Why clients don’t really want to buy your time

Despite what many coaches may believe — despite what you may believe — coaching clients aren’t buying time. Yes, your sessions are timed. And in them, you spend a slice of your time with the client. But they’re not buying your time.

If it was your time they wanted, they’d happily pay your hourly rate to play Scrabble. Don’t get your hopes up, they’re not going to do that. So, what are they paying for? Well, obviously, they’re paying for what happens during the time you give them. They’re paying for outcomes… results. But maybe it’s not so “obvious” after all, because most coaches still market themselves as if they’re selling a chunk of time, a slot in the diary. Which means they’re selling something the clients don’t want to buy. Instead of something they really, really do want.

The good news is that fixing this doesn’t mean changing what you do, only how you market and sell it.

Simon Batchelar Marketing Mentor

Time is money… isn’t it?

Coaches tend to structure their work in blocks of time and charge for it that way too. After all, it’s a logical and straightforward way to divide up your day and your delivery.

The issue is that when you present yourself like this, this is how potential clients will compare you to other coaches, and to other services that they are using: based on your hourly rate.

Let’s say a shop worker earns £10 per hour, a mechanic £75 per hour, and a solicitor £300. The comparison the client is making is, where do you fit on that scale… and are you worth it?

If you want a different basis of comparison, you need to change your proposition.

Stop selling time. Start selling results.

The common coaching price model creates a mismatch: you’re selling blocks of time, the client is buying the outcomes of what the two of you do together in those blocks of time.

By charging by the hour or session, you’re decoupling the price of your services from the outcome – the value – of what you deliver.

Far better to decouple your time from the service you’re offering. Why? Two reasons:

1)      Their purchase decision isn’t focused on your time anyway, and

2)      You can find ways to deliver more efficiently, spending less of your time to deliver the same outcomes and value, for the same price.

 “Approach each customer with the idea of helping him or her to solve a problem or achieve a goal, not of selling a product or service.” – Brian Tracy

Working with a client, you’re following a process, a model, a series of steps. It may be a widely-used process, it may be your own unique invention. Instead of hours spent in each other’s company, your marketing needs to focus on the value the client receives during that process, and the positive outcomes they gain at the end of it. Show them that working through the process is how they’ll achieve their outcomes, and then set a price for the whole process.

This way, you’re not selling sessions or blocks of time in a diary, you’re selling positive, potentially life-changing outcomes – fulfilled goals!

(Just for second, treat yourself to a daydream: Imagine someone asks your client what they’re doing at 3pm on Thursday and instead of saying, I’m seeing my coach for an hour, they say, I’m working on getting that promotion/launching my new business/improving my relationship with my mother… How fantastic would that be?)

And once you’re committed to selling value instead of time, ways to make your offer more attractive and stand out will start occurring to you. The question becomes, how can you add even more value to your offer?

Maybe there’s a book you like to recommend to clients? Include it in the package. Do you have templates, worksheets or exercises that you use? Include them in the package. Not only does this add value, it’s also reassuring to the client that there is a solid supporting structure to what you’re offering.

You’re building an offer that includes everything the client wants and needs. That’s something people are prepared to pay for and you need to set a price that reflects the value they receive, and not the time they spend with you. Don’t simply multiply a rate by the number of sessions. Look again at your offer and ask yourself, how much would someone pay for this outcome; and, what would you feel comfortable charging for this outcome?

To return to the comparisons clients make… When people see you as delivering an outcome and a process that delivers value, you are separating yourself from others in the market. It’s likely that in your niche, you will be the only one or one of a very few talking in terms of outcomes. Not only is that attractive, it’s also more difficult to compare (like to like) with the competition’s hourly rates. Being different is good.

Simon Batchelar Marketing Mentor

But… I already have clients paying by the hour, how do I change?

You can present your new outcome-focused offer to them or, if you think it’s simpler for you and them to continue with the same ‘deal’, do so. There’s no need to disrupt everything.

Make your new offer to new clients. As the existing clients finish their work with you, more new clients will join your new package. And if existing or past clients want to renew, refresh or extend your work together, make the new offer then.

Clients don’t want your time, they want an outcome.

Your clients aren’t as interested in the amount of time they spend with you as they are in the results they get from that time.

They don’t want to pay to play Scrabble with you, but they are prepared to pay for a valuable outcome.

Stand out from other coaching offers by creating a package that delivers both added-value outcomes. Use your clear process or model of working together to show exactly how you’ll get the client to the promised outcome. And price the whole package based on the value it delivers.

For coaches who want to grow their business, we’re launching a community called Better Bolder Braver. We’ll also be delivering marketing training and support that empowers coaches to attract Better clients, build a Bolder offer and be Braver with prices, planning and purpose.

If you want to be the first to know when we launch, join the list.

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