Alina Trigubenko: So, James, thank you so much for joining us for this webinar and being so generous with your wisdom and sharing your wisdom that you gathered working in a financial space as well as in a coaching space. So this webinar is all about mastery. Financial mastery, because I know that it's top of mind given the economy for so many of our clients, of our partners, and just overall, they quote the professional services space, coaching space.
Alina Trigubenko: So I'll let you begin with just your intro. I would love to hear your story. I've heard that glimpse, but I would love to share and learn a bit more.
James Ashton: Well, thank you, Alina. It's great to be here. My name's James Ashton. I'm the chief operating officer of coach financing. We are a FinTech platform based here in Houston, Texas, and we are here to facilitate the funding of high-ticket items for coaches and presenters and course creators, digital marketing, whatever we can help out with.
James Ashton: So we've been able to basically assemble a whole lot of banks that are happy to lend money in this space. Traditionally, my background is actually, from banking back home in Australia. And I went through all the different business banking and home mortgage lending and everything like that. And traditionally, a lot of lenders never really wanted to lend money to something that was intangible like a coaching program.
James Ashton: But we've managed to find a lot of those lenders that are willing to work in this space now. And that's where we've been able to put them all together on one platform at coach financing. So we're very excited about being able to support the coaches. Just the nobility and what they do of helping people out and, and trying to improve people's lives.
James Ashton: I think that's probably one of the greatest things I like about this industry.
Alina Trigubenko: Definitely. And you also used to be a sports coach, right?
James Ashton: No, I was in motorcycle racing for a long time, and definitely. could have probably used the coach there in order to get to the peak of where I used to be because some of the people I used to race with actually went on to become world competitors where I was sort of limited to the thing but I was a teacher back at home and you know definitely taught business and mathematics in a high school level and was great to be able to take a lot of 20 years experience within the industry and then bring it back to the school and be able to give my kids, you know, a very much alive look into how the business world works as a, as a teacher.
James Ashton: So that was a great, great experience. And I also have taught within the bank. I was a trainer within the National Australia Bank, which was the bank I worked for back in Australia. So I did a lot of sales training, a lot of different finance programs that we used to offer, including in ratio analysis and how to pull apart financial statements and everything like that.
James Ashton: Educating our bankers about understanding the seven key cash drivers, which is really the key to any business is you really need to understand those cash drivers that you have within your business so that you can manipulate them too. To reach your financial goals. And then it was also a great privilege to work on the sales training and, you know, overcoming objections.
James Ashton: And, you know, and that's probably one of the biggest objections that a lot of coaches face is that pricing objection. And that's where coach financing comes in to help them get over that pricing objection. But there are some tricks to it, which we'll talk about today.
Alina Trigubenko: Definitely. What a beautiful journey that you've worked on both sides of the market.
Alina Trigubenko: And now you're a, you know, former banker helping coaches understand that market. Thank you so much for walking this path, because I know that everything related to finances can be a bit you know, mysterious for people for coaches that are kind of too deep in the craft, and everything business-related and finance-related can be, you know, something that sometimes is just pretty hard to deal when you're too focused on people.
Alina Trigubenko: And I know that on my own skin because I'm a coach and now founder and CEO of Profi, I work a lot with different kinds of coaching organizations, small and big. We have some of our bigger accounts that are bridging a hundred seed organizations, and professional coaching seed organizations. So I see that there is definitely a big need for a kind of business intelligence, financial intelligence advice, and help to these organizations.
Alina Trigubenko: And yeah. How did you decide to start coach financing? Like what was the turning point for you?
James Ashton: So I'd love to take credit for that. But the actual founder of coach financing is a gentleman called Mark Beauchamp. Mark grew up in the payments processing area and was a guru at that and he ended up writing a book called “Thrive and Survive”, but he also was smart enough to see a niche coming through where there was a really big industry in coaching.
James Ashton: It's actually a 10 billion industry in the United States at the moment and Mark was able to uncover those lenders that were actually interested in that funding, those intangible things we used to have when I worked for the bank, when we're releasing something, we used to call it the evil test and the evil test was, was it repossessible?
James Ashton: And, you know, we all know that a coaching finance coaching program isn't really tangible, so it's not really repossessible. But now that we have these lenders that are willing to lend. Intangible programs. Mark was able to assemble them into a platform. So we have over 20 lenders now that are willing to work within that space, and it's a way of using our fintech platform to introduce the coaches' customers to those lenders and see what offers they get in order to finance their programs.
James Ashton: So it's all credit to Mark. I'm here as a C. R. O. To help bolster, you know, everything that we do and try to offer as much advice to our clients and help them on their journey of increasing the revenue in their coaching businesses.
Alina Trigubenko: Beautiful. What are you currently seeing on the market?
Alina Trigubenko: What are some of the kinds of pearls of wisdom that you think everyone should know about?
James Ashton: Sure. Well, probably the biggest. The obstacle that we've got at the moment is obviously higher interest rates. So we are looking at having the highest interest rates we've got this century so far.
James Ashton: And that can be a little bit of a sticker shop there for some clients when they get an offer from a lender. Yeah, obviously this is high-risk lending, so it's all risk-return for the lender. So they price things a little bit higher. But what you've got to think about it is this is more of a cash flow type play rather than an interest rate play and the reason why I say it's a cash flow play is quite often a coach will have a 5, 000 or 10, 000 program and being able to break that down into a monthly payment of say whatever it might be you know anywhere from a couple hundred dollars to five or six hundred dollars depending on the level. It really varies.
