11 Things You Need to Know in 2021 Before Buying Coaching Software

Last updated in September 2021

2021 Coaching Software Comparison – Scroll Down for Details

As a coach, you have to wear many hats: You are the Chief Marketing Officer, VP Sales, the Head of Finance (or your spouse is), and you are your own Executive Assistant. All at once. This coaching software review takes a look at platforms that help you master most of that single-handedly.

Until your business has grown large enough to hire help, you have to juggle it all… client records, invoicing, accounting, content planning, follow-ups with your clients, finally creating that email campaign, and on and on it goes.

No case for the one-trick-pony or the faint of heart.

So how do you make your life easier? You look for solutions. We all do.

For the past three years, I have been researching and testing coaching software. My first article published in 2019 and got more attention than I expected. Coaches seem to need this information to make the best decision before they buy.

Makes sense. Who wants to sign up for a software, load all their data into it and then start over? Not you, no. So let me walk you through the key items you should consider before you buy or subscribe to any coaching software.

From November 2018 until December 2020, I tested thirteen different software solutions to see which one would make the cut. Twelve are represented in this review. 

As I am sharing this with you from my own experience, I am not rating the services for you. What works for me may not work for you, and all the tested tools solve an important issue or even a few.

So instead, I am describing the criteria I have used to compare and decide. That should save you some time in the selection process and reduce your learning curve.

What’s New In 2021

The first version of this article appeared in 2019 and has been very popular in the coaching community. In 2020, I reviewed additional tools that are added to this review. 

Update (09/2021): Added Quenza and Simply.Coach, removed inactive platforms and updated Delenta.

Added and Removed Coaching Software:

PaperBell and Coaching Loft were added to the 2021 review. Meanwhile, Achiiva was removed. Achiiva dubbed itself “the world’s leading mobile coaching platform” but the page never loaded during the time of writing this article and I checked back every day. 

Beyond coaching tools, I have added tools that help you to build an online coaching business. I have handpicked tools for you in the section “Beyond Coaching Software” below.

TL;DR

Click here to jump directly to the side-by-side comparison table below for coaching-related software.

Since I went through all that work, I thought I should share what I have found. You might find the one or a combination that will make your job easier and free you up to do more of what you started to do: helping people through coaching.


What You Need To Know About Coaching Tools

Below are the nine tools in comparison. What you should know is what I looked for as I hunted for the perfect tool and how they differ:

Coaching Platforms vs. Software

Software tools target specific repetitive tasks and help you to simplify the steps in a process. A good example here is scheduling. Instead of communicating back and forth with a client or lead, you send them a link, and they can schedule a time on your calendar at the time you set as available. Sweet.

Platforms are the complete ballgame. You get a place where your information resides and the software tools on top of that. For example, you get a place where you share your coaching content (training videos, worksheets) with clients as well as tools for invoicing. 

A Word About Multi-Sided Coaching Platforms

Some of these platforms allow you to showcase your services to find clients or help clients to find you. There are multi-sided platforms (“multi” because they bring multiple parties together: coach and client) that do just that. They help two parties find each other. Those types of multi-sided platforms do not provide additional features to run your coaching operations, such as, invoicing or hosting and sharing of courses or worksheets and session notes.

A select few multi-sided platforms provide both: a way to generate leads through their “directory” and a way to manage your clients. Here are a few examples.

Examples of Multi-Sided Platforms to Get Coaching Leads:

  • Noomii – Focus on coaching leads. Use promo code: “corinnahagen” to save $50 if you sign up.
  • Thumbtack – Focus on leads in many categories, including coaching.
  • LifeCoachHub – Focus on coaching leads PLUS coaching operations. Scroll below for a special offer code.
  • LinkedIn ProFinder – Focus on a variety of professional services, including coaching.

The coaching software and platform providers in the side-by-side comparison in this article are not focusing on multi-sided lead generation platforms. The exception is the inclusion of LifeCoachHub as a one-stop-shop site.

All of the vendors researched for this article are cloud providers, which means their products are available in the cloud (internet) and do not need to be downloaded. Cloud is the new standard. You’ll always have the latest product version and access from any internet-enabled device, wherever you are. Nice, isn’t it? 

Great Coaching Tools Play Well With Others

The best platforms don’t need to provide everything but integrate with other providers you use (in plain English: play well with other tools you have already come to use and love).

Think about your phone. It doesn’t come with all the apps, but you can download the ones you like. The same goes for a good coaching platform.

