Many agents have discovered the benefits of working with a coach, yet most people who seek coaching are really looking for training.

The confusion results from trainers, mentors, and consultants who use the term "coaching" to describe everything from setting up blogs to mastering scripts and dialogues.

I received a call from a man who wanted coaching on how to flip houses. He wanted to know how much we would charge to help him set up a land bank so he could purchase distressed properties using land sales contracts. He was convinced this was a legitimate way to circumvent the lenders’ due-on-sale provisions.

Coaching vs. training

Training is concerned with what to do and how to do it. In the training model, the trainer is the expert who provides you with specific strategies and tactics to build your business. During a training session, the trainer does most of the work.

Unless you’re brand new in the business, you already know what to do. The challenge is removing the blocks that keep you from doing it. This is how coaching differs from training. Coaching is about building on your strengths rather than trying to adapt your behavior to fit someone else’s model.

A professionally trained coach will help you expand upon your unique combination of strengths rather than trying to squeeze you into a one-size-fits-all system. In a true "coaching" session, the client does the work of deciding what works best for their unique situation.

When a coach focuses upon how to use a specific program such as door-knocking, working with referrals, or calling on owners of expired listings, it’s really one-on-one training; it’s not coaching. If the "coach" yells at you for not making your numbers, you are being browbeaten — not being coached.

How to hire the perfect coach

If you’re thinking about hiring a coach for your business, the first step is to decide what you really want from working with the coach. Consider the following situations to help you to decide.

1. Numbers accountability

Mike Ferry’s organization is the granddaddy of all coaching/training organizations. Mike combined his proven prospecting strategies, strong scripts and dialogues with a numbers accountability program. Agents and managers alike set specific daily, weekly, and monthly prospecting goals.

Coaching sessions are about hitting your numbers, practicing scripts, and using their systems. Numerous other companies have sprung up using the same approach. These systems focus on training a specific skill set, coupled with proven systems.

Like a diet, these approaches work as long as you stay with the program. The challenge is whether your personality is a good fit for the type of coaching/training being offered.

2. Fix-it coaching

Many agents want help with specific problems, such as how to improve their production. Production problems are almost always tied to a lack of training around lead generation and lead conversion. When this is the case, the "fix" is training.

On the other hand, if the agent knows what to do but something is blocking him or her from doing it, coaching may be the better solution. If the underlying problem is severe enough, a psychologist may be best suited to treat the problem.

The lowest level of coaching is "fix it." New and poorly trained coaches are all about helping you fix your problems. They have the answers if you will only do what they tell you to do.

Furthermore, when your coach tells you what to do, the coach creates a parent-child relationship, not a coaching relationship. The challenge with "fix it" coaching is no one likes being told what to do. This, in turn, decreases the probability the client will take long-term, sustainable action.

3. High-level coaching

Professionally trained coaches help you explore your options, build on your strengths, and ultimately, let you be responsible for choosing your course of action. When agents choose their own course of action and are supported to take consistent actions over time, they make huge gains.

On the other hand, when they are browbeaten into doing what the coach wants them to do, their actions are not sustainable. Ultimately, not only does the agent lose, so does the coach.

Professionally trained coaches can help you handle problems outside of real estate. For example, if you’re having trouble coping with stress or having enough time to spend with your family, a professional coach has the training to help you work through these issues.

In contrast, most "coaches" who practice a single approach, or focus exclusively on hitting your numbers, lack the skills to address these issues.

If you’re thinking about hiring a coach, determine whether you want someone to help you acquire a specific skill set such as how to create a marketing plan or do a listing presentation (training) vs. helping you uncover what is keeping you from achieving your goals.

Also, do not settle for being assigned to a coach. Professional coaches who adhere to the International Coach Federation guidelines are required to have you interview with three different coaches to make sure you find the right coach for your business.

Ultimately, your success is what matters most, regardless of whom you choose to hire.

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