Episode 173: What to Do When a Client Is Struggling

Episode 173: What to Do When a Client Is Struggling

Hello, and welcome to today’s episode of the Born to Rise podcast. I’m your host, Cait Scudder, and today’s topic guys is one of those things that is being talked about behind closed doors in communities, in masterminds in one on one conversations with clients, but it’s not being had, I feel in a lot of public settings. And yet it is such a thing inside of the coaching industry. So let’s talk about it. How do you handle when your clients are having a rough time? How do you handle when your clients are walking through a difficult season? This is something that I’ve been supporting a lot of clients with their people are struggling I’ve of course had clients that have gone through a challenging season and let’s be honest, it can be triggering, it can bring up the feelings of am I doing a good job? Am I worthy of receiving money? Like how do I even continue to sell when clients are having a hard time? So if you have ever asked yourself these questions of like, how do I hold powerful, meaningful, supportive space for a client who’s going through a challenging time and still show up like a boss in my business? Today’s episode is for you. Before I get going and get into that, I want to remind you to please take a second if episodes like this you find super valuable the show is obviously free. It means the freaking world to me, guys, if you can just pop on iTunes, after listening to an episode and leave a two second review. I know it’s such a small ask, but it really truly means the world to me. So if you have the chance to do that, leave binarized podcast or review, I would be so grateful if you find this show valuable.

Why hard seasons are normal

So without further ado, let’s get into it. How do you hold your clients through a hard season? I think the first and foremost important thing to remember is going through a hard season, multiple hard seasons, falling down, eating shit hitting the pavement like all of this is normal. And frankly, the idea that somebody hires you, and it’s just like, oh, the clouds part and it’s rainbows and unicorns, and they never struggle they never have a hard time with anything is kind of ridiculous. And yet, I think that, you know, in a culture of hashtag client wins on Instagram stories, you know, we can be made to feel like oh my god, everyone else’s clients are just like crushing it or look at all their results, look at all the things that are happening. And it can make us feel at times if we have a client who’s struggling and we’re seeing only that public celebration in the external, it can make us feel like we’re doing something wrong, it can make us feel like we’re a bad coach, it can make us question the very foundation of the business that we have built. And here’s what I want to say.

Why we signed up for the messy journey of entrepreneurship

Number one, the idea that your clients just because they hired you should or would never struggle is absurd. Entrepreneurship. You remember that meme? You guys have probably seen that meme, like what I think entrepreneurship is and it’s like a perfect line going from the bottom of the graph ascending to the top. And what it actually is, is this like squiggly knot of UPS downs, twisty turns all around us, like we did not sign up for this path to have a linear perfect struggle free existence, we signed up for the path of entrepreneurship, because we are devoted to our craft, because we are devoted to bringing something meaningful into the world because we are devoted to the process. And one of the uncomfortable truths. And we see this you know, we can derive this wisdom from outside of entrepreneurship.

But all you need to do is pay attention to the journey of entrepreneurship, to glean this as well is that there are ups downs, messy bits, stretchy bits, bits that will bring you to your knees, times that you will cry in question at all. And you better believe that you are not seeing for the most part. I mean, there are exceptions like we’re talking about this on this episode, but by and large, a lot of successful coaches who are celebrating their clients who are celebrating themselves, and by all means we want that celebration, you are not seeing the conversations that are happening behind closed doors, you are not seeing the fact that their clients also struggled the very ones who they’re posting wins about have also probably come to them in tears have also probably come to them with their hands between you know, their or their head between their hands and just feeling like oh my god, what am I even doing so the first most important thing, do not take it personal. It is not about you. If your clients are having a hard time Congratulations, you are coaching real as human beings and frankly, real leaders.

I don’t know about you, but I find brands, leaders, people who everything just seems to be perfect for all the time Who never share moments of vulnerability who never share moments of struggle, who never showcase their own challenges and how they’ve worked through them, I find it really boring, I find it very one dimensional. And I’m not inspired whatsoever to lean in because I don’t feel a human. On the other side, I feel like a perfected Polish airbrushed image. And that’s not who I want to learn from. And so with your clients, I think part of the most one of the most important parts of your job is to remind them that a struggling season is part of the journey. Encountering challenges encountering contractions is part of the process of expansion, we don’t get to bypass struggle, just because we want to make millions we don’t get to bypass hardship. Just because we’re an extraordinary space holder, or coach or marketer or whatever so of your people are having a hard time or one of your clients is having a hard time, part of your job is to not internally collapse and make it personal about you and make it a reflection upon your coaching abilities. But to recognize that this is part of their souls journey, this particular struggle is coming up to be healed, just like in a health or a healing context.

