When Coaching Clients Don’t Know What They Want to Work on In a Session
Do your coaching/consulting clients ever come into their sessions not knowing what they want to work on? It can be a frustrating experience for you as the coach because without your client’s agenda, what will we talk about? The more your clients are investing into the sessions the worse it can be because if they don’t have something valuable to work on how are you going to be able to provide value to them and leave them a more than satisfied customer who will refer their friends/colleagues?
This can be equally frustrating for your client as well because if they don’t have anything important to talk about then they may begin to doubt why they are investing this money with you in the first place.
The more value you are able to provide as a coach the more value you will be able to charge and so in this article I am going to share with you some strategies you can use to decrease the probability that your clients will come into your session’s without a significant outcome, and if they do you’ll have some several strategies to handle it quickly and effectively.
One of the first things you can do to prevent this situation is to keep good notes about potential topics to work on with every client. I start generating this list from the first time I meet the potential client in the consult.
An important thing to keep in mind is to confirm with the client that any particular item belongs on that list before adding it.
For example. before I add an item to the list I will say something like:
- “You just mentioned X. Would that be something important for us to work on at some point in our work together?”
- Or, “I am hearing X pattern/blindspot, would that be significant for us to work on at some point?”
- Or, “I just heard X. If we were to change that, would this move you forwards towards the outcome we have contracted to facilitate you towards? (assuming you have contracted to support them towards a specific outcome which is an entire post all on its own).”
Whenever I hear something we could work on I ask them a question such as the examples above and add it to the list. This way we have plenty of meaningful things we could work on in future sessions.
With a list like this, at the beginning of your sessions you can ask your client what they want on for this particular session and if they come up short you can prompt them with some ideas.
For example I may say something like, “Perhaps we could work X, or Y, or Z? Or with those in mind, is there anything else that would be even more significant for us to focus on today?”
I am always sure to offer a menu list of at least 3 options, and follow the menu list with a statement leaving it open to them to add something more significant. In this way I always give my client the authority to drive the agenda of the session and they never feel I am imposing my agenda on them.
This way you can prompt them with suggestions and nudge the session forwards while still allowing your clients to take authority for their life, become more decisive, and live in a way that is more self-directed which are all valuable benefits of coaching.
Another tool you can use to minimize this situation from occurring is to send an email before the session asking your client to send you some ideas about what they would like to work on in your upcoming session (ideally you can automate these emails).
While in my experience many if not most clients won’t reply to those automated emails, it gives you an extra tool to prime your client for the upcoming session. If you find a client has a pattern of coming to your sessions without an agenda in mind you can remind them of these emails and the importance of taking a few minutes before the session to think about what would be most meaningful for them to work on.
The more meaningful the topics your clients bring to your sessions the more meaningful their results will be and the more value you’ll have the opportunity to provide them. And as a general rule, the more value you’re able to provide the higher prices you’ll be able to charge and the more your clients will spread the word about the value of your services and refer the people they care about.
‘Session structure’ (including pre and post session) is just one of the topics we cover in my coach mentoring programs that help coaches who are already generating revenue from their coaching business to generate a steady flow of new clients through word of mouth through delivering stellar client results, session after session. We also work on your self, skills, and business systems including coaching supervision sessions to support you to deliver consistent transformational results, session after session.
If you’re interested in going deeper feel free to DM me and we can schedule a quick chat to see if it’s a good fit and as always, if you have any questions, comments, or insights feel free to leave them in the comments below!