There are plenty of resources that provide endless lists of coaching techniques, though it’s nearly impossible to implement all of them overnight.
In addition, not all techniques are equally impactful.
So instead, I asked veteran coach Todd Herman to outline the most impactful coaching techniques he uses with all of his clients. To give you an idea of Todd’s experience, he has spent over 19,000 hours coaching high performers ranging from Olympic athletes to billionaire entrepreneurs.
Therefore, here are the top five techniques he outlined that have been most effective at improving his clients’ results.
Let’s jump into it.
Technique #1: Use This Pre-Call Questionnaire
It’s common for coaches to get on a call and ask, “what’s on your mind?”
However, this is a poor way to structure your coaching calls for a few reasons. First, the client may not have taken the time to identify their key challenges. So if the client gets on the call not knowing what their key challenge is, it makes it impossible for you as the coach to help them through their biggest challenges, which lowers the value clients receive from you.
In addition, if you can’t identify specific challenges you’ve helped them overcome, there’s little incentive for the client to continue working with you as the perceived value will be very low.
The other key reason it’s critical for your clients to complete a pre-call questionnaire is that it’s very difficult for you as a coach to provide the best tactical advice possible on their challenge with no warning.
While you can probably give the client some advice on the spot, it might not be the best advice you could have given them. Instead, the pre-call questionnaire ensures you have some time to research their questions and provide the best advice possible.
So here are the three questions Todd asks each client:
- What were some of your wins this week?
- What is the goal of this coaching call (issues, challenges, problems, opportunities)?
- What are three options to solve this issue?
Each of these questions serves a unique purpose. First, it’s important to have people spell out specific wins to reinforce that they are making progress. As a coach, your job is to encourage your clients and having them tell you their wins is much more impactful than you telling the client that they are doing great.
To distribute the pre-call questionnaire, he has them fill it out directly inside the upcoach platform (which is the platform he uses for all of his coaching clients). This way, all of the questionnaires are stored directly inside the coaching platform, making it easier to find them (rather than searching through endless email threads).
In addition, when it comes time to renew the coaching contract, Todd can gather all of the wins they achieved during the coaching engagement.
This makes it much easier to improve your renewal rate.
The next two questions are somewhat linked.
First, asking clients to write out their goals for the coaching call ensures that each coaching call solves the most important challenges.
Second, asking clients to give you at least one potential solution helps them not only potentially solve that issue on their own, but it also gives you insight into how the client thinks about the challenge (which is essential if you want to help them solve the problem).
For example, let’s say you have a client that is a solopreneur marketing agency owner. In this case, they might say their biggest problem is that growth has flatlined because they can’t acquire more customers. Then, in the options, they might say that their options include raising prices or spending more money on ads.
As the coach, you can see that they haven’t even thought about hiring people. You can then dig into this pattern and see if this client always tries to solve all problems themself (which opens up a new coaching opportunity).
Technique #2: Ask Leading Questions
Great coaches realize that you first have to understand how the client sees the world and then help them arrive at a solution themself. This is very different from just giving advice.
To accomplish this, ask leading questions.
Todd uses the questions outlined in Bruce Brown’s Proactive Coaching. These questions are broken into various sections, including:
Outcome Based Questions
- What do you want?
- What’s your desired outcome?
- How do you know that you’ve reached it?
Perspective Based Questions
- What would you think about this five years from now?
- How does this relate to your life’s purpose?
Planning Based Questions
- What is your game plan?
- What are you planning to do about it?
Learning Based Questions?
- If your life depended on taking action, what would you do?
- If you had to do it over again, what would you do?
Todd also mentioned that few people realize the power of clarification questions. For example, if the client makes a statement, you might say, “what do you mean by that?”
By asking clarification questions, you’re not just accepting the problem the way the client framed it. In fact, Todd says this is one of the biggest issues coaches struggle with – your job is not to accept the problem the way the client frames it.
This is critical because sometimes, what the client views as a problem is not a problem at all. Instead, it might just be part of the process.
For example, the client may say that they can’t grow because they can’t raise their prices any more than the competition’s prices.
In this one sentence, there are plenty of different beliefs that the client is accepting (likely subconsciously). As a coach, it’s your job to make them aware of those beliefs (and show them that those beliefs might not all be true).
