A script to start & end a powerful coaching conversation
Most coaches don’t know how to set up a powerful coaching conversation—or how to end one powerfully. Today I’m going to take you through a word for word script for both of these situations…
A Powerful Start
Before the very first conversation between a coach and potential client, there are two unspoken fears:
- The client is worried that someone is about to try to sell them something.
- The coach is worried how they are going to sell coaching to the client.
This script is designed to acknowledge both sides of the equation, which means that you both get to relax…
“Hi Paula. Before we begin, let me check in with you. I know what you said you’d like to focus on today but things can change… What would make this a really powerful conversation for you, at this moment?”
Listen deeply to her answer.
“Excellent. We will dive right into that in a minute or two.
And, first let me tell you my intention for our conversation today.
We will begin by exploring what you just talked about. Then, I’ll check in with you for your insights and also for any follow-up actions you intend to take, once we are complete. And finally, I’ll reflect on resources or ideas I can recommend. Or you may even wish to ask me more about coaching. How does that sound to you?”
The purpose of this initial script is to speak out loud what you are both likely feeling. And to seek permission, in advance, to discuss coaching, if needed.
And go deeper. Seek permission to really make the coaching have an impact:
“Before we begin, I want you to know that everything we discuss will be in complete confidence. I’ll never share anything you and I discuss with anyone else.” [Go silent, to let them respond].
“And one last thing. On a scale of 1-10, how high-flame would you like today’s coaching? Imagine that 1 is like you talking to your mum, 5 is like you chatting to a friend in a bar, and 10 is me challenging and provoking your thinking, in a way that your family and friends never would—because they love you so much…”
A Powerful Ending
It’s important to avoid any prepared speech about coaching together. That will feel like a sales pitch.
If you have served your client powerfully, you won’t need to “sell” them anything…
When the coaching is complete, ask:
“Before we complete, tell me your biggest insight or takeaways from today’s conversation…”
“Now, let’s make things real. Tell me the very tiniest action you’ll take as a result of today’s coaching…”
When they finish speaking, go silent…
Seriously. Say nothing.
It’s a little strange to just stare into someone’s eyes, in silence (even on Zoom) so you can look down and pretend you’re writing on a piece of paper, if you need to. Maybe look at her for a moment and then look away.
Let the client sit in the uncomfortable silence.
Wait for them to speak first.
Seriously. Did I mention—say nothing?!
Wait to see what they say.
There are two possible responses you’ll get:
1) “Tell me about your coaching….”
Often, the silence is your indication that the client is in deep reflection. When they are complete, they will say, “Tell me about your coaching…”
Then you can say, “Sure. There are actually 3 ways that people usually work with me.”
This is when you can discuss your menu with them.
2) “Thank you. That was great.”
If she says, “Thank you. That was great.” You have two choices.
1) Maybe coaching is not for her… That’s ok. Not everyone is ready for coaching. And you’re not the perfect coach for every person you meet. Get used to it.
Or maybe your coaching for her wasn’t as impactful as you thought. That’s always worth reflecting on because you should constantly be aiming to improve your coaching.
In either case, she’s not the right client for you and you’re not the right coach for her. Wish her the best and let her know she can reach out to you anytime.
The more generous your spirit in the face of a NO, the more likely she’ll remember you for the rest of her life. I once had a potential client come back to ask about coaching with me, four years after turning down my coaching proposal.
“Four years ago, you scared me, Rich.” She said. ”Now, I have a mission so important that I can’t think of anyone else who I’d rather be my coach.”
2) If you really think you can be of service to her… Then you could say something like this:
“Thanks, Paula. It’s rare I meet someone like you, who gets such powerful insights from coaching and who then takes action based upon them. [Add something specific that you admire about her, here].
I find myself imagining the impact of us having conversations like this—week after week.
Would you like to hear a little bit about what it would look like for us to work together? [The words, “a little bit” are essential in this sentence].
And if you’re complete for now that’s perfect, too.” [This sentence is essential, too—to give her permission to be complete for now. It’s counterintuitive but it’s the opposite of how most people approach selling and it feels really good to be on the receiving end].
Now, she’ll really let you know what she wants. Sometimes people don’t know enough about coaching to ask for what they want. And sometimes people are truly complete and just need your permission to say so.
A warning: Be careful with scripts
Think of them like a guide. Don’t ever try to learn them or read them verbatim. Find a practice partner. Role play them until the words roll off your tongue like your phone number. You’ve got this.
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