Why I don't do Freebie Sessions (and other thoughts on the psychology of pricing)
Someone recently told me the story of a new coach who only wanted clients at $10k or higher. It took him nearly a year to find his first client...but after that he was on his way. I certainly was not that coach. Since 2006 I've done sessions from $20 (more on that later) to $2000 and have settled into what is my current sweet spot. My coaching programs start at $6000 for six months.
Right now I know colleagues who charge between $60 for a session and $60,000 (or more) for a program. Pricing our services is super important, super related to how we value ourselves and our work, and also an exercise in old school economics. We can charge what the market will bear.
So what prompted this post?
Last week I had a 45' call with someone about my coaching.
**P.S. My intention with this post is to show some pricing, worth, and sales frameworks up close and personal. I am not in any way criticizing this woman's behavior.**
A former client raved about me and so a prospective client called me in addition to vetting some other coaches.
I used my process of consultative sales with her (it's more about facilitating a decision than placing my services as a solution. more on this later). This savvy young woman self-identified as my ideal client (I always talk about my ideal client's psychographics so that they get an idea of fit).
Two interesting things happened on the call:
1. Even tho she had a fab recommendation and ticked off the list of qualities around being my ideal client, I didn't get a "hell yes" from her. (And that's ok. While I might be tempted to ask what's wrong with me, I know that I'm not a fit for all.)
2. I also broke a rule of my own. I discounted my prices! I told her $750 per month for six months instead of $1000 per month. My fear about her ability to pay (total fear and arrogance on my part) crept up and told me to lower my prices a tad. It felt icky for me and perhaps she picked up on that devaluing.
Regardless, we had a nice chat. I thought, "Hmm, that didn't feel like a done deal and I know I'll follow up with her next week- in fact we made a plan to- and ultimately ball is in her court." Fortunately, I get to have such conversations from a place of abundance. If she picks me, great. If not, I have plenty of work right now. Ultimately, I'm not even sure I have bandwidth til end of September. (Tho nothing wrong with a wait list!).
This girl is savvy and comes from a sales background, so for me I had no reason to hard sell her and convert on the phone. (Plus that's never my MO.)
I followed up a week later using Mailvu.com. (it allows you to send custom video messages. It's still in early stages but people LOVE it for followup. I'm obsessed.)
In my mailvu video, I reiterated what she was looking to accomplish and asserted that I could help her with those things and that I'd love to hear from her about her decision-making process.
I got a nice response- no surprise she loved the video- and then something interesting happened: she said that other coaches she spoke to were giving her freebies and could I give her one so she could see what it's like to coach with me?
I took some time to think about how to respond because again it's not about just closing every piece of business. It's about coming from a place of wholeness, service and non-attachment (for me anyway- when I'm on my A-game).
Here's my response (and I did tell her thanks for asking the question and that I'd make it into a blog post):
When I was new in my practice I definitely did freebies to generate new business. I gave away 30 minute freebies that ended up being an hour. I loved doing freebies but I found that giving away my milk to unqualified prospects was not great for me, my time, or for encouraging prospective clients to make a positive decision to invest in themselves.
The result? I created a TON of friends. People who wanted my advice/coaching/contacts/encouragement/experience/mentorship but didn't want to pay for it because we set up that gratis structure from the beginning.
So, I no longer do freebies (unless I'm doing it for fun/as a personal challenge).
These days I do offer pro bono coaching to people with demonstrated need, and I still ask them to pay for it (nominal amounts).
Here's why: whether I'm coaching a "pro bono" client for $20 or a public figure for $2000 a session, I need them to be invested. It's got to hurt just the tiniest bit. I show up to my personal trainer and eat better because I'm paying dearly for it whereas I bagged out on large group fitness classes bc they're less expensive and there's less 1:1 accountability.
Earlier this year I also decided to dispense with "one-off" sessions. My coaching goodies are only available to those who commit to a six month course of action with me because that's what I've seen work the best. Whenever I've said yes to "pay per session" clients, they haven't been consistent, haven't achieved their goals, and do the slow fade out.
Now, only clients who've done the 6 months can go on a "pay per sesh" maintenance program.
I want my clients to experience the ultimate in achievement, satisfaction, elation, and gratitude upon completion of our work together. After nearly 10 years in the biz, I'm excited that I value my process, my clients and my results enough to say, "This is how I like to do things."
That being said, let me know your reservations and key decision factors. I'm more than happy to put you in touch with several recent clients. I'm also happy to chat through your reservations about working together to see if we are indeed a fit, and answer any other questions/make recommendations about other resources if that's the direction you'd like to go.
My first coach ever spent our entire first "freebie" talking about a diet and supplements. I felt like I was being sold. So I told her so in an email and declined to work with her.
Her response to my feedback was so graceful that it blew my mind. She welcomed the constructive criticism and asked for a do-over. I worked with Heather as my coach for years after that, conducted workshops and retreats with her, and even had her as a boss on a marketing contract for two years where she taught me the ins/outs of copywriting and internet marketing.
All because both of us took a risk before we even started to work together.
I hope that you will read this (incredibly long!) message and see where it sits with you. I'm not in the habit of talking people into working with me. I want it to be a hell yes. If I need to help you over the fence towards the hell yes, let me know.
That was my message to her. I loved having to respond to the "can you give me a freebie" session. And I'm grateful to her for showing me that it is so important to stick to your policies, know your worth, be able to articulate it and make zero apologies about it.
Do you give freebies? Why or why not?