Simple pricing strategies for consulting, coaching and other expert service providers can feel like an impossible goal. For professionals, what to charge might just be the most stressful decision you ever have to make, especially if you’re new to business. There are a lot of moving parts to consider to get to that magic number.
You’ve got the competition to consider, your own skill set, the price you place on your own value for your expertise, the perceived value of what you do and deliver, what your market will pay, your location, and a host of other variables. Working it out can feel like puzzle you can’t easily solve.
If you offer consulting or coaching rather than courses, it’s still really neat to work out how many people, how often and how much you need to charge to achieve the revenue you want. These will quite quickly tell you what you need to be charging to reach your annual income goals, so it’s a great place to start.
But what about all those other questions?
In this article, and podcast episode, I’ll be taking you through some simple pricing strategies for consulting and coaching or other expert services to determine your fees, the real way to sell high-priced programs and services, why you should never discount and what to do instead, and when to raise your prices and when not to.
And then finally, I’ll share how to how to stop undercharging and overdelivering in your consulting or coaching services. If you want to discuss your fees like a pro so you can feel confident and proud about charging what you’re worth, make sure you listen to the end.
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072 Simple Authentic Pricing Strategies for Professional Service Providers to Determine Your Fees
Easy Pricing Strategies to Determine What to Charge
Creating a solid pricing structure requires you to do a little bit of research and soul searching. So with your starting number in mind, take a look at:
This might take a little detective work, since a lot of consultants, coaches and service providers don’t publish rates. Many like me only charge for delivering a project or program with a tangible output or outcomes. But if you pay attention to their websites and social media, ask a few discreet questions, and get on their mailing list, you can figure it out.
Be realistic about who, exactly, your competition is, though. Don’t undervalue or over-sell yourself. In other words, make sure you’re comparing yourself to another provider who shares the same skills, market, and track record, rather than simply looking at who you strive to become.
In some fields, this is easy. There are certifications and educational programs that allow you—by virtue of having achieved them—to charge a certain rate. If you’ve followed this path, then pricing will be easy for you. If not, take a solid look at what you can legitimately claim as a skill.
Look, too, at your track record. Have you proven yourself by helping clients (and do you have the testimonials and case studies to show for it)? After working with you, do you get repeat business or have your former clients referred others to you? That’s great proof that you’re super awesome! These are all reasons to maybe consider a higher price range than you might have first thought.
Generally speaking, for a 12-week program with weekly content, assignments, Q&A delivered on a group basis, you can expect to see prices around $1-2k mark, or even up to $5 or $10k depending on the level of expertise and individual support.
For instance, my Leveraged Business Accelerator 90-day group programme is £1997 total ($2497) including monthly 1:1 support and coaching. My 1:1 individual weekly coaching premium option is £997 a month.
In the game of setting rates, it’s your market that has the final say. As any first year economy student can tell you, the price of anything lies where what the buyer is willing to pay meets what the seller is willing to accept.
If your goal is to give newbies a helping hand and lead them down the path to success, that unfortunately means you can look forward to low paying gigs. That’s not a bad thing—everyone has to begin somewhere—but it does need to be acknowledged.
If, on the other hand, your target market is more established and economically stable, then a higher fee isn’t just warranted — it’s a must. They will expect a higher price, and will not find value in the lowest-cost provider of anything, whether it’s coffee beans or business coaching.
don’t forget that pricing is never set in stone. It’s flexible. If you find you’re attracting the wrong market (or no market at all) you can always change your rates. Working too hard for not enough return? Raise your rates.
A while back, I decided to pull back on offering a group programme, because I actually really enjoy doing the 1:1 work. But there’s a limit to how many clients I can take on, especially as I’m also coaching and training on a year-long acceleration programme in partnership with Mirasee. That’s why, now I only take a handful of 1:1 clients through my 90-day programme at any given time.
Because I put my heart, soul and intellectual time into helping those businesses grow, and need to be really selective about who gets a spot. And I need to charge what I’m worth for the results I help people achieve.
It’s your business. You get to call the shots.
No More ROI: The Real Way to Sell High-Priced Packages
Want to know what keeps a lot of consultants, coaches and service providers from charging what they’re really worth?
