10 Powerful Questions to Enroll Coaching Clients Everytime

The secret is to enrolling more coaching clients is surprising. Don’t coach them in the discovery session.

https://prosperouscoachblog.com/powerful-questions-enroll-coaching-clients/Many coaches find their prospective clients walk away from a sample coaching session feeling “done”. It may be because a sample session is oriented around selling coaching rather than attracting the individual to what they already know they want — the vision of their ideal future.

If you want to transform your ability to enroll new clients, engage them in their own story and vision. Help them feel the gap between where they are now and where they want to be. Then tell them how you can help them close that gap.

It’s easy. Take these steps in order:

1. Make a connection and set up your conversation for success.
“I’m really excited to connect with you today. Is it all right if I ask you some interesting and meaningful questions about your ________ (life, business, health etc)?”

2. Get a quick snapshot of where they are now.
“Tell me a bit about your __________ right now.”

3. Uncover what they want most.
“If you could have everything you want in your _______ in the next 6 months, what would that look and feel like.” Draw the details out in full color.

4. Help them connect emotionally to their vision.
“What would _______ ( achieving this specific dream/goal) do for you?” “And what else?” “And what else?” “How important would you say this is to you on a scale of 1 – 10?”

5. Ask them to list their challenges or obstacles.
“What’s stopping you from having this _______?” “And, what else?” “And what else?” Resist the impulse to coach them!

6. Help them realize the cost of living with the status quo.
“What has it cost you not having ______?” “What impact has that had on you?”

7. Show them the bigger why.
“If you could overcome _______ (specific obstacle mentioned) what would that do for you?” “And what else?”

8. Gather the gems.
“What have you taken away from our conversation so far?”

9. Invite them in.
“Are you ready to hear how I can help you achieve _________(their specific dreams and goals)?” Share your “system”, share your fees & terms, weave in benefits of working with you and success stories.

10. Create a sense of urgency.
“Are you excited? Let’s get started.” Give them an appropriate first assignment that’s simple and powerful. Tell them what the next steps are. Follow up immediately with your Welcome Packet.

If by the end of these questions they haven’t gotten to “YES!” yet, coach through their objections. If they say… “I need time to think about it.” … honor that.
“What do you need from me to know if this is right for you?”  Set up a follow up call in a short time. Review in a follow up email what they shared with you about what they want and connect your services to those outcomes.

Give this a try and let me know how it works for you. I’ve heard from so many coaches that this approach frees them up from trying to convince prospects how great coaching is. And when you’re not trying to convince anyone to hire you, you’ll find it’s easier to be genuinely curious about them and open to outcome rather than attached to a certain result. Energetically, that alone, can turn the tide.

Share your thoughts and questions about this. Let’s get a discussion going about best enrollment practices. And feel free to share this with your friends too.

  • Fern Hodson

    Thank you, I love it!

  • Laura C. George

    Seriously, I think this is something a lot of people say but only works with certain clients. Anyone who has already had a strategy session of some sort is going to come into yours with some skepticism. They are talking to you not because they need to know they have a problem (they already know or they wouldn’t be talking to you), but because they need to know that you can solve it. So the trick isn’t to avoid coaching them but rather to selectively coach. Fix a small problem they bring up in an easy way. Make them go, “oh! It’s that easy?” They’ll subconsciously take that in as proof that you can fix their problems in an easy way, which is what you REALLY want them to come out of the session with. You don’t want them leaving the phone call feeling depressed about their situation. You want them to feel hopeful and ready to move forward – and you’re right there to lead them down the path. I just hate when people say don’t coach on the consultation… it’s manipulative when it works and ridiculous when it doesn’t. Coach, but make sure you leave problems so they’ve got more that they need. End the session by explaining to them that you can ALSO help with the remaining problems and then describe your package, answer questions, and address the financial commitment.

    • Thanks so much for sharing your opinion, Laura. It sounds like you’re having great results with a sample session approach.

      • Barbara Harvey

        I printed off the questions and worked out how they could be affective. I realised that although clients know they have issue and are very aware of the symptom because they are so close to it they don’t seem to get to the real issue. It’s like working on your own issue. Anyway what I realise these questions do is get them to really associate into the ‘dissatisfaction’ in a big way then you suddenly throw in the question to take them immediately to their vision of how they would like to be. This gets them to experience in a very short time the two extremes.

        Well Rhonda… it worked!! I had a discovery session today. This guy hooked into the dissatisfaction in a big way and broke down. While he was in this state I asked him how much, being like this, had held him back? What had it cost him? That’s when the ‘light bulb’ moment came and his reply was ‘This has got to stop. So far it has cost me millions’.

        We went through my packages and he chose the biggest and most powerful.

        I did not coach him but I did use some metaphors and I gave him homework. I did not use all the questions word for word but I kept the context the same so that they followed the same structure.

        These questions are extremely powerful. Thank you.

        • What a wonderful success story, Barbara. Congratulations! Now that you’ve done it once, you’ll find it easy to do this over and over. May I share your story with others?

