coaching consultations discovery call

What is a coaching consultation? 

A coaching consultation, sometimes called a discovery call, is a free (in some cases, low fee) call between a new prospective client and a coach to assess fit for a coaching relationship. 

These calls are often done on Zoom or sometimes via phone and typically last 20-30 minutes. A coach will usually have a link on her website to book a consultation call (or apply to book a consultation call), which is often the first step for any prospective client.

Who should offer a coaching consultation

All coaches, especially new coaches, should offer a consultation. It helps you get to know and understand your ideal client, as well as answer any questions a prospective client may have about working with you.

Coaching consultations should be offered by:

  • Life coaches or life purpose coaches
  • Health or wellness coaches
  • Relationship coaches
  • Career or business coaches

These professionals also benefit from offering consultations:

  • Healers, like Pranic healers, Reiki healers, intuitive healers, and energy healers
  • Personal services businesses, such a as personal trainers, nutritionists, and wellness providers
  • Therapists and counselors

What is the purpose of a coaching consultation

The primary purpose of your coaching consultation is to assess fit between you and a prospective client. 

Just as the client is assessing if you’re the right fit for them, YOU are assessing if the client is the right fit for you. 

The coaching consultation offers space for your prospective coaching client to ask any questions they have about working with you, so they can make a confident decision about whether they want to move forward.

5 ways to assess fit on a coaching consultation:

    • Personality fit. When a client knows a lot about you already (or has been on your email list or following you on social media), they may not need a lot of introduction to what you do. Instead, they want to explore if you’re a good personality fit to work together.

       

    • Needs and goals fit. Each of your prospective clients will arrive with their own needs and goals. It’s very important for you as a coach to understand as much as possible about those needs and goals, so you can see if you’re a fit to help this person.

       

    • Budget fit. Not every prospective client will be willing or able to invest in coaching with you. That’s OK. But you do want to ensure that you have the pricing conversation so you can get an idea if you can meet their budget needs.

       

    • Timing fit. The client needs to be ready to dive into coaching. You need to have space in your schedule to be able to take on a new coaching client. Discussing potential start dates is an important part of the the discovery call.

       

    • Can this person help me? Your prospective client will be wondering two things on a coaching consultation call: 1) Can this coach help me? And 2) Do I want them to help me? You should be asking yourself the same questions. 1) Can I help this client? And 2) Do I want to help this client? 

Fit is important for BOTH sides. The client must be a good fit for you and you must be a good fit for the client.  You should not take on clients who are not the right fit. It creates a bad experience for both sides. Plus, a client deserves to find a coach who is best suited for them.

Why coaching consultations are more effective than selling in the DMs

Many business coaches and social media experts tell their clients to sell in the DMs. While this may be effective for lower tier, lower cost offerings, it’s not always effective for high touch, high priced offerings, especially when it’s related to coaching or healing.

Coaching and healing is very personal work. Your clients are entrusting you with their challenges, problems, and in some cases, their history. This makes know, like, and trust factor even more important for your prospective clients.

DMs aren’t great for establishing this type of trust. Instead, getting on a 20 minute zoom call with a prospective client can help them see that you’re a real person and you are able to help them. Much more trust can be established in an actual coaching consultation.

Other benefits of coaching consultations:

Coaching consultations offer benefits above and beyond signing new coaching clients.

Here are a few:

  • You get better at sales. The only way to get better at selling is by selling. Coaching consultations offer excellent practice!
  • You get insights into your ideal clients and what they are looking for. This can be excellent market research in and of itself.
  • You can better understand the barriers to working with you and learn how to address those barriers.
  • You may gain referrals. When a client isn’t the right fit for you, they may still refer other people to you.

Dos and don’ts for an effective coaching consultation

After offering coaching consultations for the past 8 years, as well as coaching others on their consultation process, I’ve put together a list of dos and don’ts to get the most out of your coaching consultations.

7 dos for an effective coaching consultation

1. Pre-qualify your prospective client *before* they get on a coaching consultation call with you.

Ensure the right clients are getting on the calls with you and the wrong clients aren’t. This helps make the best use of your and their time! Here are a few ways to pre-qualify your prospective clients:

  • Use messaging that speaks directly to your ideal clients (and repels the non-ideal ones), so they know they’re in the right place.
  • Provide a pre-call intake form they fill out upon booking that helps you to assess fit and readiness for coaching.
  • List your prices on your website (to avoid the sticker shock and “I can’t afford it” crowd), and to save time on your consultations.

2. Do set the stage for the consultation call.

As the coach, you are in charge of guiding the coaching consultation. A prospective client may or may not have ever been on a call like this before, so it’s your job to set the stage. At the start of the call, give them an overview of how the call will go and what will be discussed.

