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Monday, May 6, 2002 

Are you stuck when it comes to how much to bill your clients? Or maybe stuck on how to START billing clients?? If so, you're not alone.  Today's issue addresses the psychological block many coaches encounter when it comes to charging their clients.  I hope you enjoy it.

As always, your suggestions for topics are welcome.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Happy Reading,

Andrea Lee
GM, CoachVille


This is from the 100-lesson Full Practice series, which free with $79 CoachVille lifetime membership.  To join CoachVille, visit or call 1.866.COACHVILLE and join over the phone!

In a perfect world, coaches would freely give of their time, energy and wisdom, so this would not be a problem.

And, of course, we humans aren't "there" yet, nor is our economic system, even if we ARE moving in this direction. 

Now, I could bore you with the traditional comebacks to this problem with lines like:
--Your time is valuable and you need to charge for it, bud.
--Time IS money, honey.
--Clients won't value your services unless you charge properly for them.
--You've got a mortgage to pay!
--blah blah blah.

I've actually never seen any of these lines help a coach who's blocked about money to get unblocked.

Seven ways to handle the money-block thing.

I believe that these 7 points will help...

1.  Just because you used to give-it-away before you became an official coach doesn't mean you have to keep giving it away now that you are a coach.
Of course, you'll need to re-educate your network of friends and freebie clients.  You may find that 90% of them are unwilling to pay.  Which means you'll need to stick with the 10% who will pay and go find more folks with whom you don't have a free history with.  

2.  Potential clients DO want to pay. Don't deny them this pleasure.
Most people like to exchange value. Like money for coaching.   If there isn't fair value exchanged, one party feels indebted to the other and this can cause a rift (the person drifts away because they can't handle the feeling of indebtedness).  And, most 'good' clients wouldn't want to coach with you if you didn't charge.  So, wise up.

3.  Only charge an amount that you feel GOOD about charging.
Most new coaches have an amount in mind that they would feel right about charging clients.  This amount is usually based on the coach's perception of how good/effective they are, given the results of their clients-to-date.  If the coach charges too much, I've found that they lose clients -- not just because they may outprice themselves from their market, but because the coach doesn't feel right about the higher price.

4.  Have a "rack rate" and discount as much as you would like from this rate.
Set a fee like $250 or $500 a month and quote that as your fee.  And, adjust it downward for folks who cannot afford it who you really want to coach.  It's FINE to have clients paying different price points.  Works for hotels and airlines just fine.

5.  If in doubt about how much to charge, ask the potential client to set the fee for the first 90 days.
When you're first starting out, you want to make it as easy as possible for people to start working with you.  If you're not sure how much to charge,  Or, if you're not sure about charging at all, ask the potential client something like this:
"Given your goals, what's should the monthly coaching fee that's going to be a win-win for both of us?"
"You have a lot of stuff to work on.  What's the monthly coaching fee that will get your attention so you'll take our work together seriously?"

6.  At some point, you'll feel good enough about your coaching to charge as much as the market will bear.
When you've got a track record or a waiting list, you'll start raising fees pretty easily.  You won't really have a choice.  And by that time, you'll probably be working with clients who can afford a healthier fee, so it won't be a hardship for them.

7.  Some coaches will never be able to charge a fee for what they do.
Why is this? Sometimes, it's because they don't feel right about charging for their gift.  Sometimes, it's because they don't want the pressure to perform-for-pay so making it free keep coaching fun and easy for them.  Sometimes, it's because their marketplace really does NOT have any money for coaching.  Others do coaching as a hobby, not as a professional service.  It's FINE to not charge for coaching.

And...Specific Examples of reasons why coaches think "I can't charge for this."  In response to this lesson, 25 CoachVille members sent in their comments and questions.  Here are just a few of them:

Al Owens

My work is with candidates in career transition as a consultant with a high-quality career management group in Dallas.
They pay me well for my services--a lot of time is one on one coaching--but it's the company that picks up the tab. The candidate receiving my skills pays nothing.
So it's hard to ask individuals to pay similar, or even lower, rates for my time.
How can they afford what big corporations pay? I want to work with them. Can I afford to? The individuals who seek my services really want and need them. More than many of the corporate candidates who don't use me fully, although my services are paid for.

Why not have 2-3 rates, even with a substantial difference between them (like 100-200%?  Most coaches do.  The only real question is "Do I want to coach this person or not?"  If yes, then work the money out and get to work.

Your later sessions on costing and rates should be helpful. The on-line material you've designed is great.

Heidi Costas

I think what trips me up is too much eagerness. 
In the past three weeks I talked to 5 potential clients and got hired by none. Here's what I do: I want them to have an experience of being coached so they get a feeling of what they would be paying for. Then, I get enmeshed in their process and ""forget"" to mention that I'm available to do this for a monthly fee of so and so ... It is so much fun to watch how they resolve something that they've been struggling with within 10 minutes. I don't know how to pull myself out of that and get back to business. I'm missing the language on how to move to the money part elegantly. I've tried to come up with a plan, points that I want to cover in any conversation with a prospect, but then I get so eager to do the coaching that I forget all about it.

