Consulting and coaching are two terms that are often used interchangeably. The truth is, these services have very different scopes and offer different benefits for both clients and consultants alike.
That being said, many consultants successfully offer both consulting and coaching services to their client base, which allows them to serve a wider range of customers and offer a larger range of solutions to help their clients succeed.
Rather than picking just one or the other, think about them as two pieces of the same business strategy puzzle. When used together, both consulting and coaching services can enhance your business strategies and provide the best support for your clients.
What is Consulting?
Focused on strategic problem-solving, consulting isn’t about offering quick fixes. Instead, consulting services are focused on offering specific advice and action plans to solve problems and achieve growth for your clients.
Consulting can be defined as working with a company or organization to help them achieve specific goals. This could be project-based or retainer-based. Consultants normally come in with a specific goal in mind and leave once the goal is met.
Consultants normally expect to do much of the actual work as part of the projects they consult on. Since they are the expert in their fields, they are often hired to find a solution to a specific problem on behalf of the company or organization.
What is Coaching?
Coaching is a very specific type of consulting help. A coach is a professional mentor who helps a businessperson or organization leader take the steps necessary to achieve his or her goals. A coach does this by teaching the person they are working with techniques, methods, and strategies that will help them achieve their goals.
Helio Fred Garcia from the Logos Consulting Group describes coaching as the “building of capacity.”
A coach is someone who can observe your processes, help you set goals, and find solutions to problems that may be holding you back. They are there to help you get back on track and stay accountable for the work that needs to be done.
A coach does not hand you the answer to your problems. Instead, they will ask questions to help you figure out what you need to know to change your situation or get what you want. A coach also doesn't tell you what to do; they guide and support your efforts.
Key Business Differences Between Consulting and Coaching
The primary difference between consulting and coaching is their purpose. A consulting arrangement is typically used to address a specific business problem. A consultant will analyze an organization's needs and create a plan of action that will help it improve. Coaching is more personal in nature. It usually focuses on working with one specific person (as opposed to the company as a whole), it often focuses on lots of smaller issues and projects (as opposed to just one large goal), and coaches often help their clients address less tangible factors like company culture, motivation, or leadership skills.
Think of a coach as someone who helps a client through a problem or challenge, whereas consulting is focused on a successfully completing a particular project or reaching a big-picture goal. You can coach someone through the process of achieving a goal, but when you consult with them, you're meeting with them to analyze their situation and then provide specific plans of action to help them achieve the result they desire.
Consulting projects generally offer bigger contracts but have a longer sales cycle. They also require much more of your time and have a shorter time frame in which you are expected to see results or deliverables. On the other hand, coaching arrangements may have a smaller contract size, but they require less of your time and have a shorter sales cycle.
Coaches also rely heavily on recurring revenue (depending on the industry) versus consultants, who often work on one-time projects / contracts. Because of the recurring billing inherent in coaching relationships, offering coaching services can provide a solid foundation for your company's revenue by allowing you to start each month with a set amount already “locked in” and ready to be billed.
How to Offer Both Consulting and Coaching in Your Business
If you want to offer both consulting and coaching as part of your business, you will need to be clear about the differences. You also need to be clear about what each service includes and how much it will cost. There are several ways you can do this:
– Offer a comprehensive service package with both consulting and coaching included. This often means completing a larger consulting project first, and then offering coaching on an ongoing basis to help your client with ongoing implementation.
– Offer coaching as a stand-alone service. Many coaching clients will become comfortable with you and hire you as a consultant for larger projects later on as they become available.
– Put a system in place to upsell clients who purchase one-time consulting packages into long-term coaching clients on a recurring billing model.
If you decide to offer both consulting and coaching services, you must be prepared to deal with conflicting demands from clients who want you to serve them in different capacities at different times.
Your best bet is to offer a wide range of both consulting and coaching services as part of your business to ensure that you have the greatest possible chance of signing up new clients and serving them well.