Tip 2: Quickly Identify the Key Players

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The previous section of this chapter identified some key roles. The

coach/consultant’s job is to find out who is playing these key roles,

and in some cases, to convert people to either play an additional role

or change roles during the course of the coaching initiative. This

exploration typically begins with the pathfinder or sponsor. The

pathfinder could be the initial contact within the organization,

perhaps someone who contacted the coach at a conference. This

person, although not the decision maker, can put the coach in

contact with the decision maker. Gaining this entrée often puts the

coach in contact with the person who is the sponsor of coaching.

Early conversations with the sponsor will reveal the potential buyers

of the coaching services. Follow the money. Whoever is paying for

the coaching will have to be reckoned with at some point. If at all

possible, arrange to meet these buyers to better understand what

they expect from the coaching and to begin to educate them about

the coaching process and possibilities. Shape the expectations of

buyers for what coaching can do for their business.

All buyers have influence on the course and direction of the

coaching initiative. In fact, they are often less interested in coaching

as an initiative and more interested in how coaching will positively

(and quickly) impact their business. Decentralized organizations

often create decentralized buying networks. This arrangement can

greatly complicate the consultant’s job to cobble together the

buyers to fund a coaching initiative. This also increases the risk

factors for the consultant. The consultant will need to invest

considerable resources to secure initiative funding and, for larger

initiatives, line up additional coaches to handle the potential

demand. Key influencers can accelerate this process by encouraging

buyers to make the decision to proceed with the coaching initiative

more quickly.