Every health and exercise professional has their own approach to onboarding a potential client. Some offer initial consults (free or for a nominal fee), some offer a free workout session, while others might invite potential clients to group sessions for free. Whatever way you approach recruitment and onboarding is up to you and must fit your flare and style. If you haven’t considered the option of offering a discovery call, it may in fact be your best option.

I started offering a free discovery call (now Zoom sessions) a few years ago with potential clients. A discovery call (typically used in business and sales) is an initial or first conversation with a potential client who has contacted you but who has not yet signed up for services. I like the approach of a discovery call as it gives me an opportunity to find out what the potential client is looking for (personal training, nutrition coaching, health coaching, or a combination).

It also gives the potential client to ask me questions, feel me out, and figure out if I am the right fit to help them achieve their intended goals. An additional benefit to this approach is it gives the professional a way to demonstrate their value and explain what they do rather than allowing their website or social media account to speak for them.

Discovery Call Format

As you would have with any session – coaching or personal training, you would have some type of format already created. Warm-up, conditioning segment, cool-down, for example. This same rule applies to hosting a discovery call. Organization is key to a successful call for both you and the prospective client.

The first step is to decide what timeframe options you will offer. I offer two versions, a 30-minute or 45-minute option. I find the 45-minute option to be the most popular especially with those who are the most ambivalent to change or unsure of where to begin.

Next, create a structure. There’s no real formula to follow but think about why you are offering these calls and what you want to get out of them as well as what you want the prospective client to think/feel/do after meeting with you. When prospective clients schedule a call, I gather basic contact information such as first and last name, phone number, email, and preferred method of contact. The general structure or flow I follow includes the following:

  1. Welcome and greeting
  2. What interested you about the services I offer? I also give an overview of what my services include.
  3. Goal Discussion – this is where we dig a bit deeper into what the prospect’s intended goals might be. This gives me an idea if it’s outcome or process-based.
  4. Tell me about your daily lifestyle/work/family/etc. This gives me an idea of their reality and the context of that reality (it also quietly reveals potential barriers
  5. Past experiences – here is where I learn a bit about their exercise and attitude toward activity
  6. Existing activity level (or starting place)
  7. Expectations for the future
  8. Q&A
  9. Closing/Thank you/Action Steps/Plan for Follow-up
  10. After the call, put a note in your calendar about when you will follow up with the prospective client.

I always close these calls with a gratitude statement such as, “Thank you for investing your time with me and learning about how I might be able to help you on your journey.” Then, I make sure to include a statement such as, “Please look for an email from me with additional information based on our discussion today. Feel free to take some time to let that information digest and I will follow up with you using your preferred method of contact by X date and time.”

Preparation for a Discovery Call

Again, organization is a cornerstone. Here are steps to help you prepare.

  1. Once the prospective client schedules their appointment, send them an email that includes the link to the meeting and a summary of how the session will go. Reassure them that this call is simply to help them explore how you might be able to assist them and encourage them to come with questions and curiosities.
  2. If you have any informational forms you wish to have the prospective client complete, be sure to provide those in advance and explain their intended purpose.
  3. Request that the forms (if necessary) are due by a specific date and time, so you have ample opportunity to review their contents.
  4. Structure your questions ahead of time (script them out) so you remember what you want to ask/need to ask.

Discovery calls are a highly effective means of recruiting clients. It offers a risk-free way to meet a prospective client on their terms and in a way that helps you both evaluate the chemistry you might have and get an idea of how you can collaborate to make the journey of change a successful one.

Erin Nitschke

Dr. Erin Nitschke, NFPT-CPT, NSCA-CPT, ACE Health Coach, Fitness Nutrition Specialist, Therapeutic Exercise Specialist, and Pn1 is a health and human performance college professor, fitness blogger, mother, and passionate fitness professional. She has over 15 years of experience in the fitness industry and college instruction. Erin believes in the power of a holistic approach to healthy living. She loves encouraging her clients and students to develop body harmony by teaching focused skill development and lifestyle balance. Erin is also the Director of Educational Partnerships & Programs for the NFPT. Erin is an editorial author for ACE, IDEA, The Sheridan Press, and the Casper Star Tribune. Visit her personal blog at belivestaywell.com