Emotions are your most powerful tool as a coach.

Understanding your potential (or current) clients emotions: what makes them tick, what their pain points are and what they really want is what sets the best coaches apart from the rest of the pack.

It also decides who’s bank balance is that little bit bigger, too.

When you can fully understand the inner workings of the other persons mind, you’re able to:

  • Set Emotionally Driven Goals: These aren’t just nice to have, but the client needs to have them.
  • Sell More Coaching: When a client sees you as the magician – the person who understands them better than themselves – they want to buy from you, almost instantly.

For your coaching business, this almost guarantee’s an increase in four of your most important indicators:

  1. Increased Client Conversion Rates
  2. Increased Client Retention
  3. Improved Client Results
  4. Increased Income

Which is hard for you to pass up on, right? After all, they’re four things that all coaches dream about. After all, who doesn’t want to sell more coaching?

Actually getting to the root of your clients emotions can be a hard task though.

Knowing the questions to ask, the right direction to take the conversation and having the confidence to dig deep into a clients mind can be tricky for even the most ardent of coaches.

However, there is a way that you can delve deeply into your clients psyche, set emotionally driven goals, and sell more coaching in the process. And, when I say sell more coaching, I mean a lot more coaching.

When I first implemented this model as a Personal Trainer in 2009, my conversion rate went down to 2:1 (Consultation: Converted Client) and it could have the same impact for you, too.

That method?

The Bridge Model.

What Is The Bridge Model, And How Can It Sell More Coaching?

This technique was first outlined to me by Personal Training business coach Nic Jarvis when he was coaching in one of the UK’s biggest Gym chains. And, it blew my mind as soon as I heard it.

The Bridge Model is a Neurolinguistic Programming Technique (NLP), which works effectively in both sales and goal setting.

It allows you as the coach to delve deeply into the emotional reasoning behind your (potential or current) client’s choices.

It also gives you the opportunity to position yourself as the ‘bridge’ between where your client currently is and their end goal.

The process breaks down into three specific steps:

  • The Desired Situation
  • The Current Situation
  • The Solution

The reasoning behind this is simple. You want to create a clear picture of what the clients wants to achieve, full of good emotions. Then, you want to bring them back to their current state of dissatisfaction.

From there, you decide upon the solution that ‘bridges’ the gap between Point A and Point B. Which, is where you make a killing in sales and customer satisfaction.

In this article, I’m going to cover – step by step – how you can implement this model into your coaching business from the minute you close your browser.

And, how with a little practice, you can become a mastermind at finding the emotional root of all your client’s goals.


When Should You Use It?

The Bridge Model works most effectively in consultations or when you’re trying to sell your coaching.

But, it’s also great to use for reviewing current client goals throughout the process. By setting these goals, you have an emotional point you can always refer back to.

Throughout the article, I’ll refer to the person as ‘The Client’ because it sounds like a Bruce Willis movie as the techniques work in both situations.

First, Clear Your Mind…

When you’re first talking to a client about goal setting, your mind races.

You’re constantly thinking about what to say next, or what might be intriguing in what has just been said. And, you have the tendency to try and lead the conversation where you want it to go.


Clear your mind and focus solely on listening to what is being said. Clear your mind and listen wholly to what the person is trying to tell you, and take in each piece of information.

Talking to clients is like building a jigsaw. Whenever they speak, they give you the next piece of the puzzle.

But, if you’re lost in your own head and thinking about what to say, you’ll miss out on key pieces and end up with a less than perfect picture.

All the skills of listening are a little beyond the scope of this article. But, this article from Forbes Magazine is worth a read to help you improve your listening skills ten-fold.

Just be sure to approach all of your conversations with:

  • A clear mind
  • Without distraction
  • Without interrupting the speaker (unless their hair is on fire absolutely necessary)

With that being said, let’s take a look at the three steps of the Bridge Model and how to implement them.

Step One: The Desired Situation

When you speak to most prospective clients, they feel as if they have a goal in place.

Put simply, they think that they know what they want and what they’re working towards.

Yet, most of the time, they don’t know what they’re moving towards, they only know what they’re moving away from:

  • Negative feelings
  • Bad health
  • Low income
  • Bad relationships

These painful and negative feelings kick start the process of change, but they are rarely the most effective way for them to complete the process.

So, a goal of earning $10,000 extra in a year isn’t always for the pleasure of having an extra $10,000 – but to move away from not having enough money at the end of each month.

It’s important to understand what it is that they do want to do, instead of what they don’t want to do.

To stay with the increase income example, you wouldn’t just simply have them write down:

“To earn $10,000 extra this year”

Although this is the common approach to goal setting, it’s doesn’t really mean anything. There is no emotional bond here, and nothing that drives the client forward.

Unless they’re incredibly motivated by money, which isn’t true for most.

Instead, you would want to gather something more specific, with a deeper meaning for them, such as:

“To earn $10,000 this year so I can build the new extension on my house by next October”

Can you see the difference between those two goals? All of a sudden, that $10,000 isn’t just a little added extra in the bank account. It’s the extension they’ve been looking to build for years.

