How to Get Coaching Clients - in 7 Easy Coach-like Steps! (UPDATED)

Coach and Client having a Coaching Conversation

So, you've had an enquiry but don't know how to turn your prospects into clients? Well, you're a coach. Do what you know - have a coaching conversation and ask powerful questions! Because it's all too easy to fall into the trap of trying to SELL what you do to your prospects, instead of asking questions to understand what they're truly looking for and letting them sell coaching (with you) to themselves!

Get Coaching Clients: Turn Your Sample Sessions into Paying Clients

Here is a quick overview of the 7 Steps to get more coaching clients:
  1. LEARN WHAT THEY WANT: Ask questions to find out what they want and if you can help them.
  2. GET TO THE WHY: Ask questions to find out why this is so important to them. Connect them to their motivation, their deepest reasons for wanting change.
  3. MOVE INTO A POSSIBILITY FRAME: Ask questions to help them see it is possible and that they have the answers - or can find them.
  4. REFLECT AND RECAP: Be the Mirror. Show them you've listened - and heard them by recapping what they have said and asking for verification.
  5. GET THEM TO TELL YOU HOW TO HELP THEM: Simply ask your prospect to tell you where and how they need help.
  6. SUMMARISE AND SHARE YOUR VISION FOR THEM: Share how, specifically, you could help AND add value to them on their journey.
  7. ASK FOR THE SALE: Remember, they are a prospect and willingly entered this conversation with you - they WANT to be helped. If you want to turn prospects into clients - you must ask for their business!

Here are the 7 Simple Coach-like Steps to Get More Clients:

Step 1 - Learn what they WANT:

Have a conversation so you get to know THEM. Ask coaching questions to find out what they want. What are they looking for? What would they like to be different? What problem/s are they trying to solve? What are they trying to achieve? What is stopping them or getting in the way?

Then before progressing any further, ask yourself 1) Can I help them? and 2) Do I want to work with them? If the answer to both these questions is "Yes", move onto Step 2. If not, you can gracefully say this isn't your area of specialty - perhaps suggesting other coaches or resources if you can.

Step 2 - Get to the WHY:

Find out WHY they want the change and why NOW? And help then them understand the value of making that change.

  • What is the 'Pain' of being or staying where they are?
    • What is it costing them to stay where they are? (It could be a financial cost, or a time, energy, emotional or relationship cost).
  • What will be the 'Pleasure' of making the change?
    • What are the benefits?
    • What will achieving this change give them?
    • What will it be like to resolve their issue or achieve their goals?
    • How will they FEEL once they have solved their problems or achieved their goals?
  • Why is it so important to be making this change NOW?
    • What has changed in their life recently?
    • What's coming up that really matters to them?

Step 3 - Move into a POSSIBILITY Frame:

Ask questions to help them discover WHAT they need to do to make their dreams happen. Often we already know, but haven't been ready to do it before.

  • What do you need to do to move this forwards?
  • What are the next steps?
  • What is the first step?
  • Where do they need to start?

Up until now all sorts of things could have been getting in the way - a limiting belief, a fear, a lack of organization, support, resources or time. Help them see it IS possible, that they already have the answers - or at least the next steps.

Step 4 - REFLECT and Recap:

Create real rapport by showing that you have 'seen' them. And help them 'see' themselves. This could look like:

"It sounds like you would like to have more work-life balance - to move into retirement AND find time to work on an exciting business idea you're really passionate about, a legacy for your children. But you feel exhausted and over-committed - and don't even have time to plan your time. You're tired of working so hard, and would like to spend more time with your family - and you believe this business idea could really help you do that. What you want to do is set aside specific time to work on this and plan out your next steps, but every time you think about doing this, some new crisis pops up at work, so you're never any further forward. You're frustrated and disappointed and are looking for help to get this moving. Have I understood you correctly?"

Step 5 - Get your Prospect to TELL YOU HOW to help them:

Just like your prospect probably already knows what they need to do, they probably already know what they need help with.

  • So, get THEM to tell YOU what they need from you. Simply ask:
    • "How do you think I could help you?" or
    • "What do you need from me?"

