The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring Lumia Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode, we discuss how to conduct a new client intake and assess whether it’s a good match. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!
How to Do a Coaching Client Consult
For many new coaches, it can feel daunting to run a new client intake. Even for seasoned practitioners, each one of these conversations has its own unique flavor. So whether it’s your first or your 100th consult, it’s natural to feel some butterflies!
Matching with a client is filled with expectations on both sides.
The client has a problem to solve, a goal to accomplish or an unmet need to satisfy.
And as for the coach? We wish to be of service, absolutely. And because we’re also human, we also may come in hoping to be chosen by a client to validate our work and worth, even if only subconsciously.
The most important thing to keep in mind when sourcing a client relationship is that when a coach and client are not a good fit, it’s bad news for both parties.
Coaching is a human relationship. Any relationship that is out of alignment just ends up being painful - especially when a deep and intimate partnership is required to do the work associated with it.
That’s why it’s so important to take the time to really explore the fit with every new prospective client. Even if they are eager to work with you, it’s your role as a coach to listen to your experience and intuition to really figure out if it’s a good match.
To that end, here’s five easy steps you can take to rock your new client intakes.
Steps to Assess Coaching Client Fit
1) Check in with the prospective client to make sure that they know what coaching is, and that they are truly seeking a coaching engagement.
People come to coaches in error all the time, and it is not a reflection of you, your worth, or your marketing efforts.
There are many misconceptions around what coaching is all about, and sometimes people show up to a session that are better suited to a different modality. This is simply a reality that you as a coach have little control over.
It's also why the International Coaching Federation recommends a verbal sit-down with every new client to go over what coaching is and is not, and to check in on how coaching differs from mentoring, consulting, therapy, or even friendship.
This initial conversation is an opportunity for you as a coach to really get in there and explain your process and the outcomes you might hope for from a coach/client relationship.
FIT INDICATOR: You are looking for understanding + buy-in + excitement from your potential client at this stage.
Need more material on how to approach this one? Check out What Does a Life Coach Do — and NOT Do?
2) Is the thing the client wants to achieve "coachable"?
Another way to look at this is: can impact be created through coaching based on where the client is and where the client wants to go?
Sometimes people talk in metaphors, like “I want to get unstuck.” The intake is your space to really ask questions so you understand what the client is looking for in specific and measurable terms.
Dive into the hoped-for outcomes on both sides of the relationship:
- What does the client expect to happen?
- What do you as a coach expect from a client?
FIT INDICATOR: You can accurately reflect back to the client what their goals are in terms that you both agree upon.
3) Check in on confidentiality
The coach/client relationship is not privileged, and clients need to know this up front. In the initial consultation, it’s important to explain your duties as a coach to disclose client information when legally required.
This is also a great time to check-in and set expectations around your boundaries for communicating and working with a client. This might include how you prefer to communicate (email, text, DM, phone calls) and expected response times.
If the person you are considering working with has a hard time with your boundaries and policies up-front, it will likely spell trouble down the road.
Many coaches include these details in a written coaching agreement. The ICF recommends also reviewing these elements verbally to answer questions and ensure mutual understanding at the outset of the coaching partnership.
FIT INDICATOR: Both parties are comfortable with the parameters of the working relationship.
4) Do you like this person?
Really. This is important!
Human beings thrive and get physically healthier with love. And we’re not talking exclusively about the romantic connotations the word typically holds.
In a neurobiological sense, love is defined as a moment of micro-connection between two people. This “love connection” essentially happens in the space created between you. It’s where you are agreeing - consciously or not - to give each other mutual care.
Using the above definition of "love", how do you feel about entering a relationship like that with your prospective client?
- Can I love this person, care for them?
- Do I believe in this person?
- Am I feeling the same from them in return?
Coaching is a co-equal partnership and your client needs to feel your unconditional, positive regard for who they are as a human being. You, in turn, will need to depend on your client to do the work on their end and show up fully. It won’t be rewarding or productive for you as a coach if they don’t.
FIT INDICATOR: Mutual "like and respect" are present.
5) Look for professional alignment
Based on what you have to offer (your niche, background, techniques and interventions), do you feel you can help this person accomplish their goals?
This is where honesty comes into play. Honesty with yourself, and honesty with the prospective client.
This is also a place to be aware of your own triggers. Some topics can be activating, depending upon your own relationship to the subject at hand. A few examples of hot ones might include:
- Making money
- Cheating on a partner
- Opening up a romantic relationship to non-monogamy
Not every coach is a good fit for every client, and that’s OK.
The value system that you hold around what the client wants to achieve has a tremendous impact on the coaching relationship. If you feel any discord at all, do not take on the coaching relationship.
FIT INDICATOR: Your skills, background and expertise feel nicely aligned with the client’s goals and values.
And finally, remember your own worth. Just because someone is not a good fit does not mean that your work or process is any less valuable. And when you do mutually agree that it’s a great match, enjoy the process and have fun!
Want to Become a Coach?
One of our values at Lumia is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power as a coach, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.