This is where the emotion really sets in, because they’ve started to build a vision they’re attached to. The more specific and defined you can help them picture it, the better.

It works incredibly well to have the client picture themselves stood in that extension. Looking at the colours of the walls, the furniture, their children running and playing.

Once you make their vision real, they can begin to feel it.

Getting To Pleasure

As with all coaching, there is no one size fits all brush. The questions you ask the way the conversation flows is completely unique to your client.

But, it should always end up at the same end point: their most desired situation.

In order to build a real emotion attachment here, there are a few techniques you can implement into the conversation to help build that image in the client’s head.

Repeat What’s Been Said: Don’t do this verbatim, but once they have finished their piece, be sure to reiterate and outline the points they’ve said.

This shows understanding from your part, and reinforces their point.

The Three Why’s: In the book Made To Stick by Chip and Dan Heath, the brothers outline a great way of asking questions to get to it’s emotional root.

By asking the question, “Why?” or even better, “Why is that important?”, three times, you’ll find yourself facing the driving force behind their goal.

To stick with the $10,000 example:

I want to earn $10,000 in the next year.


Because I’d like to have more income to spend on the things I’d like.

“Why is that important?”

Because I really want to build a new extension on my house for my kids to play in.

“Why is that important?”

Because my house is too small for my family to live in, and I can’t afford to move house or leave our neighbourhood. Having an extension would give us the space we need to live more comfortably and give my children their own space as they grow up.

As I said before, that $10,000 suddenly becomes something important to them, with a deeper emotional connection to it.

Focus On Feel: When you’re building this image in their minds, don’t leave anything up for interpretation, or miss out on any specific details.

Build an image where the client can feel that they’re there. From what it feels like to succeed, to what the smell of the room they’re standing in is like.

Emphasise Pleasure: Be sure to move the conversation towards what they do want not what they don’t want.

Practice Task

Practicing each step of the bridge model on it’s own can be a great help when it comes to putting it all together.

So, go out and grab someone off the street a friend and spend five minutes building their desired situation. If you do it right, the other person won’t even know you’ve done it.

Try using one of these topics:

  • Relationships: Such as what they’d look for in the perfect partner.
  • Work: Where they would like their career to progress to over the next 12 months.
  • Vacation: What their ideal vacation would be like – where, why, when and who with.

Build the biggest, most in-depth picture possible. Then leave it at that.

Step Two: The Current Situation

If you client is talking to you, you can guarantee one thing: they’re not happy where they are now.

There is something about this time of their life that makes them feel a pain big enough that they want to make a change big enough in their life. It’s caused them to run away from the problem that lies beneath and head in a completely new direction.


And, it’s your job to find out what it is.

By building their desired situation first, you’ve shown them the complete euphoria of where it is that they want to be. What it’s like to stand in their own improved future and feel what it’s really like.

Now, you’re going to bring them back down to where they currently are and show them the pain that they feel right now. How much they really do dislike the situation that they’re in, and that it’s not good for them to stay there.

Get your tissues at the ready, because this is where the emotions really kick in.

Finding The Right Kind Of Pain

The idea here isn’t to browbeat the person or force them into submission. Which has been done many times with this model.

Instead, it’s to highlight the source of pain the client feels right now: what they feel, why they feel it and what negative impact it has on their lives.

As I mentioned earlier, your client is always looking to move away from something. Understand and outlining what that really is, is the key here.

For example, a weight loss client isn’t really looking to move away from being overweight. Instead, they’re looking to move away from feelings such as:

  • Low self esteem
  • Low confidence
  • Bullying or hurtful comments about their weight
  • Feeling that their weight prevents them from doing ‘normal’ things

These emotions may all come together as ‘I want to lose 50lbs’, but they actually mean so much more.

The same can be said for someone who want’s to build their new business, increase their e-mail list subscribers or earn more money per year. There is always a deeper source of dissatisfaction than what it appears they are trying to move away from.

Caution! There Will Be Resistance

When you’re trying to find that all important pain point, you’re going to encounter resistance along the way. Especially if this is the first time you’re talking to someone.

They’re going to throw up two main barriers of resistance:

  1. Creating excuses
  2. Trying to move away from the subject

This is a natural response to talking about a sore subject. You’ll find that they want to try and justify their current situation with the events that lead up to it. Or, they’re going to try and steer away from the topic altogether.

Don’t worry about this, but expect it to happen. The most important thing you can do here is keep reverting back to the original conversation, by asking questions and getting really specific.

If I client doesn’t want to go too deep into it, don’t force them to. But the more in-depth responses you can get here, the better.

Asking The Right Questions

Most of the techniques I outlined in Step One lend themselves effectively to identifying the pain in their current situation.

However, instead of building an image in their mind, you’re trying to identify what is currently happening. You’re still building a picture, but there isn’t as much room for interpretation.

