I had the privilege of listening to a webinar featuring Julia Stewart, founder of the School of Coaching Mastery recently. Curious about her, I did a Google search and came across this insightful and thought-provoking blog post originally published on The Coaching Commons, a now silenced blog of coaching news and trends.
I hesitated to post this, mainly because I know some high-caliber, high cost coaches and mentors – and I didn’t want them to think this was directed at them. It’s not. But it is a well-written piece that should give anyone pause for thought if they’re considering hiring someone who charges thousands of dollars to help them with their business.
Not everyone who calls him or herself a mentor or coach has the chops to do the job. It’s incumbent upon the buyer to check the person out thoroughly before laying down the credit card or whipping out the cash. It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment during an event that your common sense (and your budget) goes right out the window. And if you decide you’ve chosen unwisely, it can be nearly if not totally impossible to get a refund.
You can read her full post here. I’ve summarized some of her main points and added my own thoughts below.
Hiring a high dollar coach or mentor shouldn’t put you into bankruptcy court – but it has happened. According to Julia, she’s had numerous discussions with people who are facing losing everything because they mistakenly placed their trust into the wrong hands.
It would be easy to say “it’s the economy,” but what she found were coaches/mentors who seemed to care little for their clients well-being. Instead, they continued to push their ideas, products and way of doing business on their clients regardless of whether it was useful to them or not.
Her warning? Don’t think you won’t get sucked into something like this. Per Julia:
Some coaches use sophisticated selling techniques that according to neuroscientists can trigger almost anyone to whip out a credit card and charge literally thousands for something that may offer little or no real value. Add the loss of a job or a sluggish business to your situation and that bit of extra desperation could set you up as a prime target.
Uncertainty about the future.
Poor self esteem.
Any of these and more can have you looking outside yourself for answers – those surefire solutions that will take you from where you are now to a better place, whatever that is for you.
And it’s not fair to say that you don’t have a say in this. You can’t abdicate your responsibility because you fell for a sales pitch. If you didn’t even try to achieve results from what you were being taught, who’s to blame? But if you give it your all and still end up on the losing end – perhaps feeling cheated – then you might have tapped into an unscrupulous coach/mentor who has everything but your best interests at heart.
After interviewing many people for her article, Julia devised 13 Tips to Save You Thousands. I’ve listed the first 5 here with my own thoughts and listed the other 7. You can visit the post here to read her thoughts on those.
- Avoid getting sucked in. Sounds obvious, right? But if you’re at an event, the goal is to whoop it up, get you fired up, get you to believe you can have it all. Just sign on the dotted line and hand over your credit card. If you know you’re susceptible to these types of pitches, leave your credit cards at home. And make a pact with someone else who can hold you accountable to not buy anything without thinking about for 24 hours first.
- Keep your hands down. One popular method in seminars is to get audience participation. The mentor asks a question, you raise your hand. Soon, the entire room is mired in “group think.” When the pitch comes, it’s hard to be the “odd man out” and not buy – especially if others are running to the back in a frenzy. Julia’s suggestion? Keep your hands down and make the coach/mentor prove they can help you before you agree to work with them.
- Do your research. You wouldn’t spend $10,000 on a whim, would you? You wouldn’t buy a big ticket item without first determining it’s the best buy for you, right? Then it’s totally okay to question someone who’s asking you to put down thousands of dollars as to their value. Have them prove their worth to you and how they can help you. Don’t assume they know what they’re doing just because they say they do. Ask around. Search the Internet. Study them. If they seem like a good fit after that – then go right ahead. At least you’ll be going in with your eyes wide open.
- Take a test drive. Would you buy a car without test driving it first? You can determine the value of the coach/mentor by taking a lower cost course or program first. And maybe more than one. You might just find you’ll get all you need from a lower priced option. And, if you find all the material you’ve received is the same you’ll pay way more for in a higher priced program, run, run away fast. They may have nothing else to offer.
- Not all Coaches/Mentors charge high fees. Our culture in the U.S. is trained to think, “higher is better.” It’s not always the case, especially in the unregulated world of coaching. You might find someone who charges a reasonable fee who can provide you what you need. Don’t discount someone just because they don’t charge high prices.
- Beware the Upsell
- Ask, Who’s Empowered Here?
- Don’t Pay to be Someone Else’s Employee
- Ask Yourself if There’s a Cheaper Way to Get What You Want
- If You’ve Worked with More than One Coach and You’re Still Not Reaching Your Goals, Don’t Hire Another One
- Good Luck Getting That Refund
- Bill Collectors Are Not Coaches
- When All Else Fails, Bring in a Third Party
Not all coaches/mentors are bad people. There are many talented, helpful and gifted people who have made it their life’s work to empower others to follow in their footsteps. But if you’re planning on working with someone – even if that person has a great reputation and results galore – do your homework. Don’t jump in to work with them without asking some hard questions first. Like – can I really afford to do this now? What will happen if I don’t make this money back in 6 months (or less)? Am I really ready for this level of coaching/mentoring? Is my business?
What about you? Do you have coaching experiences that you want to share? Add them to the comments section below.