You know, a lot of times people in that space will talk about a healing crisis. You know, we break out when our skin is detoxing and purging. We have like violent food poisoning when our body is eliminating something nasty from our system. The same thing is true. You guys, in our businesses, sometimes our clients struggle, and a launch isn’t going to plan. They’re not making money, they’re feeling super triggered, watching all these other people make money, they have a whole thing coming up for them. If we internally as their mentor, collapse, and read the story and say, oh my god, I’m not serving them, I’m doing a bad job, I must be a shitty coach, no one should pay me money. I have all this weird guilt now that they’re paying the money, but they’re struggling.

Why every single challenge you encounter is an opportunity to meet yourself at a deeper level

We are really robbing everybody of the opportunity that this particular struggle is bringing. Every single challenge that we encounter in entrepreneurship provides us with an opportunity to meet ourselves at a deeper level. And you being able to hold space for your clients as they meet themselves. Even when it’s challenging, even when it’s triggering, even when they’d rather not even when they’d prefer to be just lapping up the life of luxury in a bathtub of cash. Sometimes our souls journey is to look at Well shit, why did this offer not sell? Or? Oh my god, I’m so frustrated. Why is this moving slower than I wanted? Can you be steady enough and solid enough in your own mentorship skills and your own leadership capacity? Can you expand your ability to hold space to allow them to go through that without collapsing?

When you do congratulations, you know now that you are a good mentor, that you are somebody who is absolutely not only worthy of receiving money and holding space for clients, but actually damn good at her job. I think some of and I’ve talked about this in other places, other podcasts episodes, other live streams that I’ve done. Part of our job as mentors is not to always like, say the thing that is going to make our clients feel all warm and fuzzy inside and when shit is hitting the fan. If you try to placate them by saying like, Oh, like, you know, you’re still doing great, it’s fine and just kind of stay on the surface, you’re not really serving them. One of the probably the hardest but most impactful questions that I’ve asked clients who are going through a hard time whose launch isn’t working, who are feeling super triggered is what do you think is really going on here. And like dig underneath the surface, encourage them to dig and don’t like shove their nose in the dirt. But also don’t just like high vibe light and love it say, hey, something is off here. Something’s not working, this isn’t flowing. And once you’ve you know, worked with them, and I’m speaking as a business coach, you know, we can troubleshoot things from a strategic perspective. Okay, what’s the data telling you? You know, what are we seeing in terms of analytics? Where are we seeing, you know, what posts are not engaging? Like, where are we missing the mark here?

Why mentorship exists

Once you can look at those things neutrally without charge 99 times out of 100 the mismatch is energetic, and so your ability to sit with your clients and say, What do you think’s really going on here is going to allow the truth of wherever the block is to surface and when that is allowed to surface it can heal awareness rings, the opportunity to shift any sort of stagnation so much faster, but What can happen and like the very reason that that person is in mentorship with you guys is so that they can have support becoming aware of the actual thing that’s holding them back. This is why mentorship exists. This is why we pay people. This is why I pay people six figures a year to hold up a mirror and help me ask the right questions helped me look brutally honestly, at what is actually going on and playing itself out so that I can move it and transform it and shift it. I do not pay my mentors and expect that they will make me immune from the reality of being human, that they will somehow protect me that that investment will protect me from the reality of being an entrepreneur, the reality of being an entrepreneur is that stuff’s gonna be hard. Sometimes things are not going to work, sometimes, you know, launches will be slower than you want, clients will ask for a refund, somebody will try to steal from you. People will default on payment plans, like there are all sorts of reasons that entrepreneurship can be hard. And our ability to hold space for all of it means that we get to expand our own capacity to hold space for our clients. But in order to do that, you have to be so rock solid in your knowing that then going through a hard season is not about you.

