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Why Free Consultations are More Effective than Sample Coaching Sessions

written bySharla Jacobson 19/01/2019

When Jesse and I graduated from coach training, we were encouraged to give complimentary sample coaching sessions to build our practice. We found that although we were skilled coaches, sample sessions weren’t very effective at getting clients.

Then, we started asking different questions:

  • How could we use coaching questions that made it more likely people would become clients, if it was a good match?
  • And how can we make sure authenticity and heart were at the center of our free sessions?

In order to be successful with free consultations, you have to know how to deliver them so your ideal clients get to an enthusiastic and wholehearted "Yes!".

Why do free consultations work? 

If done properly, free consultations can become an essential tool to grow your practice. Here’s why they are an effective business-building tool:

During your consult, your potential client will reveal exactly what they’re looking for. If your coaching will help them solve their challenges, you’ve got a good match. 

Is it a good match? You should be interviewing your potential client just as much as they are you. These early moments will show you if the potential client is fit for your coaching and if you will enjoy working with them.

Practice, practice, practice
Not every consult will turn into a paying client. But every consult is an opportunity to connect with people and learn more about their struggles and desires. You’ll practice inviting people to work with you. You’ll discover their biggest concerns. And so every consult you give will help you better serve your ideal clients and increase your future conversion rates.

Increase conversion
The more consults you give, the higher percentage of people will say yes. As you discover their needs and concerns, you learn how to better address them, and therefore, serve your people more deeply. After learning our “Get Clients” Free Consultation Formula, our clients see an average of 42% of their consults turning into paying clients within the first 30 days. And many of our clients see a 60-70% conversion after 6-12 months.

Gain referrals
Even if your consult doesn’t turn into a client, this person may turn into a referral. And referrals are essential to grow your customer base. Erickson Business Center's partner, Thrive Academy, provides members with training and conversation templates to help them ask for those always-important referrals. Even if a client isn’t ready to lean-in just yet, they may know someone who might be a good match.

How can free consults work for you?

Asking for and giving free consultations can work for any coach, but you must have the skills and confidence to be effective with them. If you don’t know what you’re doing, people may feel you’re trying to sell them something, rather than showing up in service.

While it’s true that you are offering consults as a way to bring in new clients, there’s a way to do this so they understand that they will walk away with a big shift from your consultation. And they must also understand that you will have a conversation about continuing to work together, if it’s a good match.

Have a plan
Know what you’re going to say. Use the Thrive templates when offering and delivering your free consults. This helps you to make sure you cover the essential questions that both provide value and move them closer to a Yes, when it’s a good match.

Establish expectations
Set expectations before you even schedule the consult, so they know what they will walk away from the consult with. Make sure they know that they’ll get crystal clear about where they are, where they want to be and what’s in the way. Let them know they will get solid recommendations for how to move toward their vision. And if it seems like a good match, you’ll talk about continuing to work together.

Maximize your time and energy
Consider giving your free consultation over the phone or on a video conferencing app, like Zoom. You’ll eliminate travel time (and expenses) and energy (you will be able to better use templates so you can be more fully present with your potential client).

Develop a brand
Create a “Cool Name” or brand for your consultations. We have materials to help you come up with a creative, concise name that will make it more likely people will say yes.

Save some for later
This goes without saying, but don’t give away the farm! Give your potential client two solid recommendations that are immediately actionable, so they get immediate value and have a sense of what you have to offer.

When done poorly, a free consultation can be just as damaging as it can be helpful. What separates the two is your attitude and willingness to help. When done well, your potential client will have an experience with you that is friendly, generous, empowering, fun, and heartfelt. There’s nothing more important than making sure your clients feel gotten and cared for during the consult, so they understand they will have this same experience when they’re working with you.

Discover more tools to build your coaching business with the Erickson Business Center