How to politely limit time on phone coaching calls?

26 replies
any insights on how to politely disengage from a coaching call when time's up but the client keeps asking questions?

i just had a 30-minute call go for an hour+; out of a sense of wanting to be helpful I stayed on the line to help them, though it's not good business practice...

i don't want to rudely say 'oops gotta go i've got another call coming" though maybe something similar would be effective... like near end of scheduled call, say "great call, John, you asked a lot of smart questions... I know our time's up now, and I've got another call in fifteen minutes to prepare for, any final question i can help with?"
#calls #coaching #limit #phone #politely #time
  • Profile picture of the author Rory Singh
    Your time is valuable and you need to be in control of your conversation. Yes you will need to get off the phone politely....I've got another client call coming up is appropriate.
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  • Profile picture of the author maz1207
    I agree with both comments above. Let them fill the form so you can get ready with the answer. If he still goes above 30 min, let him know that other student/client call is coming up.
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  • Profile picture of the author Brent Stangel
    I used to deal with Marc Emery. He would unceremoniously hang up on people who couldn't take a hint. His sales literature stated very clearly this could happen.

    While I don't recommend that (Marc was deluged with idiots), I would be firm when the time is up. Tell people at the start of the call that they are on the clock and if they want to go over you will have to charge accordingly.

    Get a timer with a loud alarm!
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    • Profile picture of the author JohnMcCabe
      Originally Posted by Brent Stangel View Post

      I used to deal with Marc Emery. He would unceremoniously hang up on people who couldn't take a hint. His sales literature stated very clearly this could happen.

      While I don't recommend that (Marc was deluged with idiots), I would be firm when the time is up. Tell people at the start of the call that they are on the clock and if they want to go over you will have to charge accordingly.

      Get a timer with a loud alarm!
      I also found that the best way to politely limit phone time was to be very, very plain and direct before the call ever started. Once the timer went off, I would finish the point I was on and tell people that they could pick up the topic again on the next call.

      I did generally allow about a 10% overrun, but after that, it was time to either go or reset the meter. I never did have to hang up on anyone, but I admit I was tempted a few times...
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  • Profile picture of the author answergal
    When I'm on a "timed" call, the last five minutes I will ask the person "we have 5 minutes left, what is your last question" Works good for me so they are notified of a timeline and you stay in control of your time.
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  • Profile picture of the author winsoar
    Do a 10 minute warning, and be clear at the beginning and before the call.
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    • Profile picture of the author Kay King
      Once in a while a call will go over the time - and that's to be expected. However, for the most part- YOU control the timing. You give a 5 min warning on a 30 minute call - or a 10 minute warning on a 60 minute call...and YOU start to wind it down.

      It can be a polite comment of "time is getting away from us - we have 5 (or 10) minutes left. Is there anything you need covered a bit more before we're done?"

      It's difficult to keep phone calls on schedule - it means not only that you alert the person near the end...but also that you keep the coaching moving. It's hard to stay in control over the phone as people love to tell you their stories and what they've read elsewhere.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    You could always blame a robot...

    (i.e. this call is through a tracking service that will automatically terminate at 30 minutes... I find it annoying as well, but that's life I guess, let's make the most of the time we have)

    I imagine this approach would be better for people who are too timid or otherwise unable to control their clients.
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    • Profile picture of the author CyberAlien
      Originally Posted by Jack Gordon View Post

      You could always blame a robot...

      (i.e. this call is through a tracking service that will automatically terminate at 30 minutes... I find it annoying as well, but that's life I guess, let's make the most of the time we have)

      I imagine this approach would be better for people who are too timid or otherwise unable to control their clients.
      I just start screaming and tell them a tornado hit my office and then disconnect the call...
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        When I'm on a "timed" call, the last five minutes I will ask the person "we have 5 minutes left, what is your last question" Works good for me so they are notified of a timeline and you stay in control of your time.
        This is so much more professional and appropriate than trying to make up some sort of excuse for ending the call.

        In addition, it's important to get started right away when the call starts. Something like "Since we have only 30 minutes together today, let's jump right in."

        If you were really explicit beforehand that the call would last 30 minutes, then there is nothing unhelpful about sticking to the 30 minutes in a professional manner.

        If someone needs more help, they can sign up for another 30 minutes.

        Marcia Yudkin
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        • Profile picture of the author savidge4
          Whats more important, your students success or your time? if its your time, then get out of the coaching business.
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          • Profile picture of the author Kay King
            I'd say if your time ISN'T important - you shouldn't be in the coaching business because time management is part of any profitable business.