James Ashton: We have coaches that have programs that are as low as 500. We have coaches that do programs for 140, 000. So there's a massive range, but having that conversation where I think it's a really good question to ask, you know, at the close is if we take money out of the equation. Is this something that you really want to do?
James Ashton: Can you really see this taking your life forward? And once you've got them to that point, then you can sort of talk about the money and then you say, okay, well, I, you know, this is the cost of my program. And then the question I like to ask in any sort of sales situation is how much are you short? Now that sounds like a strange question, but really what we're looking at there is you may have a 10, 000 program.
James Ashton: And the client can contribute 5, 000 straight up towards that and that means that they only have a financing need for a 5, 000 loan rather than a 10, 000 loan, which a lot of the time will be easier to get across the line. But also, I'd like to coach us to think about it from this perspective, being an ex-mortgage lender.
James Ashton: We always used to take a 20 percent deposit and it sounds a bit strange, but we used to call that hurt money, and what the hurt money was, it meant that the homeowner or the person wanting to purchase that home, they were invested in that base standard that stood to lose, you know, tens of thousands of dollars if the line, you know, if the home and the homeowner didn't perform.
James Ashton: So given that they've got some money into the coaching program, they're more invested in it. They're wanting to do it and they, you know, take ownership of that. Where we come into it is we then, you know, help out with the cash flow side of it. So they may be able to put in 5, 000 down and then they pay them 5, 000.
James Ashton: Some coaches choose. In order to offer them a payment plan and so they go like make another five payments over a thousand dollars over the next couple of months or even but what happens then is you become a loan administrator and it takes away from your everyday job of being a coach and really helping that customers succeed.
James Ashton: We want to take that part of it away and break it down into sort of some monthly payments and ultimately that's what tech financing is all about is helping you through that pricing objection. But I always like to, you know, finance the amount of money that's the best short. I'm not necessarily the full amount.
James Ashton: That's definitely some, I think some good advice there for coaches to think about.
Alina Trigubenko: Thank you so much. And please, I welcome the audience to join us with their questions as we go. And what do you think often, more often than not coaches are not asking or thinking about?
James Ashton: I think quite often the way the platform works is we give you a landing page and a link and then you can send that link out by mobile phone or to the tablet or to someone's email and they go in and apply for the loan and then they will come back with offers.
James Ashton: And as I said before, we're in the highest interest rate period that we've got. But I think coaches need to have that cash flow conversation rather than, you know, what the interest rate is. Now the interest rate is important, I'm not discounting that, but the beauty of a lot of the programs is if you pay that line off sooner, you are going to ultimately save what your effective interest rate is.
James Ashton: So a lot of our coaches are obviously improving people's programs and making their life better and increasing a lot of times their revenue. So if they can make those extra repayments on the revenue that the coach increases for that, for that particular client, they can put that extra money into that, that repayment.
James Ashton: And I always suggest that whenever you've got a loan, whether it's a coaching loan, a home loan, or a personal loan, a car loan, or whatever it might be, you should always pay your payments. If the loan allows you to and gives you the benefit of it, you should always pay your payments in line with your actual cash flow cycle yourself.
James Ashton: So if you're bringing in money weekly, or if you're a salary owner and you get paid weekly, or we call it fortnightly in Australia, but I think Americans know it better as bi-weekly, so cash flow should always be aligned with your loan repayment. So if you, you will have a monthly payment, but break it down into like two payments a month or four payments a month, whatever your cash flow allows you to do, and then try and tack on a little bit extra, even paying an extra 5.
James Ashton: On or 10, you know, a week on that repayment can have a massive, massive gain to you in, in saving yourself interest rate. And that ultimately brings down your effective interest rate on that line. And, there are actually calculators that you can get off the website. And I've actually done an article where I've done this on our website where you can actually go and read about this and, and learn how much money you can actually save.
James Ashton: So I encourage coaches to talk about the cash flow. Option rather than the interest rate as the way to convince their customers that ultimately this is a good way forward for them to take up the coaching program and get the benefits of that coaching program because that's what it's all about is they're going to add value to their lives and hopefully help them make a lot more money or be.
James Ashton: in a better position than they were, what they were before. So that's what it comes down to.
Alina Trigubenko: Thank you. And we got a first question from the audience curious about coaches who are just getting started. What would be your number one tip advice?
James Ashton: Definitely. I would definitely plan out everything about your coaching program, including what your sales targets are, and the cost of your program.
James Ashton: And really do a, do a solid business plan of and, and, and you really got to reverse engineer everything. So I grew up also as a trainer for Subway. I opened the first 50 Subway stores in my home state back in Queensland. And we were given. Very limited help from the subway office in establishing it because we're establishing in a brand new market.
James Ashton: We had a different currency. We had whole different costs that were different from what was being experienced in the United States. So in setting out the pricing menu, we had to basically reverse-engineer everything. So we had to work out what each particular sub was. Was going to cost us and then we had to reverse engineer so that we could achieve industry standard, like a 33 percent food cost and it goes exactly the same with coaching.
James Ashton: The beauty of coaching is it is actually a very high-margin business and there are many ways to formulate pricing, but it really is, an exercise where when you write your first coaching program, you've got to think about how many hours did it take me to develop that and think about what your hourly rate, like what are you, what are you actually worth and then how much is it going to get?
James Ashton: Cost me to get to market Facebook spend might I have to do or Instagram or whatever it is and really understand all those costs and then you can come back and look at what margins you want to charge and everything like that and then compare it to what else is in the market it's really a lot of planning and that's where I really say that by all means pick up the phone and have a chat to us about the financing aspect and get the tips there but really plan out everything that you want to do about your coaching business your pricing what your market really looks like.
