The “Hard to Get” Coach

Many coaches over-coach.

It’s understandable. Coaches LOVE Coaching.

But OVER-coaching loses you clients.

What if, instead, you WITHHELD Coaching?

It’s counterintuitive, but withholding coaching…


Can you imagine getting more clients (And getting paid more per client)…

because you REFUSED to Coach?

It might sound crazy…

…like I’m asking you to pull a ‘soup nazi’ on your coaching clients.

Chief no coaching

But withholding coaching is critical if you want a successful practice.

In fact, “withholding” works in many other industries:

  • Realtors withhold an entire market from home buyers and sellers, so they’re forced to pay exorbitant commissions.
  • Exclusive clubs withhold memberships, and yet charge far higher membership fees.
  • Ivy League universities cost 10 times more than all the rest… because they withhold enrollment from almost all the applicants.

You can’t even get a McDonald’s burger before you pass through the pay window in the drive through.

Whether it’s withholding education, withholding membership, or withholding hamburgers…

EVERY product or service is WITHHELD from those that don’t pay the fee.

And the MOST EXPENSIVE and CHERISHED offerings are withheld, even from WILLING purchasers.

There’s no denying the upside of withholding the very service you offer the world.

The point?

The harder your coaching is to ‘get’, the more valuable it becomes.

The easier your coaching is to ‘get’, the less people want it (and the less they’ll pay).

If you’re pushing coaching on people who don’t want it

…they’re never gonna pay for it.

…and scarce resources are highly valued.

The harder your coaching is to ‘get’, the more valuable it becomes.

Abundant resources aren’t valued…

Bottom line…

Giving clients coaching they don’t want – is a recipe for losing clients…

…and low low fees.

“But what about people that want Coaching, Jeff?

You’re not saying that I should withhold Coaching from THEM, are you??”


Even if a client WANTS your coaching…

…if you give them more coaching than they want

…then they won’t want coaching from you.

withhold coaching

Withholding Coaching from clients that actually want coaching…

…will increase your enrollments and your bottom line.

By the way…

When you think a client ‘wants coaching’ – they usually DON’T.

They might want HELP…

They might want CHANGE…

They might want to solve their PROBLEM, or achieve their GOAL…

…but that doesn’t mean they want coaching.

Coaches see these common desires…

…and mistakenly translate them into ‘that person must want coaching’.


These people NEED coaching.

They don’t WANT coaching.

These people might be OPEN to coaching…

…but they don’t necessarily have a BURNING DESIRE to GET coaching.

And just because somebody allows you to coach them doesn’t mean they want coaching.

BOTTOM LINE: The people you think ‘want’ coaching… usually don’t.

And even people that truly DO WANT COACHING aren’t a ‘sure thing’.

Their desire is nuanced.

Their desire is variable.

Their desire for coaching comes and goes. Like a fickle lover.

Coach these ‘motivated’ clients too much

…and eventually they get TIRED of your coaching.

That turns into a ‘cheap client’ at best, or worse… they’ll quit.

But what if you withheld coaching before they enrolled?

Then, since clients always want MORE of what they CAN’T QUITE HAVE

…they’ll be hungry to enroll.

…which makes their enrollment more likely.

…which means they’ll pay a higher coaching fee.

Make sense?

“OK, Jeff, that’s great for NEW CLIENTS…

…but what about all those clients I’m already coaching?”

“I shouldn’t withhold coaching from them, should I?”

YES, you should withhold coaching from paying clients as well.



Give them the coaching they paid for…

…and don’t give them ANY MORE coaching beyond that. Withhold any EXTRA coaching.

Give them the coaching they paid for…and don’t give them ANY MORE coaching beyond that. Withhold any EXTRA coaching.”

I love to coach.

I tend to over-coach.

I can’t help it sometimes.

I’m passionate about it.

I have clients that love me and love my Coaching…

…but when I give them an extra half hour of coaching…?

They start to sound a little winded.

They start to sound exasperated.

They start to sound inundated.

And that’s when I know…

…I gave them more Coaching than I should have.


I gave them Coaching they didn’t want.

As a result…

…their willingness to stay in coaching?

…their willingness to pay high fees?

…starts to wane.

If I was to continue coaching them ‘too much’…

…I’d lose them as a client entirely.

Withhold Coaching that lasts longer than what’s promised.

That will help your client to maintain a healthy desire for your coaching

…unless, of course, their program already gives them TOO MUCH Coaching.

In that case, your client probably undervalues your coaching.

Chart of withhold vs limit coaching

So what do you do?

You may need to DOWNGRADE that client’s program to better fit their ‘coaching tolerance’.

I do this all the time.

I’ll start my clients out with 2 solid hours of coaching per month (or even more than that)…

…but, after 4 to 6 months, I’ve DOWNGRADED them to just 1 hour per month of coaching (or less).

