Congratulations – you’ve taken the dive into online training. Your journey toward building your business and creating a new revenue stream has begun! However, before you celebrate too much, you should consider mapping out EXACTLY how you want to run your online business. Oftentimes, trainers and coaches start their online business with a lack of direction, resulting in incongruencies with their brand, business model, and services they offer.
How do trainers and coaches narrow their focus, align their business with their vision, and build a brand that represents them? My advice: Start with your FIRST client.
Focusing on your first client shifts your mindset from big-picture to a single client experience. Fitness professionals often get lost in the idea that we want to help everybody – but we need to focus on helping one person really well and then scaling that experience. This mindset is how we have helped numerous trainers and coaches create sustainable programs that work. We encourage you to adopt the following thinking.
Where do I find my first client?
Don’t overthink this. Your first client means one – one singular person. This could be as simple as calling up a friend or family member who you believe would subscribe to your service. You don’t have to find someone that you know, but I would encourage you seek someone who is willing to look past any growing pains you might experience as you navigate the obstacles of online training.
My first online client was a random follower I had from instagram. I had never met him and we did not even live in the same country. I explained my services very thoroughly and we agreed on a price. One virtual handshake later and the first deal was done! This was a great experience for me as I was able to learn from my first client and it helped shape my prospecting techniques. Chances are, where your first client comes from, there could be an opportunity for many more.
Vulnerable Coaches Win
Online coaching is very different from in-person coaching. When you are training someone virtually, you cannot read their body language or have instantaneous feedback. However, through virtual training, you have the opportunity to create fantastic, massively-scalable content. In order to do so, you must be somewhat vulnerable with your coaching.
By ‘vulnerable,’ I mean you must be willing to put yourself out there on a daily basis and create content that not only shows your exercise acumen, but also displays your personality as a coach. Ultimately, many health/fitness coaches have similar outcome goals. The separator between you and another coach with similar programming will be your personality.
Being vulnerable as a coach means confidently creating good content that reflects both your professionalism and your individuality. The best online coaches are known for delivering top-notch services that are engaging for the mind, body, and spirit. If you create the greatest wellness program on earth, but nobody gets to know you as the coach, what type of legacy do you leave? I encourage you to speak to your clients through video, chat, and regular reminders. This drives usage of your programs and improves program adherence. Ultimately, we want your first client to be around for a long time.
Ask your first client for feedback.
Good feedback is worth its weight in gold. Many times, if one of your clients if thinking it, more of your clients have the same thought. While I believe you should be cautious about catering to every suggestion your clients have, you should also consider and prioritize changes to your business that would be helpful.
Your clients are your own personal business barometer: They will ask for new programs, different services, and convey what prices they think are fair. Your first client may be an excellent source for feedback if you ask them for their honest opinion. DISCLAIMER: Be prepared to hear constructive criticism. Do not ask them for their opinion and then defend every point they make. Conduct yourself as a professional business person: listen to your client intently, take detailed notes on what feedback they provide, and then thank them for contributing their thoughts. My first client provided feedback that changed the entire scope of my training practices and pricing structure. I am eternally grateful that I asked, listened, and acted accordingly.
Lean on your first client for a referral.
Once your first client has been with you for a reasonable amount of time (and you have proven yourself as their coach), you should absolutely ask them for a referral. Oftentimes, coaches feel that asking for referrals is beneath them. This mindset needs to be changed. When you ask a client for a referral, you are simply leaning on them to leverage their unique network of people in hopes that you can help someone that they care about through your training/coaching services.
I once read that, when surveyed, a staggering number (85-90%) of clients are willing to refer a friend or loved one to their trainer/coach. Then why are coaches so hesitant to ask for this kind of favor? Your clients want you to be successful – they probably even like you! You don’t have to be pushy, but here is a simple way to ask for a client referral: “Hello __First Client__! I am so grateful for your business and I appreciate the relationship we have built. As I grow my training outreach, I continue to rely on clients like yourself for referrals and new members. Is there anyone that you know who would benefit from the same services that you’ve subscribed to? If so, please let me know as I would like to help them.”
A message as simple as this could double your business. Earn your first client’s trust, be loyal to them as they are to you, and you should feel confident in asking them to help you build your business. You would be surprised how your first client (and subsequent clients) want to help you win.
What about my next 10 clients?
Where do I go from here? The answer: Keep treating each client as though they are your first client. If you develop a raving fan base of clients who are loyal patrons, you are well on your way to a successful online training business. Never fall out-of-tune with your singular client experience. Continue to learn, grow, and adapt with your clientele. If you treat your next 10 clients as well as you treat your first, you will make sure they have a great experience.