James Ashton: Who's your competition? What are they charging? What do you need to earn as an individual? And incorporate all of that into your plan so that you can set your pricing properly and then go in and become a successful coach. You know, take into account that there might be a little bit of a wrap-up period whether you're going to have to cover some of those costs, but definitely, we can assist in the regards to, you know, at least knowing that your coaching program will be affordable to your market.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, thank you so much. We're actually so interested to see different business models that are sprouting right now and kind of popping up given that. Change in the technology landscape and just overall kind of change, you know, all the transformation that's happening in the world. We kind of coined the term of productization of professional services because we started nobody, nobody saying very interesting business models.
Alina Trigubenko: For example, I see. All right. This year, a lot more than in, for example, the previous two to three years, I see a lot more coaches using, for example, subscription functionality meaning that they're selling some sort of services for subscription. It could be just sessions, or it could be async support, or it could be a combination of pre-recorded content plus some sort of amount.
Alina Trigubenko: Sessions a month and they're playing with the composition of those packages and those offerings. And that's definitely something that yields better results because I think we have to be very flexible because the consumer intent and consumer habits are changing rapidly. We buyers of coaching services are also users of.
Alina Trigubenko: You know, all these services and the rest of the services in the world and the technology. So the coaching industry has to be kind of adjusting to what is trending and how the world is used to buying services now. And lots of, lots of services are becoming subscription-based services. on-demand, you know, async, all of that coaches are adopting.
Alina Trigubenko: So, which makes me happy. Also, as far as it always fascinates me that as far as sales and marketing, for example, a line item on the coaching budgeting side, I see that the highest growing businesses and most sustainable coaching businesses are actually referral-based businesses and mass. And also another metric that we noticed and that I think is actually very interesting is that The clients that were referred to coaches, they have the highest possibility of referring more clients.
Alina Trigubenko: So it becomes like a network effect. And in software businesses, that's all we're looking for. We're looking for that network effect. And it's basically the same for coaches. So as soon as you satisfy one person. They become an advocate and then every second person is so much cheaper to bring in and retain and there's so it and this has become like a multiplier effect on the rest of the audience that we can bring in.
James Ashton: Yeah, definitely. Because you think about me always. Relate that back to drug companies. The first pill that the drug company actually has to produce to cure a disease or, or treat a symptom is, is, you know, it could cost anything from 200 to 2 billion. And, and, but then they go and sell it for 50 cents. So every, every bill after the first one, they sell it at, you know, just at a rate and comes through to that whole volume by that.
James Ashton: And it really does come to the same with coaching is once you've developed your program and perfected, and you'll always be. Doing those situations where you're, you know, you're always improving your programs, but having those, those sort of subscription-based models is always something very effective as well, because it makes that affordability thing.
James Ashton: And that's where, you know, you've always got the option of bundling up that whole subscription, and then using something like Coach Financing to, to, to outlay the thing, because that ultimately is the advantage to the coaches. You're increasing your cash flow, because you've got overheads, you may have other stuff that you need to pay, or what you need to pay sales staff.
James Ashton: And don't be afraid. Also, I think with any coaching business, if you don't think that sales are you, you've become a coach in a particular niche because you're an expert at that niche which doesn't make you an expert at sales. So sometimes it's good to understand your strengths and weaknesses and, and use the, you know, the expertise around you in order to generate sales and everything like that, have a specific salesperson doing that.
James Ashton: The other thing is, you know, like your product offering a profile. It's so important in structuring the way the business is run as well. So, you know, don't underestimate that having the whole thing organized and, and, and using software that can help you enhance your business because it's not just the coaching, it's the sales, it's the operations, it's the deployment, it's the.
James Ashton: You know, customer satisfaction and everything like that, getting those testimonials and getting that reputation in the market that you are really good at what you do. And you're ultimately there to help people succeed and, and get their lives better, which is why a lot of us are in that coaching space.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, definitely. And I love servicing the coaching space because you know, it's like, again, the multiplier effect because they are here to help others. But definitely, something also that we see in the market is that you know, finance, finance, financial part is extremely important. Of course, you know, it's a business.
Alina Trigubenko: But also lots of coaches and coaching businesses in general, and I would say probably professional services businesses they are, they kind of hesitant to come off as salesy. They don't want to you know do kind of, they, they, they. Try to avoid sometimes, you know, talking about money or kind of facing the, you know, sometimes hard conversations about, for example, paying the bills and making sure that the contracts are paid on time.
Alina Trigubenko: And that's also where software services like ours, Profi, or, you know, other platforms come in place because we just make it seamless. To, you know, payment collection, cash flow reconciliation, upsells, every sale you know, expirations terms and conditions, and everything around that.
Alina Trigubenko: So coaches don't have to think about it. So we have a couple of questions here. So what are the usual financial struggles coaches face when they're just starting out
James Ashton: cash flow? It really comes down to if you like starting any business and I've seen this time and time again and throughout my banking career, I was a small business banker for many years and it really comes down to making sure that if you are going to do that.
James Ashton: Leap to it that you've got a little bit of a nest egg behind you and ultimately you're ready to, you know, have that, that ramp-up period and have a little bit of money there, but there's some, there's some other little tricks that you can do on, on how to sort of play with the credit market, you know, in some cases you might have 20, 000 saved up and it might be better for you to go and approach a major bank and get a 20, 000 overdraft or something like that.
