How Not To Sell A Coaching Program

Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands.

I am having a dilemma. Or I had a dilemma but not anymore. But there is still a residue that comes and goes and makes me uncomfortable, curious, frustrated, angry and relieved.

Last Tuesday I was about to spend an enormous amount of money on a coaching program that promises Visionary Business Owners That Have Dreams Of Making A Difference to break through the obstacles that limit them reaching a bigger audience, finding the right clients and create the cash flow that gives space to breathe or – in their words – is in alignment with their purpose (a 6 figure income is suggested). I heard great things about the program from trustworthy people who had a first hand experience. The problem was that with every call I had with the male coach I was feeling annoyed, manipulated and pushed.

It started with an introduction via email by one of their former clients who is raving about them and the gratitude and excitement she feels after breaking through her ‘money ceiling’. After doing the work with them she now makes much, much more money consistently. (This is how we say that in Europe, in the US you would say she is now consistently making 10K+ per month). After the introduction I was offered a ‘Complimentary Strategy Session’. Before the session I had to fill in a ‘Blueprint Assessment Form’.

When the session started strange things happened. The coach started with summing up his successes in business and told me how much money his partner had made in her first year of running some company. In my eyes a person loses his authority when he feels the need to brag about his achievements in the past but I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. Later he asked me a couple of good questions, forcing me to define my goals, mission and path. The fact that I find it hard to give clear answers makes it clear that I am not clear on those things. That is good learning. But then he drew conclusions and made assumptions that were not mine. And I noticed that the exact words that I used earlier in the interview were now used against me. Not only is it annoying, it also gives me the feeling that somebody is using a script. That means I am not really talking to a person but to a script, which is quite boring. I started to fold my laundry.

At the end of the session –I was still not clear what the program was about- I heard something interesting. Part of the program was developing a ‘Signature Talk’, a talk that would make clear who you are and what you have to offer in a way that it would speak to people. This was kind of interesting because I want to learn to become a better public speaker plus I have proven to be not great at selling myself. This sounded like killing 2 birds with 1 stone. I didn’t understand though why it should have taken more than an hour before something interesting came along. I wanted to leave, people were waiting for me. Also the coach had made very clear the complimentary session would take 60 minutes max. But that changed as soon as I showed interest. Now he didn’t want me to hang up because it was too important. I wanted to go and we made a new appointment.

I felt pissed off for having my time disrespected. And in some way I felt violated too: somebody who is using strategy against me to persuade me to do something (aha now I understand why it is called a Strategy Session). But I still have the raving testimonial in the back of my head too. I also wonder if this is what the program teaches: how coaches can aggressively sell their programs by getting lots of information out of potential clients and then turning it around, telling them they will be stuck forever with their obstacle unless they hire the right help. Do I want that? Is this a sacrifice I want to make for more financial freedom? Am I stupid or blind for not wanting that?

I had another talk. If you smell like ready to buy you can have a second Complimentary Strategy Session, you see. Now I was presented the deal and if I had decided on the spot the 15k program that was offered to me for 12k would be available for only 9k. I was impressed with the power of persuasion. 9k seemed reasonable all of a sudden. But I bought myself some time. To me it is still an awful lot of money.

During the weekend I spoke with their former clients. Their testimonials were beautiful and felt very sincere. They spoke fondly of their coaches and recommended me to take the step. It had truly transformed their lives. I decided to take the jump. I was shit scared but hey, I walked the streets of Baghdad as the first unarmed and unaccompanied white guy. I should be able to deal with this shit. What helped was that I also met with a former participant of one of my meditation courses who confessed that he likes me now but thought of me as a dickhead the first time we met. If I can make a terrible first impression I should be able to forgive that in another too.

To cut a long story a bit shorter: at the very second I wanted to take a moment to breathe to say ‘yes’ to the program the coach did an intervention that pissed me off completely. I was furious. Still I was not ready to give up. Actually I was ready to throw the money in his face and spit on him. Not so subtle. And then I am not mentioning the thoughts that crossed my mind to jump on a plane and settle this thing mano a mano. I send an email that I would pay the down payment when I had cooled off (I was not ready to break my word). Next morning I heard that they ‘didn’t feel the intimacy’ and decided not to work with me. I am quite sure that they would have no problem feeling the intimacy if I had paid by credit card immediately as requested instead of accidently causing a delay by requesting a PayPal transfer.

I am left with so many questions. Did I make the right decision? Did I make the wrong decision? Would it have worked out if I enrolled into the program or would it have been a miserable journey? There is a famous strength coach that is a judgmental jerk but he is a genius in his field and his workshops are mind-blowing: truly worth attending. I have no doubt that this couple truly facilitates great results too. How much blind spots of a coach should I tolerate and forgive to get what I want to learn? How would my life look like if I had surrendered? Would it have been life-changing? Why is my response to pushiness and persuasion so strong? If somebody is such an amazing coach and salesman how come he can misinterpret me and rub me the wrong way so often in such a short amount of time?

The fact is that the ship has sailed. Although I feel regret I also feel that this is right. I would have liked to find my missing piece of the puzzle but I guess I have to figure it out myself. I decided that I will just do that. That makes me feel relieved.


  1. says

    I always go by my instincts. Regardless of the value of what’s on offer.

    Yes, I will not participate in something if the leader rubs me up the wrong way, or if their ego is such that it is off putting.

    I think you did the right thing.

  2. Pausha says

    I have met with those types of situations quite a bit – people who have seemingly great things to say and teach, using all the manipulative, arm-twisting tricks to get your money. I met some of those people, I worked for some of them.

    Their tricks do not invalidate what they have to say … per se, but then every single time, with every single one of them, what they had to say could be heard, read, found in a thousand other places. It was never particularly original or unique.

  3. says

    I agree with Tony. Even though you may have been able to get something out of it had you attended the course, in my experience, the universe has a way of guiding and prodding with situations like this. Definitely follow your instincts — you know more than you think you do and your gut is sometimes that voice.

    I was setup an appointment at a modeling school when I was 16. While I had heard good things about it, things started going wrong on the day of. My shoe broke, we got lost, and something about the pitch made me feel funny. Could I have gotten something out of it and had a dramatic life course change? Probably. But when I stepped out into the parking lot afterward I knew immediately: “Nope. This isn’t right. I’m not supposed to be here.”

    At the very least, the course isn’t going anywhere. Maybe it was just the wrong time for you.

  4. Gaston says

    Great blog. Really liked it and appreciated immensely your openess about all of this. I recognize parts of this in one of my own experiences. What helped for me: Just have a good sitting meditation, smile and know that you are already that what you want to become.
    In my perception, in this whole story there is no right or wrong choice. It just is. Go into your Observer and smile at that experience. For myself, I was amazed how my personality got caught up in all kinds of things. The only thing I could do was laugh about it. And genuinely care for the wellbeing of all those people involved including the coach. Full equanimity and sympathetic joy and metta. Wish them all the beautiful things through all the tools and methods you know already.
    You have so much insight already. First put that really into practice before needing to ‘accumulate’ more.
    And look at the amazing flower or a sunrise. Oh yes, that’s the real paradise. And it’s for free. hmmm. I forget all the time. Thanks for reminding me through this blog.

  5. says

    Hi Atalwin.. Long time no see. Hope you are doing well.

    As a professional coach and trainer of coaches, I would say that you are well out of that program. No credible coach would feel the need to sell in that way.

    Keep away from that. Coaches should provide support and challenge but never over-advocate until several hours of coaching have occurred. Rapport and mutual trust are totally key to successful outcomes and, well, it seems that wasn’t present.



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