The most rewarding time for a coach is seeing a client follow through with their laid down program, and get great results from the implementation. For me, this trumps the struggles of how to get clients for my business. Yours too!

No coach or professional service business owner ever sets out to sabotage the growth of their clients. But what happens when a client is like a stubborn horse that refuses to move, no matter how much you prod, poke, motivate and encourage?

Let us paint a scenario between a nutrition coach and an overweight man. He comes to her to help him lose weight, 40lbs in 6months. The nutrition coach draws up a meal plan and hooks him up with a personal trainer who establishes a workout regimen. No burgers, no fries, no refined sugars, low carbs and more vegetables. Short but consistent walks, stationary biking, cardio and the likes.

He adheres for the first two days and on the third day, he’s at MacDonald’s for a jumbo sized burger. By day 4, he does only cardio and skips the rest. He neither reports to the gym at all nor sticks to his meal plan by Friday. There is no progress with his weight loss and you call him out on it. He tells you that he feels it is better he gets 2 days foods cheat and two days’ work out only.

You tell your client the demerits of his stance, but he’s adamant and chooses his way. His personal trainer is threatening to quit and your patience begins to fray at its end, but you must help this person.

How do you handle such stubborn client whose lack of commitment is stalling the desired results, yet complains that he hasn’t lost any weight? How do you make sure that you and your client are on the same page?

Is it just the client who is stubborn or are your coaching techniques not working for the clients? Truth is that, you cannot control your client, but can control your response to the situation. This you can do through genuine care, subtle confrontations and pushing back.

Yes, the above measures are very necessary, because failure to do that will lead to a waste of both your time and the clients’ money.

Now, let’s address the best measures to take!

1. Have A Genuine Interest In Them

Beyond the business relationship you share with your clients, take a genuine interest in them. This will make them warm up to you and trust you. Lap up with relish, all the personal details they are willing to give you about them.

As in the case of the nutritional coach and the overweight man, she could begin by asking how he came about the weight in a genuine manner. Who knows, he may have not been overweight years ago. Something could have happened- maybe depression or the loss of a loved one, leading him to comfort feeding and the subsequent weight gain.

He came to you, because he was ready to move past that phase. It will be beautiful to know that someone was willing to listen and really cared. Ask what they love to do, music they love and all. Care and interest goes above what they intend to pay you. Reach out to them.

However, it is wrong to bombard clients with questions all at the same time. These questions should be spread out casually in discussions over your work period, so it doesn’t look like you’re fishing for information.

Listen to their needs, fears and concerns. Ensure that the service you offer to them is the best you can ever give. Work in their best interest all the time.

Doing this will open them up to receive advice and input from you when it is time.

2. Make Clients Independent off Of You 

In Rogers’s words, “Knowing when to press and when to hold back is a matter of the finest and most split-second judgment. “

We bring our subjects of study; the nutrition coach and the overweight man back here. Instead of the coach to allow him make a move as an empowered adult, the coach practically does everything for him. She rings the trainer to go to him; she goes to the fresh market to help get the veggies- she’s on every other person’s neck except the one person who really needs the help.

When she decides to stop, the client becomes resentful, disengages and starts to resist the process. The client has become dependent, because the coach kept spoon feeding the client instead of making it a collaborative effort.

As a coach, you’ve got to throw the “I’m all knowing” attitude out the window. You’re not their parent and it’s not a parent child relationship. Step back and push from the shadows. Allow your client exercise their abilities to decide to do a thing and make the move.

Make your coaching a collaborative one by;

Ask the client action questions like “you have a meal schedule, what is your implementation plan? How much are you looking forward to the results?” This can motivate them to begin the process to change.

Allow the clients think for themselves. Do not always step in with rescue answers no matter the urge.

Let the clients know that you see them, acknowledge them and they have your support.

Abstain from judgment. Apply an open mind with your clients.

Consistent saving of your client may be the obstacle in the way of your client’s breakthrough. Make your client independent off of you.

3. Define Clients Goals and Commitment from the Very Beginning

Knife down their specific goals; the time and energy it will take to achieve it. Collaborate on sound strategies for scaling through potential stumbling blocks which may show up.

We would introduce the GROW model which is applicable to every coaching specialty and service business.

