What 20 Leading Coaches Do To Stand Out In A Crowded Market

Expert Panel® Forbes Coaches Council

As the field of professional coaching continues to grow and evolve, it is also becoming increasingly competitive, with new coaches entering the market every day. In order to succeed, coaches need to find ways to stand out from the crowd and distinguish themselves from their competitors. Depending on their area of focus, highlighting a few key differentiators can help coaches truly stand out to prospective clients.

Below, 20 Forbes Coaches Council members each share the most important factor that sets their practice apart from the competition. From niche expertise and strong communication skills to firm foundations of trust and good rapport with clients, these coaches know that showcasing their primary differentiators is a great way to establish a solid reputation and win more business.

1. Help Clients Leverage Soft Skills

I help my clients leverage soft skills for hard results. Combining neuroscience and positive psychology with the latest global leadership data allows me to design strategies for my clients to help them take action in the directions they want to go. Progress is key. Building authentic relationships and establishing trust are key elements of my successful coaching approach. – Jackie Insinger, Insinger Insights

2. Establish Trust Quickly

The fun of the coaching universe is the wide range of diverse people, ideas and methodologies involved. There’s a coach for everyone! What I like to focus on when meeting prospective clients is whether we can get to trust quickly. Will they enjoy working with me? Will they be able to accept feedback? The relational aspect is the basis of a great partnership, so I focus on that. – Cathy Bonczek, CCB Communications LLC.

3. Invest In Client Experience

Besides my unique coaching perspective (all of us have our unique lens), I invest in client experience a lot, optimizing for an optimal “don’t make me think” client journey—from booking to payments to packages, program activation and reviews. Our busy clients are overloaded these days, so we optimize for a seamless onboarding experience and minimize any potential frustrations by providing access to resources. – Alina Trigubenko, Profi

4. Coach In More Than One Language

My background in clinical psychology, my 21 years of coaching in many industries in America and Europe, my experience living in more than one country and my coaching in French and English all make my coaching stand out. Also, I do executive coaching at the C-suite level using assessments and have designed and delivered many leadership programs. Finally, my biggest differentiator is my love of the work and my desire to support and help clients succeed! – Lyne Desormeaux, PsyD, MCC, Desormeaux Leadership Consulting

5. Incorporate A Unique Specialization

My key differentiator is that I am a master energy practitioner. This allows me to help unlock blockages that are deep-rooted in the energy system. They may have occurred long ago, but they are blocking clients from unlimited success. It’s a total game-changer. I can’t imagine coaching without it. Common blockages are fear, limiting beliefs, self-doubt, low self-worth and lack of confidence. – Beth Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald Coaching and Consulting

6. Turn Firsthand Experience Into Transferable Skills

My key differentiator in working with high-performance leaders is my firsthand experience competing in some of the world’s most competitive environments (Princeton University, Harvard University and the NWHL—the National Women’s Hockey League, now called the Premier Hockey Federation), where I discovered the mindset strategies required to create high-impact, high-performance, championship-winning teams that win. I now specialize in high-performance leadership mindset strategy. – Susan Hobson, Elite High Performance Inc.

7. Know What Your Gifts Are

To be able to share them, you must know your gifts. My gift is strategy, so I coach coaches, not civilians—which means I advise CEO coaches, CEOs or entrepreneurs who are high-level performers and have a grasp of concepts such as blind spots and limiting beliefs. If I get an inquiry from someone struggling with a relationship, for instance, I refer them to one of the coaches on our coaching team. – Tammy Kling, Voices Speakers Bureau

8. Write A Book To Showcase Your Style

My key differentiator as a coach is that I am a challenging individual! I work with confident, successful leaders who like a challenge. I captured this approach in the 2012 book Challenging Coaching, which I co-authored with Ian Day. The book has become a leadership bestseller in the U.K., and many of my clients read the book before they work with me, so they know exactly what style of coaching to expect. – Dr. John Blakey, The Trusted Executive

9. Promote CEO Best Practices At All Levels

My key differentiator is that I bring CEO best practices to all levels of leadership. I have had access to over 50 top global CEOs from some of the biggest global organizations, and I have learned what makes great CEOs successful. I combine business, psychology, health and humanities in my approach, which facilitates deep personal transformation, creating a wider holistic and systemic impact. – Ana Reed, Newmanity