Step 6 - Summarise and SHARE YOUR VISION for them:

Bring it all together and add value. Because you spent time learning about them, you know you can help them - and how. So don't be shy, let them know! Tell them what you would like for them and include any value you can ADD to this process. And make sure to sum up by letting them know you'd really like to work with them. This could look like:

"I'm hearing that you really want to see your grandchildren grow up - and to create that legacy you're dreaming of. But phasing yourself into retirement is a big change for you. And you already know that a first step is to stop working such long hours. I can help you do that - and create space away from your job to brainstorm ideas, plan and take action towards your dream. I can also help you explore and work through your fears and support you as you decide on next steps to make your dream a reality. And, as you mentioned, I will support, encourage and hold you accountable, helping you stay committed to your dream - even when the going gets tough. I think we'd be a great team and I'd love to work with you."

Step 7 - (Don't be Afraid to) Ask for the Sale:

So, you've had a great sample session with a potential client. You've let your client know you've seen them, that they CAN do it and that YOU can help them. They need to make a decision.

But to turn your prospects into clients you MUST ask for the sale - it's the (only) natural conclusion to your conversation. Here are 3 questions to try as you wrap-up:

  1. When might you like to get started?
  2. What else do you need to know before working with me?
  3.  It feels to me like we're a good match, would you like to coach with me?

Final Tip: Even if they don't say, "Yes" right away, some people just like time to think and make sure. And I am one of those people! So, unless they say a clear, "No", make sure to agree a time to FOLLOW UP with them.


We turn prospects into clients by spending our time asking questions that help people really get to know themselves! This will leave them feeling wonderful - seen, understood and believing that change is possible.

By asking questions that connect them to what they really want and why, you show them THEY already have the answers. You also show the power of coaching and help them believe that what they want is possible - with a little help from you of course!

So, if you want to turn prospects into clients, forget all you thought you knew about selling. And importantly, forget about trying to get people to understand what YOU do. Instead, just have a coaching conversation. Ask questions - and remember to ask for that sale. It really can be that easy!

If you liked this article to help you get more coaching clients, you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools for coaches, plus resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Coach listening to Client by pio3 via Shutterstock


  1. Fiona

    This is a great article. Fluffed my way through my first inquiry conversation. Now I have better questions and structure to make my conversations more fruitful. thanks.

  2. Toby Marshall

    I agree that asking question to understand clients rather than trying to immediately sell services is a much better way to turn prospects into clients. As a B2B company, we often meet coaches who go straight to the sale without trying to understand clients' needs.

  3. Tonya

    You are filled with great advice! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

  4. Yasmin @ Freelancermap

    Great points - the process of building up to asking for a sale is so essential, and you've covered that here.
    Self-promotion isn't easy at first as a freelancer, but eventually you find what works for you!

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Yasmin, so glad you found the article on getting clients as a coach helpful. Coaches are like freelancers when it comes to getting clients! Warmly, Emma-Louise

  5. Michael W. McKinney

    I like the article very well put I would like to add a 4th question when asking for your business if I have not received a yes. I would ask other than money is their anything else that is preventing you from signing up with me today? This question may help if it’s the money that is holding them back or you have not given them enough value to your offer.

  6. Tim

    Yes! "Get your Prospect to tell you how to help them." I didn't do this for so long!! Some excellent tips here. Thank you so much!

  7. Valerie

    Thanks so much this very informative and will help me to get the ball rolling. As I was stuck and I’ll put pen to paper and get brainstorming.



  8. Marianna Ellingson

    I love this article and the 4th question from Michael. Yesterday, I was approached by a company to work out a series of coaching workshops for their team. I was trying to find ways of how I'd design the workshops and what to do and say! Then as I was researching via the internet I came across The Coaching Tools Company and voila! what a goldmine of information and resources that are easy to read and understand. This article is a definite help in the maze of thinking am doing. Thank you Emma-Louise.

    • Michela Phillips

      Thank you, Marianna! So glad you find our content useful!
      - Kindly, Michela

  9. Donna Norton

    Great point. The breakdown of the 7 steps is super helpful, especially the reminder to focus on understanding what the client wants and needs. And I totally agree that asking for the sale is a crucial step that can sometimes be overlooked. Overall, this is a fantastic guide for coaches. Thanks for sharing!


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