How to Lead Free Initial Consultations That Get You Paying Clients

free initial consultation

Learning how to invite people to work with you in a soulful way during a free initial consultation is vital to the health of your business.

It’s the difference between having potential clients say “I’m not ready” or “I can’t afford this” to having them say “Yes, I want to work with you!”

If you don’t know how to lead a free initial consultation, even with the best marketing plan, you’ll always struggle to bring in paying clients.

Here’s what I mean…

Let’s say you do some great marketing – whether that’s locally or online – and you get 6 potential clients to sign up for a free initial consultation with you.

If you don’t have a solid process for leading those calls, you may end up with 1 or 2 new clients.

But when you have a proven process, you can double or triple those numbers to 4 or 5 new paying clients.

Because this is such a critical part of growing your business, I’m sharing the structure for your free initial consultation… so that you can lead these sessions with confidence, and enroll more clients.

We teach this process in-depth to our clients and after using this process they’re signing 70-80% of potential clients. (Truth be told, some are signing 100% of potential clients, and that’s when we know it’s time for them to raise their rates!)

I’m sharing:

  • How to frame the conversation from the beginning, so you’ll never come off as salesy.
  • How to dig into what your potential clients are struggling with.
  • How to make an offer at the end in a way that flows and feels natural.
  • How to use these calls to help you write powerful marketing copy.

Let’s get started!

I'm sharing a proven structure for your free initial consultation

Break the ice

Start the calls by breaking the ice. You’re going to be getting fairly personal, so it’s important that the other person feels comfortable and safe speaking with you.

If you’re speaking with someone local, find out how they were referred to you and use that as a jumping off point for the conversation. Discussing your mutual love of a local yoga studio will make you feel more familiar to them.

If you are speaking with someone who is not local, find out where they are from and ask them about their town or state. Perhaps you can relate to having visited where they live. If not, ask them to tell you a bit about it. Starting the call off with small talk can put both your prospective client and you at ease.

Frame the call

Once you’ve broken the ice, you want to set yourself up as the leader of the call.

Ask them, “What was it that made you want to set up this session with me today?” This gets them, right away, tuning into their pain and gives you a glimpse of what they really need help with.

Then, let them know what they can expect out of the call. This ensures that you don’t get caught up in answering questions or giving free advice for the length of your call.

You might say something like:

“I’m so glad that you set up this call up and I want to thank you for joining me here today. Let me share how our call is going to flow.”

  • First, I’m going to get an understanding of what’s going on for you
  • Then, I want to understand what you’ve tried already, what has worked and what hasn’t worked
  • From there, we’ll talk about your primary goals
  • Then at the end, if you are interested, I can share how I work with clients.”

Then ask them “how does this sound?”

It’s important to ask this question, because you want them to buy into the process.

Framing the call this way lets the person relax, knowing you’ve got a plan. It also ensure they won’t be surprised when you ask if they want to hear how you can support them at the end of the call. And you won’t have to make any awkward, sales-y transitions into that part of the conversation.

Remember – people are reaching out to you because they want and need help.  It would be odd if you DIDN’T tell them how you could help them!

Dig into their health struggles

After you’ve explained the structure of the call, you’re going to get into the heart of the discussion.

Start by asking, “Tell me about your [insert their main struggle that they shared earlier]”.

I like this question because you aren’t making any assumptions or leading them. You want to get them to open up and tell you how they are feeling.

As they talk, listen for their struggles, pain points and what is going on underneath the problem. Really let the client talk here and share what’s going on. If you let them, they’ll tell you everything you need to know.

Respond with empathy. You are there to connect and build trust and respect and let them know how you can help. Relate any personal experiences that you may have or other clients that you’ve worked with who’ve had similar struggles.

If they seem hesitant to share, ask follow-up questions so that you can get as much information as possible. Get them to talk about both the physical and emotional symptoms they’re experiencing.

Once they’ve shared about their struggle, ask them “What happens if this doesn’t change?”

This helps both of you tap into how much their health challenges are impacting their life…and how motivated they may be to take action.

After they share that, find out how they want to feel. Here you’re helping them think about what would be possible if they addressed their health struggles.

Again, ask follow-up questions so that you can get as much information as possible. You want them to connect with their desires and how they want things to be.

At this point of the call, you’ll want to take a moment to acknowledge how difficult it can be to share all of this personal information. “Thank you for sharing! I know it’s hard.”

