In the coaching industry it has become common practice to offer free initial sessions. Most often these are called discovery sessions.
The “behind the scenes” strategy to these sessions is to help you, the client, discover all the work you need to do on your life, business or other area the coach specializes in. Once you see how much work you have to do, you’ll want more coaching. You’ll have built a “relationship” with the coach so it will be a natural transition to selling you services, programs or products.
When I ask my current clients what they think about free discovery sessions, they say, “I wouldn't sign up.” They believe it would be a pressured sales pitch and doubt they would gain any value from it.
So, if the women I love to coach wouldn’t sign-up, why would I off free discovery sessions? If I did, I would actually repel the clients I’m trying to attract.
So, while free sessions have worked for many coaches, it doesn’t work for me. Here’s why:
It’s outside my integrity zone.
I prefer to keep my marketing and my coaching separate. I believe by mixing marketing and coaching I set up the wrong type of relationship with you. I don’t want you to ever have to wonder if any of my suggestions, ideas or feedback is a marketing ploy to get you to sign up for more coaching. I don’t want to ask you a coaching question and you hesitate to answer truthfully because you think I will then sell you my latest program or product. In my experience, it just wreaks havoc on the coaching relationship. It sets it up so the coaching is not as powerful as it can be. It stalls momentum for both of us. Just not worth it -- for me or you.
Because coaching is a collaborative technique.
For coaching to truly work, you as a client need to show up. Coaching is not about me giving you answers. It’s about me guiding you in finding your own answers. You need to be ready to work. You need to be invested in creating your own success.
I’ve learned to always come from a "full practice" mentality.
When I originally started coaching I did offer free sessions. I attracted clients who were looking for something quick and free - a magic pill that would grow overnight success. This lead to very few clients signing up for coaching. I was energetically drained because I was doing the work of two people in my sessions. In the end, it wasn’t a win for me or my client.
If my coaching practice is failing on a regular basis why would I offer free coaching? I understand that some clients will want to get to know me before hiring me. Some will have questions. Others will want to be sure my style works for them. That’s why I offer a complimentary Icebreaker Session.
Here, there is no coaching involved. I’m not giving away my services. You aren’t expecting coaching or some magical result. It’s simply a time for us to come together and get to know each other. To get your questions answered. To find out if I’m the right coach for you. This way it’s a win-win situation for both of us. It sets us up to hit the ground running. If the Icebreaker Session is successful, we’ll dive right into coaching during your Clarity Creator Session.
I walk my talk.
While providing an initial free service works for some business models, for the majority of my clients it makes no sense. When you’re a one-woman business, why would you take time out of your schedule to give away your #1 income generator? If your clients can get it for free, why should they pay you? Why not get what you can from one session and move to the next coach offering a free session. Heck, if you visit enough free coaches you’re bound to have everything you need -- right? See the mentality you’re setting your client up to have? Plus, if you’re willing to serve clients for free then it’s probably okay for your clients to negotiate your rates, too -- right?
I’ve seen it too many times. In my own business and that of my client's. Free initial services leads to a slew of additional client problems. Start charging your client from their first service and they will value that service, gain results from that service and come back time and time again. Who doesn’t want repeat clients?
If you’re trying to decide if discovery calls and free initial sessions are right for your business model, I’d be honored to have that coaching conversation with you. You can decide to schedule an Icebreaker or dive right into coaching with a 90-minute Clarity Creator.