James Ashton: Which is secured by that 20, 000 because it starts, starts building your business credit. Now, there are some experts out there that I can definitely refer people to it. This is not advice by any stretch, it's just some of the things that I've seen out there in order of how people, you know, set up themselves financially in order for success because not only building personal credit, but once you're in business, building your business credit is so important as well because it all comes down to cash flow, like how much money have you got flowing through your business, are you being able to pay your bills in time and then, and grow your business and reinvest in it.
James Ashton: I always talk about this. three circles that you should always write down. And if you write three circles down on a piece of paper, put in the first circle to the left, the investment decision. The second circle is the financing decision. The third circle is the dividend decision. Now I'll explain them.
James Ashton: So whenever you have anything in your business, and this is not just for coaching, this is for any business, whatever you're going to invest in, so whether you're going to invest in a staff member, whether you're going to invest in a piece of software, whether you're going to invest in a salesperson or a stapler, that's an investment decision that you have to do, so every little cent of your business that you invest in, what sort of return is that going to give you, and then you move on and go, okay, well, I've decided that I'm going to Invest in the software because it's going to make my life so much easier.
James Ashton: Okay, well then how am I going to pay for that? Do I take out a loan for it or is it structured in a way that like your company, like you do a subscription base, can I afford that within my cash flow and that's going to make it easier to do? But, if you need a specific piece of equipment, like a computer or something like that, again, you best start financing that so it doesn't go out and drain all your cash flow in one go.
James Ashton: And then once you've made the right investment decisions, you paid for it properly and made the right financing decisions. The third decision is what do I do with that money? So this is the dividend decision. So the dividend decision talks about how do you spend that money. Do I reinvest it back into my business?
James Ashton: And keep growing it or, you know, spend more money on advertising because I'm getting a good return on my advertising, which comes back to that investment decision, and then keep growing the business until it gets to a point where you, you know, you've got enough money going through the business and then you can start buying yourself nice things or going on holidays and everything like that.
James Ashton: But it's, it's looking at every single dollar on how, how do I spend it in my business and being very critical and, you know, is this going to add value to my business, especially in the early stages?
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, can't agree more. For sure. Also, it's something interesting that in the U.S. S. The tax laws are you know, we definitely need to know what state we're selling into.
Alina Trigubenko: Normally, if you're using Stripe, Stripe tax will take care of a lot of the kind of hurdles there. But what we learned is that, for example, in some states the tax pre-recorded content even if it's mixed, for example, so for example, if you're selling a bundled service, pre-recorded content plus services there is, you know, tax in certain states in the U.S
Alina Trigubenko: but in certain states, it's considered a pure kind of profit. So no, no, no, not taxed. So there's definitely lots of detail when it comes to finance, anything financing-related and finances-related in general. Another question. I'm curious about the usual struggles of other coaches because ours is product scaling, product scaling.
Alina Trigubenko: I guess I can talk about it for hours because that's our specialty at Profi scaling your coaching products. But I would be curious to hear your specific struggles so I can address them. And the follow-up question about cash flow. What's the smartest way to get financing if we don't want to take out a bank loan?
Alina Trigubenko: That's a really good question.
James Ashton: So a bank loan from me. From the point of view of the coach, I'm assuming that's the question. Yeah, it's like anything. It's, you know, obviously, whatever you buy money, which is really what a loan is, like, at the end of the day, banks, financial companies, they buy and sell money.
James Ashton: It's just how they package it is ultimately where it comes down to the decision tree as to what type of financing that you actually want. Now, a lot of the time, the cheapest part of financing is doing good vendor tabs and I'll use this example McDonald's is probably the best cash flow business in the world or one of the best cash flow businesses in the world because I want you to think about it from this perspective who has an account at McDonald's who can go up and and buy a Big Mac and put it on their account.
James Ashton: So every time McDonald's makes a sale, they're getting cash across the counter or other, you know, through the payment systems or cash itself and they are collecting cash every day. Now, would it be fair to assume that McDonald's pays their vendors every day? Probably not. They probably pay them in 60 or 90 days.
James Ashton: So McDonald's has collected cash over that 60-day period before, they basically pay their bread supplier or pay them, their meat supplier or everything like that. So as far as a cash flow-positive business, McDonald's is the perfect example. Now the beauty of it with coaching is we have very high margins, but we also have the ability to offer programs where you can.
James Ashton: basically offer coaching on mass and having a platform like pro-fee, you can actually do your distribution where if you have got that ability to deliver those coaching programs, whether it's through, you know, some sort of written material or some sort of, you know, computer-assisted presentation system that you're not actually having to do the one on one coaching time, which is always important.
James Ashton: And, when people are paying for high ticket programs, they expect that, but there are other parts of the delivery where you can use that technology. And you can have a lot of people ultimately, you know, feeding you that cash flow and having high ticket items and you're actually getting paid up front, obviously assist your cash flow, but it's keeping that momentum going and not just having one customer pay at the start of the month and then go to find the next one for next month.
James Ashton: It's having that constant Sales cycle coming through and making sure that you're always attracting new clients and getting paid upfront. And again, if they don't, if they can't afford to pay up front, that's where you can offer financing and get that cash injection that you need in order to ongoing paying your bills.
James Ashton: But also look at like, when are your bills due? I remember having it when I was in business making. I had a customer who was always overdrawing their account. She was always complaining to me because I was charging her reference fees and things like that. And she says I've got good credit because I pay my bills on time.
James Ashton: I pay my bills as soon as I get and I sort of took that client and hung on, what do you mean? You pay your bills as soon as you get them. She goes, well, if I get my electricity bill, I pay it the next day. I said, well, why are you doing that? I said, the, the, the, the electricity company is willing to give you probably up to 30 days to pay it.
