4 Mistakes Coaches Make When Helping Their Clients With They Ask, You Answer
Help your clients find a better path to success with They Ask, You Answer by avoiding these common coaching mistakes.
By Chris Marr
As a They Ask, You Answer coach, there is no greater joy than witnessing your clients climb to the height of digital marketing success.
But the journey to that point isn’t always smooth terrain, and the businesses you lead can struggle to practice the methodology for a variety of reasons.
It can be difficult to witness clients struggle, and it can cause negative emotions to surface, including frustration and even defeat — not only for you as a coach, but also for your clients.
But if you’re going to be successful as a They Ask, You Answer coach, you need to be aware that some of these difficulties stem directly from the mistakes you make as your client’s coach and mentor.
At the end of the day, it’s your responsibility to be several steps ahead of what could go wrong so your clients have a clear path toward success.
I’ve coached hundreds of business leaders over the past decade on how to use They Ask, You Answer to grow their business, and I have seen what can and does go wrong as a coach.
There are four common mistakes coaches make that can hinder, stall, or flat-out ruin their client’s ability to succeed with this marketing framework.
To help you and your clients not only succeed, but also get excited about and enjoy their They Ask, You Answer experience, I’m going to share with you what these common coaching mistakes are, including:
- The four most common mistakes coaches make with They Ask, You Answer
- How to avoid these mistakes to ensure a smoother coaching experience and process
There is a lot your clients need to learn and accomplish along the way — and there is a lot that can go wrong and discourage them.
To ensure that you can mitigate these issues before they happen and that your clients feel encouraged to become the hero of their They Ask, You Answer journey, here’s what to know.
Mistake No. 1: Not getting sufficient client buy-in
One of the biggest mistakes you can make as a They Ask, You Answer coach is not getting complete buy-in from your client’s leadership team early on.
Most people who approach IMPACT for help are extremely on board with the They Ask, You Answer approach to content marketing, but their leadership and sales teams often need more convincing.
This can be a frustrating experience for your bought-in clients who are getting frequent pushback from inside their organization.
They might experience issues such as:
- The sales team not wanting to engage or participate in content discussions
- The CEO not allowing the team to make key hires, such as a content manager or videographer
- Staff refusing to participate as subject-matter experts
This resistance happens often, but there’s a very important reason for it: Leadership and sales need to understand the value or the why behind implementing They Ask, You Answer, or they won’t be behind the program at all.
As a coach, you must solve this through self-discovery.
It’s not enough for the coach to tell the client why they must be bought in. The coach must lead with a question-first approach to help the client discover the purpose for themselves so that they ultimately own it.
Without buy-in from leadership, your client will get off to a difficult start that will likely end in failure.
How to avoid this coaching mistake
They Ask, You Answer doesn’t work without buy-in and collaboration from your client’s entire leadership team.
This is why one of the very first things you should do as a coach is hold a They Ask, You Answer workshop for your client with all the decision-makers in your client’s company.
These workshops will get everyone on the same page about how today’s buyer has changed and help leaders understand the value of the underlying They Ask, You principles:
- Getting sales and marketing to work together as one team
- Using content for shorter sales cycles and improving profit margins
- Prioritizing digital marketing as a company-wide — not just marketing — initiative
Your client will never be able to reach their highest potential with They Ask, You Answer until the leadership and sales teams understand the benefit and all they have to gain if they go all-in on the process.
To do this, you need to help facilitate communication between cross-functional departments to break down silos.
You can get the entire company excited about creating content and rallying behind your client’s marketing efforts by starting a conversation with leadership and getting people on board from the top down.
It’s our job as coaches to help the decision-makers understand what they could be experiencing a few months or a year from now so they can see the bigger picture of what’s possible.
Mistake No. 2: Not telling clients where they’re going wrong
The second mistake coaches often make is being too timid when a client is about to make a critical error or a bad decision that will ultimately hinder their ability to be successful with They Ask, You Answer. However, this type of communication is essential to becoming a better coach.
This is important to get right because it’s one of the main reasons clients hire a coach in the first place.
They’ve invested in you, a third-party professional, to lead them through the They Ask, You Answer process. They depend on you to point out issues they aren’t seeing themselves.
