If you spend any time around the coaching world, you’ll discover that prices are all over the place. However, more often than not, one consistency you’ll find is that it’s expensive. You can find coaches who charge $50/hr, and coaches that charge $100k just to meet at a couple of weekend summits.
Then there’s everything in between.
This article is an attempt to help you, the reader- who is likely considering coaching- to understand why the pricing is the way it is.
Here are three reasons why coaching costs so much:
1. “It’s about the money.”
Let’s just talk about the obvious one first.
While this will seem obvious to some, it’s surprising how often people think selling something should be a secret, or it’s wrong. Is it about getting paid more money? Of course, it is. And anyone telling you different is selling something.
But wait, we ARE selling you something! We are selling a coaching service. It’s a legitimate business that is designed to grow and be profitable. The point of a business is to provide a service for someone else and then receive value back from the customer or client that pays the bills and such.
Of course, it’s about the money.
Like any business, a coaching business has plenty of expenses, and people want to be paid. Actually, people like to be paid well for their services- especially if they are good at them. We think that’s ok.
By the way, there is a group of people who insist that because it’s Biblical coaching, which looks a lot like discipleship, then coaches shouldn’t charge. If you have questions about this, let me encourage you that we’ll cover this in a different article. But for now, the easy answer is: this is a business, with one of our goals being profitability.
2. “It’s not about the money.”
Now I realize this seems exactly opposite to the first one, but hear me out and I think you’ll understand. Most really effective coaches got into this business to help people.
Their goal isn’t to get rich and neither is mine.
In fact, I was coaching for two years before I even realized I was an entrepreneur!
A terrible one at that.
I still remember the first time I realized I was running a business; I was attending a business conference and the speaker asked, “How many of you are entrepreneurs?” Everyone in the room raised their hand, except me. I looked around and laughed. I was at a conference to learn how to manage a business but didn’t know I was in business. Sheepishly, I raised my hand for the first time, feeling a little like a fish out of water.
In reality, a more accurate picture would be that at the time I had a really expensive hobby, which looked a lot like a failing business. I was wiping out our family’s savings to help other people and couldn’t figure out how to pay the bills. I just wanted to help people, but I couldn’t afford to just help people, and later I discovered that it wasn’t in the client’s best interest either, but more on that in the next point.
Many coaches have similar stories to mine.
I discovered coaching because my own life was falling apart. A friend of mine told me about coaching- someone else who wasn’t making much money- and offered to coach me. That started me on my personal journey of basically changing my entire life and how I thought and behaved in the world. It was completely life-altering and something that I wanted others to experience as well.
So, I started learning about it so I could help others. However, I quickly learned that in this particular industry, I was effective at helping someone else with their beliefs only up to the places where I had truly worked on my own. If I hit a snag in my personal work, it made it almost impossible to help a client past a similar hurdle.
Thus I was faced with two issues:
First, I couldn’t afford to coach for free, or cheap- it wasn’t about the money- I wanted to help, but I needed to be able to cover various expenses and it just wasn’t working. I would have to choose: raise my prices or shut it all down and quit coaching.
Second, I realized I need to charge enough to keep up my own personal development. In short, if I was coaching others, I needed a coach to help me see my own faulty thinking. It should come as an encouragement to others that a good coach “eats their own cooking”- meaning they have a coach as well and are continuing to grow. And if they are doing well at it, you can be sure that whatever you are investing financially in your growth, they have and are investing far more. Honestly, if they aren’t, they won’t be able to help you very long.
A great question to ask a potential coach is, “Do you have a coach?”
It’s not ALL about the money. It’s about helping people and being able to financially sustain that and be in the best possible frame of mind to do so.
3. “It’s value-based pricing.”
Finally, this is one of the most common answers you might hear. It’s one of the most confusing answers, which makes it seem suspect, but it’s probably the most accurate. Variations of this answer include “it’s based on the results we offer” or “value exchange”.
Come on, people, what does that even mean?
To be honest, when I first heard this phrase, I was immediately suspicious of being cheated and my initial thought was, “That’s just a fancy way of saying you’re ok with charging a boatload of money and I can’t afford it.”
I get it. I was there. But let me encourage you, there is wisdom in this idea of value-based pricing that’s worth considering. Think about the things you have purchased over the years.
What’s something you’ve paid for that meant a lot to you?
I remember when I was getting married, I was obsessed with a particular set of white china and crystal glasses. The Noritake china was around $100 for five pieces and the Lenox crystal glasses were about $40 per glass. Some generous wedding guests gave me pieces as gifts, but a few we purchased ourselves so we’d have an entire set.
They were extravagant.
It was a little hard to choose to spend the money on them. I didn’t NEED them, but I loved them. They brought me joy, helped me celebrate, and made me feel special. They had a special place in the cabinet, I used them for special occasions, and we enjoyed their beauty and usefulness in the cabinet and while eating. Over 20 years later, I’m still taking good care of them. When I moved, I used more bubble wrap to pack that one set of dishes than probably all my other dishes combined. Those dishes are well-loved and valued.
Now, compare that with the bowls I just bought at Walmart recently that cost 50 cents each. Do I use them? Yes, of course. But the whole reason I bought them is that I wanted to have something in the cabinet for the kids to use that I didn’t really care if it got ruined. If they leave it in their room, or the creek, it’s not a big deal. They are easily replaceable. In fact, I could trash every single one of them today and tomorrow, I could just go get another set of them without blinking an eye. While they do get the job done, they aren’t as valuable to me and when I packed to move, I didn’t even take the last set I had. They didn’t hold up well long term and so I threw them away knowing they were old and I could get new ones any time.
Coaching is an opportunity to work on your life- the parts of your life you care the most about.
Your life is precious and you only get one.
One chance to live this life the best you possibly can creates a sense of urgency about “figuring this round out.” This isn’t a bowl from a supercenter. This is the only YOU there is and coaching is about YOU recognizing that incredible value you have, the purpose you have, and this single opportunity to live this life the best you possibly can. High value.
Any good coach will tell you that to get results, you’ll need some “skin in the game”. Basically, you’ll need to invest in some way in order to help your brain know that this is important. Skin in the game looks different for different people. I can tell you from experience though, that with few exceptions, those clients who pay a higher price get faster and more lasting results.
I’ve seen this play out in hundreds of clients and I’ve watched it play out in my own life and coaching investments. There have been times when I’ve gotten coaching for a discount or free and still gained results, but the fastest change and best results have always come when I have had to pay a higher price.
Additionally, the initial money conversation helps identify what is most important to the client. Clients often come saying they want to fix this or that, but then when they hear the price they decide they “can’t” or “won’t”. It isn’t unusual to hear “I can’t afford it.” However, if your child needed emergency treatment, suddenly most people would figure out how to pay for it because the value of the child is so much more than any amount of money someone might charge. The client’s willingness to pay is reflective of how bad they want to change and how willing they are to do whatever it takes to get that change. And that is a good indicator of whether or not the choice to get coaching will be successful.
Many people think coaching starts with the first session between client and coach. Coaches know it starts when the client decides what’s more important: the money or the result.
So there you have it. Why does coaching cost so much? It’s about the money, but it’s not all about the money, it’s about serving YOU best and one of the ways a great coach does that well is to create a value-based offer.
If you’d like to have a further conversation around this topic, you can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org where we can schedule a consultation.