Should Coaches Offer Free Life Coaching Sessions?
If you search the internet for a life coach, you may well find a number offering what appear to be free life coaching sessions. In some cases these will indeed be free sessions, though often they may in fact be small taster conversations, perhaps lasting 15-20 minutes where the potential coaching client gets a chance briefly to describe what they would like help with and the life coach tells the client a little about their service.
Why Would a Life Coach Offer a Free Coaching Session?
From a business point of view, a life coach may feel that offering a free session is a way of increasing their prospects of gaining paying clients. The argument being that people may be attracted by the free offer, use it as an opportunity to try out the service and then decide to pay for further sessions.
Some life coaches may also fear that if they do not offer a free starter coaching session then they will not get many clients.
For life coaches just starting out, offering one or more free coaching sessions, may also be a way for them of gaining some coaching practice and perhaps of getting some useful testimonials as well from people who try out the service.
Problems with Offering a Free Coaching Session
There are some obvious potential problems for life coaches from offering one or more free coaching sessions:
- They can take up a significant amount of time for little return - if the prospective client does not take up the service on a paying basis, you will be out of pocket
- Some people may think that if you are offering a free coaching session, this must be because you are not yet a successful enough coach to charge from the start
- Some people may have a free coaching session who have no intention of having paid sessions
Free Coaching Sessions - A Personal Perspective
In the past I offered a free initial coaching session, primarily because I was confident in the service I offered and felt that people would then go on to have paid coaching sessions after having experienced a taste of my service.
Indeed a significant proportion of those having the initial coaching session did do just that. However, there were also some who did not take up a paying service after the initial coaching session and some of these (albeit a relatively small proportion) clearly viewed the service as a free service and had no intention of proceeding further. The turning point came when at the end of a free session with one such person, he concluded gratefully with the remark: 'This is great. I am going to tell all my friends about it.' I realised then that if I continued offering a free session, I might be inundated with calls from all his friends who had no intention of proceeding with a paid service and my business could have gone downhill quickly! At that point, I stopped offering free coaching sessions!
Currently I do not offer free coaching sessions, but my home page contains quite a lot of information about how my coaching service works and who it is for, as well as a purchase button for an initial coaching session.
In my experience, I get at least as many coaching clients now that I do not offer a free introductory coaching session as I got when I offered a free session. I feel that my service is valued by those who purchase the sessions and I am able to stay in business and provide a service which helps people to change their lives and deal with stressses.
If potential clients call or email me with enquiries about my service, then that's fine - I am happy to answer questions and explain the service further for free - but I do not advertise this as a free coaching session (indeed it isn't a free session, it's just a preliminary conversation).
So my personal view at the time of writing is that for my service, it is better not to offer a free coaching session but instead to concentrate on ensuring that the sessions I do offer meet the needs of my clients and that my website gives a good idea of what I offer and the expertise that I have.
Other life coaches may have different views and if you are a coach you may have individual reasons which make a offering a free coaching session more suitable for you and the type of service you are offering. If so, then you can of course do as I did - try both ways and see which works best for you, your clients and your business.
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