Test for readiness and commitment

This is the part of the call where you want to gauge how important it is to them to solve the problem they’ve shared with you.

One key question to ask in this section is “On a scale of 1 to 10 how important is it that you achieve that?”

It’s important to ask this because you only want to make an invitation to work with you if the person is committed.

Invite them to work with you in a way that flows and feels natural

Start this section of the call by echoing back the highlights of what they shared – what they’re struggling with, things they’ve tried and how they’d ideally like to feel.

Provide them optimism that things can be different and that this is exactly what you work on with clients

You’ll then transition into speaking about your services. You may say something like “There is so much conflicting information out there. It doesn’t have to be so hard. [Insert personal story if relevant or relate a story of someone you helped]. I know that you can feel better and I’d love to support you. Would you like to know what it would look like if we were to work together?”

You already mentioned at the beginning of the call that you’d be discussing this at the end, so the potential client is expecting it and has given you permission to share how you work with clients.

Once they say yes, you can say “’With everything you’re telling me that you want to achieve, I’m going to recommend my [insert the program that you believe will get them the results they are looking for. In most cases you are going to want to recommend your high-end program because it’s the one with the most support]”.

Ask how that sounds and make sure they seem enthusiastic about going forward.

If they appear interested, share more about your program. Focus on the RESULTS they’ll get. And, let them know about the tangible outcomes and any tangible products that they’ll get with your program.

Once you’ve covered the benefits, describe the features of your program – “the way the program is structured is….”

Explain how long the program is, how many calls they get with you, and any other features included in the program. With each feature, explain how that feature will support them. For example, you might share that you’re going to give them quick and easy recipes so they can make healthy meals that taste great and give them more energy.

Finally, you’ll say “the investment for this program is….”

If there’s more than one payment option, such as a full-payment and monthly payment, share that information at this point in the conversation.

At this point, they’ll share if they’re ready to move forward. They may also have questions for you. If they don’t ask any questions, I suggest asking if they have any questions.

Their questions usually tap into concerns they have. By getting them to voice their concerns, you have an opportunity to appease their fears and leave them feeling confident about working with you. Addressing concerns and objections is a KEY piece of this process.

Once they’ve decided that they want to work with you, get them on your calendar before you end the call.

Wrap up by thanking them with excitement and say goodbye.

How to use a free initial consultation to help you write powerful marketing copy

One thing I love about having a free initial consultation with prospective clients is that the information you hear can be used as market research. Take notes while you’re on the calls. Notice themes that come up and the specific word choices people make when sharing what they’re experiencing. Then be sure to use this information on your website and in any marketing you do. You can even use what comes up as topics for blog posts.

When you use this structure, you’ll find that you’re able to lead these calls with confidence and enroll more clients – without feeling salesy.

Now I’d love to hear from you!

Are you currently offering a free initial consultation like this in your practice? If so, how are they going for you? Do you have a specific question you ask that works really well?

Comment below or come join our Facebook Group to share!


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31 Responses to How to Lead Free Initial Consultations That Get You Paying Clients

  1. Thank you, Amy! Great article – I love how you summed up the process of the discovery call and made the transition to the “ask” very smooth. I love offering a free call so I can get to know the person and their problems before I take them on as a client – it allows me to select which clients are best suited to work with me and those that I know I can truly help. Of course, sometimes it means missing out on some income but it’s also proven to minimize the number of headaches or feelings of frustration or resentment that can sometimes come with a less-than-ideal client.

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Jessica – I love what you shared about using the free call to determine if the client is a good fit for you. It’s never easy to turn a client away, but it only leave more room for the perfect clients!

  2. Thanks for sharing Amy! I like how you broke down the components of the call into an easy to follow format. I always get stuck on the transition from explaining to asking for the sale. I will definitely try your suggestions.

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Glad you found this helpful Janine. I know that making that transition can feel tricky, but there’s really no need for it to be awkward. Let me know how it goes!

  3. Parijat says:

    This is just what I was looking for. Thank you! I’m already doing one version of this but I notice that these calls end up being run by the potential client than myself and we can often get off track. I think more structure will help me figure out if we are a good fit together as well as share with them how I can help them to improve my conversion rate from free calls to paying clients. It will help both of us feel more confident moving forward it seems! Thank you again!