When your clients don’t feel like they’re being challenged to do their best work (again, what they hired you to help them accomplish), they won’t feel like they’re getting value from the program and they’ll begin to question the value of your coaching.
Your clients will also miss out on the opportunity to improve and reach their full potential with They Ask, You Answer.
How to avoid this coaching mistake
To truly help your clients succeed with They Ask, You Answer, you must be fearless in your approach to coaching your clients. This means being willing to point out their shortcomings as soon as you see them so they don’t become even bigger problems down the line.
You need to communicate with your clients these points of feedback in a clear, direct way and not shy away from presenting them with the hard truths.
Although it might feel uncomfortable to start, it gets easier with some practice, and your clients may surprise you with their reactions. Remember, this is essential to their learning and growth.
It’s all about commanding respect and leading with authority while guiding your clients toward They Ask, You Answer success.
Mistake No. 3: Negotiating the standards of They Ask, You Answer
When practicing the They Ask, You Answer framework, there are certain terms that should never be up for negotiation or debate — those key parts of the program that will stop your client’s success in their tracks if they’re pushing back on them or refusing to do as instructed.
For example, to get the best results with They Ask, You Answer, your clients will need to hire a full-time, in-house content manager who is producing at least three articles per week.
Here at IMPACT, we won’t even engage with prospects who can’t agree to this because we know that anything less will lead to mediocre results and potential failure.
If your client refuses to adopt these standards, both your and your client’s efforts will lose momentum quickly, as you will quickly see that without anyone at the content-creation helm full time, the content they need to produce will never get done.
How to avoid this coaching mistake
You, as the coach, should always dictate what looks good and is working or needs improvement, not your client.
Otherwise, you are allowing your clients to pick and choose which aspects of the framework they want to pursue, and in the end, they might not be aware of how they’re limiting their own success.
The key here is that you always need to be willing to hold the line.
Great coaches always give off the impression that they are willing to end their coaching if there’s any signal that the work the client is doing will lead to failure. In that sense, the coach is always in control, setting the standards and dictating what “good” looks like.
You need to be the constant guide who holds their efforts up to those true They Ask, You Answer standards to be sure they’re meeting them.
As a coach, failure is not an option — and you should state clearly that you are not willing to work hard for what will ultimately lead to failure.
Mistake No. 4: Failing to gain your footing as an authoritative peer
When you take on clients as a They Ask, You Answer coach, you will be working mostly with C-suite executives and leadership to help your clients move through any of the challenges that come along with adopting the framework in their day-to-day marketing strategy.
This is different from how most marketing agencies operate. Agencies will typically work for their clients and provide the deliverables.
As a They Ask, You Answer coach, however, you are guiding your client on how to do the strategy and work themselves.
This means that if your clients are going to have a successful relationship with you and complete their best work, they need to see you as an authoritative figure and value your insight.
How to avoid this coaching mistake
Being authoritative is a skill in and of itself, but we sometimes don’t realize the way we communicate can erode that authority over time.
For example, If you show up to a meeting and chit-chat for the first few moments while everyone gets situated, you might think you’re being personable, but it sends the message that you don’t respect your own time, and therefore they won’t either.
Dive into the meeting right away and reschedule if the key decision-makers aren’t in attendance. Also, instead of thanking clients for their time, praise them for the quality of your time together. For example, “Great session, everyone. It helped that everyone was truly engaged here today.”
You have to go into each meeting with the assumption that you are the leader and your client cannot achieve success without you. You set the tone, not the client.
You shouldn’t have to justify yourself or convince anyone of this. Otherwise, your client starts to dictate the direction and won’t get from you what they should.
Lead your clients to They Ask, You Answer success with confidence
At the end of the day, the coach’s job is not to create client dependency, but to help your clients become competent and confident enough to achieve their own They Ask You Answer success.
This means that your main role is to teach your clients how to succeed with They Ask, You Answer so that you are eventually no longer needed. In other words, instead of the client relying on you for their success, you help them learn to rely upon themselves.
To learn more about how we do this at IMPACT, visit our They Ask, You Answer Certified Coaching Program page or set a time to meet with one of our advisors, who can answer any questions you might have.
We will help you become a more effective coach and lead your clients toward bigger growth, faster.
Our experienced coaches are ready to guide you every step of the way.