One of the most challenging things in growing a business coaching practice is finding quality leads that turn into clients. Most coaches get their leads from only two sources: referrals and networking. However, there are other ways to find quality leads that want what you’re offering.


What Works and Why?


Let’s start by reviewing why referrals and networking have traditionally been the best ways to grow your coaching practice.


To convert any lead into a client, you must first gain their trust. Through referrals and networking, trust is already built in the relationship. In the past, these were the best ways to grow your practice.


Is Relying on Referrals and Networking Alone Slowing Your Growth?


Building your coaching practice with these two methods is very time-consuming. Most coaches don’t have a referral program, so many rely on the “hope and pray” system—but this option will not grow your practice consistently.


The number of referrals you can get is also limited by the number of clients you have. If you have just a few clients, then the number of referrals you can get is quite limited.


Networking can provide quality leads eventually but has some significant barriers to scaling your practice.


Most of your network is likely not your ideal customer. Your network is made up of other business owners that run in the same circles but are not the type of clients that will enable you to grow a prosperous coaching business. There will be few contacts that are your ideal clients or connected to them, but the time invested into these relationships is significant.


To find other methods of lead generation that work as well as these two, you need to find a way to build trust with the CEOs of midsize companies. But as we both know; this is much easier to say than do. To accomplish this, we must have a well-developed ideal client persona.


Finding Opportunity in the Challenges


CEOs of midsize companies, especially those with growth issues, are extremely hard to get in touch with as “outsiders”. Most CEOs are not discussing their issues with other people, especially not peers or random business coaches. They are not searching the internet or scrolling through social media posts looking for answers. They have far too much on their plate to spend their time that way. They also have “gatekeepers” protecting them from people cold calling them or sending them direct mail.


The good news is that other business coaches face the same challenges. The difference is you’re open to finding alternatives, or you wouldn’t be reading this article.


Where to Find More Leads


To get the attention of a CEO of a midsize company, you have to be where they are already going.


Most CEOs may not spend much time on LinkedIn but know they have to have a presence there for business’ sake. This is where opportunity lies for coaches such as yourself.


I know what you’re thinking: coaches have tried this approach in the past with little success; however, the reason that they failed is in their execution. They fault on two points: 1. They either tried to book a meeting way too soon, or 2. Never figured out how or when to book a meeting.


LinkedIn Tactics Some Coaches Use and Why They Fail


Sponsored Messages: We have all received these messages. They talk about the person or business qualifications and offer no real value to you. This is an ad in text form and is a method that immediately sets off the “what are they trying to sell me” alarm.


Connection Message: Some make the same mistake as the previous method. Most just ask for a connection without offering a good reason to the CEO to accept it. By using the right strategy along with a well-thought-out buyers’ journey, you can give great reasons for them to connect and engage with you.


First message after making a connection: Far too often, we get a message exactly like the sponsored messages. The messages are only talking all about themselves and what they can do for you, without knowing anything about you. Another ad in text form: sound the alarm.


Getting a Meeting Booked: Unfortunately, most coaches either try to book a meeting too soon or never figure out when to book one. With a little marketing know-how, you will be able to know what content your connection is consuming and when, thus allowing you the opportunity to reach out at the right time and knowing what topics are of interest to them. Offering them a meeting at the right time to discuss the issues their concerned about will make all the difference in the world.


Why Paying for LinkedIn Lead Generation Fails


You may have tried a purchased lead option or know a coach who has. Most lead generation companies don’t work. You need to develop a great customer journey for your ideal clients. Although it is a business relationship, the connection with a potential business coach has a strong personal eliminate. This cannot be purchased from a lead generation company. It’s no wonder why most online lead-generation options deliver poor results.


When a coach purchases leads and the lead has already booked an appointment or the coach is required to contact the lead to try and get them to book one, this is a big disconnect in the customer journey. Even if the coach can get the lead to book a meeting, the meeting is just a sales call at this point. The coach has little, if any, information about the lead’s issues, and the CEO has no trust in the coach at this point in their journey.


Deciding to use a business coach is a high-consideration decision, a term that Adele Revella uses in her book Buyer Personas: How to Gain Insight into your Customer’s Expectations, Align your Marketing Strategy, and Win More Business.


To be successful, we need to keep the core elements of any good marketing system top of mind. We need to start with strategy and create a customer journey that fits your ideal customer, instead of a “journey” that fits your need for leads.


You, as a coach, need to build a significant amount of trust with the CEO before having a one-to-one discussion on their issues. Once you have built that level of trust, they will not only share their issues with you but will also be open to the solutions you offer.


In 2012, the Corporate Executive Board’s (CEB) Marketing Leadership Council released a widely cited study that concisely defined the problem, revealing that, on average, business-to-business (B2B) customers are nearly 60 percent of the way through the purchase decision before engaging a sales representative.


By connecting with them and offering immediate value, you can establish some trust right from the start. Melonie Dodaro, author of LinkedIn Unlocked: Unlock the Mystery of LinkedIn to Drive More Sales Through Social Selling, has designed an entire system to do just that. We go over the key components of this system in a previous article.




Using referrals and networking to grow your practice does work but it is a slow grind and has its limitation. You need to use the barriers to connecting with CEOs to your advantage.


Creating the right customer journey for CEOs of mid-size companies from the first time you message them is key. When you do this, you will be able to use the leverage of LinkedIn. You will acquire clients and grow your coaching practice to full capacity.


Knowing when you’re creating the right content for the journey is the difference between a successful marketing system and a failure. We share the model that enables you to know what’s working and what isn’t in this article, “The New Way to Turn Contacts into Clients”.


If you want to discuss how we can help you implement these principles in your coaching practice, click the button below to book a time.