Charge more money to get more motivated clients?
A reader asked:
“We often hear that we only commit to things we pay a dear price for. Today a coach tried to sell me a £20k program to work with him 1-o-1, weekly sessions for a year. And he justifies the price with the need to commit: if you pay for a cheap service you won't be so likely to commit to change.
As a healer, I wonder if selling high price packages might actually help my clients stick with my healing programs instead of being distracted by the next thing they find online.
I remember you talked about self-worth and money… but I’m not sure about the relation between money we pay and the client’s commitment.”
This is a great question, and as you study business, you will encounter this kind of advice: charge higher rates so that your clients take the work more seriously.
I’ll turn the question around so you can see how it feels – how would you like it if you knew that I was charging you more, so that you would take my work more seriously?
My experience of charging a lot…
Let me share my own experience, and what I recommend instead....
When I started my business in 2009, I blindly followed the advice of business experts. Therefore, I sold $2,000 group programs. Yes, these were not 1-1, but large group programs that were totally online, for $2,000 per ticket!
Of course, it was very profitable for me, and I justified it by saying: The buyers will take it seriously.
What really happened? Many of the buyers still didn’t take the work seriously, or gave up too quickly and moved onto other shiny programs.
Paying a lot = making progress?
There’s a dangerous dynamic from clients and students that you need to watch out for: “Now that I’ve paid so much, I’ve made progress.”
Yes, they might have a strong commitment which makes them pay a high fee. But then what happens? After the payment, there is the illusion that they’ve gotten something done – or that the program will somehow do the work for them.
Soon, their commitment level decreases, and they’ve made much less progress than the program promised.
Knowing this, a guilty conscience began to form within me: "I’m taking all this money from people, without seeing them really receive the value."
I would have much preferred that they thoroughly used my program, and received more value than they paid.
The right clients will make the effort
What I’ve learned is that people will put in the right effort when they are the right clients, not because you charged more money. An interesting example: some of my most dedicated clients even carefully study and implement my $5 books!
This is why I ask people interested in my priciest program, MasterHeart, to first take at least one of my courses, for us to try each other out.
Over the years I’ve had this requirement, it has proven to be a helpful filtering tool. Those who aren’t a great fit for me, won’t go on to spend thousands of dollars.
The effect of higher fees
When it comes to setting fees, I recommend keeping it simple: charge your fees based on enoughness and compassion.
Of course, higher rates will make people think twice, and take more time to weigh the buying decision. But I’ve also found that higher fees decrease client inquiries.
Try it out for yourself: raise your fees and see whether you get more or fewer clients?
The high-priced coaches need to justify (to themselves and to you) their own super high rates. They say that it’s really for your good that you pay them so much, because now you have “skin in the game”. C’mon now.
You don’t need to emulate their ways.
Motivating your clients
Higher fees will make clients feel continuously bad, if they are not matching their efforts with how much they are paying. Is that really how we wish to motivate our clients? By making them feel bad so that they’ll take action?
Being thoughtful, we will instead look for positive ways to get clients to take action. Here are some top motivational methods. Consider how you can adapt those to working with your own clients.
If you’re not finding enough motivated clients, the issue is not pricing, but marketing. If you do enough authentic marketing, you’ll get enough of the right people.
In fact, the more you show up authentically with your marketing, such as by consistently offering helpful free content, the more trust you build with your audience (and rightfully so!) You’ll then find that the grounded trust (nurtured over time) will translate into a higher commitment to do the work with you if and when it’s time for them to sign up.
You might also think about whether or not it's really your job to motivate your clients, or should it be another coach's job? Maybe your client should be working with you for your expertise, while also having a life coach to keep them accountable for the changes they need to make. Such partnerships can be wonderful.
- Use more honest motivational methods with your clients, or refer them to a life coach for that part of the work.
- Set your fees based on enoughness and compassion.
- Make sure you’re doing authentic marketing consistently. See your marketing as part of your personal development and contribution to the world… not just for getting clients.
I welcome your questions.
(Originally published in July 2019. Updated September 2022.)