According to an ICF Global Coaching Study, 99% of individuals and companies who hire life coaches are “satisfied” or “very satisfied” with the results of their experience. While the reasoning for seeking out a life coach can vary from client to client, it’s critical for coaches to continue providing quality coaching time and time again.
A massive component of top-notch coaching is organization, but another key factor to consider, that can be difficult to master, is truly understanding each client’s reason for bringing life coaching into their lives.One way to foster a more organized practice, while also garnering more insight into the “why” behind each of your client’s journeys, is by developing a robust and effective life coaching intake form.
5 Must-Ask Questions
What your intake form looks like is ultimately up to you; it could vary depending on the type of coaching you offer, your style, or what your initial contact with a prospective client was like. However, if you’re unsure where to get started, here are 5 questions that offer a helpful starting point, no matter what your niche is:
1. What are your goals over the next 30, 60, and 90 days?
This is a great question to start out with because it offers a glimpse into how your clients think about their immediate future, as well as their goals over the longer term. Not only can this help you see what is most “pressing” according to their experience, but it can also allow you to see if their short-term goals align with what they are seeking over the longer term.
Keep in mind that these goals could change and shift as you start working with your client, but by asking them to truly think about what they want, you’ll create a starting point for both parties. You will not only be able to coach more effectively, but your client will also be able to communicate (with you and themselves) what they think it is that they’re looking for, which is extremely important in any coaching journey.
2. What have been the biggest challenges in your life over the last 5 years? How did you overcome those challenges?
Answering this question honestly might be challenging for new clients. It’s easy to think about what they want out of coaching, but they may have never even considered how their recent challenges align with their coaching goals. Not only do these questions challenge your new client to consider how they navigate obstacles, they will also offer rich insight into potential areas of growth.
3. What are the 3 biggest accomplishments in your life? Why are you proud of them?
Understanding what makes your clients “tick” can help you tap into motivation techniques, effective goal-setting mindsets, and more. With their self-defined accomplishments in hand, you’ll be able to identify ways to ensure their experience with a life coach is perceived as positively and successfully as possible. The “why” part of this question will also offer a bit of detail into what feels most meaningful to them when checking off a goal.
4. What do you value most in life? Do you feel that you currently have what you value most?
No matter what your client is seeking out a life coach for, their overall values in life can serve as a guiding light throughout any life coaching experience. When you’re first becoming a life coach, it can seem like a waste to spend time on the “big picture” questions, but after a while, it becomes clear that these big picture questions drive more in our lives than most of us ever realize.
If a client feels that what they value most exists in their current lives, then it allows their life coach to focus a bit more on niche goals. However, if what your client values most is missing, it should be a major theme throughout their coaching experience.
5. Imagining yourself at the end of your coaching experience, what is different in your life? How have you changed?
This is a question most clients do not think about when they seek out a life coach. They may have career goals or personal goals they want to work on, but they usually don’t take the time to paint a mental picture of what their life looks like on the “other side” of coaching. This exercise challenges new clients to be realistic with what they want out of coaching and puts some responsibility on them for making it happen. Life coaches are phenomenal tools in any journey, but it’s the client that has to be committed to making their vision a reality.
When is the Intake Form Most Effective?
It’s important to “strike at the right time” with your intake forms. If you offer them to a prospective client who is still unsure about whether or not they are going to invest in a life coach, it could be intimidating or act as a barrier to entry, discouraging them from actually getting started. However, the right timing of the intake form depends on the structure of your practice.
If you offer a 10-15 minute consultation call with prospective clients, it probably does not make sense to send them the intake form before the consultation call. Instead, use that time to chat, answer their questions, and help them get a feel for whether or not you’re the right coach for their needs. Then, once they schedule a full-length session, you can share the intake form with them, asking them to return it 1-2 days before the first full session. This way, your new client will see your investment in them without feeling intimidated by the process before getting started.
If you do not offer a consultation call and your first session will be a full-length coaching meeting with the new client, asking them to fill out the intake form prior to your first meeting is important. You want the first full-length session to be meaningful and actionable, and an intake form allows you to start working with your client more efficiently. Asking intake questions during a coaching session takes a lot of time and can eat up nearly your entire session, which removes the value proposition you want to offer your clients each time they meet with you – coaching!
Keeping Clients Aligned With Their “Why”
There are many factors to consider when trying to determine whether or not a coaching experience was “successful,” but challenging coaches and clients alike to think critically, consider the future, and be honest with each other from the start can make a world of difference in the long run.
There’s nothing a life coach wants more than for their client to feel like the coaching sessions paid off, but without proper structure and alignment from the get-go, clients can lose sight of their “why” over time.
Aside from providing insights into what a new client is looking for, a well-built life coaching intake form offers many benefits. Firstly, it encourages new clients to reflect on what they want out of the experience. If they take the time to define their directions, goals, and aims for themselves, they’ll be much more invested throughout the process. Additionally, once complete, intake forms give coaches a place to start, allowing them to ask meaningful questions and steer each session to its most productive state, right from the beginning.
Life coaching intake forms provide a starting point, but they also provide a guiding document that can be referenced time and time again, helping to drive alignment to the very end.