Basic Needs To Be Covered By The Coaching Software You Pick

The 11 Things You Need To Know about Coaching Software before you click ‘buy’:

The 11 categories I compared side-by-side are the ones that I deemed the most necessary and repetitive — apart from price. Here is why:

1.Share and Store Documents: In my communication with clients, I have to share contractual documents, worksheets, and any other content I have created for my clients.

If I still have to communicate all of that via email and store the files manually, I am missing out on a tremendous opportunity to save time. It was important to me to have everything surrounding a customer in one place.

2. Content Delivery Platform: This is only relevant for you if you plan to share worksheets, documents, or video content frequently with your clients. I looked for a platform that allowed me to store such things in one place and enable access for clients individually.

3. and 4. Invoicing and payment processing: Payment processing allows you to collect payments, whereas invoicing solutions merely send out the invoice for your services or products.

I have used a separate tool for invoicing in the past. Payment processors like Square have come a long way to help with invoicing and even scheduling appointments, but then all my client records still live in separate places. The winning tool had to play well with such tools.

A note on compliance:

PCI compliance is a mandatory standard required for the safety of credit card processing merchants (you). It protects your client’s payment information and is standard with integrated providers such as Stripe, Square, or Paypal.

If you are using a coaching tool provider who integrates with these payment processors, you’re all set. If your coaching tool provider offers their own payment processing solution, you want to look for PCI compliance as it is mandatory for you to ensure it through your chosen partners.

5. In-app session notes: Notes and more notes! I write a lot during a coaching session. It helps me to see patterns, keeps me focused and uses the same verbiage the client uses. I also jot down the “aha’s,” or critical takeaways the client has and the agreements made, the follow-up, or the actions taken home.

Those notes lived on paper or on my iPad. You guessed right: in a separate place. I want one place per client to tie it all together without much post-session admin work.

6. Progress tracking: I didn’t know I wanted this until I came across CoachAccountable. My progress tracking lived in the agreements with my clients and worksheets I have for that. It has been an exchange over email and required several more steps than I have now. Phew.

The other side of this is the visualization of the progress of the entire coaching relationship at the macro level for the clients. They see what they have worked on and how they progressed through the different targets they have focused on.

7. Scheduling: This was more of a nice-to-have for me since I already used Calendly and later switched to Book Like A Boss. This booking tool helps with eliminating the back-and-forth to coordinate a time to meet as I mentioned earlier.

You connect your calendar(s) and can even create standard meeting types with templates and then share the link with others. They click on it and see your availability (you can block time) and schedule themselves at their convenience. Calendly even allows for payment collection, if you want to charge per single event.

What I did need is integration with my existing calendars or with a calendar tool.

8. Contact Management: All contacts should be in one place and include the most essential information about your client and your relationship. This is still a little bit of a construction site for me. I found an excellent platform that I will describe in detail below, but I still see a gap between contacts managed for client interaction vs. CRM.

I currently have two tools in place: my coaching platform for client data and Hubspot CRM (free) for all contacts along with the sales and marketing funnel.

As I am writing this, I am exploring ways to use Zapier to marry the two and cut a few steps. I will share what solution I found when I have set my victory flag.

9. Cloud Integration: This means you can connect other tools you use in the cloud (online, as opposed to installing only on your computer) with other ones you use. This is very important because you will likely already have other tools in place, like your Google Calendar, your Email provider, or your payment processor.

10. Information Security: The coaching industry is not tied to standards at the level of, i.e., healthcare with its HIPAA regulations. Nonetheless, you should be concerned about the safety of your customer information and your customer database being hosted well.

You want to make sure the information is encrypted at least with standard SSL encryption. Also, consider where the tool is hosted. Different countries have different regulations for data privacy and security, and you need to be compliant.

I recommend reading up on GDPR and about the Global Regulation Landscape on Data Protection from 2018.

11. ICF Reporting: Of course, you can track all your coaching hours required for ICF certification in a nice little spreadsheet. But why not generate this automatically with the coaching hours from your clients and go hiking with your friends instead? I thought so.

Drumroll…

The Side-by-Side Comparison of Coaching Software

To see an enlarged view, click here

Coaching Software Comparison
Coaching Software Comparison

Important: the providers listed below are randomly placed — this is not a ranking.

Make a list of items you value the most and use the review to help you down-select a provider that suits your unique needs.

Some providers on this list are affiliates, however none of the vendors listed anywhere in this article could influence their reviews through any incentives. Opinions are my own and a contribution as a volunteer for Coachilly.com.

If you’d like to buy me a coffee for my effort, I’ll get warm and fuzzy feelings of gratefulness and share a free assessment tool with you. If you’ll leave a comment how this helped you, that’ll be just as rewarding.