James Ashton: They get, they're giving you free money. So, she just didn't have this appreciation of cash flow and when you actually have to pay them, pay the bills when they're, when they're due and payable. You don't want to jeopardize your credit score, but if people are willing to give you free financing, use it to the fullest advantage.
James Ashton: And that's where that balance comes through where you and I talk about the seven key cash drivers all the time, is understanding what your margins are, understanding your cash flow cycle of when do I get money in, when do I have to pay it out, and what's that volume of money that I have to do. And that all comes back down to your investment decision.
James Ashton: And the financing decision is if you're going to, I've seen people, you know, buy cars for cash out of their business and you go, why did you just spend 60, 000 on, on an asset that you could have financed and had that 60, 000 to spend on advertising or growing your business and everything like that. And it's just making good decisions within your business and understanding that cash flow.
James Ashton: Is is so it's so key to managing any type of especially in coaching business.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, lots of those scaling questions. You touched a bit about it on it, James, for example, you know, providing services, right? And what we see is managing adding and managing contractors is also a way to scale. You know, hopefully maybe without a bank loan, depending on how you structure your business and how you structure your go-to market.
Alina Trigubenko: But you know, as far as the kind of consistent cash flow, one of the ways that we see that lots of coaching businesses are scaling with it's by kind of creating them some sort of You know, in any coaching world, it's called franchise, but in the coaching world, it's called basically by licensing and training the trainers in the methodology and then yeah, just adding contracted coaches that can deliver.
Alina Trigubenko: services with your kind of under your brand as a coach and your coaching brand with your methodology, with your specific client experience, brand experience, so that you can have this again kind of scaled effect and you can reach a lot more people. And then that's how we can get the feeling of the will going.
Alina Trigubenko: That's one of the ways that. to scale coaching businesses, scale coaching products. In other ways, of course, service as many people as possible. A one-to-many or many-to-many model where you are just kind of scaling the productized services or pre-recorded content. But what we noticed is showing us that just scaling via pre-recorded content does not create returns for the customers, for the clients, and they end, of course, to the service providers, because the completion rate for programs with pre-recorded content is somewhere about 4%.
Alina Trigubenko: But as soon as you add a human in a loop, for example, a coach, or a couple of coaches, then the completion rate goes up to 98%, 97%, and up to 100%, really depending on who you're servicing. Also given the state of the market, what we see based on our customer base is that the most vulnerable segment of coaching service providers are those of course, who are servicing consumers, because that's where we noticed based on our conversations with our market about 20 to 30 percent of coaches are losing revenue.
Alina Trigubenko: Because their customers are cutting down their costs and sometimes they see that sometimes, you know, coaching is one of the light items to go once their kind of money becomes access to money becomes a bit harder. But at the same time, we have not noticed a significant drop in revenues in our customer segment, coaching, and coaching companies that are servicing the corporate sector.
Alina Trigubenko: Which is interesting because, you know, there was definitely a wave of kind of cutting expenses. Pretty much every corporation out there cuts at least 10 percent of their expenses. Not a, I'm not even talking about headcount, but based on our data, we don't see any kind of significant vulnerability in that sector of coaching companies, servicing corporate and enterprise sectors.
Alina Trigubenko: So that's also one of the ways to scale, of course you know, selling. More and more upmarket, I think but that model of course requires a very different go-to market and operational engine because for example, in order to sell to a corporate sector, you have to be equipped and that's going to be a product placement for profit because you just can't sell if you are not running your client information in one secure system.
Alina Trigubenko: If you're using multiple systems no, Serious company buyers of coaching services will engage because they just can't simply, you know, they need that suck too so they need other kinds of important for enterprise sector data security elements in place before they can trust any of the client, any of their teammate's data.
Alina Trigubenko: As well as others, you know, you just can't sell with the you know, multiple, using multiple logins, multiple systems and not having a cohesive overview and visibility into the business as well as not being able to provide that visibility to the buyer HR persona. And also the coaching sector they normally, but the beauty of selling to the corporate sector is that they normally sign year-long contracts at least.
Alina Trigubenko: So that's where coaches can get that maybe early cash flow in and then use different scaling strategies depending on the type of the service that they're providing and the business kind of outcomes projected.
James Ashton: Yeah, I think you've hit the nail right on the head there with the corporate world, because I, a lot of my friends work in the corporate sector and in engineering and different sectors like that, and they're responsible within their companies in order to get different contracts and, and grow the business and everything like that.
James Ashton: And I was at a dinner the other day and I actually asked a few of them, I said, How much sales training is your organization actually given you and they basically said none and I think wow like that's such a massive opportunity like for sales trainers to go out there and actually talk to some of these really big companies and train their staff in the art of sales because these guys are really good technical engineers and everything like that but they've never had any sales training and they don't understand That it's just a process.
James Ashton: It's a three-step process. You create interest, you overcome, you know, any objections that the customer is actually going to put up. And then you basically ask for the business and you know, it's three simple steps. There's a lot of art to sell. And if you haven't been, you're not skilled in that particular area, then it's going to be a lot more difficult.
James Ashton: And especially at the corporate level, like a lot of the sales is really relationship-based sales, but it's still sales. It still comes down to, is you know, what is the need? How am I going to satisfy that need? And, you know, what are the objections that they're putting up to me, whether it comes back down to price or some sort of service part of it or something like that, there's a massive dish out there and I think a massive opportunity for anyone who's good at sales training to go out there and really take that corporate market by storm in, in presenting a good program where.
James Ashton: Some of these different people who aren't skilled in sales at all, but are necessary too, in order to do that, I think there's a massive niche there and everything you said before about, you know, scaling as well with, you know, having that human touch, that's such an important part of it is, you know, they're, someone's buying you as a coach, they're buying, they're buying you as the coach.
