Are FREE sessions your best choice?

Get this free messageDo you offer free introductory coaching sessions to people you’d like as clients? Many coach training programs advocate offering sessions like these to entice prospective clients to sign up for coaching.

The idea is, if someone experiences life coaching and receives value from it, they will want to hire you as their coach. Sadly, this strategy often backfires. The problem isn’t the idea of offering a “free taste,” it’s that a free coaching session isn’t a taste – it’s a whole meal!

I’ll use my own experience as an example: Fourteen years ago, when I first received my coaching certification, I set up a “free coaching session” with my acupuncturist at the time.

I coached my heart out for an hour. I gave her value like you wouldn’t believe! She was blown away. I was sure she was going to sign up for coaching, how could she not?

I was so disappointed when she said “Wow, that was incredible. I really got so much out of it. No, I don’t really feel like I need to do ongoing coaching right now. I’m just going to work with what I got today, this has really helped me a lot. Thanks so much!!”

What??!! That wasn’t how it was supposed to work!

But it turned out my disappointment wasn’t unusual. Many other successful coaches have also discovered that offering an entire free session just doesn’t work all that well.

Here’s why: When a potential client agrees to a free coaching session, usually it’s because they are in some kind of discomfort, or even pain. Something isn’t working for them, so the idea of getting help is appealing. That discomfort they feel creates a kind of “tension.”

When you coach them, you relieve that tension. They feel better. In essence, what you’ve done is actually take away their motivation to hire you. Why? Because it’s that tension, caused by the discomfort or unresolved pain they feel, that motivates them to pay for coaching!

Which means the better you are at coaching them, the more likely they’ll feel relief, and the less likely they’ll be to hire you. Ouch. . .  that is so not fair!

But it’s often how it is. So, what to do?  

Don’t worry, there’s no need to re-invent the wheel. If you went through a coach training program, you have everything you need to be able to enroll people in your coaching, authentically and without feeling “pushy” or “salesy.”

There’s another way to do a free session, using your coaching skills, that won’t take away their incentive to engage your services. It’s called a “Discovery Session” or “Strategy Session.”

A Discovery/Strategy Session:

  • Allows you to be authentic and real, without feeling pushy or “salesy.”
  • Uses the coaching skills you already have, but in a different way.
  • Gives you the opportunity to establish yourself as an expert in your niche.
  • Offers value, so people rave about you and refer you to others.
  • Uncovers the true cost to them of continuing to tolerate what’s not working in their lives, so they realize how important it is to hire you as their coach!
  • Helps you create connection and see if your services are a “fit” for people.

There’s a reason that so many coaches have made the switch to offering Discovery Sessions. It serves clients better, helping them get the ongoing coaching that will offer true transformation, rather than simply a “quick fix.”

One session can make a difference, but as coaches, we know it doesn’t hold a candle to what’s truly possible over time with coaching.

I’ll be talking more about Discovery Sessions in the near future, so be sure and stay tuned for upcoming articles and opportunities!

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2 Responses to Are FREE sessions your best choice?

  • Hi Kellie … good article here.

    I like your point about the challenge – coaching them to alleviate the pain leaves you without a client.

    Would you agree that a discover/strategy session, when done right, will create a bigger picture tension with the opportunity to relieve that tension with the coach?


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