  4. Jessi says:

    I’m so happy I came across this! Thank you so much much for the specific, detailed and encouraging information you shared. I believe one this that is of high importance, as you mentioned, is conveying that they CAN feel better. When someone else believes in you that can sometimes make all the difference. This is really great and I’m excited to implement your tips!

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      I’m glad you found this helpful Jessi. And I agree completely. When people feel that you are confident you can help them it’s a game changer!

  5. Tiffiney Poole says:

    So glad I found this article, it’s super helpful to get to the “meat” of what a discovery call should be. I’m excited to start using this information as I build my new business!

  6. LindaCrawford says:

    I also ask are you currently seeing a doctor or worked with another coach before (depending on your focus). I have invested time with prospects that used my consultation for answers to their questions then informed me that they are under a doctor’s care or taking meds (for conditions I am not trained to address)so that’s good to know in the beginning.

  7. Amy, thank you, You have given information we can use immediately in our business. There is no fluff or garbage information here. I love this because I struggle during my consultation in knowing what to say. I think I will be much better at getting more customers. Thank you

  8. Amy, you are the best. I am so pleased to have this information for years I have struggled during my consultations trying to find the right words and feel more comfortable in my own skin asking the client to take action. This makes my job so much easier. Thank you

  9. Kirsten says:

    Thank you for this Amy, so helpful! I’ve got my first booking this afternoon after following your 5-day challenge and I was hoping you’d have some advice I this; and you did! Soooooo much better and more intuitive than the Health History form. So thank you ☺️

  10. Emily says:

    Hi Amy,
    Really enjoyed this article. Seems more fluid than taking a health history which is what I usually do. Just wondering if you then take a fuller history in your first session? How long is this free session? The ones I have done have been at least an hour so have been trying to find a way to shorten it! Many thanks.

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Glad you found this helpful Emily! And, yes, I would take the fuller history once they’re a paying client – in their first session.

  11. I think this is the perfect structure for an initial consultation. You guide the participant along so they know exactly what to expect and when you make the offer it sounds natural and not salesy at all. Thank you Amy; this is great!

  12. I like that you mentioned the importance of checking the audience. This is a great way to make sure that the crowd is hearing what they need to hear. It would help me a lot to keep this in mind as I look into coaching consulting programs.

  13. Heather Warta says:

    There is such conflicting advice out there on how to generate new clients and none of it seems to jive. I guess it really comes down to what works for you? I am just starting out myself so trying to figure out the formula that is going to work for me. I listened to a long-time health coach yesterday go on and on about how free consultations do not work. It’s tough to wade through all of the advice and customize your approach.

    • Amy Lippmann says:

      Thank you for sharing this Heather. It’s true that there are a lot of different perspectives on offering free consults. What I can say is that this is the strategy that has worked well for me and my clients. That said, one thing that can happen when you offer a free consult is that you will get tire kickers who don’t want to pay for anything. What I teach is that if you start getting a lot of tire kickers, that’s when you want to implement an application process – where the potential client completes an application prior to the session. This gives them a hoop they need to jump through and will weed out the people who aren’t serious. If you’re still getting a lot of tire kickers, then you can experiment with charging for the session. I will say though that if you find the free consult strategy doesn’t work for you, it’s likely that there are other reasons why… such as your specialty, the name of your session, how an where you’re promoting the session, and how you’re leading the session… so those are all things to keep in mind!

  14. Thank you so much! This is exactly what I have needed. I am thrilled to have landed upon your site as your blog posts speak so clearly to the struggles I have had. I never knew the exact roadmap to take my potential clients on so my calls were a bit disjointed and I know if I felt it so did they. This is golden and I have taken bits and pieces to a google doc to facilitate me through calls until it becomes second nature.

    I can’t wait to scour your site to fill in the missing pieces to help things flow and get some steady income in 2019.

    Seriously, thanks so much!

  15. Linfair Lewis says:

    This information is quite straight forward and will be so useful for me being a newby in the health and wellness area.

    Helping others always came naturally sense the reason for me taking a back seat as a geriatric nurse and following my passion to help others in a more positive way , but it’s another playing field when you’re turning your passion into a dull blown business.

    Thanks so much for this . Really thank you

  16. Udaysree says:

    Hi Amy, great article! Thank you! At the end you suggest adding them to my calendar. What is discussed during that next phone call/meeting? Isn’t that the paid program already with intake forms etc? I actually would have sent them to the payment page for the program they are going to take and then schedule them for the first day of the program w intake forms. What are your thoughts on this?

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