This is a dilemma that almost all new coaches will face sooner or later, and at times it can perplex even the most experienced ones.
There seems to be no way to approach it that can satisfy everybody. If you list your rates on your website, then in some senses you are held to those rates even if you occasionally experience jobs that demand a much higher expenditure of effort from you than the average. If you don't list your rates, then you run into an entirely new set of problems. Clients will approach you automatically on the defensive, with the question of your price in the back of their minds throughout the entire conversation. People with no experience in coaching will waste your time by trying to book sessions at rates that simply do not reflect the reality of the market. So what is one to do?
Of course, there is no one answer that's going to appeal to everybody. Many individuals are trying to reach a compromise by offering one or more free coaching sessions to interested clients, on the premise that once they experience how helpful your skills are, they'll be willing to pay any price. Of course, willing and able are two different things. No matter how impressed with your services a client might be, he or she must still have the funds on hand to pay your bills or else you're just wasting your valuable time.
Your website can be used as a screening tool. Depending on how you go about it, it can screen out those people who will waste your time with unrealistic proposals and allow in those who are perfectly suited to your business. Realise that how you set your prices says a lot about how you are positioned within the market place. If your aim is to attract high income clients for whom money is no object, there of course there's no problem with setting high rates. Just be prepared for a decrease in the volume of clients that you'll handle. On the other hand, if your aim is to target those individuals who are on a tighter budget but could still profit from your services, you're going to need to drop your prices and figure out a way to make up the difference by dealing with a larger number of clients. In this case, always market this aspect of your business: make sure they know that your prices are lower than the competition.
My generalised advice on the matter would be this:
- If you're targeting primarily private coaching clients, then you must realise that the person receiving the coaching is paying for it out of their own pocket. In these instances, price is of paramount importance to them, and you should put it on your website, and be proud of it.
- If you're targeting small corporate or business clients, of course you'll want to charge a different rate for them. If you happen to handle both private and small business clients, make sure that your prices are clearly labeled as to which applies to which aspect of your services. Ideally, you should have a separate website for each aspect: one for your private coaching, and another for your small business.
- For executive coaching clients, it's usually not advisable to put your rates on your website. One reason for this is because generally such expenditures are made by corporations instead of one individual, so price is not so great a concern. Perhaps more importantly though, is that executive coaching jobs can vary widely in how much time and effort they will require from you, and as a result, you're going to need to adjust your prices accordingly on the fly to suit each situation.
As a matter of personal experience, I decided to put my rates on my website after fielding one too many phone calls from people who talked with me for ages before revealing that they were on benefits and could only pay 20GBP per session. I set my minimum rates at 150GBP an hour, plus taxes. Almost immediately, the phones stopped ringing. I was worried that I had ruined myself, and was just getting ready to reverse my thinking on the matter when the phone rang and it turned out to be a client who had been reading my website, knew all about the higher-than-average rates I was charging (for better-than-average service), and was perfectly willing to pay them. In other words, an ideal client.
The key here is to strike a balance between a large volume of potential clients who may or may not be suitable for your practice, and a smaller number of potential clients who almost definitely are. In the end, it's a decision you'll need to make on your own, but hopefully you'll now find yourself much more prepared to make it.