Mountain Sketch for Initial Coaching Session

The Mountain Sketch for That Oh-So-Fun Initial Coaching Session

I know a lot of coaches struggle with their initial sessions. They deliver a powerful call, but the coachees don’t end up committing (and not paying obviously).

There are many reasons for this, but from my experience, the reason is that the “value to the client” isn’t big enough. The session doesn’t make the investment in coaching and clear, obvious, exciting, easy YES of a decision.

What I’ve found most impactful to show “the value coaching” is to show the client, clearly, what’s at stake.

For a client to commit to working with you long term and pay deserved rates — while also eager to put in real hard work — for say 3, 6, or even 12 months — the value must be excitingly clear.

Coaching with you has got to be well worth it. And for the client, the value is the difference between these two possible futures:

  1. The dream future (mountain) – the peak you want to help them climb for a better life, career, health status, relationship.
  2. The nightmare to avoid (hell) – which is a future of undesirables, problems, pains, and bad stuff that might come in the future if action isn’t taken.
Talk to clients about their mountain to reach, and hell to avoid.

In my book, The Coaching Website Guide, I wrote about handling this initial session as well as website strategy for attracting clients.

I’m nearly convinced (and you can tell me otherwise in comments) that being human means we (1) need to grow, learn, evolve, and work on good things, AND (2) we instinctually seek to prevent problems, traps, pain, death, and danger.

I think it’s hot-wired in us. I think it’s to be accepted and respected and embraced. It’s what it means to be alive. (If you feel otherwise, please post below, love to hear about it).

But if you agree, then why not find out what your potential client’s future dreams and scary nightmares are? Ask about their exciting mountain and feared hell?

It might take some patience, trust, and tact for them to open up, and maybe they — or will partially — or maybe you ask them to think about it secretly.

The amount of positive momentum that comes with a real, honest, emotional look at the difference between A and B is incredible — and is the reason clients should hire you.

You will help (coach) them to face it, honestly, supportively, positively, energetically. You’ll care. You’ll be there. You’ll encourage. You’ll hold accountable. You’ll cheer them on.

You’ll listen when it gets confusing and they need to find the next steps. That’s why you are amazing to have. You’ll help them up the mountain and avoid the hell.

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  1. This is a great visualization! Do you see your approach being different based on whether a client comes to you talking more about they want to climb (but need help) or whether they’re talking more about the pains or problems?

    1. I think, as humans, we’re designed to watch out for lions lurking around the corner. It’s innate.

      Do you force a client to go to the dark zone? Probably not.

      Do you ask questions? Probably so.

      It’s really all about their journey … and a walk into the light and a stroll through the dark can really put one in touch with some powerful forces.

      Insane momentum towards goals and you being the coach, listener, questioner … that’s a power clients want on tap.

  2. Great post, Kenn! Such a wonderful visual reminder. Also, love your definition of what it means to be human! Looking forward to your next post- always so helpful as I continue to work on my website.


    1. Great to have your comments. Remember, websites are great to have.

      Paving a pathway (perhaps using your website) so that clients can discover you, get in touch, and get on board — that’s gold.

      Invite some folks up the mountain. Bravely face the challenges that lurk in the valley of darkness. Help them take steps upward.

  3. Hi Kenn,

    Just letting you know that your 16 Point Coaching Website Checklist link does not send an email.



  4. So true! It’s hard to want to change when you don’t see the potential positive outcomes of change or consequences of staying the same. This is a foundation of motivational interviewing. This article is a great reminder that motivational interviewing can be helpful even before the work begins, as it can show a client the potential outcomes of coaching and get the work started.

    Thanks, Kenn!