How to Create and Deliver Free Coaching Sessions That Result in New Clients
by Keith Wilson
Every person on this planet is unique and the areas of life and business we coach or practice, are as diverse as the stars
Don’t feel you have to fit into a cookie-cutter mold in order to deliver the “perfect” coaching session for your ideal client
Study these twenty-one ideas on creating and delivering free coaching sessions to see which resonate most strongly with you
1. Coach via an Email Mini-Course
Offer a six-day mini-course to guide your client towards solving her “Big Question”—and add rich value by including an invitation to ask one question and receive a personalized response at least twice within the course
2. Coach via Video
Create an online video, talking to the camera as if it was your client, showing them how to do something or revealing a big secret.
(Leverage these videos by including them in your program)
3. Break it Down into a Series
Don’t just create one coaching session, break it into a series of up to six videos and get your potential ideal clients into the habit of interacting with you/looking to you for leadership and learning
4. Create a Pre-recorded Webinar
Run your video as a webinar or audio teleseminar (if no physical demonstration is needed).
5. Give Closed Choices for your Webinar
Rather than running your pre-recorded webinar or teleseminar “on demand”, set your webinar/teleseminar up so that it gives your potential client a choice of three specific viewing times, all set within twenty-four hours of each other.
Doing this will make your pre-recorded coaching session feel more exclusive and customized—and eliminate your potential client’s temptation to “watch it later”.
Getting your recipient to commit to a specific time will increase the number of actual views.
6. Create a Contest for Live Coaching Sessions
Put out emails and promotions geared towards your ideal client using a limited number of spots as the prizes in a contest.
Your contest can be as simple as asking your pre-session questions—and choosing the best candidates to fill the spots—or using the chance of a free coaching prize to sweeten a single event sign-up, as Danny Chi does in his Chi Running blog (https://www.chirunning.com/blog/entry/win-a-free-virtual-coaching-session-with-danny)
7. Delegate or Sub-Contract Live Coaching Sessions
Already an established coach with people working for you or on contract?
Stop yourself from being too thinly spread by certifying your own coaches and letting people know they will get one of your certified coaches for their live sessions.
Besides, that way you can keep your personal services as the big draw for your high-end paid offer at the end of the free live coaching session. (“Work with [your name] directly…”)
8. Use Free Coaching Sessions as a Filter
Investing in a short, free session is a great way to filter out clients who won’t work well with you for whatever reason… and attach the clients who will thrive with your coaching.
And for those who are still worried about offending people by turning them down:
There are graceful ways to turn down unsuitable clients and have them thank you with real gratitude for doing so.
- Gently point them towards your self-study course or workbook, and tell them why this will not only save them money but be a better choice for them
- Refer them to a coaching list you’ve prepared as a resource, where they can find someone who will work better for their particular goals, problems or level
- Give them a qualifying task to perform that will either turn them into your ideal candidate—or make them go away
- Ensuring your coaching fees are high enough to discourage those who are not serious or focused enough; or at the correct level for your personal services
9. Treat Live Sessions as a Consultation
You are offering something of value to your prospective paying client, but it’s important to keep in mind that this free session really IS a consultation:
You are both determining whether or not working with you is going to move your recipient forward. So don’t let them lead you into topics that will take you off tangent or make them feel they were left up in the air.
And do look for clues or red flags that instantly alert you to who is ready and will fit—and who won’t!
10. Let Them Know Exactly How it Works
If you are providing free coaching sessions with the object of landing your recipient as a coaching client, save their embarrassment at the end of the free session (and yourself from wasting time on it) by letting them know what to expect, when it comes to the way you work—and your fee range—as well as what you are looking for.
It is better to let people know right away what fee range to expect than go through the pain and embarrassment of having them try to haggle down your prices—or disappoint them.
11. Help Nervous Prospects Commit
But what about prospective clients who would be a good fit, but who still feel a little intimidated at the thought of taking the coaching step?
If they are the type of clients who just need the gentlest of nudges, there are two simple actions you can take:
- Promise them a “no risk, no pressure” guarantee for taking your free session
- Offer to send them a “What to Do Before Your Complimentary Strategy Session” checklist or worksheet so they can assure themselves they truly are ready
Lazy clients or true freebie seekers will usually not bother to go to the trouble of requesting your worksheet or checklist—they just want to devour; not work—so you can do this without compunction.
And people serious about their business (or the area you are coaching within) will feel reassured.
You will have built their confidence even before your first call—and that is something that creates a bond!
12. Use Disqualifying Statements
You may come across potential clients who can afford to pay, but who will drain the life out of you or who are just not ready for coaching or who will just plain waste your time and energy—and these are the ones who will badmouth you, because ten-to-one, they also are not very good at taking responsibility for their actions (or inaction.)
