What Are They Buying?

The hardest part of coaching online is getting clients. The great news: if you’ve just pivoted from an in-person coaching job to online, then you started with clients already!


The second hardest part of coaching online is keeping clients engaged. And the key to keeping clients engaged is to build your service on what they want, instead of trying to sell the service you’re comfortable selling. Because that thing you used to sell isn’t what people are buying online.


I’ve written plenty about why Zoom classes aren’t enough in the long-term. Here’s what you’re actually selling now:


  1. Accountability. First and foremost, people need regular communication to keep them on track.
    Knowledge isn’t the problem: your clients should already know to avoid cookies for breakfast. But now, stuck at home, the “carb cupboard” is beckoning…
  2. Personalization or Customization. There are literally millions of free workouts online. But your 1:1 relationship is exclusive. It’s the only thing you have to sell that your clients can’t get anywhere else. You can read about the difference between Personalization and Customization here.
  3. Flexibility. You can change their program really quickly when you need to. A client’s priorities have radically changed in the last two weeks. They might change again tomorrow, and again the day after that.
    In a webinar for Two-Brain members last week, top online coach Brad Overstreet told us that he doesn’t program a client’s workout until he’s spoken to them. He uses Motivational Interviewing to determine their needs for the day, and then tells them what to do. We teach Motivational Interviewing in the Two-Brain Coaching First Degree Course.
  4. Habits. After a few weeks at home, your clients are starting to drift. They’re waking up later; they’re wearing jogging pants all day. They’re procrastinating and eating poorly and feeling depressed. The forced constructs of their old 9-to-5 helped them plan and schedule their exercise and meals and bedtimes. But now those are gone.
    Help them build a schedule. Give them daily checklists. Call and check on them. Have them send you pictures of their food. Teach them how to log in MyFitnessPal. This is possibly your greatest value to your clients right now.
  5. Mindset. You know what happens when people eat poorly, miss sleep, worry about money and get locked in their houses? They ruminate. They get anxious. They get depressed. And when they get depressed, they stop exercising.
    Our friend Colm at The Mental Health Plan wrote a 21-day Mindset Challenge that we put into our Online Coaching Course over at Two-Brain Business. You can follow Colm on YouTube here.
  6. Social connection. Yes, the daily Zoom workouts are insufficient to keep clients engaged in exercise. But they definitely help clients keep their social connections.
    You don’t have to do your workouts on your video calls–you can do Trivia Night or just have coffee together. You can do cooking classes. You can do guided meditations. You can bring in experts to lead them.
  7. Whatever else they need. Brad Overstreet sometimes tells his clients to just “take a walk.” On rare occasions, he simply sat on a video call and listened to them.
    Your primary service now–and the one thing no one can compete with–is your ability to give Mary exactly what she needs today.


Coaching online isn’t the same as coaching in a gym.

Your clients trust you. So they’ve followed you out of your physical space and onto the internet.

Now it’s your job to keep them–at least until you can reopen your gym.

But keeping your clients engaged online isn’t just a matter of running Zoom classes and charging their credit cards. If you want to keep your business alive, you must understand this new online coaching model, and what makes some online coaches successful while others fail. Yes, our job just got slightly harder. But it also became exponentially more important.

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