          • Barbara Harvey

            Hi Rhonda. Yes I would be more than happy for you to share it with others. The more practitioners that take the questions seriously the better. Bx

  • I’ve been on the receiving end of this process (years ago) and
    the way that coach handled it was very misleading.

    The coach in question invited personal emails asking for our
    questions in response to a single process-oriented article within his
    newsletter / blog post. So I asked a question.

    He set up a phone meeting to answer my simple question and
    turned it into this interrogation. At the end of the session I was temporarily
    convinced that I was a hopeless case unless I paid his price for coaching. It
    would have been over $10,000 after travel and other obligations were figured
    in.

    I got off the phone and sobbed. Then I slept on it and I was madder than hell.

    A session such as the one described is not “free coaching.” It is better described as a “get-acquainted session to see if working with the coach can help you.”

    Even then there is a thin line between persuasion and manipulation. Rhonda, I believe you are highly responsible in how you handle this process, but there are many other coaches who don’t mind destroying people who “can’t make a decision” and refuse to “invest” in themselves.

    -Diana

    • We’re dialoguing about the right use of power. I appreciate the diversity of the comments! Let’s keep it going.

      Thank you for sharing your story, Diana. I’m sorry that happened to you. I had a similar experience in an enrollment conversation where the aim seemed to be about making me feel “less than” in order to get me to enroll in the services offered. I didn’t, of course, and left feeling angry and stung. That outcome speaks more about the intention and energy of that coach than it does about the questions used in the discovery session.

      Our similar experiences shed light on a critical piece… no matter what kind of enrollment conversation we choose to use with prospects, pressuring them or convincing them to enroll goes against the spirit of service. Our marketing and enrollment processes should always be a part of our service rather than a separate, less-wholesome thing.

      Would you agree that any enrollment process — sample session, discovery session, or some other type of consult — could feel either clean or manipulative simply by the “come from” of the coach?

      What I like about discovery sessions like the one I describe is that they don’t lead coaches into performance mode — coaching to convince prospects that coaching is useful. Instead, through open-ended questions — a mainstay of good coaching — the coach can be a witness while prospects feel into their own motivation to transform. If their
      motivation isn’t powerful enough in that moment, they won’t say ‘yes’ to services. If they are ready now, they’ll invest.

      Even though coaching skills are used in the discovery session, no actual coaching takes place as the co-creative relationship hasn’t yet been established. That happens after the “yes”with a clear engagement agreement and payment.

      When we invite a prospect to a discovery session, they accept knowing that we’re going to invite them to a next step. That can be less clear when a sample session is offered. And, in my experience, prospects feel highly served by these questions whether they enroll or not. If we come to the conversation with genuine curiosity about the individual and whether we’re a good fit for them and them for us, that openness and detachment allows for an organic rather than manipulated decision.

      That said, as with everything related to serving clients and running a business, each of us must choose the processes that align best with us. If sample sessions are working best for you, stick with them. Many of my clients, who are mostly coaches, have found this process works better for them.

      What other thoughts about this subject want to be expressed? I’d love to hear from you.

  • Bostjan Belingar

    Great article, thank you very much. Could you direct me to an article or good piece of content on the homework questions you give your clients after the first session?

    • Hello Bostjan. Thanks for your question. What homework you give clients after the first or any session largely depends on these things:
      – who your target audience is
      – what outcomes they want or specific goals they’ve set to accomplish with your help
      – what occurred before and during the session
      A good general question to ask close to the end of the session is: “What will you do between now and the time we next meet to go deeper into what we discussed today and move closer to your biggest immediate goals?”

      Every coach is a bit different in how they handle the first session. When I work with my clients the first session is always finding out more about them and the coaching business they envision for themselves and discovering the best niche for them. It’s very focused and specific. Some coaches have a less directed focus or arc for the work they do with their clients. What about you?

  • Rob Kee

    Rhonda, obviously there are varied perspectives and convictions of this topic. My only comment is how impressed I am at how yo have coached the coach through each reply, whether critical or supportive. Nicely done. God bless you and have a great day!
    Rob :^)
    Rob Kee Solutions
    https://www.facebook.com/rob.kee.13/

    • Thanks for the praise, Rob. God bless you too!

      • Rob Kee

        Well deserved. Thank you for putting your self out there. 🙂

    • B. Hawthorne

      Agreed. 

  • Andrea Wilson Woods

    Fantastic questions. Everyone should adjust the words to suit their style but the meaning of each one is key to taking a potential client on a journey. Thank you!

    • Thank you, Andrea. We’d love to see what you might ask. Your refinements would interest everyone I think!

  • timothycolman

    Thanks for posting these questions a while ago. Important way you frame. Feel free to get in touch. I’m happy to reciprocate and listen, not coach. Just found The Invisible Power http://insightprinciples.com/invisible-power/ Helps me teach people about our thoughts, how they only come from the inside out. Also love The Coaching Habit by Stanier

    • Thanks for chiming in, Timothy. The open ended frame is powerful. It’s the best way to draw out your client’s wisdom. I’ll check out The Invisible Power and The Coaching Habit.