressive instead. It’s like how impressive can I be, how many photos can I share of me looking really good? How many things can I share that make my life look good, so that people go, “ooh isn’t he so amazing, let me hire him, because then I can be like him.” And what I found was not only through coaching with you, but I remember a client once when I shared something, of how kind of, I was upset about something and I made a mistake about something he said, “oh you’re human.” And I went, “yeah did that not come across?” And it was a real wakeup call for me, because I was like, “oh, I have been holding back,” like “oh, let me tell you just how human I am.” And it was kind of the exact opposite of everything that I thought I had to do, but it brought me a lot closer to not only him, but so many of my clients.


[00:17:37.08] Steve:  Yeah and we’re afraid to love people. If I had to boil it down to one thing. So if I’m afraid to love people, then I’ll build lists and I’ll put out newsletters, and I’ll try to promote myself, and I’ll have this be about manipulation and persuasion. Now if I want to learn to build a client list, I’ll throw that out, and I’ll go back to “what do I know about relating to people, to creating relationships?” So, when my daughter comes in the room, and she’s hurting or she’s got an issue, she’d like help with, I don’t ask myself, “who am I to help her, how will I impress her, what will make her think I’m a good parent?” None of those questions cross my mind because I’m in her world right now. I just entered her world, and if she says, tells me something she’s having a problem with, I remember something I had a problem with that was like that, and I shared that with her, and I can see that that connects us, we’re closer now. And while I was going through this 12 step recovery, I wrote my book that some people say has a negative title called, “Death Wish,” but it’s about recovery from addiction and people recovered by sitting in a circle with other people who were not experts, were not teachers there was no hierarchy, “this is the teacher and you are the student,” it was just share, who are you, open yourself up, connect, and that gave people strength and hope.

That’s what occurs when you have a client and now you’re in your fifth session. That’s what occurs, that’s when the coaching relationship goes well, but what coaches don’t do is they don’t start there, they’re afraid to start there. They think, well we’ll get there sooner or later when it feels safe to me, and it feels safe to them, but I’ve got through manipulate, persuade and impress. And so if you really want to know how to build a practice, look to the people you love, and notice how you interact with them. Notice how you relate to them. That’s why your relationship series is so good and inspiring for me because it teaches how to build a practice, because you talk to all these wonderful practitioners and coaches about their relationship with a spouse or family member, someone close to them.

A lot of times if I’m a prospective client and it’s kind of stuck and we’re not getting anywhere, I ask myself, if this were my best friend talking to me right now, who would I be? How would I be? What would I say? And everything changes, and I become a completely different person. And then they feel like, “oh, wow, I didn’t know I could talk to you this way.” And I learned this from a person that I ended up writing a book with, named Michael Bessoff, and he was a sports coach, and he was coaching at the University of Arizona, and he was recruiting athletes into the college programme. And he had this amazing track record of recruiting great athletes into his programme, even though he was recruiting against schools like the University of Southern California, UCLA, big prestigious schools, he was at the University of Arizona which didn’t have that prestige, but he would get better athletes in. People would say, “what are you doing, why is this occurring?” Well the other schools, would go to the athletes house, and make a presentation, and they would say, “these are the features and benefits, if you come to the University of Southern California, we have this, we have facilities, we have that…” And they would try to sell. Michael said, “I wouldn’t even talk about my University, I would create a relationship with the athletes’ parents. I would create a relationship with the athlete, and through creating the relationship, we would, sooner or later, get around to talking about the school and the coaches, but, the relationship came first.”

When he went into another field of development and fundraising, he said, “I have no experience here, but I noticed that people in fundraising, they go out to rich people and they make a presentation. If you give us this amount of money, you’re going to give into this programme, and we have all these benefits and all that,” and they would create distance between themselves and the donor. He said, “I’m not going to do that, I’m going to create a relationship with donors, whether they give me money or not, and the relationship will come first every time.” And he raised more money than anybody, and he said, “that’s the key.” And then I started working with him on that, I started training sales teams, and the salesmen on the sales team who created the relationship with the customer first, would be the one who would sell the most. You notice this on a car lot, you go to buy a car. And one car salesman, you feel right away like oh my gosh, get me away from this person, he’s trying to sell me something, there’s no human connection I can trust here, but another sales person comes up and he just wants to find out what kind of car you want, and he wants to help you get what you want, and you feel that right away, because the salesman number two is creating a relationship, he knows it’s a relationship business, it is not a sales business, and so that’s true more with coaching than in any other field I know of, but it’s true in a lot of other fields too that you’re in. If you could get, even in a company, it’s your relationships that have the teamwork go well, the leadership go well. If you could really see the value of relationships, then everything would change for the better, but we’re afraid to go there, until we see it.