Technique #3: Encourage Clients to Track Habits
Average coaches deliver solid advice to their clients, though the top 1% of coaches ensure their clients take action on the advice given. While some of the advice may be executing one-off tasks (email this person, run this campaign), it’s likely that the biggest transformation will come from small daily habits that they implement.
Therefore, habit tracking is an essential element of any successful coaching strategy.
Habits you can assign can range from posting once per week on LinkedIn to going to the gym four times a week.
To track client habits, Todd uses the upcoach platform as it has a built-in habit tracker. The clients can log into the platform and check off their habits daily, and Todd can easily track their progress from the dashboard.
This way, if a client isn’t getting the results they want, it’s easy to look at their habits and identify exactly where the breakdown occurred. Then, you can tactically work with them to figure out what’s blocking them from executing that habit.
If you want a coaching platform that offers a habit tracker, to-do lists, and other coaching tools inside the dashboard (along with your lesson modules and programs), consider scheduling a demo of upcoach.
Side note: Todd used to combine a project management platform with a course platform and other miscellaneous tools (like Google Drive, Slack channels, etc.). Now, he only needs to use upcoach as it includes all of the functionality of these tools put together.
Technique #4: Create Accountability Groups
If your clients build the right habits and execute high-value activities, it’s highly unlikely that they won’t succeed.
However, just giving your clients a habit tracker probably won’t be enough to ensure they execute those habits. Instead, the key to ensuring your clients continue their habits, even when it’s most difficult, is holding them accountable.
While you as the coach can help hold your clients accountable by reviewing habits in the one-on-one or group coaching calls, it also makes you a bottleneck for growth. Instead, Todd also creates accountability groups that are run by an assistant coach or even a small group of clients.
This way, your clients get even more value from your program, and it doesn’t require any additional time on your part. In addition, when you have calls with your clients, you can focus on higher-level challenges rather than tracking habits.
Todd’s 90 Day Year program includes four calls per week, though Todd himself is only on one of those calls. Here’s how it’s structured:
- Monday: Set the priorities for the week either on the call or by entering the data into their upcoach profile.
- Wednesday: Clients discuss challenges they are facing and get “unstuck.”
- Thursday: This is the only call Todd attends where he helps people with anything they are struggling with.
- Friday: On this call, clients discuss the numbers they hit (the results of the tasks they set out to execute).
Notice that by including these other calls throughout the week, the course itself is much more valuable to clients (as they are more likely to succeed), and Todd can therefore command a higher price for it. However, Todd doesn’t have to invest any more of his time.
While he has accountability coaches, you can also just assign clients into small groups, and they can host calls themselves and go over their habits each week.
If you need a platform to organize your accountability groups, you can use the upcoach platform. It enables you to put students into smaller groups, and then the calls can be scheduled inside the platform. They can also hold asynchronous discussions in the accountability group discussion boards.
If you want an all-in-one coaching platform that enables you to create accountability groups, consider scheduling a demo of upcoach.
Technique #5: Create a Resources Library
If you don’t have a resource library, you’re probably wasting your clients’ time explaining how to do certain processes or use certain tools on valuable coaching calls.
So if you ever have to explain something twice, create a video or tutorial to complete it. This way, when you’re on a call with a client and tell them to do something, you don’t have to waste time explaining how to do it. Instead, you might just say, “I’d like you to do Activity X. You can see a guide that walks you through how to complete it in Lesson 4 of Module 2.”
For example, one concern that frequently arose in Todd’s 90 Day Year program was that clients said they had a lot of projects that were just getting out of hand (or not getting done). Therefore, instead of coaching each client through it individually, he created a Project Mapping Call Template.
This template outlines the call’s agenda, including:
- Why we’re doing this project
- Project deadlines
- When we’re meeting next
- Key actions that need to happen
By building out your resources, you’ll be able to deliver a better client experience because they will be able to consume the information asynchronously, and you won’t be wasting their time explaining processes on valuable coaching calls.
In addition, you’ll be able to scale your coaching company faster as anyone who comes into your company can easily pick up the processes without requiring one-on-one training.
While there are plenty of different coaching techniques that you could use, these are the top five coaching techniques that Todd credits most of his client results to.
So if you’re drowning in hundreds of different techniques, focus on just these five.
If you need a platform that supports these five techniques, consider using upcoach. It makes it easy:
- For clients to submit their pre-call questionnaire (and you don’t have to dig through emails)
- To take notes from coaching sessions
- To track client habits
- To form accountability groups
- To store resources (from lesson modules to coaching call notes)