When investing in coaching, pay the most you for coaching that you can to get the biggest change faster…
I meet with prospective clients a lot who present to me a concern like:
- I want to have a better relationship.
- I want to feel confident and powerful when I go into job interviews.
- I want more energy and to be more resilient as a mother.
- I want to let go of anger and be a more compassionate leader.
- I want more balance between work and at home.
These are all great reasons for coaching – coaching can really powerfully support those changes if it costs enough.
Yeah. Often, clients have a problem and when they discover how much coaching costs resistance shows up. I wanted to change, but I don’t want to pay that much to change.
How much are we talking about? Well, for personal coaching the midrange is about $125/session and leader or executive coaching often falls between $300 and $500 depending on level, location and a few other things. But it really doesn’t matter because whatever the dollar amount, resistance shows up. Less so in executive coaching – I’ll explain that in a minute.
Let’s start with resistance. What’s that? Resistance is the body and mind’s way of saying — uh oh, change is coming. The mind is all ego and does not like change. It’s scared so it holds us back where it’s nice and safe and comfortable and nothing bad ever happens. Nothing great does either. That’s the thing about comfort zones. But boy do we like them. We pay for comfort.
Last night, my husband was giving me feedback on a promotion I was writing up. He told me that it looked like I was promising people that I could make OTHER people change. (I can’t express enough how much I do NOT mean to suggest I can help you make other people change!). He said, “because if you can do that I’ll order 10 sessions.” Each session was $75 – so basically he said that he’d pay $750 to make 10 people change around him, which even if it were possible helps you when you’re around those 10 people — what about the other 80 billion people in the world? Resistance shows up when he thinks about paying $75 to change HIMSELF, which is totally possible, easier, and way more effective… (Oh yeah – I totally just verbally jiujitsu’d him).
So back to cost, then… cost and our experience of it can be about perceived value. Why is there less resistance to pricing for executive coaching than life coaching? Is it because people know that executive coaching translates directly to performance and productivity? OR does it mean that people value their personal lives less than their professional ones. Is that it? Could be.
Here’s another take – we get caught up by perceived measurability of value. I believe that the ROI in executive coaching is easily measured – it translates to more sales, higher effectiveness. Forbes magazine points to studies showing more than a 700% return on investment in coaching AND the more you spend, the more it returns!
In organizations, when we talk about trust, or team cohesion, leaders don’t necessarily equate that to hard dollars, so I help them translate values and ideas to behaviors that are measurable so that they can turn that into dollars. Meeting length. Time to market. Product quality – all are directly impacted by team cohesion.
In personal contexts, we’re not used to translating our personal goals into dollar values. A client says, “I want a happy relationship with love and compassion and intimacy and we never use the ‘D’ word.” I say –OK, that’s $1,250 dollars and they say – “wait what? Ten sessions at $125 a session is $1,250. Resistance. OR… client says, “I want a happy relationship” and I say – do you believe you can do that on your own?
Do you believe it would be helpful to do that with a coach?
OK great. So … You feel like you’re more likely to enjoy your relationship and avoid the “D” word with coaching. What’s a good marriage worth to you?
In dollars, what’s it worth? How much would you spend on it.
All the dollars.
How many of them?
I don’t know – all of them.
How much is your wedding dress?
Ok – so you’re willing to spend $4,000 on a wedding dress and how much on a cake and a reception hall and so on to kick off your marriage, yeah? $1,250 in coaching is part of kicking off your marriage right.
How much does divorce cost?
I don’t know.
Divorce is a $28 BILLION dollar industry in this country and the average divorce costs $15,000 to $30,000. (Forbes). Would you agree that $1,250 is less than $15,000?
A moment ago, you said that you might be able to build and grow happily in your marriage and not use the divorce word on your own and that it would be easier with the skills you’d build from having coaching. So does $1,250 feel like a good investment towards increasing your chances of success now?
What about a guarantee?
Later, I got to thinking about “money back guarantees” that some service providers offer. You’ll be completely satisfied or your money back! Hmmm… Isn’t that the opposite of what you want? It’s an incentive to be dissatisfied. OH – if I just say I’m unhappy with the result I’ll get my money back. So now we’re in a mindset looking to be dissatisfied.
(My head exploded a little when I realized that by the way).
At worst it creates an incentive to continue suffering. But at best it says – “you might not get results but it can’t hurt…” It can’t hurt. Is that a powerful motivator for change?
So what about a REVERSE guarantee? You’ll have the change you want, OR it’ll cost you $1,000 more. Maybe you’re thinking that’s stupid. Is it? If you come to me for coaching to avoid divorce, you’ll have get change you want (you do the work and avoid divorce) OR it’ll cost you $15,000 – $30,000 (you don’t do the work and you get a divorce). That’s not my “guarantee.” That’s just cause and effect.
(My exploded head exploded again)
In health care we do this all the time. In traditional medicine, you go to the doctor because you feel sick (or maybe it’s a wellness visit). If you get cured, your costs end there. But if you don’t get the change you want – if you’re still sick, you go back, you buy medicines, you see a specialist, you get more medicines, you buy more medicines to counteract the medicines you were taking before until eventually you hire a team of people and hand them a knife to cut into you and make you better and you keep doing that until you… well you get it.
It’s become so common place in our culture we’ve put it into our language of motivation … “I would give my first born child to be free of debt.” If someone had my kid, you better believe I’d get all Liam Neissen with my “very special set of skills.” The bigger the stakes the harder we work to grow ourselves and achieve the results we want.
What it comes down to is this: VALUE in coaching is about delivering POWERFUL results AS QUICKLY as possible. If we solve confidence in one $500 meeting then isn’t that better than 4 months of 8 -$150 sessions? Maybe you take your new confidence and you work on relationship skill building in the next 4 months. Now you’ve had even greater results in career and family with the same investment.
If what you really want is results, then you need to go all-in. Make positive change the biggest investment in your life that raises the stakes without causing suffering. Define investment in the words that make sense to you. For me, time holds more value than money so an hour of time away from my kids and family is a huge investment on its own. For another – a high paid executive, it’s a balance of time and money – so an hour and $750 is what it’ll take to drive a transformative powerful result. Results in anything – coaching, learning, health – all results have a direct correlation of what you’re willing to invest in it. So if you want MAXIMUM return, start with maximum INVESTMENT.