The Explosive First Coaching Session
What this means is that a few things need to take place within this session that enables you to lock them in as a client.
1. Trust, credibility, and likeability gets solidified.
I’m not going to spend much time on this, because this is everything that you’ve been working on since the beginning. You’ve built a personal brand and you’ve been serving a network that’s afforded you the opportunity to be in front of this potential client.
That simply means doing the job of a great coach:
• Listening much more than you talk.
• Not talking about yourself.
• Being genuinely engaged and interested in the client.
But, generally speaking, individuals respond favorably to people who show interest, listen, talk about the interests of others, and are genuinely engaged.
I say this because it’s not a time to talk about your credentials. It’s not a time to talk about your own life.
It is appropriate to build rapport by connecting with common values and interests as in:
“Yes, I totally know what you mean.”
“I’ve felt that way too.”
“Yes, I understand. I used to be in management in a previous career.”
These kinds of statements don’t take away from the client’s experience. They are just responses that are affirmations of the what the client is saying that helps build rapport.
2. You must provide some sort of result or benefit to the potential client.
We help you clarify your results and benefits that your clients get from you in our “Selling Your Services” module.
During this session, you must demonstrate to the potential client that you can actually get the results they want.
Your proficiency isn’t going to be proven through accolades and how you’ve helped other clients. The potential client honestly doesn’t care about those things. They are concerned about their needs, their desires, or whatever problem has brought the two of you together.
So the best way to sell the client on who you are and what you can do for them is to help them solve a problem in the first meeting.
After all, the potential client is in the session to buy a solution. If you can help reveal the solution, then you will get the business.
3. You must transition to close the client.
This is not what makes a session explosive, but it is the reason why you’ve chosen to meet together. As uncomfortable as it may seem to you, you must transition towards a close. The close of the session is the moment when the client is most excited and most euphoric. Don’t end the session with “call me back in the next few days.” That’s just giving in to fear. Help them finish the process.
The 4 Phases of the Explosive First Session
Before we go on, I have to share why I’m breaking it down in what sounds like a formula. I’m not trying to be formulaic. I personally love fluidity. But the problem is that when we don’t have an intention behind what we are doing, it’s very easy to simply have conversations with people and not take action.
I can remember early on in my coaching career that I’d have a 1 hour appointment that wouldn’t wrap for 3 hours. When I got home, I remember my wife asking me: “Are they paying for 3 hours with you?” And I was like, “No, but the conversation was going so well.” When I realized I wasn’t helping a client more in three hours than one hour, I finally chose effectiveness instead.
It’s very easy to listen to someone go on and on. Before you know it, the hour is up and the client might have felt listened to, but no actions were decided and no path moving forward.
So I’m offering these 4 phases as a means of staying on track and helping you execute. Even in a first session, the phases need to be there because you are introducing the potential client to the coaching process.
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Phase 1: Introduction
In the introductory phase, we are getting to know about the client. There is some rapport building, but the objective of the introduction is to answer the question:
“What problem do you hope to solve?”
You may actually ask this question if it is appropriate. Some potential clients may not even know the answer to that question.
Here are some other ways of asking questions:
“What opportunities are you considering right now?”
“What is the greatest challenge that you’re experiencing that you’d like to address?”
“What is the biggest obstacle that you’re facing that you’d like some help confronting?”’
“What is the #1 thing that you could use some clarity on?”
The introduction shouldn’t be more than 10 minutes. It is important for them to talk about it long enough in order for them to feel their pain. It’s not necessary to spend 45 minutes being introduced to the matter, but pain is not a bad thing.
Important: if you don’t allow them to get in touch with their pain, then it’s going to be very hard to close them.
Phase Two: Identify the problem
For the most part, people can name their pain, but they are unable to identify the core issue or belief systems in play. That’s good. That’s actually our job. If they knew all those answers, we wouldn’t be sitting with them in the first place.
What we want to do in phase two is begin to get to the root of the problem. I call this: “The ‘Why’ behind the ‘Why.’”
There are a number of helpful tools that you can use as a means of a process through this phase. They all can work. But, for this example, we are going to use the very well known “Wheel of Life.”
The Wheel of Life
Now, some of you might be ready to tune me out right now. Wheel of Life? That old thing?
