In the past couple of months, whether in the Q&A's during our free webinars, or during one-on-one calls or personal emails, I've been getting more requests for tips on how to best handle the initial one-on-one meeting with a new prospective client.
I answer the best I can, always dropping in a tip or two I've gotten along the way from some of the coaching and business experts I look up.
But this blog post is my chance to do better.
I feel like a broken record sometimes, but if there's one thing we've learned so far on this journey with Nudge Coach, it's that no one person or even group of professionals has ALL of the answers for how to best run every aspect of a coaching business.
But I think that's exactly what makes our fast-growing network of health, wellness and fitness experts so valuable!
I certainly don't have all of the answers all of the time. So to give you the advice and insights you're looking for I've put it to several of the most successful wellness and fitness coaches in our network to respond to the following question ...
For you, what are the most important keys to success in your first 1-on-1 conversation with a new prospective client?
And here's what they had to say ...
Creator of Healthy Hits The Spot
Ah, I love this question! The most important keys are:
(1) to build rapport with the client
(2) to match the clients emotion/tone,
(3) to listen carefully and repeat back to the client what they have said, and
(4) to ask open ended questions, and
(5) finally, to help the client get into the vision of what it would feel like to be in the place they want to be.
To do this, I have my clients close their eyes and visualize exactly what it would feel like to already have what it is that they want. I do this after asking open ended questions to collect information on what it is that my client wants, and what having those things would do for them.
Creator of Health Coach Solutions
One of the most important keys to a successful initial conversation is to ask questions that peel back the layers, and listen intently. Dig deep to get to the heart of WHY people want to make a change – tap into emotions, not just answers.
When you ask questions that reveal what the clients goals are, and specifically what they need help with, the easier it will be for you to explain how you can help them.
A great book that has an incredible selection of high-mileage questions is “Coaching Questions –A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills” by Tony Stoltzfus.
I highly recommend this book for any coach. I think it’s also important to show that you are real and very relatable. Let people know that you have experienced similar struggles, so you understand their challenges.
When people feel safe, heard and understood, they feel a connection to you, and that helps make you irresistible.
Creator of Wellpreneur Online
In the first phone call with a prospective client, it's important to do more listening than talking!
When new coaches get nervous, they tend to talk a lot try to 'sell' themselves and how great they are - which can be off-putting for the client, and you're not even sure exactly what the client's major problem is yet!
A better approach is to ask lots of questions - really drawing out what their major pain is right now, how it's impacting their life, what they've tried so far to fix it, and what will change for them once it's fixed.
You need to understand if it's a problem that you can solve, but also, if they're serious enough about fixing the problem that they'll do the work with you! Then you can decide whether you want to offer your services or not.
Remember that you don't have to work with everyone you speak to! Choosing to work together is a 2-way street, so if you feel you can't help someone, or if you don't 'click', you don't have to offer your services.
If you do decide to offer your services, you'll be able to explain exactly how working with you can solve their specific pain points in their specific situation - it makes for a much more effective conversation for both sides!
Creator of Wellness Force
When meeting with a new client for the first time, it is crucial to establish not only a baseline of expertise and rapport, but also to be vulnerable and authentic in your communication.
What separates the great coaches from the good ones, is their ability to be strategically vulnerable at the right time during the conversation. Asking great questions to elicit the right information is just the beginning.
Getting the client to relax and feel safe in sharing what is really blocking them from their goals is the difference between a coach selling a new package, or getting stuck trying to sell themselves.
Creator of The Business Stylist
The biggest mistake I think a coach can make in their first one-on-one conversation with a prospective client is to treat it like a coaching session.
Your first conversation is not a free taste of your services, that’s what your free, opt-in gift is for.
Your first conversation is a sales call. That doesn’t mean it has to feel like one or that it’s all about convincing the prospective client to work with you.
Far from it.
But it does mean the call needs to have a specific structure. It also means you need to manage the agenda. You’re the one asking the questions, not them.
The purpose of the call is not to solve the prospective client’s problems, or even one of their problems, to show them how good of a coach you are. The purpose is to find out if they are a good client for you and the services you offer.
To do that you need to have a structured conversation (I use a 10-step checklist) that helps you clearly understand their issues, their goals, their obstacles, and their readiness for change, so you can decide if they’re a good fit for your services. And so you can decide if you want to work with them.