It’s that all-too-common belief that “I’m not sure I’m as good as that” or I sometime hear “I am not a sales person.” Combine that with a healthy dose of “It’s rude to discuss money,” and you can see why it’s just easier to keep your rates low. Money mindset, ah yes…
But strategically, there’s a lot you can do to leverage your expertise in a tangible way. If you’re willing to think of your services from a different angle.
When I do this exercise with my clients, not only do they see things in a clearer light, but selling suddenly won’t feel so…salesy.
You see, these are things that are currently in your blindspots, and they’re holding you back from seeing and charging for what is your true value.
Here’s how traditional pricing discussions go:
You talk to a potential client, and you explain what you can offer, how your service or programme works, what they can expect (how many calls/emails, phases of work, length of contract, no.days), etc. And then you say, “My rate or fee is $XXX.00.”
Your client either says yes, no or (another answer that’s pretty much the kiss of death), which is maybe or let me think about it or ok, I’ll get back to you on that.
Let’s turn it around. Rather than focus on what they will GET from you in terms of input: time, days or effort, take a look at what they will achieve in terms of output or better still outcomes, that is benefits, gains, and impact. Some of it is short-term and some is longer term.
For a business coach, this is easy. Money talks – you have your ROI – return on investment. So you can share how much more profit your client will make after your work together? If your coaching fee is $1,000 per month (and I’m rounding up the pricing here), but you can show them how to increase sales by $3,000 per month, then your price is “worth it”, right?
If you can promise they’ll earn it back three times over, not only while you’re actively working with them, but for the rest of the business life, it’s a logical decision. The questions you then have to address are: can you deliver, and what happens if you don’t?
What you’re doing here is not talking about the cost of your consulting or coaching services, but rather the cost of them not hiring you. Because if they don’t work with you, they’re losing the opportunity to increase revenue by $3,000 per month.
What about other kinds of coaches or service providers though? The same applies. Rather than price yourself as a commodity, find a way to show your clients the cost of their inaction.
If you’re a therapist or life coach, inaction (to your potential client) might mean years of feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. Imagine what it might be “worth” to your client to lift that depressing burden forever?
If you can turn that misery around for someone, therein comes the saying ‘you can’t put a price on that’ or achieving that was ‘priceless’.
The same goes for health and wellness coaches or holistic therapists. What’s it “worth” if you can to add 10 years to the life of an unhealthy, overweight man? What about quality of life if you’re no longer stressed or in chronic pain. People would gladly pay a tonne of money for that result.
What about dating coaches? For someone who’s been unlucky in love, in and out of one bad relationship after another, fears years of living a lonely life, the promise of a man (or woman) who will love and cherish them and someone to share their life with, that’s worth nearly any price.
You just have to paint the picture.
What will life/business/love look like without your programme or service, and what can it look like with you? Once they see the difference and the possibilities, pricing becomes nearly irrelevant.
So, once you can do that, in reality, the question becomes less about whether it’s value for money and ‘worth’ what they have to pay, and more about ‘trust’ ‘that you can deliver and/or ‘belief’ that your program or service will work for them (when everything else they’re tried hasn’t). This can be applicable whether it’s B2C or B2B!
In your sales narrative, you need to walk them through the thinking process: the need, the pain, the urgency, the cost of inaction, the dream. Show them how you help people in their same situation, share some social proof in examples and testimonials.
Put another way: why this, why now, why you.
Got it, good, sold!
Never Discount: How You Won’t Need to Lower Your Rates for Anyone
It’s happened to every consultant, coach and service provider at one time or another—probably more than once. You offer a proposal or contract, only to have your potential client respond with, “That sounds great, but I can’t afford it.”
What do you do?
For a lot of business owners, their first response is to offer a discount. You create the whole rationale so it feels reasonable … you argue well, they’re such a great fit, and really do need my help. Plus, maybe you think it’s good karma, and they’ll rave about you to other potential clients, and refer business to you later.
Maybe, but more likely than not, what you end up with is a client who takes far too much of your time, for less money than you deserve. You wind up resentful, and wondering why you aren’t earning the income you know you’re capable of.
