By Julie Wolk
Do you cringe and shake your head at even the thought of raising your rates? And yet you secretly wish you could do it? But then don’t feel like you can? Or should? And so you give up on it, or keep postponing it ’til “later?”
You are not alone. So let’s talk about it.
Pricing is a complex subject, and one that we could tackle from many angles, but today I’ll focus on how communicating the true value and results of your work is one of the best ways I know to raise your rates and feel GOOD about it.
But before I dive in, let’s talk about the elephant in the room.
There’s a good chance (especially if you’re a woman) that you at least sometimes doubt the value of your work. You may even feel like an imposter:
“Who am I to charge this kind of money?! There are so many people who are better than me at this.”
You may find reasons even after you’re already earning good money, for why you’re work still isn’t that valuable:
“Oh, they would have done that on their own, they’re so awesome, it wasn’t me, I just encouraged them a bit.”
I’m calling bull*%#@.
Now let’s be clear . . . I am NOT a fan of that whole “charge what you’re worth” thing. I don’t think we should even joke about putting a dollar amount on our self-worth (ugh, how damaging).
But, we do need to charge people for what our services are worth, and more specifically, we need to charge for the results we provide to our clients.
And I have a feeling you are providing some amazing results. Yes?
Now, if you are just starting out, and you truly don’t have a lot of experience, I am NOT saying to start charging “premium prices” right off the bat. You need to do this with integrity, and charging less when you’re just starting off in order to gain experience and testimonials is A-OK.
But let’s say you’ve been at this for a while, and frankly, the clients you have (even if they’re not as many as you want) LOVE the results they’re getting.
But you’re not charging enough, and you know it. Or people have even told you you’re not charging enough, but you’re still scared to pull the trigger.
Ok, so here’s my advice:
Stop Selling Your Time (and Your Modalities) . . . and Start Selling Results
It’s typical for a coach, consultant or healer to charge by the hour for their specific modality or area of expertise (coaching, massage, leadership training, etc).
But there’s an inherent problem with this: you can only charge so much for an hour of work, and there’s only so many hours in a day.
But even more important than that, how much transformation can you actually create in an hour?
Here’s the thing: Along with their full participation, you’re creating change for your clients through your work. It’s not about how much time they spend with you, it’s about the results that happen through your work together.
I heard somebody say once that she was charging by the “a-ha,” not by the hour. Love that.
Everyone comes to you with some desire to change something, am I right?
You help them change it in the process of working with them. Right? And usually, it happens over the course of some time, not in one session. Right? (Not that you can’t do great stuff in a session, but longer-term challenges usually require longer-term solutions).
So when you can clarify your target audience’s problem and the specific results that they can expect when working with you, potential clients are way more likely to dive in and work with you.
Because they did not come to you for your time, they came to you to help them change something in their life.
But the problem is that you’re probably not communicating all that well about how you’re going to help them make that change, and thus you end up feeling timid about charging a higher rate for your work.
BIG TIP #1: Talk About Results
In your marketing copy and in your sales conversations, speak FIRST about your work in terms of the transformations, results, or benefits that people get from your work. Talk less(or later) about how you do things (all your 10 different modalities or whatever), or how many minutes you do them for, and instead address their problems, and speak to how you help them solve them.
For example, you don’t go to a career coach to be deeply heard and held in a safe spacefor 50 minutes (although that is lovely stuff, and you may let them know about that lateron in your marketing copy), you go there to figure out what you want to do with your life.
And, I don’t go to acupuncture to get needles and moxa for 75 minutes, I go there to heal my shoulder pain – it honestly doesn’t matter to me whether he uses moxa or not (what the heck is moxa anyways?). And frankly, I’d be psyched if it took less than 75 minutes!
So especially if your current marketing copy is oriented around your modalities or HOW you deliver your work (“I offer 60 and 90 minute sessions of coaching or consulting”),when you start to orient around results and transformation (“I help you find a new career!”), people can finally see what your work is really worth to them . . . they can see the VALUE (finally!). And they will pay for it if it’s what they need.
BIG TIP #2: Package Up Your Work and Take Them on a Journey of Change
Since it’s pretty hard to get the aforementioned results in one session, package up your work into a program specifically designed to help your target audience solve a specific problem they come to you for.
