Using a Coachability Assessment

This article discusses how to improve your effectiveness at attaining more coaching clients using a Coachability Assessment. 

Recently, I met with Jerry (not his real name), a sales management consultant over lunch to discuss various sales strategies. I specifically wanted to learn more about “the inside game” of the sales process and how it might correlate to the coaching profession. What I learned was unexpected. This is Jerry’s story.

Jerry told me about how he came to incorporate an assessment into his sales process several years ago. Jerry noted that consultant opportunities for his sales management services firm surfaced from numerous sources: referrals, online inquiries or through his extensive network. When an opportunity surfaced, Jerry typically set up an appointment to meet with the prospective client. During the initial meeting or two, they would discuss specific challenges and opportunities. When Jerry felt he understood the challenges the organization was facing, he would present how his services could meet those needs. Evolving out of this process, a proposal would typically be generated and delivered. And then the waiting game began. Follow-up calls would yield encouragement, at times a bit of stonewalling and infrequently a commitment to move forward. At the end of the day, only a few proposals would close. In essence, most collected dust and would eventually be tossed into the “lost opportunity file.”

Sound pretty typical? 

Not wanting to sit idly by - seeing good work that was right in his sweet spot evaporate into thin air – Jerry chose to change things up a bit. He decided to develop a simple assessment (which he could bill for) that could be positioned as the next step following the initial discovery phase. His assessment was an inventory overview of the people, processes and reporting streams of a prospective organization. The goal for the assessment was to identify gaps, inconsistencies and perceived shortcomings of a sales department and its processes. Early on, Jerry focused on setting it up so it would be easy to implement. It would take minimal time to turn around and involve few resources to execute. Plus, he made certain it was affordable, would produce enough insights that it represented real value and propose a “next steps” offering to the prospective client. 

What was the impact of leveraging an assessment in his sales process? Jerry noted that his closing rate moved from a disappointing 30%, up to near 90% with this simple tool and sales technique. 

Why the significant closing rate change? 

Jerry realized that his simple assessment transitioned the sales conversation. Previously it was about hypotheticals related to a recurring problem(s) and a desired future state. 

- - - - - - - - - -

The assessment transitioned the sales call toward a “here’s reality” and “here’s how I would recommend to move forward” conversation.

- - - - - - - - - -

Plus, it utilized direct information from the prospective client (which is the most relevant information). And it is this information that’s used to sell the services Jerry’s organization could provide. In essence, when a client is looking to hire a consultant, they want a consultant-centered conversation.

 Why is this relevant?

Possibly the most challenging aspect of being a personal or executive coach is finding new clients - clients that could use your services. However for many coaches, it’s also the place where we fail. Too often, we’re simply unable to close the deal. 

What’s the shortcoming?

Over the past 10+ years, I’ve met hundreds of potential coaching clients that could have utilized my services. Yet too many leads led to that same, “lost opportunity file.” When I was meeting with Jerry, I realized I had experienced many of the same problems he was talking about. I was having too many “interview” interactions with potential coaching clients, and too few coaching conversations. My process was ineffective and it consumed a lot of time.

I quickly realized that Jerry’s story was applicable and valuable in the coaching world. It could be a game changer. I did my research and derived that 5-key elements were necessary when leveraging an assessment as part of a sales strategy. The assessment must: 

  • Be able to identify the purpose for the assessment, i.e. what concept, skill or piece of knowledge is being assessed, and why.  
  • Be able to clearly articulate, “what it does” and “why it’s relevant.”
  • Establish how the program will benefit the client, i.e. to gain an understanding of . . . to become aware of . . . to develop an appreciation for . . 
  • It should be affordable, produces consistent results, and delivers information that is of perceived value to the potential client.
  • Is able to provide a future “next steps” roadmap for improvement upon completion.

An assessment that delivers against each of these criteria changes the conversation in dramatic and very positive ways. 

- - - - - - - - - -

A good assessment can transition a
first time meeting from being a
sales interview, to a coaching
 “next steps” conversation.

- - - - - - - - - -

When utilizing an assessment as a sales tool, the difference is like night and day. The enthusiasm and level of engagement between a coach and a coachee increases dramatically. Plus, a coach’s ability to gain a commitment for a coaching engagement increases significantly.

So let me return from where I started. Is there an assessment that can help increase the closing ratio for coaches?  

The answer is “Yes.” 

If you’re a professional coach, I believe there is one assessment that makes sense, this being the Nine Box 2.0 Coachability Assessment. It is the only assessment I’m aware of that meets the 5-step criteria established above. Give it a try. I think you’ll be surprised with the results.

Rod Johnson is founder and president of Growing Your Leaders, a trailblazer in the development of and use of group coaching in organizations. Rod also developed the Nine Box 2.0 Coachability Assessment.

To learn more about the Nine Box 2.0 Individual Coachability Assessment, go to:

Rod can also be reached at