13. Decide on the Balance You Want to Create before Ever Scheduling the Sessions
There is a delicate balance that must be created with free coaching sessions—and there is no “one-size-fits-all” formula.
The ideal, however, is to make sure your potential paying client feels she got incredible value—but wants more.
You want her to feel that you are the only logical person to help her.
She should come out of the session feeling that she connected with you on a personal level—but you also want to ensure that you observe professional boundaries.
For example, if she wants more of your coaching because you ran forty minutes over, she will want your coaching because she can get free extra time for you.
That is not a good reason to gain a client! (She’ll wear you out every session, until you hate connecting with her.)
Here’s how to create a healthy balance, no matter what outcome you want:
- Be yourself
- Be honest
- Stick to your session’s single goal and mission
- Don’t run over. Bring the session cheerfully but firmly to a close, no matter what
- Make sure there is something left to explore
Yes, you promised to teach her how to identify the top ten time-wasters in her day, for example—but when you’re finished doing that, while she’s delighted that you did, let her know there is more she can accomplish
(e.g. via your “Business Brand Accelerator” Mastermind Retreat).
14. Coach Locally
Increase your confidence, perfect your public speaking and communication skills, and build your credentials by offer free local coaching workshops.
Local business organizations and libraries are always looking for local experts to provide workshops—especially pro bono—so go through your phone book and local newspaper, and make a few calls or send a few emails.
(Your local reference librarian will also be able to suggest a few more potential arenas.)
And in addition to these wonderful side-benefits, you will be creating a room full of potential clients.
Just remember to give a call-to-action and tell them about your services, suggesting a particular package you’ve created just for them.
15. Use Local Workshops to Generate Free Coaching Ideas
Providing you have targeted your ideal online client for offline workshops, you can often reap huge insights and ideas for the perfect free session (and paid product) from the actual conversations, questions, stories and feedback at your local workshop event.
So never consider these a waste of time (plus you’re doing something nice for your own community!)
16. Uplift Your Client
No matter what happens in your free coaching session, end it on a high note.
Ask your free session recipient questions like:
“What will you take away from today’s session?
What action are you planning to take, based on our discussion?”
(Phrase your question so that it makes them feel good about the progress made or the trick learned. They will leave your session feeling satisfied—but also feeling like they are ready to go the next mile)
17. Share it on a Coaching Platform
If you are promoting pre-recorded free sessions that can be claimed by unlimited numbers and you are trying to expand your visibility and reach, consider hosting it within a sharing platform/community such as Noomii.com.
Be sure to include links and calls to actions!
18. Use the “Limited Spot” Approach
You can permanently populate your website with a “sign up for free session” web form—but make people notice it and value it by:
- Setting a limit on the number of spots available
- Letting them know when free sessions are NOT available
Knowing that the spots are not always there for the taking
19. Register with a Coaches Directory
If you’re trying to expand your reach, and using pre-recording coaching sessions to do so, consider registering with a coaching directory such as CoachingValley.com that displays listings and allows targeted searches.
20. Make Them Invest
We’re not talking about aggressively selling your offer at the end of your free coaching session:
We’re talking about weeding out too many freebie-seekers by asking them to invest something in order to get your free session. This is a sound strategy.
Investments can include:
- A pre-session questionnaire that MUST be filled out and returned by a certain date
- A contest-entry short essay on why they need the session—and what they think they will get from it
- A checklist or worksheet to perform (not necessarily to be returned)
And finally, before you invest too heavily in the “free session” idea, check it out against your client base and your instincts.
Would it be better if you actually charged for the session? Even as little as $1.00?
It doesn’t matter what they invest—just as long as your landing page or email asks them to invest something that will make a connection and give your free session value.
21. Make the Most of Your Time and Resources
Having trouble coming up with a higher-ticket offer to present at the end of your free session?
Put a package of services and/or resources you’ve already created, and present it as a high-value offer.
There is nothing wrong or lazy about doing this, if:
a) You create a specific theme relevant to your free session focus and your clientele
b) You have already done the work and you are proud of what it can help clients achieve
The key to making this package of services, resources or products a smash success lies in making sure you don’t include one single, extra item that is even slightly irrelevant.
Resist the temptation to throw in your Handy-Dandy favorite TV Show Excel spreadsheet if it is not relevant to your client’s single focus and goal.
You're the coach which means you're also a leader
These suggestions have all been tested and tried successfully, but that doesn’t mean every single strategy is written in stone
Choose the strategies that work best for your own purposes but just as important, if not more important, is that they also work for your client’s as well
Better yet, since you're the one leading the way, why not invent your own unique twist on creating and delivering free coaching sessions (just don't call them 'Free Coaching Sessions'.
More on this in a future post...