James Ashton: And you don't see, you know, the football team coach going out there and, you know, he, he gives all the instructions to, to everyone else. He's actually out there on the field directing and going around and making sure that each player has, you know, their program ready for how they're going to improve their position and then come together as a team.
James Ashton: Yeah, he's actively in that network. He's not just doing it from the corporate office somewhere and just dishing out videos for or clips for his players to watch, you know, that'll be part of it in the motivation thing like that and reviewing past games and things like that. But coaching is no different from sports coaching.
James Ashton: You've got to be in there and in the thick of it. And ultimately, you know, pressing your knowledge of how someone's going to improve on what they want to improve on and really getting into that, that personal touch. I think that's so important. And then, as you said, if you need to scale that, then you teach other people how to do what you do.
James Ashton: And then you can, you know, like that franchise model that you said to do that and create all those experts in that industry.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah. Ultimately, I think what we're in the business of as coaches is delivering this hyper-personalization because that's what we're ultimately being paid for, for being there, you know, for this heart-to-heart connection for the face-to-face connection for you know, hyper-personalized service.
Alina Trigubenko: And I think that also translates to selling the marketing as well. What we're seeing on the market, and I know that we switched from financing, but, you know, sales and marketing is directly related to financing, but something that we're seeing across the board is that kind of soulless and generalized outbound sales and marketing, for example, ads, as well as outreach, does not work anymore.
Alina Trigubenko: We're in the age of hyper-personalization of everything, and that's where. Kind of those you know, email sequences that are not personalized, not niche specific, not touching the pain of potential customers. They just don't work. So that is also something that we noticed this year, very, very vividly.
Alina Trigubenko: It used to be like those outbound strategies used to work. for coaches last year, but it just doesn't work anymore, especially in the age of AIHL GPT, there's going to be so much noise with content that's just very generic. So I think this is a time for us as coaches to choose to invest in every kind of personal gain, hyper-personalize everything, but very much solving and reaching out to the right customers and solving their exact pains.
Alina Trigubenko: And instead of just kind of, you know, blanket statements and blanket services, it just doesn't work anymore. So in order to kind of save some of the money on the go-to-market on the sales and marketing line, definitely. We should be thinking a lot about that. And also we noticed that coaches are becoming more and more equipped financially.
Alina Trigubenko: So there's a big segment that's popping up that we're actually servicing as financial wellness coaching for coaches, but not only. So I think that's up your alley where you can educate the market on, you know, what are the financing options available to them? What is? It's just, you know, about the whole world in general, financial intelligence.
Alina Trigubenko: I have a question for you. What do you like, for example, I think that sales are just kind of touching back on sales. I think sales is probably 70 percent art and 30 percent science because that's also about this kind of hyper-personalization and solving their problem. How would you rate financial world financing, for example, what percent of it is art?
Alina Trigubenko: What percent of it is science?
James Ashton: I would probably say 90 percent science because a lot of the time you're very restricted with what you can actually do with a financial product unless you work for an organization that's Got some pretty good programs. It's very difficult to cater to those who need to, you know, sort of the different nuances but it's, it's really a case of designing.
James Ashton: If you're designing any sort of program, call in the expertise. You spoke before about, you know, the different tax regimes and everything like that. That's so important in any business to make sure that you're getting the right tax advice and you're not. You know, digging yourself a hole there, but it also comes down to it, is the bigger pitch out.
James Ashton: It really comes down to your financial security or your financial wealth comes down to how you are managing every aspect of your financial life. Like what income have I got coming in? What investments am I buying in? What, how do I do things transactionally really comes back down to sort of.
James Ashton: Almost, you know, your personality, like, are you very, very diligent about reading your bank statement every, every month and, and seeing those, those subscriptions that have snuck in and all of a sudden you're paying, you know, I, I worked out that I was paying about 385 for my internet, my phone, my TV subscription, Netflix and everything like that and I actually took the time one weekend to really assess that And I ended up getting it down to 85 a month.
James Ashton: So I was, you know, throwing away 300 a month just on unnecessary things. And it's not about, you know, not living life. I'm, I'm a big advocate of, you know, we running on this earth for a very period of time. You gotta have a very fulfilled destiny. I've actually got a brother-in-law. I think I, I think he's still actually got his first paycheck.
James Ashton: He's, he's that tight with his money. But you know, I don't see him enjoying life to the extent that other people do. So it's finding that balance with you and really comes down to, you know, making sure that you either got the expertise around you or it's not your forte. Or that you're actually being diligent about every, you know, everything that you're spending and how you're spending it and, and structuring it, you know, structuring your financial life is a, is a big thing and that's where financial planners come in and that financial wellness coaches and even then, the FICO score thing is a, you know, I've been in the country now for five years and that's still a massive mystery to me on how those scores are ultimately.
James Ashton: I've done a lot of research on how they're calculated, but I'm not going to, you know, criticize the system. It's the system that we work in, but you know, it sort of doesn't make sense to me sometimes where I know someone's got a couple of million dollars in the bank and because they don't borrow money, they've got a very well off.
James Ashton: And that's where it comes down to, is understanding and playing, you know, life's a game, isn't it? You've got to play the game and you've got to make sure that you're pulling the levers in order to get, put your best foot forward, and make sure that you're on top of everything. And that's, that's, that's an art in itself.