Delenta

Delenta website

Coaching Software Review: Delenta
Delenta

Delenta is the new rising star in coaching platforms. Delenta is both a cloud software provider as well as a marketplace for coaches. Delenta wants to be your one-stop-shop for coaching: you get to market yourself and run your coaching operations at the same time. 

Delenta’s marketplace allows you to set up a coaching profile with coaching packages to attract new clients. Their software allows you to schedule appointments, invoice clients, exchange documents, and so forth. I was really impressed by the analytics Delenta provides to help you make decisions that help you grow your coaching practice. 

To top it off, Delenta built conferencing into their product bundle. Other providers may allow you to make a call via your phone to an individual client. Most providers allow you to connect to your favorite provider for video or group calls such as Zoom or Skype, but that comes at an extra cost, which you save with Delenta. 

Update 09/2021: Delenta shared that they now provide both in-App notes and ICF reporting (CPD report) through their platform. It’s neat that their feature-set is constantly improving! Get more in-depth information and a replay of the Delenta live demo here.

What stands out (+/-):

  • Attractive user interface
  • An impressive set of features that leave no want
  • Business analytics not seen anywhere else
  • Built-in calling feature with individual and group calls
  • Automated billing

Coach Accountable

→ CoachAccountable website

Coaching Software Review: Coach Accountable
Coach Accountable

My personal winner for all the reasons above and then some. The platform covers all my most pressing needs. The few needs it does not yet cover, it most certainly will include soon, because CoachAccountable is quick to listen to customers and fast to respond.

Since I started using the platform in Q4/2018, it has added a ton of new features and made improvements. One remarkable example is my request for ICF report generation, which John Larson, the founder added shortly after I voiced the request.

What stands out (+/-):

  • Great features, intuitive interface
  • Best client interaction and progress tracking
  • Visually appealing user interface
  • Customizable in very little time with white-labeling (make it look like your brand)
  • Outstanding customer service

Use this link to test the platform at no cost at all for 30 days! If you like it, it will grow as your business grows. The beauty is, the more you grow, the lower the cost per user per month.

Quenza

→ Quenza website

Quenza really made an impression with their interface and made-for-you approach: Quenza put a lot of effort into helping coaches to engage clients by helping to automate repetitive processes. In addition, they provide an attractive library of commonly used worksheets and journeys, called “pathways,” which coaches can also create on their own.

In May 2021, Quenza joined a livestream to showcase their platform — watch the video replay (about 25 min and you can jump to chapters that interest you the most). You can also read a written review based on the live demo here.

What stands out (+/-):

  • Attractive user interface
  • An impressive set of features that leave no want
  • Worksheets and pre-built customer journeys not seen anywhere else
  • Higher starting price, but fair to say that it’s also providing a ready-to-go coaching toolbox for newbies

Coaching Loft

Coaching Loft website

Coaching Software Review: Coaching Loft
Coaching Loft

New to our review for 2021 is Coaching Loft. This platform is highly rated on Capterra and has won awards. If I didn’t already use a great platform, this would be my next pick. If you’re looking for a great all-rounder that is decently priced, consider Coaching Loft.

Coaching Loft impresses as a great all-in-one platform for coaches. You can take session notes, send invoices, track client progress, schedule appointments and more all from one single place. The interface is neatly organized and pleasant to the eye. 

What stands out (+/-): 

  • Great user interface
  • Reasonable pricing
  • An impressive list of features that keeps growing
  • A list of 500+ coaching questions

Paperbell

→ Paperbell website

Paperbell strikes with a beautiful user interface, artfully designed. Paperbell offers an easy setup of packages for clients and fair pricing. 

What stands out (+/-):

  • Easy setup of landing pages, especially attractive to new coaches who may not need to set up a full website and can simply use Paperbell to create a web presence where clients can book their services
  • Integrates well with other companies like Stripe, Paypal, Zoom, etc. 
  • Available in different currencies
  • Secure via SSL

Simply.Coach

→ Simply.Coach website

Simply.Coach helps coaches to automate repeatable tasks so they can focus more on coaching and less on administration. A good example of this is their “nudge” feature, which stood out during their live demo.

Nudges help coaches to predefine how often, and through which channel a coaching client should get reminded. In addition, they provide an attractive library of commonly used worksheets and journeys, called “pathways,” which coaches can also create on their own.

You can also find a slightly more detailed review based on the live demo here.

