How to Convert from a Free Session
The Success Alliance


How to Convert from a Free Session

Today’s blog topic comes from a mastermind group meeting we had with a group of small business owners.

James was asking about how to convert a prospective client into a paying coaching client after they’d done a free “discovery session” together.

When you offer a free session or free event to your prospective clients, you have the opportunity to build relationships. While James’ Hot Seat was about doing free individual coaching sessions, you can also use these ideas for other free events you use as part of your marketing and sales funnel.

Determine the purpose of the free session

The first step is to determine your purpose for offering a free session, group meeting or webinar:

  • Are you intending to ask this person to become a client at the end of the session? Then this is primarily a sales conversation that includes some needs analysis which can be done by asking coaching and consulting questions.
  • Or is the session simply a demonstration of what it’s like to work with you, as a way of educating your audience? Then conduct the session as if it were a typical individual session, class, or group meeting — without any sales call to action at the end.

For instance, in the mastermind group meeting that James was in (you can get the recording of the meeting here), my purpose for offering a free mastermind group meeting was to demonstrate what a real meeting looks like. I had no intention of asking the audience to become members of my mastermind group. But in James’ case, his free coaching session IS a prelude to asking that person to become a paying coaching client.

And that makes all the difference in the world! When you know the outcome you want, you can design your entire process around that goal.

Set expectations in advance

Previously, James had been inviting people to a free coaching session through the connections he was making at his local Chamber of Commerce. He said to each person, “Would you like to have a free coaching session?” His idea was to simply offer the session to get to know one another and then continue to send them valuable content in hopes that later they would become a client.

But he wasn’t saying to them before the meeting, “If you’re curious about coaching and would like to see what really happens in a coaching session with me, let’s set up a free session. If, at the end of the session, we both think that we’re a good fit for each other, we can discuss which of my coaching programs is best for you.”

Had he done it this way, he would have set the expectation that the purpose of the meeting was to see if they should work together. This would have attracted only those people who are interested in possibly working long-term with James as a coach. Because he didn’t set the expectation in advance, that could be one reason why he wasn’t converting these people into paying clients.

Members gave great suggestions to James

In our mastermind group meeting, many members had super suggestions for James about how he could approach his marketing and sales funnel differently. Here are some of their ideas:

  1. Does it have to be a free session? Many people will take advantage of a free offer but have no interest in paying for your services. Kate suggested that James could charge for these “discovery” coaching sessions, and if the prospect became a paying client, they’d be refunded what they paid for the discovery session. In this way, James is indicating that his time and skill have value and that he doesn’t give his time away for free.
  2. Kenneth asked James, “Where in the session do you ask the prospect to become a paying client?” In James’ case, he didn’t ask them to become a client in the free session. He was using the free sessions as a way of establishing rapport but then continued to send the prospect free resources after the meeting, with the hopes that they’d contact him later to become a client. Members of the mastermind group suggested to James that the free meeting should be the final resource offered, not one of the earliest ones. They also suggested that James asks the prospect at the end of the session whether they thought it was a good fit and did they want to become his coaching client.
  3. Sonja asked James if he was using any type of CRM (customer relationship management system) to capture information about each prospective client and get reminders to follow up with them. You need to have some system to keep track of all the prospect interactions you have. Just because a prospect says “no” the first time you ask them to become a client doesn’t mean a “permanent no.” Design a way to follow up with them later if timing or money is an issue.
  4. Jim suggested that James design a process that will determine if the prospect qualifies to be a potential client, either before the free session or during it. That way, James can know if the prospect is a good match for his services.

As you can see, there are many ways to convert a prospect into a paying client for your services, but you need a well-planned marketing and sales funnel, and clear goals for each step within that funnel. You can watch the full mastermind group meeting here and get the rest of the tips the group offered James around sales and marketing.

Want to learn how to start a mastermind group? Click here to get my free video tutorial on how to create a mastermind group of your own.

4 thoughts on “How to Convert from a Free Session”

  1. Monica Premo says:

    I watched the demo meeting live and got so many great ideas to implement myself. This was one of them! Beware: there are lots of “shiny objects” in a mastermind group meeting! Find a place to capture the ideas that resonate with you then choose the one or two that are aligned with YOUR goals this year.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      I agree, Monica, the “shiny object syndrome” can kill your business and sap your time and focus!

  2. Mike Shaughnessy says:

    It was a great meeting and offered insight into the mastermind experience.
    Thank you!

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      I’m glad you found the demo meeting helpful, Mike.

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