Why Free Sessions Don’t Work — 15 Comments

  1. Hi Tara,
    I completely agree. I never felt comfortable with the concept of giving my time away before even knowing a client. My time is a gift that I place a high value on! So I do something quite similar to your suggestions, charge a small fee for my intro session and tell the client if they enroll in a package within 7 days of our session, the fee is absorbed into the package price. For referrals, I will waive the fee. Thanks for discussing this topic. I believe if the coaching industry tries to standardize some of these practices, it will inject more credibility to the industry.

    • Thanks, Gina! There are many business coaches like me out there that are trying to standardize better practices in the coaching realm. I agree that it will boost the industries credibility and effectiveness when we do so! Thanks so much for taking the time to write! Warmly, Tara

  2. Terrific information! It always felt odd to offer a free coaching session and you have identified why that is so. This is an excellent column that will simplify the process of offering coaching services. Thank you so much!

  3. Thank you Tara, for this really helpful article, just in time. I have been coming up with these exact same conclusions in the past couple weeks while I am in the midst of doing a free offer: Joy Support for Grieving Hearts. Funny.. you said “a taste of an amazing buffer and have it do justice.” Yes. I agree. I’m not disappointed, though, because just doing this is the one thing that has finally gotten me “out there”.. inviting more and more new people into my neighborhood, and my CLARITY has skyrocketed.. who I am and what is my gift and for whom. I can speak now. So I am going to follow your posts along with my other work in ELA and start setting up speaking engagements for signature talks, workshops. I’m also seeing a mini summit, then a bigger summit. I have to creep with Lisa edging me into actually doing each step until I can walk. I’m getting there. And the biggest thing your post confirmed was that seeding feels like a bit of bait and switch.. esp when I am telling the deeply bereft attendees that nothing will try to dissolve the sacredness of their grief! I’ve been there. I know what words feel horrid. I need to just allow this free gift to be a free kindness, a time together not to get a taste, but to experience 6 ways to see who they are in this period of grief time.. period. It is doing SOME good, and some may walk away with what they need to continue growing. But I need to make a direct effort now to broadcast so my DRCs can find me. I think this article helped my inner entrepreneur step into my truth! Thank you!

    • Hi Di!

      I do think that giving free sessions in exchange for something (learning/experience, testimonials, feedback) can be a great strategy when you are starting out. As long as it feels like an equal energy exchange and that you aren’t giving away your gift. It sounds like for you, there is a deeper exchange that happens with these sessions that you crave for these people. It’s beautiful work that you do. I’m glad this helps evoke the inner entrepreneur in you!


  4. Awesome article Tara. I agree with inviting someone to fill in a questionnaire about what they’d like to receive, achieve and work on in a complimentary break through or discovery session.

    I also love the feedback about letting them know that whether you work together or not, they will receive a lot of value and it gives coach and client the opportunity to see whether they are a good fit. I always ask at the end of a complimentary break through session whether they are ready to hear about how I work with people and what I have to offer. They always say yes because I prep them in the beginning of the conversation with something like: “this is an opportunity for us to see whether we’d be a good fit in working together and at the end I can tell you more about what I have to offer. Is that alight with you?”

    I learned to always keep it a conversation with the client when talking about working together instead of a run on sentence that goes on for five or more minutes! Check in with them to see if they understand what you’re saying and whether they are still with you!



    • Beautiful strategy, Sarah! Thank-you so much for sharing what you’ve learned that works so well in your business!

      By the way, I cannot wait until your TEDx Video goes live!!!

      Happy Holidays!

  5. I really loved this, Tara! I have never converted any of my freebie clients and I agree that it’s far too much of a jump in most cases. I also wanted to say that I really appreciate the mindset of mutual exploration to see if it’s a fit.

  6. While I agree with some of your points, I have to weigh in with a different opinion. I’ve built my business by offering 30 minute free consultations and I don’t regret a single one of those calls, nor do I feel like I gave away my gifts.

    But a “consultation” is different than a coaching session; the whole point of the consultation is to determine if we are a good fit for working together. Sometimes there’s a bit of coaching that sneaks in there, but the real purpose is just to get to know each other.

    This approach has worked very well for me. I convert 90% of those whom I talk with and I never actually have to ask that awkward, “So, do you want to work with me?” because they ask ME, “So, how do we get started?”.

    Maybe the answer isn’t to NOT offer anything for free, but to change the content of that free offer so it both feels more comfortable for you AND is more engaging to your clients.

    • Hi Lesa

      Thanks so much for weighing in! I agree that a free consultation is very different than a free session. I, too, offer a free consultation for my potential clients where it is clear we are talking about possibly working together to see if it is a good mutual fit. We are on the same page 🙂 I agree that with the right approach, you should get 90% “yes” for clients you want to work with. Thank-you for sharing!

  7. Hi Tara –
    I know this is an old article, but I just came across it after your ICFLA webinar. I want to clarify – when you say you do a Breakthrough Session, you are saying that you charge a fee for that session, right? Not just that you changed the title from “Free Sample Session” to “Breakthrough Session”.

    • Hi Gabriella
      You can charge for these but the intention is for them to also be complimentary but these have a specific format and agenda – it is not just a free coaching session where the person comes with whatever issue they want to discuss. So even though this Breakthrough Session is complimentary, it is not the “giving a free session” that most coaching schools encourage. Does that clarify this? Thank you for your question!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

HTML tags allowed in your comment: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>