What Are the Common Traits of Successful Coaching Clients?

successful-clientA coaching-client relationship is a two-way street: You need to have the goods to help your clients succeed, but they also must bring something to the table – they have to be coachable.

But what does it mean to be “coachable?”

I spent a number of hours researching the available scientific literature in an attempt to answer that question, and surprisingly, I found almost nothing.

Most of the literature I found focussed almost exclusively on executive coaching, mostly definitions and the overall effectiveness of coaching.

But what I wanted to know are the common traits of successful CLIENTS. My suspicion is that there are specific traits of successful clients that are at least as responsible for coaching success as what coaches teach, and perhaps more so.

If I’m right, it means that finding the right clients is the single most important step to coaching success.

Who are the Right Clients (And How do We Find Them)?

So who are those “right clients?” What is it exactly that makes some people more likely to be successful in a coaching program? What do they have in common? And what do poor coaching clients have in common so that they can be avoided or screened out of your application process?

I’m not looking for perfunctory attributes like “not afraid to fail” or “lifelong learners.” I’m looking for specific, measurable attributes that apply across the industry.

One of those attributes seems to be a willingness to pay a price that feels like a stretch. Whether that amount is $500 or $50,000, I suspect that when you spend so much on something that it hurts, you’re much more likely to pay attention and work until you achieve what you’re looking for.

In fact, one of the reasons for setting a relatively high price for your coaching program is because it DESELECTS the unambitious. Feeling like you’re truly invested in something makes you want to get a return for your hard-earned money.

Another way to get invested in something is to get on a plane, travel across the country, and spend multiple days learning something new. So TIME is another way to become invested as a client.

But I suspect that there are far more things than finding people willing to invest time and money that are the common criteria for being a successful coaching client.

  • Are people in natural life transitions (graduating high school or college, having kids, retiring) better clients?
  • When people know that someone else is “watching” them or holding them accountable are they more likely to have success?
  • What if they’re trying to “prove” something to a spouse, parent, or friend?
  • Does social proof improve success? i.e., “these people are just like me and they’re doing this work, so why not me?”
  • Are the most successful clients people who have been in coaching programs before, or are they people who are starting on their first program?
  • Are they improving in multiple areas of their lives at once, or are they focused on one specific thing at a time?

I’m sure that there’s far, far more to the story. So I’d like you to help me out.

What Are the Common Traits of Your Successful Clients?

Why do I care so much about what makes a successful coaching client? Part of it is pure curiosity: I’m curious what attracts people to the industry and why, and I’m curious to know who tends to have success. But I’d also like to know who fails to have success.

Finding the right clients and working ONLY with the right clients isn’t just more profitable, it’s more rewarding.

What about you?

Who are your most successful clients? Who are your least successful clients?

In the comments below, please share what you’ve noticed.