when i first started coaching over 12 years ago, i faced a paradox that so many coaches and healers – or really anyone with a service, skill or product to offer – face: being a great coach and healer is only part of the deal; i also need to find people to pay me to get coached and be healed.
this is also called "sales and marketing," 😉 an arena in which i have felt, particularly in my early years, perpetually in the slow lane and honestly, quite wary of. (although these days i can’t throw a mouse without (gently) hitting one of my friends who is somewhere between genius and savant in the field.)
for me, it was truly depressing to realize that being an excellent coach doesn’t automatically mean you’re set with folks lining up at your door who want to pay you to coach them. marketing and sales more important than my craft? considering that was almost enough for me to throw in the towel.
i was resistant at first because i didn’t want to stretch to learn something new.
after i got over that hurdle, i had to stare down the popular belief that taking money for healing isn’t spiritual and generally means you are a bad person.
after i healed that uncomfortable soul contusion, i uncovered another zinger, which is more like my friend Lisa Fabrega puts it: “that marketing is slimy, smarmy and manipulative. many entrepreneurs try to avoid it. we say, ‘it feels inauthentic. i don't think it's fair to manipulate someone into giving me their money.’”
i had to look at this new dragon in the face and ask, “is it inherently true that when there’s money changing hands, there’s manipulation present?”
i think the main cultural reference point that defines what we think about sales and marketing (at least, it’s true for me) comes from era of charlatans and snake oil salesmen, and then rapscallions of early advertising, figuring out how to push people's buttons to get us to buy something that we don't need – or is even harmful – but is touted as something without which we’d be in danger or is “all the rage” and vital to our keeping up with the Joneses.
(amazing hair tonic! night fears begone!)
in our individual and cultural DNA, we're wary of being conned. we equate advertising – or selling something – with being sold a bill of goods, our weak spots preyed upon for someone else’s nefarious gain; getting tricked out of our hard-earned money and left a fool.
under this ethos, as a coach, i worry if i charge for my services, or charge too much, i'm conning some poor sucker out of his money.
and as someone looking for coaching, i worry that parting with my money makes me a fool.
it's only fairly recently (at least to my eye) that there's been a shift in the prevailing winds, in which marketing could be reframed as means to authentically offer a service to a group of folks who are hoping and praying for exactly what you are providing; that sales could be re-understood to be a blessed rubber band that connects you to exactly the right-fitting people; that spending money could be re-considered to be investing in yourself, with returns that come less via monetary interest, but via YOU, as a happier, healthier person, having the extraordinary experiences you want most. following this possibility, “investing” – aka spending your hard-earned cash – can be a win both for the person spending the money and the person receiving it: both get confirmation that they are WORTH INVESTING IN. often, the larger the investment, the bigger the breakthrough and the longer the lesson lasts.
we are – at least, for sure i am – catching up to the idea that getting invested in and investing in ourselves can be a sacred, squeaky-clean honest set of actions that creates nothing but win-wins; that both the spender and earner can feel like they got the best deal.
my friend Stacey (who’s the creator of Holistic MBA, a program that trains coaches and healers in marketing and sales through methods that don’t include selling your soul to the devil), told me, "i see selling as offering a resource that someone who didn't know about before. when you present the resource the other person has a choice to take it or leave it.”
so as the cultural tide turns, we then have to turn our scrutiny inward and ask ourselves (to paraphrase Stacey again, who’s one of those business/marketing/sales savant friends that surround me), “when i'm selling something, am i truly conning someone into buying something they don’t want or need and that may harm then? is the thing i'm offering actually of value, useful and worthwhile? could it change their life? is my motivation to be of service?”
in the quiet truth of my heart, i asked and asked … and came to the place of knowing from tip to toe that my offering is in fact of tremendous value.
i can say without doubt that whomever i work with, their life will change dramatically for the better, for good.
so, then, if we are a fit – if what i'm offering is what they truly want – i'm actually doing them a disservice by NOT offering them my shizzle and presenting it in the most appealing, clear way possible. in fact, i have an ethical responsibility TO offer it. and in fact, i have an ethical responsibility to offer it at a price point that allows me to walk my talk, live what i'm teaching, thrive and not burn out; and that has the buyer stretch into a new level of believing they are worth investing in.
“otherwise,” Stacey reminds, “you ain't gonna have a business because no one is going to understand your message.”
so, how do you know if the coach/healer/service/product you’re considering investing in is pure of heart, clean of hand and not a flim-flam con-artist?
here are 8 hopefully helpful questions to activate your own Knowing and clarify your conviction to leap into their arms:
1. does their offering have you start to see things for yourself that you’d not considered possible before?
2. does their process for taking you from where you are to where you want to go, seem “workable” to you? (you know, “6-pack abs in just 6 seconds” likely ain’t “workable”)
3. do you feel like they “get” YOU and see YOU?
4. do you feel more expansive and more confident in yourself as you consider their shiz?
5. will this investment put you or anyone you care about in major harm? (most $$ investments i’ve made that were worth it felt a little – or a lot – painful, but didn’t stretch me or my fam into financial damage).
6. do they walk their talk? are they a shining example of what they are teaching? and, in their BEing, do they inspire you to step up into your own version of what they are offering? (or, do they seem so perfect and untouchable that you feel you’re a lowly nobody, if only you’d be lucky enough to touch the hem of their garment?)
7. and then, mind aside, does your BODY feel like you should invest with them?
i’ve made some bad “investments” on my path, to be sure. (my dear friend Elishia calls it “life tuition.” it’s true, some breakthroughs are more expensive than others and some lessons last longer than others) but after each one (after i lick my wounds), i ask myself, “what worked about that? what would i do again next time and what would i do differently?”
and then next time i'm keener in my hearing of my YES and my NO and more congruent with what’s a great use my of money. so the 8th question to ask yourself is,
8. how you can hone your intuition and sharpen your inner Knowing through the scrutiny that’s only possible with hindsight?
and in case you ever waver, you are more than worth investing in, friend. always.