How to Identify (and Solve) Your Coaching Clients’ Pain Points

What is a “Pain Point?”

Before we move on to a discussion of how you can identify and solve your clients’ pain points, let’s first look at the dictionary definition to make sure we have a good understanding of what this term specifically refers to.

According to Merriam-Webster:

pain point: a persistent or recurring problem (as with a product or service) that frequently inconveniences or annoys customers

broadly: something that is a recurring source of trouble, annoyance, or distress

Essentially, a pain point can be anything that causes frustration or discomfort for your client. In coaching, these can be feelings, behaviors, beliefs, or anything else that causes your client stress or holds them back from achieving the things they want in life.

Sometimes the client is acutely aware of their pain points.

In other cases, your client may have a vague feeling that they are struggling or feeling obstructed in some areas of their life—but only have a vague idea that something is wrong somewhere.

In still other cases, they may not even realize that there is a problem at all.

As a coach, it is up to you to help your clients identify their pain points, and then work together to find solutions.

Remember—Pain points are the areas in which your clients feel they need the most help—they are the reason they hire you to coach them. Likewise, solving these pain points is likely the reason you decided to become a coach.

Examples of Pain Points That Clients May Have

There are many different types of pain points clients can experience—far too many to ever create a complete list. However, some of the more common ones you’ll encounter as a coach include:

  • Lack of clarity about what they want or where they’re going: Many clients seek a coach because they feel lost or stuck. They may not have a clear vision for their future or know what steps they need to take to get there. As their coach, it’s your job to help them gain clarity and develop a plan to move forward.
  • Feeling overwhelmed or stressed: Many clients feel overwhelmed by the demands of their life or job. They may be juggling too many balls and struggling to keep everything together. As their coach, you can help them identify the areas of their life that are causing them stress and develop strategies to manage it more effectively.
  • Lack of confidence or self-doubt: Many clients lack confidence in themselves or their abilities. They may doubt their ability to achieve their goals or feel like they’re not good enough. As their coach, you can help them build self-confidence and learn to trust themselves and their abilities.
  • Poor communication skills: Many clients have difficulty communicating effectively with others. They may have trouble expressing themselves clearly or find it difficult to assert themselves in conversations. As their coach, you can help them improve their communication skills and learn how to better express themselves.
  • Difficulty achieving work-life balance: Many clients struggle to achieve a healthy work-life balance. They may feel like they’re sacrificing their personal life for their career or vice versa. As their coach, you can help them find ways to better balance their work and personal responsibilities.

Identifying and understanding your clients’ pain points is essential to being an effective coach. It allows you to tailor your coaching to meet their specific needs and help them overcome the challenges they’re facing.

How can we identify our clients’ pain points early on in the coaching relationship?

Some pain points are easy to identify, but others are less obvious—especially when your client is oblivious to their existence.

Naturally, it becomes easier to identify these more subtle pain points the more time you spend with a client. Nevertheless, there are some basic things that coaches should do to identify their clients’ pain points early on in the coaching process.

After all—the sooner these obstacles are discovered, the faster you and your client can get to work solving them.

  1. Ask lots of questions: Asking your coaching client the right kind of questions is one of the best ways to get to know them and understand their challenges. During your initial consultation, be sure to ask about their goals, what they’re struggling with, and what they hope to achieve through coaching.
  2. Listen carefully: It’s important to not only hear what your client is saying but also to listen for what they’re not saying. Pay attention to their body language, tone of voice, and choice of words. This will give you clues about what they’re really feeling and thinking.
  3. Observe their behavior: Another way to get to know your client is to closely observe their behavior as you discuss various subjects, thoughts, beliefs, or events. This can give you insights into their thought process, and help find any recurring issues with how they react to specific situations.
  4. Look for patterns: As you get to know your client, look for patterns in their behavior or thoughts. This can help you identify any underlying issues that may be causing their challenges.
  5. Try to imagine yourself in their shoes: One way to empathy and understand your clients’ pain points is to try to imagine yourself in their shoes. Have you ever been in a situation that was similar to their current situation, even in small ways? What challenges did you face? What pain points did you have to struggle with?
  6. Draw upon your experiences with other clients:  As a coach, you’ve probably worked with other clients who have faced similar challenges to your current client. What pain points did they struggle with? How did you help them overcome those challenges?
  7. Ask for feedback: Always ask for feedback from your client about how the coaching is going and whether they feel like you’re addressing their needs. This will help you gauge whether you’re on the right track and make any necessary adjustments along the way.


While you can draw upon your past experiences to help you discover your clients’ struggles, ultimately, you need to do the work to identify them. If you assume that you know what pain points your clients are struggling with when they come to you, you can miss the point entirely (no pun intended).

When you develop your skills at discovering and solving client pain points, not only will it help you attract more clients to your coaching practice, but you will be making real, lasting differences in their lives.