I think the second most important thing, and I’ve alluded to this already is encouraging them to ask the right question. And my best question, my best piece of advice for you in this is Ask, like ask them, What do you think’s actually going on here? And if their response to that is kind of on the surface, or like, oh, well, I think maybe like this piece of content didn’t work, or it must be that I’m not doing reels, right, or, you know, whatever, I think you have the real opportunity to say, Okay, I’m hearing that, what else or is that everything, and really, like, encourage them to get to the heart of the matter. And again, it might not always be comfortable, it might not always be the thing that they want to hear, they might want to give you all of their power and say, Guru, coach, mentor, a person who’s making more money than me or is healthier than me or is in a better relationship than me tell me exactly what I’m supposed to do. And I mean, I’m going off on a whole other direction here. And I’ll probably do an episode just on this. But I think that we can create really, really toxic relationships with clients. And this starts from our marketing, if you are marketing yourself as the person to save your clients to be their Savior, to rescue them to make sure that they never experienced the hardship of entrepreneurship or that they never experience, you know, financial strain, or they never experience a bad moment in their relationship, or they never experience a relapse in their health, you are setting yourself up for a toxically codependent relationship with clients, and you are setting yourself up for needy clients who are going to turn on you and project a whole heap of crap onto you when they struggle, because guess what struggling is part of being a human being, I don’t care how much money you’re making, you can be making millions, 10s of millions, hundreds of millions of dollars. And still, you’re gonna come across stuff. And the more that you make, the more like pieces there are to juggle.

The value of having support in your corner

So it’s critical that from the time that you are marketing all the way through the actual onboarding and working with your clients, that it’s normalized, like hey, I’m not here to be your savior. I’m not here to make sure that you are immune from the reality of being human. I’m here to support you, and be with you to walk through it and powerfully shift and learn and heal and uplevel and integrate and rise from every single thing that comes across your path, what an empowering space to be in. And what you will find, ladies, when you cultivate that kind of relationship with your clients is that a, your clients will be more like they will feel better about themselves, they’ll feel more self confident they’ll feel more capable of moving through their own crap. They will learn from you by example, how to hold better space for their clients, and they’ll feel tremendous value of being in the container. I’ve had clients who have had a struggling season or have encountered challenging things in their business during the time that we’ve worked together a container and they’ve signed on and continue to sign on to keep working with each other because it’s not about you know, I’m marketing that I am going to be the silver bullet rescue squad to make sure they never experienced a hard thing. It’s the value of having that support in your corner the value of deepening your own awareness of how to move through challenge the ability to meet yourself at a deeper level and therefore be able to meet your clients and everyone that you work with at a deeper level as a result. And externally momentum results, money starts to flow so much more, when you are able to encourage your client to meet whatever is coming up as their whole self.

So number one, it’s not about you. Number two, encourage them to ask the right question. Number three, like the last thing that I want to share about this is that I think it’s super important that you’re, I mean, so much of coaching is about reframing, right, but your ability to help your clients gain real perspective about whatever it is that’s going on. Usually, what is challenging for a particular client is exacerbated by their awareness of watching what other people are doing, right? We only feel behind in relation to something else. And so nine times out of 10, if a client is struggling, I’m like, Who are you comparing yourself to? What timeline? Are you feeling bad about yourself? In relation to like, who else and you know, then it comes up? Well, she’s crushing it here, I’m watching this person, you know, absolutely slay it there. We started business at the same time. And look, she just had a whatever came on. And I think when this happens, it’s so easy in a lot of times, if your clients there, they might be in a spiral already. But it’s so easy to spiral out, you’re part of your job is to support your clients to zoom out and gain some more perspective, how can they see this thing is happening for them and not to them? What opportunity is this challenge bringing that they can learn from and again, all that you’re doing is returning their power to them returning your clients power to her is so so, so important.

Why it’s not your job to be your client’s savior

And where a lot of coaches mess this up is when their clients are going through a hard time they try to take that power, because they don’t want to feel like they’re a bad coach. Does that make sense? So instead of being like, my clients in crisis, or my clients having a hard time, or they’re doing this wrong, I have to fix it for her. Like that feeling is way more about your inability to be with discomfort and challenge than it is about supporting your client to expand her capacity to be with discomfort and challenge. That is a much more valuable skill than trying to take it on for them. It’s like it reminds me of like an overbearing mom who’s like the kid doesn’t want to make their bed and is like, Oh, well, like I don’t want them to have a messy room. So I’ll just make it for them. I’ll just make it for them. And then the kid grows up, and like ends up getting a divorce years later, because he never makes his fucking bed. And it’s like, well, that’s just what I got used to. Right? Why would you not cultivate your ability to be in the uncomfortable thing? The thing that makes you question, your ability to be a good coach, it’s actually not about fixing the problem for them. It’s about supporting them to ask the right question to go deeper to examine all the things in the strategic field, but to be able to hold that frequency that lets them discover for themselves what is going on in the energetic field, and walk with them as they shift that to witness and other human being to witness our clients.