3. Do keep your coaching consultations short.

Any longer than 20-30 minutes and you may end up doing a lot of free coaching. While a little bit of exploratory coaching is OK, you don’t want your consultation to become a free coaching call. You want to stay on purpose: exploring fit for a paid coaching relationship.

4. Listen, affirm, and state how you can help.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and listen to what your prospective client is sharing with you. This helps the client feel seen, heard, and understood, and helps you understand your client! Affirm that you can help them (only if you can, of course!) Be sure to communicate the value of working with you specifically and what you bring to the table.

5. Communicate specifically how you can help this client.

As this may be the first contact a prospective client has with you, show up as your most authentic self and in alignment with how would show up on a coaching call. (Meaning, don’t be overly salesy or aggressive when that’s not your general demeanor.) You’re giving a glimpse of what it may be like to work with you, so your prospective client needs to see the real you. 

6. Refer out the clients who aren’t a great fit for you.

As a coach, you should also be building a referral network of other coaches with different areas of expertise. This will help you refer a prospective client to another person or program who can better help them when you’re not a good fit. This is goodwill and will benefit you greatly!

7. Track your conversion rate.

Your coaching consultation conversion rate is the rate of how many clients sign up with you after booking a call. For example, if 2 out of 4 people on your consultations converted to clients, you have a 50% conversion rate. Based on that rate, you know that if you want 2 new clients, you likely need to have 4 consultation calls booked. Your conversion rates will improve over time with practice.

7 Don’ts for an effective coaching consultation:

1. Don’t wing it when you’re first starting out.

Instead, create a script or outline that you can have in front of you or on your computer to guide you. Eventually you’ll become comfortable and you won’t need to rely on it, but even a general outline can help you stay on track at the beginning. (And don’t be afraid to practice with friends or fellow coaches!)

2. Don’t ignore red flags.

This one is a bit tricky, but the more coaching consultations you do, the more evident the red flags will be. Some examples of red flags might be (knowing that there are always outliers):

  • No shows. If someone schedules a consultation with you and then doesn’t show up without explanation, let it go. This happens to all of us. I have a firm policy on not rescheduling no-shows unless it is due to an emergency.
  • People with unreasonable or unrealistic expectations. If a client arrives with a rather unrealistic goal, the kindest thing you can do is to let them know that that result is not typical. It’s much better to set realistic expectations and lose a client versus overpromise and not deliver.
  • People who don’t respect your boundaries. If someone does not respect time or other business boundaries on a consultation call, they rarely respect your time after they’ve already hired you. In fact, it often gets worse. 

3. Don’t say yes if you don’t want to proceed.

If you’re not confident that this client is a fit for you (or if you’re getting an obvious sense in your gut that they aren’t a good fit), don’t proceed, even if the client really wants to. Tell the client that you’re not the right person to help them. Refer them to someone who can. Taking on a client who is not a good fit is a bad experience for both sides. 

4. Don’t let the coaching consultation be the last contact you have.

Immediately after the coaching consultation, send a follow up email to recap what you discussed and the next steps to getting started. If you don’t hear back, you may want to check in again in a few days. Create a process for following up as many clients are converted in the follow up.

5. Don’t try to overcome objections.

The phrase “overcoming objections” dehumanizes the other person’s needs and concerns. If your prospective client has concerns about timing, price, results, or anything else, aim first to understand. When you learn what’s behind the concerns, you are better able to help the client make the best decision for them. You don’t want to take on clients who aren’t ready, can’t commit, or can’t afford you. Don’t gaslight prospective clients into thinking that their issues aren’t real issues. 

6. Don’t record a sales conversation without permission.

Recording sales calls is an old school tactic and done with the idea that you can improve your consultations by recording them. But it’s actually illegal in some states. Not to mention, it’s unethical to record someone without their consent. If you absolutely must record your sales conversation, be sure to get the prospective client’s permission at the start of the call.

7. Don’t take it personally if someone doesn’t sign up to work with you.

There are a lot of coaching clients in the sea. If it doesn’t work out with this client, it may be a timing issue, a price issue, a fit issue, or an issue you won’t ever know about! The best advice is to not take it personally. Thank the person (in reality or energetically) and move on to the next. Remember that saying no to the wrong client leaves space for the right one.

Coaching consultations get easier over time

Coaching consultations can often be nerve-wracking when you’re a new coach, but the more you do them, the more you learn.

You learn to trust your gut instinct, use your own skills and intuition, and communicate the value you can bring to the specific client at hand. This makes you more confident with sales and a more confident coach. 

Want to sign more coaching clients?

Are you a coach who wants support with communicating your value, attracting your ideal clients, and practicing ethical sales and marketing? 

Let’s chat! You can sign up for a free coaching consultation with me here.