            If you are selling 30 minute or 60 minute coaching calls - that's what they should be. It teaches students to be organize and prepared with questions and is the professional way to do business.

            too timid or otherwise unable to control their clients
            If that's the case - shouldn't be coaching. You don't have to control the client - just the path of the conversation.
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            • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
              too timid or otherwise unable to control their clients
              Originally Posted by Kay King View Post

              If that's the case - shouldn't be coaching. You don't have to control the client - just the path of the conversation.
              I don't disagree with that, but I do have one big caveat...

              One could be highly qualified to teach others any number of specific skills, without having mastered time (or client) management on their own. We are all on our own journey, and client control skills are not something that would necessarily come naturally to very many people (especially when clients are in short supply).

              If I had the mad talent to teach people how to make money with, say, SEO, but I lacked client management skills, that alone should not be the sole reason I stay locked away in a dead-end job.

              The real me would advise the SEO me to go for it, and develop my time/client management skills along the way.
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  • Profile picture of the author Winning34
    Just say: "I've got time for one more question before we wrap this up...."
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  • Profile picture of the author ChrisBa
    Originally Posted by kencalhn View Post

    any insights on how to politely disengage from a coaching call when time's up but the client keeps asking questions?

    i just had a 30-minute call go for an hour+; out of a sense of wanting to be helpful I stayed on the line to help them, though it's not good business practice...

    i don't want to rudely say 'oops gotta go i've got another call coming" though maybe something similar would be effective... like near end of scheduled call, say "great call, John, you asked a lot of smart questions... I know our time's up now, and I've got another call in fifteen minutes to prepare for, any final question i can help with?"
    Always remind them beforehand the limit of the call and that they can have more time for $xxx, remind them again when the call starts, when you hit your time, just politely tell them the time is up and ask if they would like to continue for your price
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  • Profile picture of the author Jack Gordon
    Want to incentivize the client to be the one to watch the clock?

    You could always add a steep per-minute charge for any overage... of course, that could have unintended consequences with poor communication as well, so good communication is still the key.
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  • Profile picture of the author Slade556
    Originally Posted by kencalhn View Post

    like near end of scheduled call, say "great call, John, you asked a lot of smart questions... I know our time's up now, and I've got another call in fifteen minutes to prepare for, any final question i can help with?"
    This is actually a good way to prepare the person you're talking to to wrap it up. You don't want to be rude, the main idea is to let them know it's time to hang up soon and you need to be polite when doing it. And your approach seems to be a good way to do just that.
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    • Profile picture of the author StrategicCheetah
      Watch the Sopranos. Dr Melfi is very good at calling the session when it's time, and she's dealing with a sociopath with murderous tendencies ;-)

      I agree with the warning 5 minutes out, that works.

      Although, are you sure you want to be trading your time for money?

      You should consider running a leveraged training program where you record your message in full into training videos giving them a grade A learning resource and then answer questions for every one of your students in a group setting.

      That way instead of spending hours on end saying the same things, you can give the same value with a tiny percentage of your own time.
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  • Profile picture of the author kencalhn
    hey thanks everyone, good dialogue and great insights from you all; that's a big help; I like the idea of doing 5/10 minute warnings, maybe have my casio travel alarm clock set to beep when time's up, so they hear it...good example w/sopranos

    it's odd being on the other side of it, and having to enforce time limits...from my perspective, whenever I pay a professional (lawyer, consultant) for a 30- or 60-minute call I always respect their time and end on time....when I've hired people for time, toward end of call I always say something like, "thanks for all your great ideas, you've been a big help, I know we're out of time now, so thank you"...and end it without them having to. but when I do coaching calls, virtually nobody does that and they want to mooch more time.

    I think having big clear written guidelines communicated to them ahead of time will help, I do say that in writing, eg '30 minutes means 30 minutes not 45 minutes', maybe i need to use larger font, lol. Completely agree re leveraging, I only add in rare a single coaching call as a bonus for buyers of some of my high-end products.

    start on time, end on time is what professionals do...thanks for all the great ideas in the thread here, I'll try them
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  • Just be straight up.

    Your time is valuable, you have to value it.

    There is no nice way to do it
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  • Profile picture of the author ZanyZebra
    The people I coach through the ASM process (on joining ASM) all get coaching from me, personally.

