The Complimentary Coaching Session

by | Apr 3, 2012 | New Coaches Start Here

Part 1

This is article 1/3 on how to manage a coaching client through those first most important encounters.

The stages covered in the full series are:

  1. How to Book a Free Coaching Session
  2. What to do During a Free Coaching Session
  3. What to do During a Paid Coaching Session


Me doing some ‘systems thinking’

Before I started my coaching business I was a business analyst, which means that I can be quite organized and think in terms of steps and processes – for those of you who are into internal representational systems I was a high Auditory Digital. My favourite book at the time was Michael Gerber’s, E-Myth, which, you guessed it, is all about business systems!

As mad as it may sound for a fledgling coaching business, one of the first things I did was to document my business systems and develop tools and templates.  Sounds crazy, but my investment paid off because I was always seen as professional and organized in all of my business interactions and this helped me get coaching gigs.

Out of all the systems I developed, one stands out as the essential system that I think every single coaching business should have – a Client Management System. Even now, 6 years later, I still use this process, albeit with a few enhancements.

Because I love to share, this article aims to lay out my basic process for managing a coaching client through those first most important encounters. It will also direct you to tools (highlighted in Bold) that I use during each stage of the coach-client relationship.

Please note:  For the purpose of this series of articles, I will assume that you already have someone in mind that you would like to coach.

Booking a Free Session

Once you have identified a prospective client, you may want to arrange to have an initial consultation with him or her. This meeting usually last between 15 minutes and 1-hour max. The purpose of the meeting is to explore possibilities and options for working together.

This is great to do when you are just starting out as a coach. It gets your hours up and you learn heaps about client management and your niche!

As you become more experienced, you may decide to skip free sessions and go straight into paid sessions. For example, let’s say a prospective client is interested in joining your 6-month coaching program (with it’s own agenda and predefined materials), you may find that a free session may not be needed. It is more likely that you can answer people’s questions about the program via a webinar or via email. Every once in a while, someone may want to talk to you before committing to a $1000+ program but not necessarily!

Anyway, for the rest of this series, let’s assume that you want to give free sessions!

Before you have your initial session it is likely that you will exchange a few emails with your prospective client while finalizing dates and times for your meeting. I suggest keeping all your emails short and to the point because you are a busy professional and your time is important! Also, when you value your time your client is more likely to do the same.

Coaching Client Questionnaire



What to Send

In your early emails, I recommend linking to and/or attaching some of your marketing material. This will help to establish your credibility and give your prospect some time to learn a bit about you.

If you only have one thing to send, it is OK, send it. Most coaches don’t send anything, so you will stand out!

Here are some ideas:

  • Links to your website, Facebook page, and/or Linkedin page
  • Links to any articles you have written
  • A copy of your Coach Bio/Resume
  • PDF of your brochure if you have one (FYI – I don’t use brochures these days, find that my website is enough)
  • If you want to learn a few things about your client before your initial consultation, send them a Client Questionnaire, ask them to fill it out and send it back to you a day or two before your initial consultation.



Summary of the Steps

I’ve taken the liberty of consolidating the steps you need to take into the following list.

1. Email your marketing material and a Client Questionnaire to your prospective client
2. Settle on a time and place to meet



Tools to Have


Tool Description
Coach Bio/Resume This document provides a brief snapshot of your experience and expertise as a coach. You can personalize the document by adding a photo and a favorite quote. Remember to keep your coach bio succinct and easy to read. Use clear headings and bullet points to break up the content.
(Template included within our Coaching Starter Kit.)
Client Questionnaire  Coaching questions you can email to your client to get to know them even better.
(Template included within our Coaching Starter Kit.)



That concludes part 1, How to Book a Free Coaching Session. I hope you got some ideas from it!

If you want to know what comes next, check out our next article on, What to do During a Free Coaching Session.


  1. Donna Leigh Sigvart

    I am wondering if you can help me with some tools on finding clients. I am a Life Coach now living in a small regional town and feel a little stuck as to where to start looking for potential clients. There is a large mining community a few hours from here. Do you think that I could tap into this industry some how? I would really appreciate it if you could assist me in any way. Thank you Donna Sigvart

    • Benay

      Hi Donna.

      Many thanks for your question. It is one that every coach needs the answer too! The good news is that there are heaps of resources out there to help you get more clients. But first, I need to know what kind of business you want to run…

      In my experience, finding clients becomes a whole lot easier if you have a clearly defined and reasonably narrow service offering in your coaching business. For example, once I focused my coaching on helping people in their 30’s-50’s with vision and goal planning and attainment, my strategy for finding clients became a lot more clear. It also helped me understand the type of coaching I don’t do (and there is a lot that falls in that category!).

      So, Donna, what is your niche? What skills and experience from your past can you combine with your coaching skills to solve problems, that people will pay for? For more great questions along this line, check out my article, Should I Start a Coaching Business?

      One trap that lots of new coaches get into is that they limit their potential as a coach based on the type of work they can get based on their physical location as opposed to uncovering and following their true natural talents and passions. With the age of the internet, you can make a much better return on your time by selling information online (passive income) and then up selling other resources and phone coaching to buyers than you can by trying to convert people in a small community into paying life coaching clients.

      The mining company in your area could be a golden opportunity for you as a coach but only if you can offer something to them that they will value like DISC Profiling or some other training that will help their management in some way and make them more money. OR it could be a huge distraction for you that keeps you from discovering what you really want to do with your time and coaching skills to be happy and feel fulfilled. Only you know the answer. 😉

      If you post some thoughts on your niche or email me, I’ll be happy to give you some more specific tools on finding clients that relate to your niche.

      Thank you again for the great question and happy coaching!

  2. Benay

    Just came across They offer free marketing courses specifically designed for coaches. I have not done the course but if you give it a go, I’d love to hear what you think.


  3. Suzanne Raymond

    What is your Client Management System? Do you have an electronic
    CRM system, or are you simply working with paper in a “systematic” manner?

    Any leads on good CRM systems that can work for coaching and nutrition?

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