Now, my coach tells me that I've planted a seed, etc. But, I know that I missed a perfect opportunity.

You are correct.  You opened a window and somehow the window is getting shut before they hand you their credit card.

It's OK to make it all about the client, but not so much as to knock myself out of the picture entirely. The only clients I have are the ones who practically closed the deal themselves. 

Hehe.  Love that line.  My best guess is that you're trying to prove that you're good instead of standing back and getting them to think bigger.  A possibility isn't being created, I'm guessing.  Rather, you're trying to do 6 months worth of coaching in 30 minutes.  Spend your time getting them to open up to what they most want and keep them hanging there.  Ask questions that get them thinking bigger, not questions that solve their problem immediately.  I'm not being manipulative here, but you want the person to see you as part of the solution/strategy to get from A to Z.

I think you're trying to hard, and thus doing most of the work.  This happens with 'eager' coaches who believe in coaching 'too much.'  Better to believe in people than believe in coaching.  (Cryptic, sorry.)


Patt Osborne   

I'm a  [name of coaching school deleted] student (since 11/00) who has just left my teaching career of 25 years to try my hand at coaching. I've done the pro-bono thing with a few clients to get some practice and I'm working on marketing now to get some paying clients. But being the brand spanking new coach that I am, I'm REAL uncomfortable with the charging business. Because of my teaching experience, I believe a natural segue would be to offer laser-coaching sessions to my former students. I could be the one they'd talk to a couple times each week for 10-15 minutes a pop to get them on track with upcoming assignments, goals they want to reach, maybe some conflict resolution stuff, etc. But because I'm new at this coaching thing, I feel some real insecurities at charging their parents. I'm thinking maybe I need to do some pro-bono work with these students for a few months to get some more practice yet on the other hand, because I'm bringing 25 years of teaching experience, I feel that I could be valuable to them as a coach. (And, I do want to make a little $.) Yikes! I'm truly conflicted here!

So, what do you say to a new coach that has not worked with a paying
client yet? When is the time to start charging? (Yeah, yeah, I know there are no rules here...)

Here's what **I** would do if I was I in your shoes.  Again, just my approach.

1. Decide that you want to have coached 100 people within a year, paying or not.  This many folks will give you both experience and confidence because you WILL see a couple of miracles in that 100 folks.  That'll light you up.  That'll get you feeling better about charging.

2. Make a list of the 25 ways you can help students.  Ask each student (via their parents) to set the monthly fee for 90 days of support.  Don't accept zero.  It's got to be at least a buck.  "Force" the student and their parents to figure out what THEY feel this service/support is worth.

3. One of the side benefits of this approach is that along about client #30, you're going to get really ticked off at how folks are taking advantage of you because the kid's grades went from D to B+ thanks to you and all you earned was $100.  At some point, you just flip over and charge what makes YOU feel good.  And, it ain't a hundred bucks.


I believe that I cannot ask for my $400 rate per month because most people have been saying no to it. I am embarrassed or feel like I am  cheapening myself if I say “ok, I will charge less.”

Also, I cannot charge $400 a month because I have not been able to find people to pay me that much so there probably are not people out there who pay that much for coaching. Or, they can pay other people this rate, but not me.

The last sentence tells the real story.  Based on how someone communicates, potential clients decide how much they are willing to pay that coach.  Why not find out why people are saying no to you?  Make it your mission to learn the 10 REAL reasons they are saying no.  Press them (nicely) to be cruelly honest with you.  You'll learn a lot.  Have Kleenex handy.  You'll need it.  But you'll learn from it and that will give you the blueprint for the new you.

Jeff Bow

My situation is that I am a new coach just getting started in the field.  Although my previous job was similar to coaching the title was different. I  have the experience but with my own practice I am having trouble setting the  proper fee. If I charge too much, clients might think I'm over priced (Market  price). If I charge too little they may think that I am not good. So I end  up giving some service for free so that they see the value in what I can do for them. I would appreciate your advice.

When I faced this quandary, here's what I did.  When someone asked me what I charged, I said:
"Oh, my clients set their own fees.  That's entirely up to them.  They know best how much the service is worth to them.  How could I possibly know that myself?"

Tongue in cheek perhaps, and you do want to coach your clients to pay a decent fee, but this approach totally reduces YOUR resistance to the situation, and gets the prospective client to have a very honest conversation about their life/priorities with you cuz money is no long this hovering black cloud.

Eventually, you'll set a rack rate, but if/when in this temporary quandary, consider the approach above.


copyright 2002 by  written by thomas j. leonard.  all rights reserved. distribution welcome when attribution is intact.

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