How to Get your First Clients and Fill Your Practice

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

How to Get Clients
Finally fill your calendar with paying clients

I see you there, amazing coach. You’re incredibly talented at guiding, mentoring, coaching and healing. You’ve probably completed some training or certification program and have a deep knowing that you can really help people. So you’re building your practice while working full time, or maybe you’ve been steadily padding your savings account so you can make the leap into your full-time coaching practice head first. Or maybe you already have some clients but aren’t sure how to keep them coming in a way that creates the financial freedom you are craving. I hear you and I’ve been there.

No matter where you’re starting, the most common question I get while mentoring coaches, healers and consultants is: how do I get my first clients and fill my practice? Good question! Here are some tips to get you started.

1. Most importantly, you HAVE to be crystal clear on what you offer to clients. This goes for both your area of focus and what products or services you’re offering. This doesn’t mean you need to be completely niched down into an ultra-specific role (but good for you if you are!). You can be in a more general area like Life or Wellness Coaching, especially when you’re first starting out, as long as you are very specific about the benefits your potential clients will receive from working with you.

The trick here is to stay benefits focused in your communications around what you do for your clients. For example, if you are a Career Coach, you will want to let people know that you help your clients “have the confidence and skills to ask for that big raise you’ve deserved for years,” versus “learn my 4 step process for salary negotiation”. Do you see how asking for the big raise you deserve is not only benefits-focused but carries a deep emotional attachment to it? This is the kind of statement that will get your potential clients fired up and ready to work with you. Have 3-5 benefits of your work ready to incorporate into all of your communications – from your elevator speech to marketing copy.

2. Practice asking for referrals and invite as many people into your discovery sessions as possible. As you know, these are your enrollment conversations and this is where you will convert an interested person into a client. The more conversations you have, the more likely you are to fill your practice, plain and simple.

And no – asking for a referral does NOT make you a sleazy salesperson. Listen, so many coaches don’t even get close to helping the number of people they could be helping simply because they are afraid to ask. This is ridiculous! You are in this business to help people and not giving them the opportunity to be helped is a disservice to you both.

Start making a list of people you know you can serve and reach out. Make a genuine connection before you invite them into the conversation. Find out how you might be able to support them and then let them know you can help. Do not start offering advice unless they give you permission. If they give you permission, then you can let them know that the best place to discuss their healing or growth is in a discovery session and invite them in. Get the invitation out and your session on the calendar as soon as possible. If they’re not a fit, no problem. It’s possible they know someone and would be willing to refer them to you. All you have to do is ask.

Many new coaches get stuck here. If you’re someone who is reading this and you just can’t see yourself reaching out to people to invite them into conversations, believe that you don’t know anyone, or are inviting people like crazy but aren’t getting anyone interested, let’s talk. This is an easy fix, my dear.

3. Show up as your best self and have the dang conversation. Be present and in service to your potential new client as much as possible without going to a place of proving yourself. You don’t have to give away everything in this one conversation in order to sign a client. You do need to listen closely, be curious, and demonstrate that you understand your client’s dreams and challenges, and that your program will give them exactly what they need to get what they want.

4. Make an offer. Most new coaches chicken out or get super weird when it’s time to “sell”. Be comfortable with your rates, your package, and your value. The most important thing to remember here is that if you don’t make an offer, you can’t get a yes. If you’re scared of “selling”, you are robbing your potential client of their potential to create the life of their dreams. Can you see that?

Here’s a tip for presenting your offer effectively: always get their buy-in to continue. When you’ve listened deeply and served them powerfully in your discovery session, you can ask them to continue. Was this helpful? Would you like to know more about what it would be like to work together? Getting them to agree to discuss your proposal takes so much of the “sleazy” out of the “sales” portion because you’re on the same page now.

I realize that we can go on and on about this enrollment piece, which is why I teach an intensive course specifically on this topic.

I also highly recommend the book, The Prosperous Coach, by Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin - which is required reading for all of my mentorship clients.

5. Be open to creating a custom package to meet their objections, particularly when you’re new. Now, I realize that this is going to be a controversial tip. Many coaches out there teach that you should be firm on your package pricing and not budge at all. And I totally agree! However, there’s a difference between offering alternative packages and negotiating against yourself – which is why you’ll often hear me say that enrollment is an art, not a science.

Let’s use money as an example since that’s the #1 objection you will hear. What you don’t want to do is meet the money objection with a discount. This does not serve you or your client. What you can do instead is first find out if it’s really about the money or not – then coach them around the real issue. An easy way to do this is to ask questions like, “if money wasn’t an issue, would you be in?” or “is it that you don’t have the money or you don’t have the money for this?” These kinds of questions will help to bring the real issue up to the surface.

If it is really about the money, then you can have a conversation about what is in the company budget or how much they’re willing to invest and create a custom package to meet their needs.

In the (paraphrased) words of the great business coach, Christian Mickelsen: get them in and get them coached, especially when you’re new. If you’re filling your practice for the first time, a client with an abridged program is better than no client at all. This will also give you the practice and confidence to help you move toward enrolling successfully in your most premium offerings.

6. Have a system in place to properly onboard your new client. Things can go downhill pretty quickly without an onboarding process. This is where coaches may get the yes initially but fail to get the payment or have the client ghost them before their first session.

Once you get the client into your program, you must let them know what to expect, be ready to take payment right then and get their first session booked (I recommend that you book the first session within a week). From there, you may provide them with a welcome packet, client agreement, homework and/or clear action steps to take during their time between signing up and your first session. You do not want to lose momentum here – it’s the #1 way to get people to drop off after they say yes.

This is a general framework for getting you started. It takes time and practice to master the art of enrolling so it’s perfectly fine to get a lot of no’s and feel like you’re falling on your face. It’s part of the process, I swear. The good news is that if you keep going, no matter how bad you think you are, you will get better and you will get your first client or full roster.

If you have questions or you’re feeling like you need more support in creating clients and filling your practice, reach out. I’d love to hear from you. I’m with you and it would be my joy to support you in moving forward.

Want to join a community of fellow bosses who get what it's like to navigate the unique challenges of entrepreneurship? Join me in my FREE Facebook group, Streamlined Success for the Service-Based Entrepreneur.

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