Your job on the first call is also to help them see their issues (I like to call them Pains) in a much deeper way than they’ve probably done on their own.
This does two things: first, it increases the magnitude of the problem in their eyes thereby increasing their desire to solve it (and hopefully hire you to help them); and second, it helps you get really clear on whether or not you can, and want, to help them.
Creator of The Healthy VA
I am committed to working with health businesses who's message I'm aligned too and who I feel I can create a positive relationship with.
Therefore, my initial 1-on-1 calls with potential clients are just as much about feeling an intuitive connection, as it is for discussing my virtual assistant services.
We first talk about why they are in business and what their short term goals, as well as their biggest frustrations so I can get an idea of where they're at and how we can help.
Creator of Jill Brown Fitness
BUILDING TRUST I think is the most important thing to do when speaking to a a new or prospective client.
I do it by aligning with one of their key issues. I let them know that I have dealt with or experienced some of the problems they are having.
For example, if you are a coach that also private trains people or designs fitness programs, you know that many potential clients are hesitant because of previous or chronic injuries.
Maybe they hurt themselves while training or a previous trainer put them on a program that was too aggressive. Or maybe their one of the many sufferers of chronic back pain. I myself have spinal stenosis (degenerative disc disease), have had 2 spine surgeries and a few other nasty sports injuries.
When prospective clients hear this, they are:
(1) put at ease knowing I understand their "pain," and
(2) trust that I can put them on a program that will not hurt or injure them.
It also helps when my clients and students see the amazing workouts I am able to do with some pretty serious conditions, so it is inspiring to them.
Along with building trust, you have to be well educated and well versed in many areas of health & fitness.
Prospective clients will ask you some ... hmmm ... how can I say this nicely?
I can't. They're going to ask some Dumb-Ass Questions!
They read about some juice fast a celebrity is doing or heard about a diet a friend of theirs is doing who says they lost 10 pounds in 7 days. Or worse yet, they heard from another "fitness professional" or "health coach" that "Spinning makes your thighs big," or "juice fasting" is the fastest way to lose weight.
Make sure you know your science. Read industry journals and peer reviewed studies. DO NOT use reference materials from popular magazines - go to the source materials.
If you aren't absolutely sure about an answer, say "That is an interesting topic, but I have just started to read up on it. Let me get you some information on that."
If you give them misinformation or perpetuate a weight loss myth, when they speak to someone more educated, you may end up looking a fool. And worse, do a disservice to our industry. And believe me, I've seen a lot of that over the years!
Corinne Dobbas, M.S. R.D.
Creator of CorinneDobbas.com
As a registered dietitian and wellness coach, who helps women learn to love food, their body, and themselves, the key to success in my first 1:1 conversation with a possible new client is seeing if we're truly a match for one another.
To do this is a skill. And requires reading the clients' energy, understanding what stage of change they're in, and being able to leave your ego - as a coach - at the door.
This is NOT about whether you can land a new client or not. This initial conversation is about whether or not you - as the coach - are going to be able to help this person.
After our initial 20-minute "meet n' greet" call, I tell my potential client to sit on it. To give it 24 hours or so because this is a serious investment in time, money, and energy. And if they're ready and want to move forward to let me know.
I don't reach out again after this call because them reaching out is a sign to me that they're ready and it's important to them. As a coach, I'm selling a lifestyle change, not a used car or a pretty new handbag.
This is serious, in-depth - yet beautiful, life-changing - work that a person needs to be "all in" for. If they're not ready, then they're going to have a bad outcome, which only reflects poorly on you as the coach.
In today's ever-growing coaching world, it can be easy for a coach to want to get their feet wet or make money and take on clients who really aren't suited for them. This is never beneficial to either party.
My biggest piece of advice here, as a coach, is to get to know your coaching style and target market and who you can really help. And to say, "NO," if you're pretty sure you're not a good match for a potential client.
And if you think you are a match for a potential client, give them 24 hours to sit on it, so they make sure they're really ready, and have them reach out to you if they are.
And be sure to tell them, in the initial call that this is how you'll proceed for next steps. Be clear. Be honest. Be transparent.
. . .
Corinne Dobbas, MS, RD, RYT is a Registered Dietitian, Wellness Coach, and yogi with a Masters in Nutrition. Corinne helps kind, caring, compassionate women develop a healthy positive relationship with food, their body, and themselves.