Free sessions are hands down one of the best ways to attract new clients. Being that the number one job of every business owner is to make sales, offering free sessions is a strategic way to get clients and bring in that needed revenue. Let’s face it, a day without sales is a day without income and too many of those means you’re out of business or officially a non-profit.
Seasoned coaches know that an effective way to fill the calendar is to offer clients a complimentary session. Coaches often call these “discovery” or “strategy” sessions. Actually, you don’t want to call them either. Give your consultation a juicy name which is benefit driven that appeal to your client's burning desire. For example, “Summer Slim Down Strategy Session” is much more enticing than “free strategy session”.
Be sure to put a value on your session, as in "I'd like to offer you the opportunity to schedule a free strategy session, which is a $297 value". Look for ways to gift your strategy sessions as program bonuses, or after speaking engagements, workshops, etc. You can also allow your referral partners to gift them as a way to add value to their services and packages.
There are many ways to fill your appointment book with free sessions, however, there comes a time when every business owner needs to decide whether to continue offering sessions for free, or to charge for them. It can be a turning point for a coach to make this decision for his or her practice.
Here are four factors to consider when considering whether to charge or not for your consultations.
1. Your schedule: Is your client roster virtually filled? If so, it’s definitely time to start charging for your valuable time. It may also be time to raise your rates and expand your services to include more profitable services, such as VIP days, group coaching, and live events.
2. Your price point: Are your services at a price level that is considered to be more high~end than low~end? If so, you probably want to be selective about to whom you offer your no~cost sessions. Charge for your strategy sessions, or only extend complimentary invitations to clients who have already invested in your products, programs and services.
3. The client: Have an application process the client must complete before allocating time in your schedule for a strategy session. Ask some pre-qualifying questions through an application to determine if the prospective client is a good fit for your services.
The criteria to evaluate is the urgency of the client to solve their challenges, their level of commitment and motivation, and their coachability. Consider turning away completely anyone who is uncooperative about adhering to your request in completing and returning the intake form, or complacent about their goals, or charge for your time.
4. Your team: Do you have team members who are trained, or can be trained, to emulate your sales process? If so, you personally should stop doing your sales calls and delegate them to your capable team members. This option would allow you to continue offering free sessions to prospective clients if desired, but will liberate you from everything but service delivery and revenue producing activities.
The bottom line is that the longer you’re in business and the more revenue your company is producing, the more you can afford to be selective about to whom you offer your valuable time and strategy sessions. It doesn't have to be an all or nothing decision, you can also change your policy depending on how busy you are, or on your mood! After all, freedom of choice is one of the inherent benefits in working for yourself.
Thanks so much for reading! What questions or challenges do you have regarding offering strategy sessions? Leave me a comment below, I’d be happy to answer your questions.