Some of my clients don’t even get coaching every month!

They might only have a session every two or three months.


It’s the right fit for them.

It helps them to maintain a healthy desire for sessions with me.

Sound like I’m short-changing my client?

Sound offensive to the ideal of ‘consistent coaching’?

Think my client is ‘missing out’?

Maybe you’re right.

But they STAY in coaching.

They still VALUE my coaching.

I avoid looking desperate or needy.

And I’m still charging them my premium fees as a result.

Here are a few other situations where you should consider withholding Coaching:

Withhold Coaching when clients don’t pay you.

If your client doesn’t pay your coaching fee as agreed…

…withhold their coaching.

This might sound obvious, but many coaches proceed to coach their clients FOR MONTHS without their clients paying the promised fee.

You’re not helping your clients when you do this…

Instead, you’re enabling them to violate their own agreements and integrity.

Even if your coaching is EPIC…

…it won’t matter.

Sound harsh?

I’m not saying ‘DENY’ your client coaching.

Just WITHHOLD coaching temporarily.

Tell your client that you’re available to continue coaching sessions with them…

…as soon as they pay as they agreed… but not before that!

You could put your client’s coaching ‘on hold’ for a month or two if they’re in financial difficulty…

…but don’t just float them for free coaching.

Can you imagine filling your cart with groceries…

…but telling the store manager that you’ll ‘pay next month’?

Do you think they’ll just let you take all the groceries on faith?

Your coaching is more valuable than a cart of groceries.

Coaching in the hope that the client ‘pays you someday’…

…is just giving away free coaching.

You’ll not likely get paid for that… EVER.


As soon as your client senses that you ‘need’ to continue coaching them…

…even after they stopped paying you…

…they will unconsciously LOOK DOWN ON YOU

…and maybe even feel a bit icky about continuing to work with you.

(Like that girlfriend or boyfriend in high school that liked you a ‘little too much’)

Happy Girl

Creepy, right?

Don’t be creepy.

Stop coaching clients who break their payment agreements.

Stop coaching clients who break their payment agreements.”

Withhold Coaching when your client doesn’t DESERVE certain types of coaching.

Consider withholding Coaching from a client who hasn’t followed through.

I don’t mean that you should withhold ALL their coaching…

…but withhold coaching in THAT AREA until your client follows through on what you already discussed.

In fact, when your client fails to follow through on their commitments…

…you should provide accountability coaching to help them break through whatever stops them.

But if you just told your client to make five phone calls…

In fact, when your client fails to follow through on their commitments…

…you should provide accountability coaching to help them break through whatever stops them.

But if you just told your client to make five phone calls…don’t coach them through the next step until AFTER they make those phone calls.”

This is especially effective in group coaching…

…when some clients are following through and some aren’t.

Coach those that ARE following through.

For the rest, tell them that you won’t beg them to take action.

Tell them you won’t coach them to get off their butts and do the work.

You could say, “Your ‘ticket’ to getting coaching from me…

…is that you take action on the coaching I already gave you.”

“I’m not going to continue coaching you on things you’re obviously not committed to.”

Withhold Coaching if your client stops respecting you (or the Coaching relationship).

Some clients are flimsy about respecting the Coaching relationship.

If that respect disappears, withhold coaching.

There are many ways clients demonstrate a loss of respect for the coaching relationship:

  • Canceling or no-showing sessions repeatedly
  • Giving you tasks to do for them
  • Ignoring the coaching or ghosting your messages

Some clients will even get angry at you when their life isn’t working…

…blaming you for their problems.

So watch for clients disrespecting you, or disrespecting the Coaching relationship.

How do you know?


You can sense when a client is no longer giving Coaching the attention, respect, and integrity that’s required.”

When your client operates that way, they don’t deserve your coaching.

A powerful coaching relationship is one where the coach:

  • determines the client’s eligibility for coaching on an ongoing basis.
  • maintains high standards for the coaching relationship.
  • maintains high standards for the client (in relationship to the Coaching).

I HATE HATE HATE to say this, but…

Coaching isn’t for everybody.

The ‘average Joe’ may not be ready, willing, or able to get value from Coaching.

If that ‘average Joe’ becomes YOUR CLIENT…

…and they display that ‘averageness’ in how they relate to you as their coach…?

THAT is a recipe for failure on their part.

AND it’s a recipe for low fees, and losing the client on your part.

When a client fails to hold up their end of the relationship…

Coaching isn’t for everybody.

…I still WANT to coach them.

…I feel like I LOSE something when the coaching stops.

…I ‘take it personally’.

…I BLAME myself for what didn’t work.

But I have to stick to the discipline that truly serves…

…rather than just serving my own egotistical wants and needs.

