How To Address Client Pain Points (Guide For Coaches & Consultants)

Why would someone choose to work with you? This is the ultimate question that you must answer in order to stand apart from your peers, gain clients, and make sales. And if you want to do that as a coach or consultant, you have to understand your clients’ pain points.

Nobody gives away money without a reason. Clients won’t trip, fall, and put their Visa card in your hand. On some level, every potential client of yours knows they have a problem that needs to be solved. If you want to win their business, you need to be able to define that problem and offer a solution.

In this guide, we’ll talk about what pain points are, how you can identify them, and how you can address them.

What’s a pain point?

Pain points are problems that your potential clients are experiencing. A pain point is anything that inconveniences or annoys potential clients, or that otherwise hinders their progress toward goals.

Coaching and consulting are based on one-to-one interactions. Even if you standardize your services and processes, the nature of your work means that you will end up customizing your approach for the unique needs of every individual. Good coaches and consultants provide insight and guidance that can help alleviate clients’ pain points.

Start by defining your audience.

Pain is subjective, and so is relief. You need to know who you are. You need to know who you are speaking to in order to tailor your message effectively. That means understanding different aspects of your prospective clients, including their interests and challenges, demographic background, as well as their hopes, goals, dreams, and fears.

If you don’t know who your target audience is yet, start there. You probably at least have an inkling of an idea already, and you may be able to refine that into something more concrete with the right questions. To do that, consider making buyer personas, as the question-answering process that goes into making them is, itself, helpful.

Buyer Personas
Hubspot maintains a good template for Buyer Personas.

You want to be crystal clear about what makes your audience tick. If someone outside your industry, community, and family asked you who benefits from what you do, you want to be able to paint a detailed picture.

Find your audience’s pain points and create service or product offerings around them.

Successful products and services are built around pain points. Potential clients feel motivated to go from one emotional state to another. Your product or service needs to be the way they get from point A to point B.

Rossiter and Percy’s Purchase Motivations & Emotions model is the perfect illustration of what this looks like. Here is the theory, with motivations in bold and emotional sequences following:

  • Problem Removal: Annoyance → Relief
  • Problem Avoidance: Fear → Relaxation
  • Incomplete Satisfaction: Disappointment → Optimism
  • Mixed Approach Avoidance: Conflict → Peace-of-mind
  • Normal Depletion: Mild Annoyance → Convenience
  • Sensory Gratification: Dull → Anticipation
  • Intellectual Stimulation: Bored → Excited
  • Social Approval Conformity: Apprehensive → Flattered

Look at the emotional sequences on the right. These are basically pain points followed by the removal of pain points. Life coaches might take someone from Disappointment to Optimism. Marketing consultants might take clients from Annoyance (due to overwhelming responsibilities) to Relief (from time saved).

You get the idea. Figure out the general category your clients’ pain points follow into, and then design a product or service offering from the ground up that is consistent with that emotional journey, every single step of the way.

Rossiter and Percy's Purchase Motivations Emotions
Rossiter and Percy’s Purchase Motivations Emotions

Our 7-Step Method To Find & Address Client Pain Points

1. Reach out to clients and ask them for their personal stories.

It’s easy to think about clients as abstract notions, rather than real people. Don’t do that!

Talk to them directly and listen to their stories. Surveys and focus groups are great for market research, but what you really want is the opportunity to talk to individuals and truly hear what they have to say.

It’s also worth checking out social media and online forums as well. You can learn a lot by browsing these online channels, but tread carefully. Social media and forums, especially in the age of AI, operate like a funhouse mirror. You will see truth reflected, but with a lot of distortion.

2. Use empathy mapping to analyze stories.

Once you have listened to enough people telling their stories, you might be left wondering what the big picture is supposed to look like. Empathy mapping is one way you can answer that.

Empathy mapping is a way of telling what clients are thinking, feeling, seeing, and doing. To create an empathy map, you want to ask eight questions:

  1. Who are we empathizing with?
  2. What do they need to do?
  3. What do they see?
  4. What do they say?
  5. What do they do?
  6. What do they hear?
  7. What are their pains?
  8. What do they want to gain?

Answering these questions becomes easier as you start at the top of the list and work your way down.

Don’t forget – the important work is the listening you did in step 1. This exercise will merely help you structure your observations into something more tangible.

3. Create a prototype product or service offering.

With a clear understanding of your clients’ pain points, you can then develop a prototype of your product or service. You want to make sure the product or service, from its very conception, is built to fix these pain points.

Version #1 doesn’t have to be perfect. The purpose is to translate your insights into something you can sell. Your prototype should aim to solve the problems that you identified in the first two steps.

4. Release the prototype and gather feedback.

Not everything that looks good on the drawing board plays out in reality. Remember this when you launch your prototype, because the whole purpose is to gather feedback which you can use to improve.

In service-based businesses like coaching and consulting, prototyping often takes the form of “service pilots.” That is, creating a service package that can be tested out on a small scale before making it available to the wider public. This is a good way for coaches and consultants to try something new without overcommitting.

For example, if you are a fashion consultant, you may try piloting a service like “90-Day Fashion Makeover” in which you help clients find their style and swap out their wardrobe in a set period of time.

Will it work? Who knows? That’s why you test!

5. Iterate the prototype to make it more effective at addressing pain.

Again, your clients’ pain points need to be at the center of your product or service offering. After you put your initial prototype or pilot into the world, you will hopefully receive a lot of feedback. Some of it will be positive, and some of it will be negative, and both can be helpful.

No matter what, though, the goal here is to move forward with an open mind. You might need to tweak the price, or certain processes, or – in the case of products – features. Or you might need to rethink the solution altogether and try something different.

But fixing the pain needs to remain at the core.

6. Build a marketing strategy around what clients say.

Once you nail down a product or service offering that you are happy with, it’s time to make it available to a wider audience. For that, you need a marketing strategy which can roughly be split into the twin responsibilities of branding (what to say and how to say it) and promotion (how to say it to as many people as possible).

Your branding needs to be based around what your clients are actually saying. Pay attention to the words they use to describe their problems and how you have helped address them. That will help you form the basis of your landing pages, email campaigns, social media posts, and anything else you may choose to do to spread the word.

7. Keep asking for feedback and keep revising your products and services.

Even once you nail down the perfect product or service offering, you can’t stay stagnant. Pain points fluctuate. Some pains go away, some become more prevalent.

Keep asking for feedback and keep revising your products and services. Don’t hide in your office – talk to clients and make sure that what you’re offering remains effective and relevant!

Final Thoughts

If you want to make it as a coach or consultant, you need to be able to address your clients’ pain points. That’s the only way to get them to hire you and keep coming back!

At the root, you need to understand who your audience is and what causes them frustration. Our 7-step method ultimately boils down to understanding, experimenting, and revising. Because when it comes down to it, this ongoing process is the way you build trust and credibility that will last for the ages.

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