[00:25:32.06] Ankush: And if people want to dive into this more, I would highly recommend your book Steve “50 ways to create great relationships,” it’s one that I read some time ago and I was really amazed at how good it was, and so I would encourage anyone that wants to know more about this to read that book, and that book is one that we’re going to be giving away on out 12 week online programme, and if anyone wants to know more about that, please do reach out. I’m happy to talk with you about it and give you more information, and I’m very pleased that you will be joining us Steve, because for me from my heart, I really wanted coaches to see this whole relationship piece, as well as a number of other things, because I find that not only, unless it’s just me but I feel like it’s not, that there was a lot of stuff that was implied around growing your coaching practice which didn’t work for me. What I’m finding is this stuff, that’s actually harmful, and sometimes when I talk to coaches I feel like I’m having to de-programme them away from being impressive, away from marketing themselves, away from trying to become famous, and selling into what this business is really about, which is connecting with one person at a time. Doing really really good work, and changing their lives for the better so powerfully that they talk about you, and that’s kind of what I’ve seen in my own business.


[00:27:04.29] Steve:  Yeah, it’s the willingness to connect and then becoming really more and more skilled at creating relationships instead of selling something or promoting something, because that’s what the other person is looking for, and in a way, that’s what you’re looking for. One time Emmet Fox, the spiritual teacher who I used to follow, he said, that if you could only love enough, you’d be the most powerful person in the world, and it’s true of coaching. If you could, if some prospect was talking to you and somehow we could hypnotize you, or programme you or give you some drug, I don’t know whether it would be a combination of ecstasy and just a taste of some other drug, I don’t even want to describe what the drug would be, but, if that person could feel your loving presence in their world, they would hire you in a heartbeat.

That doesn’t mean that you don’t want to build your skills up as a coach and you don’t want to become masterful as a coach, and be a really good coach. You can do that because that helps too, you can become a more skillful parent, you can learn about parenting, but, when your child comes with a problem, it’s your heart that connects to them, that they feel. That’s the only thing that’s important to them, it’s not your script or your words, or okay, I’ve talked to my child about her problem, how do I close? And it sounds absurd in that context, but that’s the problem, the context is the problem with coaches. They place another human being, an innocent human being, who has a longing to connect, they place them in a category called “target” and then they do all these things, like you say, that are harmful to the relationship, like they’ll send them out an agreement, like, you want to work with me, I’m sending you a three page agreement, ant it’s such a buzz-kill. It’s like, it warns you that I am not a therapist, and if you would attempt suicide or if something occurs in your life as a result of coaching, I’m not held responsible, and they send them something that works against the relationship, because they’re not thinking in terms of a relationship. They’re thinking in terms of a target of opportunity, someone from whom I can get money. And if that’s all I’m thinking about, there’s no way for the other person to not pick up on that vibe, and pick up on, “I can tell that’s what you’re up to.” And then the coach says, “how come they’re not returning my emails?” Or, “they said they wanted to work with me, but now they’ve gone radio silent.” That would not occur if they had a real relationship with you.


[00:30:57.20] Ankush: So I really want to respect the time, we’ve gone way over, but we could keep going for another half an hour. I know we tried to keep it to 20 minutes today, but I hope that’s been a good glimpse for people into this whole relationship piece. We could talk for a lot more about it, for those who are going to be joining us we will talk more about it. And for those who are in my coaching group, please look out, I’m going to be making an announcement there today, so do keep an eye out for that.

Thank you Steve for joining me today for this and taking some time out of your schedule, I really do appreciate it, and I hope many coaches, we’ve had a tonne online, loads of comments, I can still see them coming through, but do reach out to either Steve or I if there’s something that you didn’t get, weren’t quite sure about, really would be happy to answer your questions.


[00:31:56.15] Steve:  Alright thank you Ankush, always a pleasure.


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