So ‘crack the whip’ early, and, if needed, often.

Look for opportunities to re-establish respect where needed in your coaching relationship.

Look for opportunities to re-establish respect where needed in your coaching relationship.”

Here’s an example of how ‘withholding coaching’ increases coaching profits:

A coaching organization partnered with us was struggling to make ends meet financially.

So they decided to start withholding coaching from their clients… initially.

They ran a seminar or five day challenge which generated lots of interest and leads.

Then they enrolled clients in a three month program that included lots of training and support, BUT essentially NO COACHING.

Then, during that program, the clients met their coach ONE TIME.

Their coach worked with them for only 30 minutes.

So, to review:

Three month program.

30 minutes of coaching.

Can you see how much coaching is WITHHELD?

In a 3 month program, they could get HOURS of coaching…

…but, instead, they only get a TASTE of Coaching.

Just a sample.

The rest of the possible coaching they could receive?


Those clients had to sign up for a full year program

…(at $1000 per month)…

…in order to continue to work with that same coach.

Can you imagine that?

You sign up for a 3 month program.

You meet and just begin to get some value from a coach in that program.

And now you need to make a much bigger commitment if you want more!

You might feel deprived.

You might feel disappointed.

But you’ll also feel DESIRE.

You’ll also feel MOTIVATED.

And you’ll also feel HUNGRY.

Hungry for MORE.

By withholding coaching from their clients…

…they’re putting up a WALL between their clients…

…and the coaching the clients want.

Then, they charge their clients admission to get past that wall.

The company CONTROLS the wall.

They are the toll-takers.

Toll Booth

They alone can open the gate.

That gate is withholding Coaching from those clients.

That gate makes the coaching VALUABLE to those clients.

That gate makes the client PAY a handsome fee to obtain coaching.

THAT GATE makes that company TONS of money.

As a result, everybody wins…

The Coach makes good money.

And the client LOVES and VALUES what they got.

Some coaches will think “That sounds like a capitalistic, jerk move…

…to not give your clients what they want and need!”

You have a right to that judgment.

Lots of people attack capitalists. Lots of people look down on the ‘profit motive’.

But I’m not talking about some evil corporation that’s trying to pray upon people.

I’m talking about YOU… the Coach!

Remember you?

The one who is giving up hours, days, weeks, months, and years of your life…

…so you can help change somebody else’s life… for their benefit?

You have to get PAID in order to give that gift.

You have a right to receive large sums of money for that gift.

If you want to help homeless people pro bono in your spare time…

…you can certainly do that as well.

But not if you go broke in the process.

You need to charge people who can pay you a good (and fair) sum of money.

And the only reason you’ll ever charge ANYONE for coaching…

…is because you withhold coaching from those who won’t pay.

That way… everybody wins.

NOT just your client.


(NOTE: If you’ve been asking questions about ICF Certification lately, then you need to attend this webinar, called “ICF Credentialing & Coach Certification”. During the webinar, I’ll cover how you can gain an ICF Credential in a matter of months. Click HERE now to attend the webinar.)

A little warning for NEW COACHES withholding coaching…

Withholding coaching is an advanced tactic.

When you first start coaching you will coach people…

  • who don’t want coaching.
  • who don’t deeply desire coaching.
  • who are really just ALLOWING you to coach them as a FAVOR.

…and that’s fine, when you’re just getting started.

You need to get practice.

Some of those clients might even become long-term paying clients.

But don’t expect most of those clients (from your first coaching experiences) to deeply desire your coaching…

…when you’re not withholding it at all.

So, starting out, it’s fine to coach EVERYBODY and ANYBODY.

Starting out, you can coach people AS MUCH AS YOU WANT.

But long term…?

That’s a recipe for ongoing struggle.

The long term consequence of giving UNLIMITED COACHING is failure.

Don’t allow yourself to continue overcoaching longer than you should.

I certainly over-coached for many years, and I suffered as a result.

My pocketbook suffered as a result.

My clients suffered as a result.

I wasn’t the role model I could’ve been.

I had little resources to grow my impact.

Don’t let that happen to you.

What GATE do you need to put in front of your coaching?

How do you need to BAR THE DOOR so everybody’s not getting your Coaching?

Where have you been over-coaching?

Where do you need to WITHHOLD coaching?

It’s a paradox.

It’s counterintuitive.

Saying NO will give you the YES to clients that you deserve.

Letting go of BAD CLIENTS is what opens the door for GOOD CLIENTS.

Say NO to get the YES.

Let go of THE REST to capture the BEST.

Do the world a favor.

Be a great coach…

…and withhold coaching strategically.

In the process, you’ll change the world, change lives, and upgrade your own lifestyle.

Jeffrey “NO Coaching For You” Sooey

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