James Ashton: And it takes a lot of energy, but. It's energy quite well spent, so really going to look
Alina Trigubenko: at it with the ROI attached, not just energy well spent, but also ROI attached to everything done right. Of course,
Alina Trigubenko: We have another question here for both Alina and James. Have you seen a success story over coach coaches who have achieved great growth through financing and what lessons can others learn from them?
James Ashton: Yeah, we have a particular coach who's very, very good in the sales training space and he was able to come on to, we do actually have a program that does, that guarantees 100 percent financing, but there is a pretty high qualifying bar to get to that.
James Ashton: You have to be actually having more than a million dollars a month, sorry, a million dollars a year in sales in order to qualify for that program and as well as the reputational things and, and other, other criteria. So it's not, not for every coach, every coach should basically You know, aspire to be on that program because it guarantees financing, but it also comes with its own, its own little bumps and things like that.
James Ashton: But that particular coach was able to go back and look at all the deals that they missed out on over the last three months. And now we're able to go out and boost their cash flow by about 300, 000 just by revisiting the deals that they missed out on once they got onto this secure financing program.
James Ashton: And they are a multimillion-dollar coach being very successful and very good at what they do. And that's definitely one of the success stories I've seen and we've got other coaches that specialize in, you know, a particular niche and they're just so good at it. They again have built multi-million dollar businesses and scale to, to massive, you know, massive success.
James Ashton: And it comes back down to that planning, having those systems in place, any successful business has, has systems. And, and again, I refer back to your product is, you know, that, that's, that's part of the system that they have in delivering and it's structuring that. And making sure that you have that system in place and, and keeping all the, all the ducks in a row in order to deliver what you say you're going to deliver and, and, and, you know, execution excellence really what it comes down to.
James Ashton: And other things, you know, you're not, you're not going to ever satisfy every customer. I think that's, you know, anyone who has that sort of in there, in their mantra is, is really kidding themselves because, you know, we're human beings, we all have different wants, tastes, likes, nuances and everything like that.
James Ashton: But if you can definitely, you know, satisfy the majority of your customers and, and be happy about that and, and try and get constant improvement, that's definitely the goal that you want to do. But, don't beat yourself up if, if you can't, you know, you can't satisfy every customer because it's just, it's an impossible task.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, it's all about niche, niche, niche, niche, and then ICP and ICPs can be pretty deep. You know, the more experience you have on the market, and by ICP, I mean, ideal customer persona. Normally when we're just starting out we can say that, for example, my ideal customer persona is you know, let's say.
Alina Trigubenko: Female executives, but then as the kind of we work in industry, we mature our ICP image and that's where I become a lot more successful. The more niche we are as coaches, the more ROI we get from every engagement because we are a lot more equipped to get into the heart of the problem, issue, request, and goal that the client is reaching out to get our help with.
James Ashton: And then There's a saying that a really good entrepreneur knows when to say no, like as an entrepreneur, everyone starts out, you say yes to anything. You, you're, you take an invitation to a funeral to, you know, as a sales opportunity, but it comes down to you get to a point in you're, you're an expert in your field and you're doing a lot of things, and you generally start out saying yes to everything in order to get your name out there and everything like that.
James Ashton: But eventually it comes full circle and, and it's what you say no to quite often can actually boost your performance and really be important as part of running a business and everything like that. So there's definitely a trick to it. And again, it's, it's, you know, having good people around you. Having someone who sort of, you know, is not afraid to check you and everything like that and, and, you know, seek that guidance and, you know, having a, having your own personal development coach is, is key, even though that you're a high performer because, you know, you think about all the basketball stars, all the football stars, they do not come to that point without having a coach.
James Ashton: So if you want to, you want to perform at a peak level, then you obviously need someone around you who can, you know, give you that guidance and ultimately. Push you to perform at your best and that's always an interesting perspective of making sure that you have got the good people around you and people are going to challenge you and not just be yes man and everything like that and have good conversations about. I always say any business decision should be a data-driven emotionally intelligent decision.
James Ashton: So data-driven, emotionally intelligent decisions are what you want to aim for.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, that resonates with me a lot, especially I guess, you know, in our industry, there's no way around emotional intelligence attached to everything because we work with humans and what's sacred for humans, their goals, their personal information, their personal lives.
Alina Trigubenko: So yeah, actually, I love how you put it. I'll quote you on that. And sounds like you are with your financial program. From what I've heard from you, it sounded like you have some sort of coaching to open up the financial potential of your clients. Would you please tell me a bit more about the financial problems?
Alina Trigubenko: I love how you looked at the pipeline and then recovered some gold from it.
James Ashton: So we have about 20 staff. So I have a, I have a sales team who go into wire demos and everything like that. But then just as important at the back ends, we have a support team and they're there too. Obviously, I don't have any technical difficulties, but also to guide the coaches through any questions that they have, you know, quite often I, I've been watching the house.
James Ashton: I don't know if you've ever seen House MD on, on TV, but he's a doctor that's very good at his job and he's, he's just everyone, everyone allies, you know, that's his sort of mantra. And quite often we'll get coaches and they'll ring us up because someone's applied through the platform and, unfortunately being rejected and they go, such and such has got a, you know, an 800 credit score and, you know, he's got a million dollars in the bank and, and rah, rah, and he should have been approved and everything like that.
James Ashton: But when we actually get the permission to delve into it, it really tells a different story. And, you know, we're, we've got a support team there that are there to help out in that regard. But going through the stages is quite often we'll see through the program, you know, we. We've processed about a billion dollars worth of lines over the last two years and there's no one.
James Ashton: Some people don't get an office and then other people dig at the office, but I see a big problem with and I'm trying to educate as many coaches on this as possible. The people that are approved and regardless of the interest rate and things like that, these are really your low-hanging fruit and they're the ones that you want to nurture through to say, well, you have actually been approved for a loan.