    In order to prevent the problem you mention, i make everbody aware that the coaching call will last 45 mins max. that there is a schedule and that this schedule is full for each slot.

    I let them know in advance that they cannot go over this time as it eats into someone else's time.

    Also 5 minutes before the due end time, I let them know that we have a couple of minutes left before we need to end.

    Never, ever had anyone go over this. Works perfectly for me.

    Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author ryanbiddulph
    Hi Ken,

    At the beginning of the call, lay out the details to drill them home. Example; at 9 PM you have to go, because you have another call. Most folks are super aware of this and for those who aren't, well, you gotta go. People almost always get it unless they aren't busy business folk and if they are, they need - and you can keep learning - about a thing called posture

    Doing great Ken, keep offering that value, just respect your time, your business and your authority, by ending calls on the minute, to free up your time for your other clients or for your other business-growing ventures. You really can't go wrong by being prompt, and by ending calls when they need to be ended. Just cut them off if need be, at 8:59 and say, "This was a really great call but I need to go as I have one schedule at 9 PM", even if you don't. Works every time. And the cool thing is, you're setting up a vacuum for more clients to fill that 9 PM slot

    Tweeting from Bali.

    Ryan
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  • Profile picture of the author Jason Kanigan
    Originally Posted by kencalhn View Post

    any insights on how to politely disengage from a coaching call when time's up but the client keeps asking questions?

    i just had a 30-minute call go for an hour+; out of a sense of wanting to be helpful I stayed on the line to help them, though it's not good business practice...

    i don't want to rudely say 'oops gotta go i've got another call coming" though maybe something similar would be effective... like near end of scheduled call, say "great call, John, you asked a lot of smart questions... I know our time's up now, and I've got another call in fifteen minutes to prepare for, any final question i can help with?"
    Use an Up Front Contract at the beginning of the call:

    "So today you understand is a free coaching call; because it's free, our time is limited to 30 minutes. Do you understand that? ...OK. What this means is that as we get to about 27 minutes, I am going to let you know that either we need to wrap this question up, or if we just started on a new question, that it will have to be a quick answer. Does this make sense?"

    Now set your timer--make it an audible one so they hear the beep--and when it goes off you can make disappointed noises, but also say, "Oh dear. Well you heard the timer...we've got just a few minutes left. Do you want to continue with this question, or ask one final one?"

    and if they want more time with you:

    "I appreciate that. Sounds like you are getting a lot of value from our talk. Well, we could continue talking now (or later if you do have another call, but be specific), and the rate for that is $X. That gives us Y more time together. Would you like to do that?"

    Keep in mind that you as the FREE service provider don't owe them anything. You have given them your time and if they don't really value that, or are unable to afford more time with you after the free period, you are not responsible for that. If they found your conversation valuable, it's up to them to get the money to continue to receive the benefit of your expertise.
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  • Profile picture of the author Dilip Mane
    The key is to make them understand the importance of your communication protocol during the call. Unless they realize it, it is an usual scenario that any number of hours will seem insufficient for them and without any significant outcome regardless of you doing your best during the call. So it is wastage of time for both.

    The protocol is that you being a coach are going to ask questions to the client and getting the case from the answers given by client to your questions. Before the actual call, you may have a brief pilot call or a written communication for getting the brief from the client and about the protocol explaining both it's steps and the importance of it during the call that is going to happen.

    This process produces more from a stipulated time and you may remind about how much time is remained for Q & A session. Remember however that last 15 minutes or so should be for discussing about the probable solutions for the things that client is seeking advice for.

    Even if the call exceeds about 5 minutes or so and you won't mind it but bring it to client's attention afterwards, it is only going to increase your goodwill.
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    • Profile picture of the author discrat
      Absolutely nothing wrong with saying, " John, we have 10 minutes left with this Call, and I want to give you a heads up. that in a little bit I am going to have to take some other calls. We will continue this on the next call. I hope you understand and Iam not trying to be rude but just have a tight schedule"
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      • Profile picture of the author marciayudkin
        when I've hired people for time, toward end of call I always say something like, "thanks for all your great ideas, you've been a big help, I know we're out of time now, so thank you"...and end it without them having to. but when I do coaching calls, virtually nobody does that and they want to mooch more time.
        Ken,

        My guess is that you have been inadvertently sending people signals that it is OK for them to "mooch" as much time as possible from you.

        You need to practice sending the opposite signals!

        Marcia Yudkin
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