10. Wear A Few Different Hats

I am not solely a coach; I wear other hats too—such as a strategy consultant and a capital introducer. These are areas that allow me to offer impact along a unique value chain, based on my experience and expertise. I highlight this value chain for my prospective clients in our introductory sessions and when it relates to general conversation as crossover experiences worth sharing emerge. – Arthi Rabikrisson, Prerna Advisory

11. Use Tools From Other Fields To Dive Deeper

I am a therapist and a coach. While I don’t practice therapy with my clients, therapeutic tools and insights help us dig deeper into topics that propel us forward. As a career coach, my clients understand careers are laden with mindset and emotional issues. It’s not just about the tactics. While we work on those issues, we also tackle the deeper stuff that truly keeps people stuck. – Jessica Sweet, Wishingwell Coaching

12. Specialize In Areas That Fit A Niche Clientele

Clients come to me after experiencing one-size-fits-all coaches who didn’t meet them where they were. Specializing with entrepreneurs in résumé writing and career services, I readily pivot between coaching and consulting to help them attain an immediate return on investment, often from the first session. By having walked the walk, and by continuing to invest in training, coaching and certification myself, I can be of highest relevance. – Laura DeCarlo, Career Directors International

13. Empower Clients By Facilitating Self-Mastery

My key differentiator is my ability to empower clients by facilitating their self-mastery and unlocking their potential. I focus on behavior change, skill development and competency enhancement, enabling clients to achieve their desired outcomes. I highlight this differentiator by citing specific skills and outcomes that benefit both the client and their organization. – Jonathan H. Westover, Ph.D, Human Capital Innovations, LLC

14. Always Achieve Great Client Results

My client results are my differentiator. I have been told by hiring managers at Amazon, Google, Salesforce, Snap and Microsoft that I was the best interviewer they have ever met. I was able to turn interview answers into frameworks that everyone can apply to achieve equally great feedback and consistently turn their invites into job offers. – Will Rippetoe, The Interview Beast

15. Bring A Valuable POV To The Table

As a coach, my point of view is what differentiates me; and my POV stems from the fact that I have been both a CEO (four times) and a venture capitalist. My experience benefits my clients because I have a clear-eyed view from both sides of the table. – Ben Levitan, Cedalion Partners

16. Get Accreditations From Reputable Organizations

Being both a global entrepreneur with over 30 years of experience in development in challenging times and an agile management mentor makes me a unique and valuable asset to my clients. My specialization in leadership legacy, grounded in my own examples (including myself), supports my business skills. Accreditations from some of the world’s best coaching and training organizations in relevant areas strengthen my leadership skills. – Dominik Szot, MIA

17. Ensure Measurable Organizational Alignment

As an executive coach I only work with companies that sponsor their leaders’ coaching. My key differentiator is that I ensure measurable organizational alignment that helps both the company and the leader to grow. Every coaching goal has quantitative and qualitative success measures so that you know the coaching is working. The leadership skills you learn are always applied to real company projects. – Loren Margolis,TLS Leaders LLC

18. Focus On Clients’ ‘Trailblazer’ Factors

As a business coach, I am a spiritually grounded wordsmith, which is unique. I coach purpose-driven entrepreneurs to create an authentic brand story that aligns with their purpose and attracts their target audience. I focus on my client’s “trailblazer” factors, helping them define their uniqueness. My ability to quickly identify this factor and develop a strategy to market it is what sets me apart. – Lori A. Manns, Quality Media Consultant Group LLC

19. Incorporate Organizational And Team Dynamics

I provide prescriptive coaching for issues where loss of talent or litigation are of concern. My holistic approach goes beyond individual coaching to further incorporate organizational and team dynamics. The core differentiator in my skills comes from my background in counseling and conflict resolution (mediation). Through those, I have developed expertise in interpersonal workplace dynamics. –Candice Gottlieb-Clark, Dynamic Team Solutions

20. Take An Analytical, Results-Driven Approach

My key differentiator as a coach is my ability to take an analytical, results-driven approach to helping people achieve their goals. I provide my clients with data-backed insights and strategies designed to help them reach their desired outcomes more quickly. I firmly believe that accountability and progress-tracking are two of the most essential components of success in any self-improvement journey. – Peter Boolkah, The Transition Guy