James Ashton: What can we do to get you to get to getting it funded and having that conversation? And again, it comes back to I've spent the last 30-odd years in financial services, so I know how to sort of talk when I'm trying to educate coaches as much as they can on how they can have that conversation with their customers.
James Ashton: It's not an interest rate play. It's a cash flow play. So having that conversation where, you know, if you take out my program, you know, you can pay for it for 250 a month rather than paying me, say 5, 000 upfront. But I'll also help you make money on that journey. And you'll be paying this line off soon.
James Ashton: So you're going to lower your effective interest rate. So my support staff are back there to help anyone with any different inquiries on that front. And the guy I love talking to customers and stuff, I am the COO, but I'm very, very visible to my customers. And if you want to pick up the phone and. Have a chat with me.
James Ashton: I'm more than happy to have a, you know, a counseling session with anyone on how I can help, you know, especially implement finance into their business and, and really make them successful.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, I would love your advice too, because I'm, I'm always talking to customers and it's my greatest joy to pass along some knowledge and our customers are coaching, scaling, coaching organizations, but we also serve as solos, smaller teams as well as again, you know, bigger organizations and of course, financing is top of mind for all of them.
Alina Trigubenko: across the board. Any, there any interesting finance, like practical financial advice or financial financing strategies that you could think of for scaling up coaching organizations? I know we covered some of their kind of early entrance to the market, practical strategies, but what would you say for a team of coaches that have, let's say, 15 coaches in, you know, up from there?
James Ashton: I mean, the biggest thing is, let them play to their strengths. If one of those particular coaches is Really good at selling then maybe let them excel in that regard. It really comes down to knowing what your strengths are and there are lots of different personality tests that you can do and everything like that if some people are really good at starting things but not so good at finishing them.
James Ashton: So that would indicate to me that you were the, you know, you're the person to set the appointment, but not necessarily the person to close the appointment. So it's really understanding those different parts of your business or where your strengths lie and with the follow-up and everything like that, because everything comes down.
James Ashton: A lot of selling is relationship-based, which is building that rapport with the customer. And showing that you're going to add value. And that's why we always say you know, that those three steps are, you know, create, creating that buzz around what you're actually going to do and the interest in your program and what it can do for that particular customer, understanding what objections they have.
James Ashton: And everyone does, you know, you can do objections clinics, and really objections only really fall into five, five categories. And, you know, having a, having a script ready for all of those categories and talking through it. And then the biggest problem I see a lot of the time with salespeople is not never asking for the business and it doesn't have to be, you know, are you ready?
James Ashton: Are you going to buy my coaching program? There are a lot more subtle ways to do it and just say, well. Is there anything that I haven't covered off that you're not comfortable with with the program that you can see adding value to your goals and you get a positive answer to that and then you just finish up with you know, would you like to get a paperwork start?
James Ashton: You know, it's very, very subtle or can I send you a link in order for you to sign up? You know, just as some sort of a little subtle, but it's a closing question. A lot of people and their sales presentations I'll send you. I'll send you everything we covered today. And get back to me. Well, if you actually go through that sales process where you covered all their objections, they should be ready to buy right there and then and actually asking for the business is such a powerful tool and you will see that your sales increase, you know, probably threefold by actually asking for the business because, at that point, you know.
James Ashton: That you've actually covered all their objections if I go back and say I know I need to talk to my partner I need to do this well more for you you have actually had the right people on the call in the first place so whenever you're on a sales call this again you need to do it suddenly and not be pushing everything like that but ultimately making sure that all the decision-makers who are actually going to buy the program are on the sales call because the worst thing you can do.
James Ashton: I expect this customer who's not an expert in your product to sell some other customer and they're only going to get half the story and they're only, you know, and it's just going to be quite a disaster. And I always used to when I was selling home loans, I would always make sure that I had the husband and the wife in the room with me so I could cover all those objections.
James Ashton: And it was really interesting. I actually had a kitchen business for a while as well. I diversified out of banking and I had a construction firm and selling kitchens is like being a marriage counselor. Like a baby. The stand-up fights that I used to have in my kitchen showroom like people deciding on what the kitchen was going to look like, you almost became more of a referee than anything in deciding what the kitchen might look like and everything like that.
James Ashton: And I always say, well, who's going to be using the kitchen the most? You have dibs on what this should look like or how this can function and everything like that. But, having the right people in the room and going through that house, that whole sales process, but ultimately asking for the business is so key.
James Ashton: And, you know, being able to deliver on what you have said you're going to deliver on and get people, you know, speed of services is also important as well. And, we've actually just developed a new platform and I can have most of our coaches up and running within an hour of doing a demonstration and offering finance in their business.
James Ashton: So that's pretty exciting for us.
Alina Trigubenko: Yeah, Congrats on launching your new platform. I'm very excited to hear more about it. So we're, we just reached the top of the hour. Thank you so much. James, I always have every interaction that we have, I learn a lot from you and especially today. Thank you so much for sharing a wealth of knowledge.
Alina Trigubenko: Hopefully it was helpful. Thank you for answering the questions and thank you for the questions that we got from the audience. So thanks to everyone.
James Ashton: Okay. It was a pleasure to be here and anyone, if they want to reach out and have a chat, I'm bold and happy to. To do that. So thank you and thank you to Alina and wish you all the success with Profi and it's a great program and people should, all the coaches should be looking at it to help that delivery and that value add.
James Ashton: So thank you very much for having me.
Alina Trigubenko: Thank you. Bye bye.