Regardless of your coaching niche, your live pipeline is the best indicator of your future earnings. A pipeline is composed of three parts: leads, sales opportunities and lost opportunities. Leads are potential clients who have made a generic expression of interest in your coaching services. An example of a lead would be an inquiry submitted via your website’s contact form that reads, “I’m looking for a Leadership Coach because I’d like to learn more about emotional intelligence.” The interest may be there, but the urgency is not. There’s no hurry for the client. “I’d like to …” is all you’ve got. A sales opportunity differs from a lead in that your potential client has a compelling reason to act (CRA). The more the client is compelled, the stronger the sales opportunity. An example of this inquiry might read, “I’m looking for a Leadership Coach because I want to learn more about my own emotional intelligence. I was just promoted to a new role, but I don’t know how to manage my team. I don’t want to fail.” In the example, the client is compelled not once, but twice: He wants to manage his people effectively, and he doesn’t want to fail. Although the client’s timeline is not explicit, strong CRAs are usually associated with shorter timelines: The sooner he can begin working toward his goals, the better. Max di Gregorio, Ph.D., PCC Max worked for two decades in sales before founding European Coach Academy, a digital firm that provides Executive, Sales and Business, and Mentor Coaching, as well as leadershipdevelopment programming. Max holds a doctoral degree in economics and has studied at London Business School. He also holds professional certifications in sales, training, emotional intelligence and applied behavioral psychology. Business Sense Understanding Your Pipeline A lost opportunity is simply something that is not going to happen. There are many symptoms that might help you identify a lost opportunity; e.g., budget concerns, an unidentified timeframe or an unclear coaching topic. However, all lost opportunities share the same cause: the lack of a CRA. The sooner you flush a lost opportunity from your pipeline, the better. Keeping lost opportunities in your pipeline negatively impacts your numbers, your forecast projections and your success rate. As you’re building your pipeline, make sure you understand what is what: Learn how to identify and nurture your prospective client’s CRA in order to turn a lead into a sales opportunity instead of a missed opportunity. By managing your pipeline, you’ll be able to identify leads and sales opportunities by quarter for a more accurate annual forecast and the confidence that comes with knowing how much money you’re going to earn this year. S TAY I N G I N C O N T R O L Coaching World 7 In order to manage your pipeline, consider investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software. A well-designed and implemented CRM system will enable you to track leads and sales opportunities and eliminate dead-in-the-water lost opportunities. Regardless of your business’ size or budget, there’s likely a CRM application that’s the right fit for you.