What stands out (+/-):

  • Intuitive, simple user interface
  • Attractive pricing model
  • A unique approach to a coaching library (own + partner content to share with your clients)

LifeCoachHub

→ LifeCoachHub website

Coaching Software Review: LifeCoachHub
LifeCoachHub

This is more than a tool for coaches. LifeCoachHub also works as a marketplace where coaches find clients and can market their expertise.

For beginning coaches, this should be a great single place to start as it allows you to work with clients, and promote your services in one place.

If you don’t have a website yet and need a simple solution to get you started, this place is for you.

What stands out (+/-):

  • Integrated with a coach directory
  • Easy website creation, a one-stop-shop solution
  • Excellent online assessment forms in addition to the content library
  • Progress tracking and client information is somewhat cluttered

You can test the account for free with a demo account available on their website. If you like what you see, you can use the coupon code RisenToGloryLCH2019 to get 15% off FOR LIFE! Thank me later.

Coaches Console

→ www.coachesconsole.com

Coaching Software Review: Coaches Console (Mobile Version)
Coaches Console Mobile Screenshot

This platform is one of the most mature solutions in the business and has a lot to offer. All of the criteria I compared against are covered one way or another. I have been on the receiving end as a coaching client and did not like the interface as a customer. This was back in 2019 and it may have improved. 

What stands out (+/-):

  • Comprehensive solution
  • Great features
  • Outdated design
  • Highest price point

MyCoachPortal

→ mycoachportal.net

Coaching Software Review: My Coach Portal
My Coach Portal

Last year, when I first wrote this article, this portal was not yet released for public testing. However, assessing their capabilities, this young platform is a feature-rich tool that is very reasonably priced. At the time of this research, the team behind this tool has not responded to requests for details so the information in the matrix above based on MyCoachPortal’s website information. 

What stands out (+/-):

  • White labeling available
  • Simple user interface
  • No try-and-by version available

Coaching Lobby

→ www.coachinglobby.com

Coaching Software Review: Coaching Lobby
Coaching Lobby

What stands out (+/-)

  • Easy customization to look like your brand
  • A lot of features
  • The content did not include video at the time of testing (Q4/2018)
  • Not entirely intuitive
  • One flat rate

My Coach Office

→ https://mycoachoffice.com/

Coaching Software Review: My Coach Office
My Coach Office

Formerly Life Coach Office, now called My Coach Office. 

What stands out (+/-):

  • Attractive design
  • Simple setup
  • Customizable design to look like your brand
  • Ready, automated client tutorial
  • One flat rate

Coach Simple

→ www.coachsimple.net

Coaching Software Review: Coach Simple
Coach Simple

What stands out (+/-):

  • Sleek interface
  • Highly visual progress-tracking
  • Website updates are from 2016/2017 — prompts the question of whether the software is actively maintained
  • Only one-way document upload by the coach is mentioned in the feature description
  • No information on information security is available

Beyond Coaching Software

You know you need to cover more than the actual coaching you do. You’re not just a coach. You’re likely getting your hands involved in packaging and marketing your services, in sharing your good works on social media, perhaps running webinars and so forth. 

For this purpose, I have added a new segment to this 2020 edition of my popular article to give you a set of my favorite tools to help you shine as a virtual coach. The world is challenged with working from home – but not you! You can coach from anywhere. Even if that was not your setup before the pandemic hit us, you know you can transition. We have better technical conditions than ever before to connect in a virtual world. Modern technology allows us to adapt to the challenges we face now!

Top Tools For Virtual Coaches

Create a Website or Landing Page

Build your website or offering-specific landing page fast and freeCarrd is your solution! It’s a good way to get something polished out if a web designer isn’t available or within your budget.

Create a Logo

I used Looka (previously called Logojoy) to create mine. Took me 2 hours and spit out a complete manual I can send to designers about the fonts I have used, the color palette, etc. Here’s a demo: Looka Overview

Register Your Company

Sure, you could operate under your own name and file your income with your personal tax return. There are legal concerns around such practices. Make sure you understand the risk you are willing to take with this approach. In case you do want to incorporate your business and separate your personal assets from your business, I recommend Legalzoom, or, if in Texas, use Northwest Registered Agent. They have been affordable, easy and reliable. I couldn’t ask for more. 

Create Posh Social Media Posts, Banners, etc. 

Create images for social media posts, blog banners, Facebook group banners, website backgrounds, and other things in no time using Relay That. It is currently offered for a limited time on Appsumo for $49 lifetime-membership (right! one-time fee for forever goodness, including all upgrades!). Compare that to the $7-12 per month paid on pages like Canva and their competitors.