Well it stops right here!
I want you to make a promise to yourself right now that you will never again lower your fees to appeal to a client. Because doing so devalues your expertise, it’s cheapening the value of your services, and makes the client less likely to follow through. And worse, makes you feel terrible later.
And on the basis of that promise – I want you to send me an email and in it you’ll write: I promise to never discount, never lower my fees, because I’m worth what I charge. I’ll say it again and then give you my personal email to send this statement of intent to…
I promise to never discount, never lower my fees, because I’m worth what I charge.
Send me an email, directly to email@example.com and I promise I’ll answer you, personally.
Now, I’m not saying you can never offer special deals. But I do want you to change how those offers are made. Here’s how it works.
Say your consulting service or coaching package includes:
- 1 x 6-week online course training
- 1 x 45-minute 1:1 call per month
- 1 email check-in per week
- 1 in-person meeting per quarter
- and 1 mastermind retreat per year.
And your potential client claims to not be able to afford your asking price of $1,000 per month, rather than offering to reduce the price, you offer to reduce the package in order to reduce the price.
So, the offer you make to this prospect now includes everything except the mastermind retreat. Or everything except the in-person meeting every quarter.
Ask what they most value and keep that in, assuming you can still deliver on the promise, even if perhaps it’s not as deeply embedded as with the full package, or takes them longer to implement internally without that additional element.
You have not lowered your fees so far that you feel used, but at the same time, you’ve worked with them to create a plan that’s within their budget. It’s a great win-win for both of you.
The same technique can be used for any type of service provider, unless you’re charging strictly by the hour. If that’s the case, take a look at how you can reduce the number of hours you need to invest in a project while still providing value.
For example, rather than offering 4 one-hour calls, change your plan to just two calls, with email follow-ups. The client will still get plenty of value, and you’ll free up some time by inviting email questions rather than blocks of time on the phone or zoom meetings.
Next time you’re asked to reduce your price for anything, take a close look at how you can also reduce the work you’ll be doing. That way you’ll never feel as if you’ve been taken advantage of, and your clients will feel they got a good deal.
Stop! Before You Raise Your Fees…Do This
In every service provider’s life, there comes a time when you simply have to raise your rates – or fees if you charge on a project or retainer basis. Maybe you’ve been in business for years without a pay increase. Maybe your skills have recently improved through a new training course or certification.
Perhaps you’re just more experienced now, which often means you can do the work better and faster, so actually you’re working smarter for the same fee. Or maybe you just want to attract a higher caliber of client.
Whatever the reason, it pays to have a plan in place before you make your big announcement. Here’s where to start.
First, take a look at your current clients. Will you raise their rates as well? If the answer is no, then you have to consider if keeping them will be worth your time, or if you’ll feel resentful at the amount of (lower paid) time you are spending with them. Resentment can build up, so be wary of this. It’s better to raise their rates than provide substandard services due to hidden anger.
If the answer is yes, then you have to prepare yourself for potential fallout. Simply put, there are some clients (you likely know who they are) who will balk at a price hike. They’ll threaten to leave. They may actually leave. Are you prepared for the hit your wallet will take should that happen?
Next, consider when your rate increase will go into effect. This might be different for each client, depending on when/how they’re paying you. A client who is on an annual plan might not see an increase for 8 months or more, while a monthly client might be shocked to find their rate is going up in a week’s time.
If you can, give you clients at least 30 days’ notice of the increase, so they can not only budget a higher expense, but shop around for a new consultant, coach or service provider if they choose to. Clients often have a lot of respect for you when you do that. And it shows you have their best interest at heart.
One thing that’s really important is to play back to your clients what they’ve received and what they’ve achieved in your work together over the period so far. If you can bring in a value for money assessment, so much the better.
Put it in words that were part of the original conversation or proposal when they agreed to hire you. And point out what has been delivered in terms of outputs and outcomes, improvements or change.
Finally, if you’re a little flexible and want to gain a few new clients, you might think about creating a last-minute offer. Announce that your rates are going up on [whatever date], then offer to let X number of new clients lock in your current rate, if they sign a contract right now. Or you can offer to continue to give them the old rate if they bring you a new client.
