Setting Up Potential Clients into a First Coaching Session
The opportunity to have a first coaching session can arise in several different ways. Examples:
• Sometimes an individual connects you with a prospective client.
• You are out networking and you meet a prospective client.
• In much rarer cases, a prospective client who you’ve never met calls you.
In any case, there are some things to avoid in those initial conversations.
First, let me tell a couple of do’s:
• Do listen to the individual and allow them to share their problem or desires with you.
• Do ask a couple of great questions that show interest and make the individual pleasantly surprised.
And now on to the don’t’s…
Don’t try to explain what coaching is or the benefits of working with a coach
I stress this a lot, but I cannot stress this enough: most people don’t have a clue what coaching is. Even when we try to explain what coaching is versus counseling, consulting, or mentoring, there’s really no good way to explain it. The individual is not going to walk away with a greater understanding of what coaching is. More importantly, the individual is not going to walk away with a stronger belief that you can help them with their problem.
Just simply remain in the conversation, don’t offer advice, listen and ask great questions. They don’t need to know what coaching is. They need to see you as a person of trust and credibility who might be able to offer a solution.
Don’t try to offer solutions or try to coach a person on the spot
It’s difficult to not help someone on the spot, especially when they are sharing their personal dreams, desires, and needs to you. Resist trying to coach or offer solutions on the fly. Hold on to your expertise. Don’t reveal it before it’s time. Think of it like a grand opening or premiere. Generate interest. I don’t like to use the word “tease,” but withhold what you do in a way that builds hope and expectation for a meeting.
Don’t setup coffee conversations to “talk about” coaching
You are a business owner. You don’t have time for chats, and you need to be honest about your intentions. I learned the hard way that coffee chats really never turn into clients. If you were having a health problem, you wouldn’t setup a chat over coffee to talk with a doctor about “what it would look like” if you were their patient. So treat your own business and what you do with the same manner of respect.
Don’t get into a discussion about price or coaching arrangements
Often people will contact you and that’s one of the first questions out of their mouths: “How much do you charge?” “How often do you usually meet with clients?” “How many sessions would it take to get me the help I need?”
It’s a very bad place to start when they’ve never had an experience of your coaching. This is a big lose for you, and it will likely kill the prospect of a first session.
So defer all of those questions. You don’t have to be rude. You can simply respond:
“I don’t want you to think that I’m avoiding this answer. It’s just that I have a lot of different clients with different needs and different goals for their life. And I treat each on uniquely. So I really don’t have a basic answer for that.”
Transitioning to setup a first session
Your goal in these kinds of conversations is to transition them into a first coaching session. That’s your target.
So after you have listened, asked a couple of stimulating questions, avoided the pitfalls of answering “business” questions, and shown genuine interest, you’ve earned the right to ask for a meeting.
Don’t setup coffee chats, set up “coaching experiences”
Like I said a while ago: don’t set up coffee chats, instead set up “coaching experiences.”
You are taking time out of your busy schedule. You are a coach who loves people and has incredible skill and talent that can help transform someone’s life. You’re not casually giving something away.
You are giving people a one-of-a-kind experience of devoted listening and barrier crushing questions and exploration.
So here’s how we transition interest:
“Wow, I’ve really enjoyed this conversation with you. I’m willing to set aside some time to give you a powerful experience of coaching. What time would work for you?”
Please note that in this response, I assumed interest. I didn’t ask if they would be interested. After all, why wouldn’t they be interested?
“Thanks for calling and asking about packages and cost. I treat coaching as a relationship and, talking price is a little bit of putting the cart before the horse. How about this: let’s look at our schedules at when I can devote an hour of my time to you. I promise your agenda will be my top priority, and I’ll give you a powerful experience of coaching. And after that experience, we can decide if we’d like to work with one another. What time would work for you?”
In this response, we’re valuing relationship and downplaying selling while affirming the potential clients and coach’s worth and value.
“It sounds like you’ve got some weighty decisions ahead of you. I’ve helped people in your situation get some clarity and take bold steps forward. I’ve got a full schedule, but I’d like to invite you into a powerful coaching experience with me.”
“I know this opportunity sounds challenging, but I have to be honest: it’s actually exciting just listening to you talk about it. My schedule is a bit tight, but I really want to make room just for you so that we can continue this conversation. Do you have time in the next week for a powerful coaching experience? It would be a gift from me.”
This is a very powerful response because genuine interest is being shown by a coach who’s skilled, busy, and proficient while, at the same time, is giving away their most valuable commodity – time. It’s difficult to say no.
These are the kinds of bold, non-salesy ways we have to speak to build interest, hope, and momentum so that prospective clients would be excited about meeting with us.
I encourage you to put these actual transitions to use as well as use them as a template for creating your own. Develop them, memorize them, and be ready to use them when the opportunity arises.