Last week, we at Learning in Action, turned our attention to what we could do to help you fill your unused coaching capacity. (That time when you could be and would want to be coaching, if you had the coachees to fill it.) We are passionate about helping coaches thrive in their chosen profession.
And we believe that both coachees and coaches can languish because of the challenges in finding each other. Marketing, sales and promotion are not necessarily a strong suit for many coaches. And most coachees don’t know the first thing about coaching, coaches, what they are looking for or where to find them.
That’s why we hosted our monthly podinar, Coaching At Capacity: How to Fill Your Calendar with Paid Coaching Time. We invited Chip Carter, Senior Advisor with LeaderJam and the Institute of Coaching, to talk with us about platforms that match coaches to coachees. If you’d like to watch and/or listen to our 90 minute conversation, you can tune in here.
Note: We’re grateful to Chip Carter for providing all the platform information in our podinar, and for verifying the information. This blog is based on that information.
Some of you reading this blog may have no idea what we mean when we talk about Coach Platforms. So here is a brief description that I’ve made up (because this space is so new I haven’t seen it referenced anywhere):
A coach platform is a platform that matches potential coachees (people who want coaching) with coaches.
For purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on three primary types of platforms:
We’ll describe each of these types of platforms below and give examples.
B2B coach platforms match companies who want to offer coaching to their employees with coaches who they’ve invited onto their platform. Examples of B2B platforms include BetterUp, Coaching Right Now, Profitable Leadership, and LeaderJam, which is soon to be launched.
Platforms like these approach companies who want to create a consistent coaching program throughout their company but don’t have or want to invest in the expertise to do it themselves. Or companies who want to democratize coaching as part of their culture, and make it available to a broader cross-section of their employees.
Also, these platforms find coaches with excess coaching capacity who want to be part of their network of coaches. Many of these platforms are looking for coaches at all experience levels who have more coaching time than they can sell themselves. And because the prospective coachees in companies on the platform are at all levels of the organization, these platforms need coaches at all different price points (and therefore levels of experience).
Each platform’s vetting of coaches is unique. For the most part, coaches submit information to these companies about their background, experience, education, certifications, credentials and areas of expertise. The platforms will perform some kind of interview and background check.
As a condition of bringing a coach into their network, the platform might require the coach to follow certain processes or procedures around coaching engagements and/or get some additional education in certain assessments they use frequently (e.g. MBTI, DISC, StrengthsFinder).
President | Learning in Action
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SEPTEMBER PODINAR: COACHING AT CAPACITY
FRI. SEPT. 28, 2018. 7:30-9:00 am PT / 10:30-12:00 noon ET
COACHING AT CAPACITY
with guest Chip Carter, MTS
Senior Advisor at LeaderJam and Institute of Coaching
Join Chip Carter and Alison Whitmire, president of Learning in Action, for discussion and Q&A around how to think about your coaching capacity, how coaches can fill their capacity in a number of ways, how coaches can think about coaching at different price points.
In this presentation, we’ll cover questions like these:
– Should I reduce my rates to get more clients?
– Would I get more clients if I reduced my rate?
– How much time should I be spending on my existing clients versus finding new ones?
– What are all of the options for finding new clients?
– What would optimize my financial and other goals?
– How much coaching per week do I want to do and how can I fill my calendar to my chosen capacity?
Attendees will leave with their own answers to these questions, and more, so they can best coach to their own capacity.
*** Ask your questions when you register or during the live event. We’ll get to as many as we can! ***
ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Chip Carter is a Senior Advisor, Strategy & Expert Network at LeaderJam. His expertise includes coaching, technology, business process, marketing.
ABOUT OUR PODINARS:
Learning in Action’s monthly podinars are moderated by Alison Whitmire, president of Learning in Action.
The intent of our podinars is to support executive coaches:
• To provide the best coaching possible for their clients
• To make a thriving, successful living as professional coaches
ABOUT LEARNING IN ACTION:
We offer individuals, teams, and organizations effective tools and methods for enhancing Emotional Intelligence in relationship, in conflict, in real-time. Serving leadership development professionals and executive coaches worldwide.
– THIS PODINAR WILL BE RECORDED. REGISTRANTS RECEIVE RECORDING and notice of future podinars.
The topic of money is all too often taboo, including among executive coaches. How we price our services can feel like a touchy subject. (And we LOVE touchy subjects!)
We received a lot of positive feedback from our blog post about How to Price Coaching.
Still, perhaps because the topic is largely off-limits, only 22 readers responded to the blog’s anonymous survey. We’re grateful for those who took the time to answer our questions – thank you! And your responses were quite enlightening.
While the results from such a small sample of coaches don’t qualify as statistically valid, we found the answers intriguing and helpful. We hope you do, too.