Send Newsletters

If you plan to send newsletters to grow your customer base, skip Mailchimp (unless you have the money), Sendinblue and so on. I found them a bit too complicated for what I wanted to do: send newsletters. You’ll soon discover that most of these providers charge extra for basic functionality. Instead, I recommend SendFox – available via Appsumo for a one-time lifetime fee and a tool that’s stupidly simple. The alternative is ConstantContact – similar features than the other big names, just remember you still have to budget for monthly service fees.

Say ‘Remember Me’ With A Professional Signature

You haven’t thought of this yet, but as soon as you send your client an email, you will remember me when you are manually typing your signature. It’s a repeat process and full of possibilities to connect on so many levels (think linked social media icons in your signature). Besides, who doesn’t want to look like a pro?! Signitic is super duper affordable (say free-ninety-nine). You’re welcome.

Host Webinars Like A Pro

For free teleconferencing, you can use a free solution like FreeconferencecallHD.com. However, this solution has a downside: not all phone providers acknowledge their dial-in numbers as free to the user calling in. So while it may be a free solution for you, your clients may incur fees. It allows you for large voice-only conference calls and includes a recording functionality.

If you plan to host webinars and client video-calls with extensive functionality (break-out sessions, recording, screen-sharing, etc.), check out LiveWebinar! It is available at a one-time cost if you like that kind of thing. Zoom just had a lot of really bad (sad) press because of its encryption. They are surely working hard on fixing that. In any case, Zoom charges a monthly fee and you’ll pay extra for extra functionality. LiveWebinar includes all that in your upfront price. Make sure you check with each provider if they integrate with your coaching software provider. Zoom integrates with a lot of cloud software vendors, so it’s worth looking into it.

Allow Customer Self-Booking

You may be familiar with Calendly or MeetFox. These tools allow you to let clients book themselves on your calendar during times you have set aside as available for them. This is extremely convenient as it avoids the constant back-and-forth email exchange to find a suitable time on your calendars. 

I have a solution that does all that but knocks these other providers out of the park: Book Like A Boss (BLAB) is a hybrid of ultra-simple landing page design paired with a booking tool. You can even collect payments directly through the page by connecting to your payment account! Booya. 

Manage Sales Leads

How do you manage an ever-growing list of potential clients? You had all these conversations and your post-it note collection will soon become unmanageable. What do you do once you have 500 people in your sticky-note list to follow up with? You do the same thing you are doing now: you keep them organized with a sales funnel and reminders to follow up. Start this practice early to let it become a good habit. 

To manage your leads, I recommend Hubspot (free!). Hubspot has a mobile app, too. Think of it as your coaching phone book for current and future customers. Hubspot also allows you to connect to your email (so you can track interactions you’ve had) and other services. Now you look like a pro!

Check if Hubspot has an agreement with your preferred coaching software provider. If they don’t you can use tools like Zapier, which I have used, to link your data from your coaching platform to Hubspot. For example, I have established a link with Zapier where my Hubspot CRM customer data base is updated as soon as I create a new customer contact in CoachAccountable and vice versa. It saves a ton of time and works beautifully.

Accounting

You may do all your billing through Paypal or Square, but accounting still needs to be done when tax season comes. Quickbooks Online (QBO) has a low-cost account for the self-employed. It even lets you add your accountant if you want one to look over your records in the future or need help with your tax return. QBO also has a mobile app to keep track of your bills on the go. Once we stop operating in quarantine-mode, the app can help you to track mileage driven to your clients and deduct it from your tax bill! Suhweet!

Bonus: My Favorite Social Media Marketing Helper

This is the kicker. I had hired a social media marketer before. The results weren’t matching the promises. Then I heard about Missinglettr, a phenomenal tool that helps you plan your social media publications for an entire year in advance within an hour! Granted, you have to have content to share. 

You may wonder why it’s mentioned here since it’s not coaching software. As I said in the introduction, running a coaching business requires more than coaching. You need to get the attention of your future clients and Missinglettr does an outstanding job helping you to do that.

Missinglettr saved me a ton of time and money and improved my content engagement rate and led more people to visit my website. 
Watch this video to see it in action:

Missinglettr Introduction

Coaching Software Conclusion

List what takes up most of your time in day-to-day business activities (repeat activities). Rank this by importance or time consumed and decide for a tool that fits your criteria.

If you are more tech-savvy, you may not need a turnkey solution that includes a website provider.

Regardless of the popularity of a tool, don’t compare yourself to your peers when selecting coaching software for your business. The tool has to support the areas you need help with (free up time, get technical support, etc.).

Here’s to great coaching in 2021!