There are lots of ways to use a price increase as an incentive for renewals and referrals. Sure, you’ll still be working at your old rate, but with a few new clients on the roster, your cash flow will definitely improve.
The most important thing to remember about price increases is this: You have to feel good about the rates or fees you charge. If you think your prices are too low, chances are good that they are.
Raising them will not only make you feel better, but it might just let your current and prospective clients know the value of your services as well.
Once you go through this process and raise your prices, trust me, you’ll wonder why you didn’t do it sooner!
Confidence is Clarity: How to Discuss Your Prices Like a Pro
Does the topic of money make your mouth dry and your hands sweat? Do you dread that point in a conversation when someone says, “So what does it cost? Or what do you charge?”
You’re not alone. Most of us have difficulty talking about money, let alone asking for it – especially when it comes to quoting prices for our own work. But if you’re going to be successful in business, you have to get over it.
I talked about this way back in episode 23 – how to use consultative sales to enrol clients with ease and grace – if you want to listen back or you can read the article here.
So, what’s going to help you get more confident transitioning to the offer and talking about the price. Well, here are some tips for authentic pricing strategies for consulting and coaching that have served me really well over the years.
#1 Do Practice.
The first rule for declaring your prices with confidence is simply to practice. Talk to yourself in the mirror or the shower. Tell your dog what your rates are. Stand in front of your mirror and say, “I charge $XXX.00 per hour.”
The more you say your fees out loud (not in your head) the more natural it will be for you. I know it sounds silly, but trust me it really does work wonders.
#2 Do Smile.
Even if you’re on the phone or writing an email, smile when you say your fees. Your tone of voice changes when you smile (as does the “tone” of your typing), and that tone can convey confidence and authority, not to mention professionalism.
#3 Don’t Be Wishy-Washy.
Listen to yourself as you speak to potential clients. Do you say things like, “Well, normally I charge…” or “Actually, my rates are…” or “Do you think that $XX.00 will work for you?”
These (and others like them) are all wishy-washy ways of talking that do not instill confidence in your client, and worse, they make you sound like you don’t believe in yourself or that the price is negotiable.
Rather than squeaking out a timid, “Um, I charge, like $1,000 per month,” straighten your back, smile, and say, “My rate for VIP coaching is $1,000 per month. Where should I send your invoice?” And then…
#4 Say It then Shut Up!
When we’re nervous or feeling intimidated, we tend to talk. We want to fill the silence with something, anything, just to avoid having to sit there uncomfortably and wonder what the other person is thinking.
But guess what? Your prospect is just as uncomfortable talking about money – they may also feel uncomfortable with the silence, and psychologically, the one who speaks first is at a disadvantage. But more likely, they’re silent because they’re processing the price you just confidently told them.
So, best advice when you’re talking price, avoid the urge to fill the silence (especially because you’re most likely to try to justify your pricing) and let your potential client take time to digest the conversation, the price and formulate a response.
Will speaking with confidence always land you a new client?
No, not always. But being able to share your pricing in a clear voice will help potential clients know that you’re confident and believe in what you do. And that goes a whole long way in helping them see that you are the right consultant, coach or partner for them.
Next time you have a proposal follow up or a sales conversation, let me know how it goes … and maybe it’s an area I can coach you. I do hundreds of enrolment calls a year, it’s a consultative conversation. And in many ways too, it’s a coaching conversation.
I’ve helped lots of consultants and coaches close more contracts, so I know I can help you with how you present the offer and the price whether in written form or verbally, or both.
I’m very successful at closing and enrolling clients, not only for my own consulting proposals and coaching programmes, but also for our year-long $20k ACES program (who I partner with as a business strategist/coach).
But closing a sale is always first and foremost about serving not selling – making sure someone makes a decision that is right for them and helping them get out of their own way to take that decision.
Plus, I don’t want someone on the programme who’s not going to be a good fit, or is going to struggle or doesn’t have the motivation and commitment needed to succeed.
Let me know where you’re at with pricing strategies for consulting or coaching, AND/OR your closing success for enrolling people onto your core program or service. I’m pretty sure I can definitely help you with either or both 🙂