If you’re a new coach, should you offer your services for free? There is no single correct answer. Take into consideration the benefits it has for you and your long term business goals as a coach.
3 reasons why a coach would undertake pro bono work:
- You’re a new coach and need to build hours and your confidence.
- You offer free session as part of your sales process.
- You are a practicing coach that performs pro bono work as a strategy to build your business.
It’s important to build your confidence
Your confidence (or lack thereof) will play an integral role in your success or otherwise. Keeping this in mind, offering pro bono sessions in the early stages of your business may be worthwhile. Additionally, offering free coaching sessions for altruistic reasons is simply a matter of personal choice. As a coach, you should have a clear vision of what you want to achieve. If delivering free sessions for philanthropic reasons fits into your vision, then go for it.
Many coaches offer free introductory sessions as part of their sales process
Some coaches offer the first session for free to assists the potential client and help he or she understand the coaching process and to build rapport. You want to see if you are a good fit for each other. Others however, disagree and say this may be a dangerous practice. Others suggest that if you want to offer a free introductory session, do it as part of a longer term contract with a guarantee.
Ask your prospect to sign up for a 3 or 6-month coaching contract, and as part of the contract you can provide a free introductory session. This will ensure the prospect is serious, and later you can upsell them into a larger contract that may otherwise be difficult to achieve. This strategy can work successfully when used in conjunction with a guarantee. If they feel for whatever reason that coaching will not assist them achieve their goals, they can opt-out of the contract at any point.
Many coaches provide pro bono sessions and achieve this by carefully selecting their pro bono clients. A pro bono client can assist and build your business if they are well networked within your niche and willing to provide referrals. They can assist you with getting public speaking arrangements, willing to be a ‘specialist’ on your tele-class session, and also provide a testimonial.
Here are 6 important things to keep in mind if you offer free sessions:
1. Treat all pro bono clients as paying clients. There is nothing worse than word of mouth that undervaluing the coaching relationship with a pro bono client. Remember, word of poor service spreads 10 times faster so provide great services!
2. Find them, don’t let them find you.
3. Get testimonials. Testimonials are a very powerful endorsement of your service. When prospects consider contracting your services they can be dramatically influenced by testimonials.
4. Get clients from your niche, and preferably someone that can help you into a network.
5. Always get paid referrals from pro bono clients and don’t offer pro bono work to referrals of pro bono clients!
6. Don’t overload. Your time is your commodity. If you spend all your time providing free services, you won’t have enough time left for paying clients.