Goal: For the purpose of serious intent, be very specific in establishing what your client wants to achieve. This shows the client that you are interested, listening and take them seriously. It also makes it easy to track the client’s progress.  Prod them with questions on how they would feel once their goal is achieved. This wets the ground for growth and progress.

Reality: Let your client know that although your steps are simple, they are not easy. There will be days when they would want to throw in the towel, want to cheat on their diet or work for long hours that they can’t handle anything else.

Ask them what possible obstacles they may encounter on their journey and strategize with them, steps to surmount them. This puts some responsibility on your client as it has become a team work.

Open up a safe space for dialogue if your client brings up a personal issue that may prove as an obstacle. Ask why it should be and without judgment. This makes the client open up to you about personal challenges they may be facing at work or the home front. If your clients have to battle with personal issues without someone to help, even through listening- you won’t achieve much with them.

Options: After laying down your plans, ask and allow the client to come up with plans on when and how best to start. This will trigger their commitment.  If the client is being evasive on getting committed, ask them direct questions on what’s stopping them from starting.

The attitude and energy they take on from the start is what they would likely keep up with till the end. Best bet is to nip it in the bud at the key stage to avoid lags later.

Write it down: Encourage your client to put down every step they take towards progress in their diary. This drives the client towards accountability and is also a source of motivation. Coming back to look at the record of their successes is a push to do more.

The GROW model is practical and a structure that helps clients gain more clarity, motivation and required commitment towards their goal.

4. Always Be Honest

Being open and honest with clients all the time can be a little tricky, because you never know how they will react. Again, you are supposed to project a certain degree of confidence, as they came to you, because you are better.

But regardless, honesty to your clients at all times will make them hold onto your every word… because; you are one person they can always trust. This is a huge motivation to make them take your advice.

Do not water down, sugar coat or hide any bad news from them. They will thank you for it. But you can up the situation by having a solution ready on hand for them. This will alleviate the pain such bad news any cause and give them some lease on hope.

Be open to ideas on the way forward with any client, but be honest if you are not sure about it. You are not all knowing remember? You just happen to have a better hang on things by virtue of experience. Be straightforward with your answers.

In the cases of clients who want to ram through and always have their way, slow down and honestly discuss the demerits of their decisions. Discuss the details of your laid plan and how it will benefit them. An assurance that you are working in their best interest, most of the time brings a change of heart to the client.

Lastly, be very honest with yourself. Dig deep into your heart and find what your motives for taking on the client are. Is it just the money or you see a nagging need you can solve? Do you just want to do the regular and go or you aim to leave no stone unturned in helping the client achieve their set goal? Will the client’s success give you genuine immense joy? Are you invested in this client’s ordeal beyond the fee or is it business as usual? These are questions that will set you on the path to seeing your clients achieve their goals.

Honesty they say is the best policy. Clients will feel more comfortable with someone who is willing to tell the truth about a situation- than spend money on someone who will only tell them what they want to hear.

5. Drive Accountability and Confront Them on Their Lags 

In Rogers’s words, “Most coaching will involve some kind of confrontation from time to time. If you never confront clients, then you need to ask if you are colluding.”

Do not allow lags or wave off lack of commitment without any cogent reasons in clients just to avoid confrontations. Always start a session by asking how much progress a client has made and how much they implemented the plan. If you smell an evasion, call them out on it and ask for reasons.

Excusing noncompliance in a coach client relationship is bad for the client and even unhealthier for you, the coach. It will brew in you and make you so upset that when you decide on a call out, tempers will flare all over the place.

Manage your clients and deal with problems as soon as they pop up. Do not shrug them off or procrastinate. This will stall desired results and ultimately ruin your job as a coach.

Apply the method of subtly challenging your client at the pop up of any lapse. Use questions that will tug at their emotions to get to the root of the matter. Frame your confrontation questions in a way that solves their problems.

Avoid the use of “why”, it can make the client get defensive. Use “what, when and how” instead. This helps the clients relax, become upfront about their problems and see possible solutions.


Coaching is the most challenging field as it is, also some service businesses, depending on the field. But these strategies will help you work through the challenges- especially with getting clients to take your advice. These tips are effective when applied towards the client in a tactful and timely manner.  Clients become malleable and offer absolute adherence to your program.

It’s one thing getting clients to take your advice. But what if you have a hard time getting clients? Let’s help you overcome this with this this free workshop. Get started!

If you need our support through this journey, schedule a breakthrough call with one of our elite business strategists today.