The “Catfish Coach” Mistake

Last week I shared 7 ways to trigger “esteem” from potential clients BEFORE they talk to you.

Those “first impressions” can make a difference in your coaching enrollments.

But first impressions aren’t enough.

Have you ever made a great “first impression” with a potential client…

…only to lose them during the discovery session?

Perhaps you waited anxiously for your client to call.

Finally, they call.

The source of your anxiety.

Will they approve…?

You deliver great coaching.

It’s time to ENROLL them.

You think to yourself “It’s now or never…”

You use the lines that you practiced.

It seems to be going well so far.

But then they ask you a question you weren’t expecting

…and somehow you drop the ball.

Maybe you weren’t strong enough…

…or confident enough.

…or you fumble your words.

…or take too long to respond.

…or laugh at the wrong thing.

Ultimately, they smile, and politely end the conversation with “I’ll get back with you.” and you think to yourself…

…”Yeah right.”

And sure enough, you don’t hear from them.

You replay the session in your mind…

…and think of all the things you should have said (or NOT said).

But it’s too late now.

Somehow you lost whatever “esteem” the prospective client originally had for you.

There’s a term called ‘catfishing’ usually related to online dating…

Catfishing definition

…where an internet relationship goes bad

…due to one party faking their life, picture, job, etc., online.

They made a movie about it in 2010.

And an almost decade running TV show.

You can imagine the disappointment when you’ve been ‘catfished’.

THAT’S the same kind of disappointment your client feels

…when their first impression

doesn’t match up with their COACHING EXPERIENCE.

You don’t want to leave your client feeling “CATFISHED”.

No matter how much you initially appear to be the “guru”…

…prospective clients know appearances are deceiving.

You can have the most attractive website ever…

You can have the coolest online persona

You might have awesome content (books, videos, podcasts)…

Mask w coach

But prospective clients are STILL going to test to see if THE REAL YOU matches up with that first impression.

If you appear to be held in high esteem at first

…but don’t show it while running an actual coaching session with your client…

…they will question if you’re REALLY a leader.

…and probably won’t hire you.

Your client will ask themselves:

“Who is the leader here? Me or the Coach?”

So, what’s the solution?

Coach your potential clients so they continue to hold you in high esteem.

Here are 4 ways to trigger potential clients to hold you in high esteem while actually coaching them (no ‘catfishing’ necessary):



Boldly initiate contact with potential clients.

Don’t wait for permission from others.

We like to follow BOLD people.

When meeting with a potential client, if you…

  • back down easily
  • compromise on what we are asking for or
  • backtrack on our opinions…

…you will quickly be viewed as a coach who shouldn’t be held in high esteem.

Don’t let clients see you “sweat”

Keep calm when you’re coaching.

Keep calm when you’re coaching.”

So many coaches with great potential…

crumble or choke in the middle of coaching sessions.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

The first way to maintain your confidence and composure?


It’s hard to keep calm if you’re unprepared.

Clients can tell when you’ve prepared (and when you haven’t).

How can you prepare for coaching?

  • Meditate.
  • Review your notes.
  • Journal.
  • Prayer
  • Research the subject to be discussed.
  • Affirmations
  • Refresh yourself on coaching methods.

Preparation allows you to get the most out of your abilities.

If you’re prepared in advance for discovery sessions…

…you’ll more likely get hired.

Pick what works for you, but have a preparation routine and stick to it.


A little bit of silence goes a LONG way.

If you feel that you’re losing your composure, take a deep breath and be silent.

Silence shows you’re unflappable despite any difficulty.

When in doubt, be silent…

Silence shows you’re unflappable despite any difficulty.

When in doubt, be silent…

…and think twice about what you will say next.


93% of ALL communication is non-verbal (and most of that is BODY LANGUAGE… or, at least DRIVEN by your body language).

  • Stand up straight.
  • Keep your chin up.
  • Have a confident look on your face.
  • Stay focused.

Powerful body language will improve your tone and quality of coaching

…since it deeply impacts your mindset.

Powerful body language will improve your tone and quality of coaching…since it deeply impacts your mindset.”

Make eye contact, but don’t “stare down” your client.

Whenever you make eye contact, whoever looks away LAST is taking on the leadership role in that relationship.

If you want to lead your client, make eye contact and maintain it.

Speak in Ways That Build Esteem:

Use your prospective client’s name when you talk to them.

Clients LOVE the sound of their own name.

It makes them feel close to you, and important.

Use their name, but do so as a natural part of conversation. Don’t use their name every sentence, or it will sound robotic to them.

Speak ‘Positive’

If positivity is not coming across as your ‘default mode’, prospective clients will eventually think.

“Why would I hire that coach? They seem no better off than I am

Keeping the conversation ‘positive’ gives your client confidence that everything is going to be ok.

By the way, You CAN get negative when appropriate (but make it temporary).