And when I say package, I’m not talking about 10 sessions for the price of 8.
I’m talking about designing a robust offering with a set price that includes:
- A certain amount of sessions over a fixed amount of time, perhaps including an extended/in-depth introductory session,
- Your availability in between via email or text,
- Additional guides, trainings, or resources to help them on their journey,
- And any number of extras that will help them achieve the result they came to you for.
This type of package costs more than the individual sessions, because it provides better results. You are taking them on a journey of change.
When you package up your work into a program that focuses on getting a particular result for a client, you can raise your prices and feel good about it. Why?
Bottom line, you will get more and better results for your clients.
As you know, real change takes time. Imagine having three or six months to work your magic. You think you would feel more confident about getting results for people? You think you would get more done? Plus, packages support you to offer your best because they allow you to relax into your craft, instead of worrying that each session be a total revolution for your client (so much pressure!).
Not to mention all the other benefits of offering packages including the fact that you have to do less marketing because you need way fewer clients to make a good living.
How To Set Your Initial Fee
Ok, so let’s say you’ve got this shiny new package now (and if you don’t already have one, you can start super simply, just as I outlined above).
And, you may be afraid to put a big price tag on it. I hear you. It’s very important to be able to get the words out of your mouth without choking when you’re talking to a potential client.
It has to feel good in your gut.
So we’ll do a gut check.
But first . . . find the number that equals the cost of the sessions you are offering added together (based on your current rate), plus about 20-25%. So if you usually charge $125/session, and your package is 8 sessions over two months, your minimum charge for the package would be $1200.
Now for the gut check. You can do this as a guided visualization:
Imagine someone handing you a check for the package they are about to begin with you. There’s a number written on that check . . . what is it? Does that number resonate with you? How does it feel as you accept the check? If it feels right, great! But see if you can make the number a little higher and still feel good. Visualize another $100 or $500 added to that number. If it feels uncomfortable, try to notice whether it’s a good edge . . . bold, but right-on, or if it truly feels too high for where you’re currently at in your business journey. Do you need to lower it a bit? Add a little more? Breathe into each number you try until you find the one that feels just right (kind of like Goldilocks). What’s your number?
A Fun and Organic Way to Raise Your Fee
If you know me at all, you know that I am all about an evolutionary, natural approach to business.
We are constantly learning, adapting, growing, changing, and putting something new out there and going ‘round the cycle again. Business (and life) is not linear!
But most of us have gotten stuck at least once because we think that if we decide that something is a particular way, then it’s that way forever.
The reality is that there’s always room for evolution and change. Nothing’s permanent.
You can change your price every single time you offer your package if you want. Really?!
Yes, really. That’s what I did when I first started my business, I swear.
Here’s what you do:
- Do another gut check. Dream into the price you ultimately would LOVE to receive for your package, even if it’s a ways off until you believe you can actually charge that much. Let’s call it $1800.
- Settle on your first price (using the method above). Let’s call it $1200.
- On your next consultation call, offer your new package at $1200 (remember, this is a number that feels good in your gut NOW so it should not get stuck in your throat).
- As soon as you get a new client at the initial rate, commit to raising your rate a little bit. Maybe it’s $100 more for the next client. It gets easier after someone says YES, trust me.
- Or, depending on how much experience you have, you may also decide to do three (or whatever number) packages at the $1200 rate, and then up your price by $100.
- Eventually, you’ll get to $1800, and it will feel awesome.
- And of course, you can always offer payment plans.
It’s that simple.
It might take a year to get there, but you’ll slowly get more and more comfortable asking for a higher rate . . .
- As people say YES to your package,
- As you work with more people and gain experience and get better at what you do,
- When you’ve tweaked your package and added more cool stuff to make it even more effective,
- As you witness the results that more and more of your clients are getting,
- And as they write the testimonials to prove it.
You can do this. Start small and go for it.
Just remember, your expertise at helping people solve their problems is VALUABLE.
Julie Wolk is a business coach who helps hard-working consultants, coaches and healers slow down and build super-streamlined, burnout-free businesses by modelling them after the way nature works. For 15 years she’s guided talented visionaries to manifest the success and impact they desire. People love her down-to-earth approach and that she takes into account the uniqueness of each person she works with. juliewolkcoaching.com