Practice Task

This is a little trickier to implement with a friend or colleague, because it’s a slightly more painful experience for them. Turns out people like the good stuff, but not always the bad stuff – go figure.

So, it’s going to be more effective to practice this step of the model on existing clients or family members. It’s probably going to help to outline what you’re doing first, too.

Again, try taking a five-minute window and try to get the root of one of their problems. Try some of these as an example:

  • Why they recently started going to the gym
  • What made them start looking for coaching
  • Why they never learned to drive/swim/ride a bike etc.

Alternatively you could follow this on from your conversation about the Desired Situation, and start to focus on where they are now.

I’d recommend trying each section in isolation before doing that, though.

Step Three: The Solutions

Here’s the bit where you really make an impact on the client, your business and on your wallet conversion rate.

This is the simplest of the three steps, but it is the essential building block that holds everything together. It’s the bridge in Bridge Model, after all.

In this third and final step, you’re going to show yourself as the vessel to guide them between the place of intense emotional pain they currently feel, and that beautiful desired horizon you helped them build.

Because, the end product here is the sale of coaching, and you need to align yourself so that when you can align yourself in prime position to move forward with your guidance, in some capacity.

This part of the model is really effective if you have multiple packages of products, as you can work through the list until there is a product that the client resonates with.

A great part of the art here though, is making the client come to the conclusion that they need you to guide them through it. And, they need to come to that decision on their own.

Whether you’re focused on making a sale, or setting effective goals, allowing the client to make their own decision (with your guidance) is incredibly empowering.

The act of selling coaching and setting epic goals isn’t mutually exclusive, though. By helping them set the goal, you position yourself thoroughly in the limelight to help them achieve it. Regardless of if they are an existing client, or a brand new consultation.

Much Ado About Money

Before I go on, I want to ask you a question.

How comfortable are you asking for money?

As a coach, it’s important for you to get comfortable asking for money. Some coaches regard talking about money as Taboo, and find asking for money outside of their comfort zone.

If you’re one of those coaches, I suggest you get some practice asking clients for money and working through that fear.

Asking for money is not a big deal, and most clients would like you to be completely straight up with them about it. The worry is only in your own head.

If you’re not comfortable asking for money, feel free to leave a comment at the end of this article, and I can try to point you in the right direction of how to so, or create an article to help you work through it.

Regardless of whether you’re comfortable or not, you can still practice these techniques and use them in your consultations. But, the fewer stigmas you have around money, the easier it is.

Creating The Solutions

This is going to be incredibly specific to your business, your client’s goal and the path that you’re looking to take. So, the ever-present “it depends” answer rears its ugly head again.

Instead, think of the solutions as your products. What can you offer the person to guide them between Point A and Point B?

If I take this as an example of my current coaching work, my ‘solutions’ look like this:

  • The client goes it alone
  • My eBook on improving your writing skills
  • My online coaching course with mastermind group
  • One to One coaching

And, I offer them in that order with the ascending price. That way, after the whole discussion, the client has the options to choose from.

You probably noticed that ‘the client goes it alone’ was a choice in there, too.

Simply put, this is for the client to be able to realise that they can’t go it alone – as they don’t actually know how to get from A to B. Therefore, will choose one of your products.

From there, by offering the solutions in ascending price, they know they have a range of options to choose from and it’s not just ‘coaching or bust’.

If you’re running a Life Coaching business for example, it could look a little like this:

  • Discuss their goals and talk about how to go it alone
  • Discuss how your mastermind group could help them achieve their goal
  • But, if they want guaranteed results your coaching package will get them there most effectively

By following this strategy, you’ve left the door wide open for them to go it alone, but really emphasised the benefits of how working with you can really help them.

The client is in an emotional state right now because you’ve just helped them pour their heart out and become vulnerable to you. So, focusing on how you can help them move forward is of real importance.

Practice Task

There isn’t too much here to practice in the same as the last two steps.

Instead for this you should make a list of your products, and how they can help people move towards their goals. And, develop a greater understand of why exactly you’re the coach to help them do it.

Conclusion: Making The Model Work For You

The Bridge Model’s power to build an emotional response to goals is incredible. And, it’s going to make the world of difference to how you approach making sales in your coaching.

A key thing to remember here is that this model is designed to position you as the person to help. However, you can use this model to change behaviours, sell coaching and create a positive change in the lives of your clients.

By going to the desired situation first, you allow the client to become involved in what it is that they want by creating the specific picture in their mind.

Then, you head to the current situation, where you discover the cause and the underlying emotion behind what it is that they want to achieve.

Finally, you position yourself and your products as the solutions to help the client effectively achieve what they have set out to do.


To Learn More About How to Enrol Clients – Join Bryan Franklin in a Free Training Exclusively designed for Coaches.
Evercoach Team

Evercoach Team

Evercoach is the premier place to find up-to-date and relevant information about coaching and the coaching industry. Our authors are industry leaders, with years of experience in the coaching industry.

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