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Adam Haines
Organising and Planning

Onboarding Prospects to Your Online Coaching Services

Freely available until 30 June 2021 and then exclusive to UK Coaching Subscribers. Part five of Adam Haines’ six-step guide to becoming a successful online coach

The implementation of a robust and thorough onboarding process is critical to the lifetime value of the client/participant being inducted into your online service offering. 

Whether you are onboarding a current client/participant that interacts with you in person, or someone who you may never have had any face-to-face interaction with before, it is vital to make a great first impression. 

The onboarding is the first stage of building a relationship based on trust and confidence. It is also your opportunity to vet applicants and filter out those you feel may not be best suited to your coaching programmes. 

Don’t be afraid to vet applications and refuse entry onto your coaching programmes if necessary. If an applicant is showing signs of a lack of commitment or there are warning signs that there will be a low level of compliance, it is in your best interests to explain to the applicant that you may not be the best suited to helping them at this stage. 

Low commitment and compliance = poor results

Poor results = risk to your coaching business and reputation

Never underestimate first impressions!

An element that is often overlooked by coaches is the initial contact with a prospect.

Consider the following questions:

  • What avenues of contact are open to prospects of your coaching services? 
  • Can prospects schedule a call with you to discuss the services available or are they limited to a “contact me” form on your website? 

As mentioned earlier, first impressions matter. The initial contact must reflect the level of service you are proposing.


If you are trying to sell a high value VIP coaching product and you only have a basic contact form available for prospects, that doesn’t exactly reflect the VIP service you are promoting. 

Ensure every element of the onboarding process is in line with your overall product offering in terms of service delivery.


What should my onboarding process look like?

There are two stages that need to be included in your onboarding process when implementing coaching online.

1) Application form and pre-screening    

This is your opportunity to set the tone for what is to be expected from your coaching services and demonstrate that you have the experience to be able to service a particular problem. When a prospect is being asked questions that make them think about why they have come to you and tries to get them to break down the barriers to why they haven’t achieved their goal previously, it instils a level of confidence that you may be the solution to their problem.   

Think about:

  • The information you need to provide the basic transactional service, such as name, date of birth, gender, weight, address and contact details. 
  • The information you would like to acquire to help you deliver an exceptional coaching service. This may include movement screening, injury history, sporting and exercise history and experience, goal-setting questions and questions that allow you to determine whether the prospect is a good fit to your coaching programme, such as: ‘How committed are you to achieving improvements in your agility over the next 12 weeks?’


You may wish to include elements of Neuro Linguistic Programming into your application form and pre-screening. This will help you to break down the barriers to your client/participant achieving their goal and allow you to create bespoke solutions to their problems based on the information provided.


It is important to get your client/participant to make a commitment to achieving their goal in their own mind. In order to help them achieve that, you may want to include some mind exercises in your pre-screening process. Some examples include getting them to write a life itinerary, involving asking them to note down what they currently enjoy about their life and what elements they would like to improve, or asking them to write a written decree on what life looks and feels like to them once they have achieved their goal. 

These mind exercises will help you to identify clearly-defined and manageable goals for your clients that have been set by themselves. 

2) Welcome and induction to your coaching programme

The introduction to your coaching programme is the first time your client/participant will be consuming your online coaching product. It is your chance to build on the great first impression you have built in the application form. 

The welcome and Induction can take many forms and there are no rules as to what this should look like. Just remember that if this is an online coaching programme your welcome and induction package should be a digital product. There is no harm in providing your client/participant with a physical pack that you can post out to them, however you want to use it to set the tone for what to expect moving forward and if you will be using online systems and software to deliver your coaching programme it would be wise to keep this as a digital product. 

Three elements to include within the welcome and induction are:

  • Welcome communication. This may take the form of an email or a message on your coaching software. Use this as an opportunity to thank them for coming on board. 
  • Introduction to your coaching programme and systems. Explain your coaching methodologies, systems and software. Explain what they can expect from you and how to get the best results from your programme. 
  • Your rules and expectations. Define these clearly and set fixed parameters for contact and response timings. Set your expectations from the start and ensure that is it clear where the accountability lies for each element of your coaching programme. 

What are the essentials I need to include in my onboarding process?

The onboarding process should be an enjoyable experience for both the coach and client/participant, it is the first stage of the coaching journey with you and an exciting time.

It is often easy to get caught up in creating a perfect user journey for a new prospect and the fundamental essentials that need to be included in this process can often be overlooked.

Here some of the essentials that you may need to include in your onboarding process to ensure that the relevant data is gathered:

  • Privacy Policy
  • Medical History Disclaimer
  • Client-Coach agreement/Terms of Service
  • Physical Activity Readiness Questionnaire/Liability Waiver.

This is by no means an exhaustive list and please note that the legal documentation required will vary depending on your coaching practise and geographical location. Take your time to research the legal documentation required in your area and seek legal advice where necessary to ensure you have the correct documentation and procedures in place. 

Have a go

Think about what you would appreciate as a client/participant if you were being onboarded into a new coaching programme. Think about a time you have had either a great or difficult onboarding experience to a product or service, what can you learn from that experience and help you to create a great user journey for your programme? Use this process to build a great relationship with your client/participant and clearly define expectations from the start. This will ensure you receive the best results. 


Guide to Online Coaching

Read the rest of the six-part series geared towards helping you develop your skills and business acumen as an online coach


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  • Tech and Fitness: A Growing Partnership?


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Adam Haines