Top Advisor Asks: Why Does So Much Coaching and Consulting Skew Towards Training?

A few sessions ago, I was running my class at UCLA Extension: “Building Your Consulting Business,” when a mature, highly experienced student asked a fundamental question about my practice and many others.

“Why does so much coaching and consulting skew towards training?”

His wife, not in attendance that day, is a trainer in an organization. This fellow, already a consultant, was wondering if most consultants simply do what she does, but for several companies instead of for one.

Many do.

Training is very simply a consulting medium, a platform for efficiently and effectively packaging and then sharing information.

There are lots of consulting forums or media, including conversing one-on-one, writing proposals, reports and white papers, utilizing email, encrypted web sites, and recording audios, and videos, to name a few.

From the viewpoint of the coach and consultant, training, especially in seminars, has several advantages:

(1) You select the modules, arrange their importance, and fill them with information you believe is most pertinent and valuable. This gives you control.

(2) You select the length of the program, and indicate the time units required for its proper delivery. If you believe the content requires 20 days of instruction or 2, it is your determination to make, and being the expert, who can refute you without first taking the class?

(3) Once you have designed the program, you can market it vigorously, and each time you repeat it, it is serving you like a template. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, and you can focus on incremental improvements.

(4) You can develop your own, in-house clone army, and send them forth to do the training under your guidance.

(5) You can license the program to other consultants and to your clients and develop residual income from what you have already invested time in developing and proving.

There are inherent weaknesses in other delivery modalities.

For instance, when you’re doing on-on-one coaching, it can involve you in an inefficient process of give and take, and invite distracting side-stream discussions, especially if your client hasn’t been grounded in your overarching principles.

Seminars, and group trainings, impose discipline on you and on the client. There are specific topics, time units, and clearly stated objectives, and meandering is less tolerated.

Plus, and this is crucial, it is exhausting to improvise one-on-one, as you’ll be called on to do, if you aren’t sticking to a formalized training agenda.

Can you consult without doing some sort of training, without educating or edifying your client? I’m not sure you can, but by deliberately making training the centerpiece of your practice, you give it coherence, and it gives you something that is predictable, reliable, and valuable, that you can leverage, financially and intellectually.