Look at what’s really going on. I’ll give you an example. I was just working with a client the other day, and we were talking about a particular offer that she has that’s evergreen, that’s doors open. She had a ton of interest in momentum earlier this year. And inquiries in the past couple months have been slower. And I was asking her because I was hearing like this is this is hard. This is frustrating. I’m not really sure what’s going on here. And when I asked her that exact question, what do you think is really going on? Let’s look at this. You know, I just let her talk and reflected back to her. So what I’m hearing is that, like you don’t actually love the client work that you’re doing. She’s like, Yeah, that’s right. That’s really super true. And I’m like, Do you think that’s connected to the reason that we or do you think that has anything to do with the fact that we’re not calling in a ton of these clients? Is there a part of you that actually doesn’t want any more clients? And she was like, Oh my God, yes.

So this is a perfect example of how I could freak out and be like, she’s paying me she’s not getting results. She was having a lot of momentum and then they’ve slowed down and must be my fault. I should fix it. She’s paying me so I have to manufacture a client for her right all those reasons, all those ways that we can like heap that guilt on. That’s not actually my job. My job is to make sure that I am there and present and delivering everything inside of the container. And make sure that I’m really deeply listening and paying attention for not only the things that she’s saying, but the things that she’s not saying, Am I reading between the lines? Am I actually able to tune in to what’s going on for her and support her to draw connections and parallels that she might not be seeing? And to walk with her when she has that realization? Say, cool. So what do we want to do? Do we need to do that?

Because then there might be strategy, right? Do we need to shift the nature of the client work, so you actually are energetically stoked about selling that thing? Again, do we need to pivot your sales plan so that you’re no longer trying to sell something that your heart is not in and sell another offer to be generating the kind of revenue you want to be generating? Like we can get to higher and higher and higher quality questions when we are aware of what the actual block is. So don’t let a challenge a client struggle, make you feel like you’re a bad mentor, like a client struggling and having a challenge is why you are there mentor in the first place, hold powerful space, ask the important and critical questions, even if it might ask them to like, look at things from a new perspective. That is why you are being that’s why you’re there. That’s why you’ve been hired. That’s why you’re in their corner.

The last thing that I want to say about this guys, is if this is a struggle for you like to actually do this, when the rubber meets the road with your clients, if it makes you feel all sorts of, you know, uncertain about your own coaching capacity, or it’s really uncomfortable. Or maybe you’ve had a client who’s pushed back on you in moments when things have been a struggle. And so you’re terrified to, you know, ask a powerful question because you want to just be able to give them the bandaid solution so that they don’t experience pain anymore, which like, ultimately is such a missed learning opportunity for both of you. I will say that one of your most important things that you can do is to be in a mentorship relationship yourself, be in relationship with somebody who models for you what it is to hold space for clients who can meet you and hold space for you without trying to be your savior. If you are in relationship with mentors, in a mastermind in any kind of dynamic where you are treated as somebody that needs to be saved. That’s what you’re going to replicate and model in your own coaching relationships.

The most important thing that you can do is get yourself in the room and be powerfully mentored by somebody who can call you to your highest who can see you at your lowest and at your worst and say, Hey, I see you, I’ve got you, you’re not broken. Like let’s look at what’s really going on here. And empower you to pick yourself up and walk with you beside you as that’s happening as opposed to trying to protect you from ever falling. That is the kind of person you want to walk with. That’s the kind of person you want to cultivate a relationship with because you will learn so much by being in the room with mentorship like that. I hope this episode has served you you guys like I said this is a taboo topic that we don’t see a lot and I felt really, really called to speak this because it’s an experience all of us have and our ability to serve our clients better and better comes down to really perfecting and bettering our skill set in this very area.

So let me know your top takeaway from this episode you guys and if you are listening to this and you are like that is a skill set that I want to expand in. I want to invite you to reach out to me we are going to be opening the waitlist doors to both of my masterminds very soon. If you are ready to get in the room and be held high and supported to expand your capacity not only to meet any challenge in your business, but to expand your capacity to hold and serve your clients. Send me a DM and let me know that you’re interested in the waitlist details for my mastermind and I will send those to you on Instagram. Thank you guys so much for listening and I will see you on next week’s episode.

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Hey, I'm Cait!

Boss mama, wife, and 7-figure CEO empowering women to build profitable, purpose-driven businesses that change the world.


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