Yes, I’m talking the very familiar coaching tool: The Wheel of Life. Most coaches are familiar with it, but very few use it effectively. And even fewer use it for an explosive coaching session that tips the scale to reveal your effectiveness as a coach, gives the potential client a result, and wins you a new client in the process.
For those of you who might be unfamiliar with the Wheel of Life, it is a circle diagram with diameters lined over it like spokes on a wheel. Each line creates a slice, and the slice represents an aspect of the potential client’s life. There can be as many slices as needed, but, generally speaking, we’re talking 7 or 8 slices.
Those aspects can include (and are certainly not limited to):
• Living Environment
• And more…
The potential client ascribes a number on the scale of 1-10 to describe their satisfaction with that component. Most coaches use the wheel to show a client what areas of their life are out of balance. Typically, a coach will say something to the effect of: “If this diagram was a wheel, how would it roll?
Let’s imagine that we are in a session with a potential client, and “Work” is the piece that gets the lowest score on the wheel. Most coaches would investigate a bit, but they would leave it as just a high priority item amongst other things.
But this is where we are going to take things up a notch. We want the potential client to get in touch with their pain, and we want to get down to specifics to bring about some sort of benefit or result to make it truly an explosive first session.
Next, we create another wheel diagram. This wheel diagram isn’t a Wheel of Life, it’s a Wheel of Work.
There are a number of aspects that are in play on the Wheel of Work.
Here are some possibilities:
If Work is a serious pain point, I have to recognize that not all things are equal. Some aspects may be fine while a couple of others might be the real pain point.
What I’m doing by using this second wheel is I’m quickly helping the client drill down to the true underlying issues.
Some coaches take weeks to get to this point, but you can show your value in the first session.
So we allow the potential client to score all the possible aspects within their work. Let’s say the client scores work like this:
• Co-workers – 10
• Boss – 8
• Salary – 2
• Location – 10
• Responsibilities – 5
• Benefits – 0
• Environment – 10
Based on these numbers, I’m going to bypass a lot of the conversation, while I’m going to see some interesting areas of conflict for the potential client.
Here’s what the answers may be telling us:
• Work is one of the biggest pains in their life.
• But they seem to really like their boss.
• They love their co-workers.
• Their job is nearby their house.
• But it seems like they’re not really crazy about their job and apparently the salary and benefits aren’t cutting it.
And there are some interesting possibilities:
• Perhaps the potential client hates their responsibilities only because the pay is so bad.
• Perhaps if the pay was better and there were benefits that the number on responsibilities would be much higher.
• Perhaps the potential client really hates their job and no money could make them feel better about it, but they love their boss and co-workers so much that they don’t want to quit.
As coaches, we don’t want to assume, but what I am saying is that there are some amazing probing questions that can come out of this exercise that can help the potential client get to the bottom of things really quickly.
Here’s some sample dialogue of this conversation:
COACH: “So, it looks like salary and benefits is a real pain point for you. Tell me about that.”
CLIENT: “Well, I’ve been at the company for 25 years. About 5 years ago, the company was bought out. My job shifted, and I don’t get more than 1-2% raise. Benefits got slashed as well because my job isn’t seen as management.”
COACH: “You say your job shifted. What do you mean by that?”
CLIENT: “I mean that I’m not managing projects or people anymore.”
COACH: “And you enjoyed that?”
CLIENT: “Well, I’m a people person. But the company was changing, and I was doing what was right to help them.”
COACH: “So your salary is the biggest challenge. What have you thought about doing about it?”
CLIENT: “Well, if you mean quitting and going some place else, I haven’t given that a lot of thought. I’m been at the same place for 25 years, and they’ve been good to me. Plus it’s right down the street.”
COACH: “Is it okay if I make an observation? It seems like you are a real person of loyalty and faithfulness. How much does that guide your life?”
CLIENT: “Oh that nails me. My wife says it’s my greatest attribute and greatest fault.”
COACH: “How long have you been working for your boss and with your co-workers?”
CLIENT: “Almost since the beginning. They are great people.”
COACH: “And I bet they would say the same thing about you.”
Phase 3: Making it Explosive
Let’s continue on with this example to bring it to something explosive.
