*This is part of a series of blog posts created in collaboration with writer and fellow existential coach Marcie Boyer based on content produced with my fellow Talking about Coaching podcasters Siawash Zahmat and Nicki Drab. These articles are aimed at coaches who are just starting out, but you can always send us a question at any level and we’ll cover it for you!
Confidence and value: the key ingredients to raising your prices!
If you’re reading this, chances are you’re looking to charge more for your coaching. What we hear most often from coaches are questions around whether this is justified, fair, and how they might muster the courage and/or confidence to put their prices up. This blog follows on an earlier discussion on coaching fees in which we share the factors that play into setting your fees, so you may want to check out How much should I charge for coaching?
If you’ve been coaching for some time and haven’t raised your fees in a while, it might feel uncomfortable or down-right awkward to introduce higher fees. Whether you’re seeking to leave a full-time job, or feel your fees no longer reflect the value you provide to your clients, or you’ve raised your game by getting a new qualification or accreditation, whatever your reason, it’s inevitable that, at some point you might ask yourself: how can I charge more for my coaching?
The questions we’ve received around this topic center around two main themes: confidence (How can I be more confident raising my fees?) and value (i.e. Is it worth it if I charge more?).
In Talking about Coaching (episodes 32 and 33), we look at ways to help you feel more confident charging more for your coaching, as well as, understand and communicate the value of the space you offer.
Here are a few key highlights from these conversations which you might find helpful.
From ‘Working Coach’ to a ‘Growing Coach’
With the growth of the coaching industry there are many well established coaches out there who have been coaching for 10, 15, or 20 years, with fees that match their experience and expertise. However, when looking at where successful coaches are today, it’s easy to forget (or not see) the journey they made to get where they are, that is, their evolution as a coach. One of the traps new coaches fall into is aspiring to set their fees based on the fees of well-established, successful coaches, without having made the evolution themselves. It’s not uncommon for new coaches to quit or give up coaching because they’re not comfortable charging higher fees.
So one of the most fundamental (and important!) steps to raising your fees comes from the idea that growing coaches are first and foremost working coaches. If you haven’t already done so, focus on filling-up your practice… at whatever fee you feel comfortable charging! As you grow your practice, your fees (and confidence) will grow as well. For more information on how to do this, check out this article.
Say it (out) loud!
It can feel awkward to pitch a large number for your coachign services. As a rule of thumb: if you feel awkward to say your fees out loud, it’ll be awkward for your client to hear it. It doesn’t inspire confidence in your services. The good news is that you can get more comfortable with practice. Like exposure therapy, where, the more you’re exposed to something you fear (e.g. a spider, or stating your new price) the less you’ll fear it, the more time you practice saying your new fee (out loud), the more your confidence will grow. It happens sooner than most think!
Practice your pitch 5, 10, 20 times. Tell the mirror, then a family member, then a friend, then a coaching colleague, then a new propsect. You can raise your fees gradually and pitch an extra 5% or 10% on your existing fee and see how it feels. You might also consider your fees in relation to the benefit the client receives. Usually the price of a package is worth a lot less than the results the client achieves through coaching. Think about your client’s future possibilities (ideally together with your client): Where might they be, or what might they have achieved at the end of the coaching relationship? How much extra time will they have gained doing something they’re passionate about and fills their life with meaning and purpose? What’s it worth to them to wake up inspired instead of dreading to go to work? Ask your client to put a price tag on their goal and see how that compares to the coaching fee. I reckon it’ll be higher than the coaching fee if they’re honest with themselves (and you).
In this section, we explore key financial factors to help you build confidence to face your fee-based fears.
Money buys commitment – committment buys change and success (not just for the client)
In the previous podcast, we introduced the idea that money buys commitment for the client and commitment creates change. But this works both ways. Higher fees also offer change for the coach and opportunities for growth. Like being in flow, there is a tension between skill and challenge. If your skill outgrows your challenge, motivation can dip, boredom can set it, and enthusiasm can wane. Introducing higher fees not only opens doors to work with different types of clients, but also brings with it new client challenges. As the level of challenge grows, it’s only natural to spend more time preparing for client sessions, seeking out new ways to work with clients, and thinking “what can I do differently with this client?”, all of which can increase engagement and move coaches to a state of flow. Money not only buys commitment and change for the client, but also commitment and change for the coach.
Return on (the coach’s) investment
When we think of coaching, we don’t automatically think, what’s my return on investment? But the truth is, many coaches invest a lot of time and money in their craft. Qualified coaches will attest it isn’t cheap to train as a coach. And if you’ve decided to make a living pursuing your passion, coaches will likely have ‘lost’ income, that is, income that would have been earned working a traditional job. Think about how much you’ve invested to create the valuable space for your client to explore? How much have you’ve practiced, read, and reflected on your life so that you could find the right question to make a shift in another person’s life? Calculate how much you would be earning if you worked a full-time job you are qualified to do outside of coaching? Calculate how much it cost to get a new client (cost of acquisition). How much money and time do you spend on advertising, marketing, attending network events, creating social media posts, building and maintaining your website? Do your fees reflect the time, money, and resources you’ve invested to be a better coach?
At the end of the day, the most important thing when it comes to fees is that you feel comfortable charging the fee you do. This will enable you to show up in an authentic and confident way with your client. However, it’s equally important not to be lulled into a comfortable corner and avoid the discomfort that comes with growth. Growth is inevitably uncomfortable. Knowing this will help you find the right tension between building confidence and balancing discomfort in order to overcome your fears of higher fees.
If there is one takeaway, it would be to invite you not to just look at the number, but to connect and reflect on the reasons behind why you do what you do. Challenge your own stories and assumptions around your fees. Is it based on how much you think people can pay? Or, how much you think you ‘should’ be charging? Slow down and go deep and (re)discover what is it you want from your coaching practice and will your current fee give you that?