Negativity shouldn’t be your default state of mind.

Get to the point:

“Small talk” is ok in small doses, but don’t waste your potential client’s time by going off on tangents.

Keep bringing the conversation back to the subject you agreed to meet about:

  • The client’s result
  • The client’s problem
  • The client’s situation
  • The client’s life

When you stay on topic, potential clients will respect you and value your time more.

Don’t “Sell Coaching”

Don’t “Sell Coaching”… Discover PROBLEMS and Provide SOLUTIONS.

Don’t “Sell Coaching”… Offer VALUE for free and enroll clients to get even MORE.

Don’t “Sell Coaching”… Listen, Clarify, and Lead.

Don’t “Sell Coaching”… Give empathy and partner with your client.

I’m not saying “Don’t enroll your client in coaching”.

But BEFORE you enroll a client, find out if you can even help them FIRST!

Only talk about why your client “should” hire you…

…AFTER you’re SURE you can help them.

Anything else makes you look like just another ‘salesperson’.

A coach is more like a DOCTOR.

Doctors don’t ‘sell’ treatments…

Doctors DIAGNOSE first…

…then they PRESCRIBE the right treatment.

When you learn about your potential client (instead of selling)…

…you show confidence.

…you show you care.

…and you gain the client’s esteem.

You don’t need to sell coaching… EVER.

Don’t speak too much or too fast.

Talking too much or too fast is a sign of anxiety and ‘people pleasing’ tendencies.

Speak slowly, and don’t talk more than necessary.

Keep your focus on asking questions, and LISTENING to your client’s answers.

Keep your focus on asking questions, and LISTENING to your client’s answers.”

Fall in love with your client’s answers (rather than the sound of your own voice).

Don’t talk about yourself.

There is almost no upside to talking to clients about yourself or your life.

Most clients, at best, aren’t interested in you

…and, at worst, will think you’re trying to make the conversation about you.

The purpose of the coaching session is to focus on the CLIENTnot you.

Don’t talk like you’re INFERIOR.

Some coaches display inferiority through their speaking

…as if they’re putting their own low self esteem on display.

Examples of this?

  • Saying “I’m sorry” about every little thing.
  • ‘putting yourself down’ or ‘confessing’ negatives about yourself.
  • Saying “I’m new” or “I don’t have any clients”

There’s usually no need to put your insecurities on display as the coach.

Doing so demonstrates low self-esteem.

Why would your client hold you in high-esteem if don’t think highly of yourself?

That’s like forfeiting the match before you even play.

Play to win…

…and let potential coaching clients decide for themselves about you.

(NOTE: If you want to learn how to start your own coaching business, then check out this webinar, called “How to Start Your Coaching Business in 30 Days  During the webinar, I’ll cover how to get your first paid clients fast and make it feel natural for you. Click HERE now to attend the webinar.)

Set and Keep Your Boundaries

Clients will immediately discover and test your boundaries.

Maintaining your boundaries shows you’re selective about who you take on as a client…

…not to mention, that you have a SPINE.

If a potential client tries to seduce you into violating a boundary, call their bluff.

If they continue to push that boundary, walk away.

One of the best ways to show that you’re a highly valuable coach…

…is being willing to walk away and MEAN it.

For example: Barbara (a coach I’m working with) had a prospective client who wanted to schedule a discovery session right in the middle of her day off.

Barbara told me “I’m not sure what to do because I’m so new… and really use the client.”

So I asked her What are you teaching your client if you violate your own boundary?”

Barbara said, “I’d be teaching my client that my boundaries don’t matter.

“I’d probably end up scheduling client meetings into my family time on a regular basis.”

I coached her “Then you better maintain your boundary.”

So ‘Boundary Barbara’ took my coaching…

…and scheduled the client just fine.

And, in the process, maintained her own self-esteem

…opening the door to gaining even MORE esteem from her new client.

So don’t be afraid to stand by your boundaries.

You’ll find that clients can adapt to your boundaries the vast majority of the time.

Do these four ‘esteem triggers’ sound like a lot of work?

They ARE.

And don’t forget, you probably needed to do a lot BEFORE you even started talking to your clients (as I mentioned in the last email on triggering esteem prior to meeting with a client).

But a coaching relationship is MORE than just a friendship.

You change lives.

You get PAID to coach.

You don’t just ‘hang out’ with your clients.

So gear up for coaching.

It’s WAY more impactful than most friendships.

It’ll take motivation, belief, and sacrifice

Your coaching business will be the BEST personal development course you’ll ever take.

You’ll need to follow your own coaching.

You’ll need to elevate your own accomplishments.

And, only then, will you powerfully coach clients in a way that gains tremendous esteem.

YOU lead your clients.

They keep up with you

You don’t stop for them.

HOW do you stay ahead of your clients?

That’s exactly what I’ll cover next time.

Kris “No Catfish” Thompson

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