COACH: “So tell me, what would a ten in salary and benefits look like?”
CLIENT: “Well, I know what it would look like, but I can’t get that in my current position.”
COACH: “What you mean is that you can’t ask for a raise, or you wouldn’t expect to get a raise.”
COACH: “Why should you get a raise?”
CLIENT: “Why should I get a raise? Because I’m good at what I do. Because I bring a lot more to the table than what I get credit for right now. Because I’m capable of doing a lot more than I do.”
COACH: “Okay. That’s good. So, if you had 6 months to do something about this, what could you do?”
CLIENT: “Well….I guess I could get into their management training program. I mean, it’s ridiculous that I would have to train for a job that I used to do. But that’s the way corporate does it.”
COACH: “Okay, that’s good. What if you only had a week to do something about this? What could you do in a week?”
CLIENT: “A week? You’re not wasting any time…I’d have to find out dates of the next program and get signatures of recommendation for it.”
COACH: “Okay, then. So based on what you just told me, what could you do tomorrow that would be the first step to getting this done?”
CLIENT: “Hahahaha! I could talk to my boss.”
COACH: “You could. Are you saying that you will?”
CLIENT: “I’ve just been putting that conversation off.”
COACH: “But you like your boss right? You said he’s a good guy.”
CLIENT: “He is. He’s been good to me all these years.”
COACH: “One more observation. Is that okay with you?”
COACH: “You have been good to him. He’s been loyal, but you have always been loyal. You have been trustworthy. Even when your job shifted, even when it costs you money and benefits, you stayed with him. And I believe this conversation is overdue. What do you think?”
CLIENT: “You’re right. I have been loyal. And I’m good at what I do. I’ll talk to him tomorrow. No more putting this off. Wow, I can’t believe that I’m actually going to do this.”
Any potential client that we have a first session with has already had many conversations with themselves about what they could do. They’ve thought about many scenarios, but they either haven’t had the confidence, boldness, or the permission to actually act upon them.
When we say, “6 months,” we put the potential client at ease. 6 months seems really far away. It relieves the tension and allows them to think of the answer in stages. Whenever we’re in tension or under a time crunch, our creativity to come up with solutions wanes.
With this example, the potential client has been dealing with this problem for years. It likely doesn’t have to be acted upon tomorrow because nothing is going to immediately change, but that’s also one of the reasons they aren’t taking steps.
When we say, “in one week,” the potential client is going to draw from the long term answer they just provided. One of the biggest problems with goal-setting for people is that they are overwhelmed looking at the end rather than seeing it as a process. In this method, the potential client is now looking at the long term goal as a process and can come up with one action step or short-term goal to be achieved towards the end.
In this example, the client is startled at first because they are being asked to act and take ownership rather than just dreaming about a preferred future.
“In the Next Day”
Lastly, when we say “in the next day,” we are calling the potential client to immediate action and urgency. We are calling them to a real action step and a measurable result.
In this example, the client knew what they could have done for years, but never took action. Now the client will take a step that, for whatever reason, they never had the boldness or accountability to do before.
This method allows you to quickly get to the root and bring the client into real steps of action that work. Passivity becomes a thing of the past. Momentum ensues, and everyone feels better when they walk away from a conversation with momentum knowing what they can do rather than being in the same place they were before the conversation.
When the session has become explosive, the potential client:
- Has clarity on the problem.
- Knows what they can do about it.
- Knows how they can move.
- Knows that they came up with it themselves and they have confidence to move.
- And knows they have accountability and support from someone who can help them get there.
Phase 4: The Close
We have a whole section in the course on closing. But I want to emphasize that the first session must end with an attempt to close.
When we have given our time, shown our expertise, helped get to the root of a problem, and empowered a solution, we have earned the right to ask for a close.
If we have done these steps right, we will have eliminated most every objection. We’ve proven our ability to deliver a solution. We have revealed our value in a very short time. We’ve helped eliminate pain.
Our move to close can be transitioned like this:
“Today, in a really short time, I’ve helped you gain some clarity and now you’re taking a sure step forward. If we were able to do this much in a single session, I’m sure you can only imagine what we could accomplish together in a real coaching relationship. I’d like to know if there’s any reason why we shouldn’t move forward into an agreement at this time.”
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