The majority of respondents identify as executive coaches and work mainly one-on-one with their clients, who are C-suite and senior executives in businesses, large and small. The majority of coaches bundle their services in six and three month packages (41% do six months and 18% three months). Most packages include 360 feedback, one or more assessments and meeting with the client every other week.
As you might imagine, coaches reported quite a range of pricing for their packages, charging anywhere from $6,000 to $20,000 for a six-month package. A sizable minority of coaches charge a monthly retainer versus a package. One respondent reported charging $10,000 per month plus $25,000 if the client also wants an in-depth assessment/360.
The average hourly rate (when calculated out roughly based upon time spent) across all respondents was $334/hour.
While we didn’t get enough responses to know for sure, my sense is that the factors that impact the price a coach can command include:
The majority of coaches (54%) feel adequately paid, while a sizable minority (27%) felt (and IMO probably are) underpaid. Some respondents admitted that they could (and should) probably be charging more.
That’s about it for the results of the survey. And while we didn’t have the number of respondents we would have liked, based upon my experience, the results seem typical. I have many dozens of friends and colleagues who are coaches, and Learning in Action serves hundreds more coaches. And what I’ve been told by my friends, colleagues and coach clients is consistent with these findings.
I have a genuine passion for helping coaches to make a thriving living coaching. (And frankly, I’m still figuring out how best to do that.) In my opinion, for us coaches to make a thriving living coaching, it’s on us to:
And when we do these things and price for the value we are creating, we’ll make a thriving living coaching.
I think many of us are scared to increase our price for fear that we couldn’t “do something” worth that.
So, here is a thought experiment to consider: Identify a price at which you’d make a thriving living coaching, and then reverse engineer the experience you’d have to create for your client to be in fair exchange with that. We’d love to hear what you come up with.
I’ll be talking much more on these and related issues at the next podinar: “UnLearning Coaching: Challenging ‘the Rules’ to do More of What we Love.”
Join me for it and register here.
Which best describes how you identify professionally?
Which best describes your main area of focus?
Which best describes the size of the organizations you most often work with?
Which best describes who you work with most?
Which best describes how you package your initial services? (i.e. for first time clients)
What’s included in your package of services?
What do you typically charge for your package of services?
Answers from our coach respondents varied widely, from a low of $125 per hour, to $30,000 for a package of unspecified services or duration.
The range of comments covered anywhere from $6000 for six months to $20,000 for six months.
One coach priced at $1000 a month for four 55-minute sessions.
Several coaches mentioned that they charge additional fees for assessments they offer.
Two respondents noted that they don’t offer packages.
How and when are payments made?
This question brought perhaps the most variety of responses, with the majority of coaches using their own unique timetable for billing.
The answer with the most coaches responding in the same manner: Four respondents said payments are made twice: at the beginning and the end.
Three respondents said in thirds: at beginning, middle and end.
Nearly all else said once per month, varying when within the month.
Some coaches mentioned invoicing, but most did not specify how payments are made.
One respondent said payment schedules are determined individually with each client.
What is your average hourly rate?
Responses ranged from a low of $150 to a high of $1500 per hour, and all points in between. (Only one respondent reported an hourly rate over $1,000.)
The majority of coaches came in at $250, followed by $300 per hour.The average hourly rate across all respondents was $334.
Would you say that you feel…
Why do you feel this way – in regard to the preceding question?
“It’s what [my state’s] market will bear.”
“Coaching is a passion and I still find getting paid to do something I love to be quite a remarkable thing.”
“I cannot coach full time and earn my living.”
“I vary my rate by the client, both my interest and their budget. I am trying to have a diverse set of clients so I am willing to be flexible to diversify my client base.”
“I’m aware of what other coaches charge, because I have managed a coaching program in a company.”
“Other coaches and consultants seem to charge more and not lose clients over it.”
“[Because of my level of] experience and feeling that I undervalue myself.”
“Some of my clients tell me I under charge — my peers charge more.”
“Probably for the same reasons most of us undervalue ourselves… feeling like an imposter, not good enough, it’s challenging or measure.”
“It’s what I have read is the norm.”
“Feedback from clients is positive. No pushback re: fees.”
“I price my services at a level the folks I work with can afford and use sliding scale depending on the situation.”
“I think the whole coaching practice got priced too high. Are we really worth more than therapists – I think the executive coach range set the price and got carried into other levels of the organization.”
“I’ve been at this rate for a while and I am told I deliver big value. Also, my credentialing and certifications have continued to increase.”
“Fees are all over the map, and quite dependent on the client industry- so I flex to fit.”
“I think it’s time to raise my rates. And I would like to get into more team full day retreat facilitation for a chunk of change rather than just the hourly rate.”
“I really enjoy my clients and also want to make good $$$$.”
“Being in the market of education, this is what they can afford. I could charge more but I wouldn’t have the amount of work. I am working to change this model and educate educators/institutions on the importance of a coaching model for their school(s).”
“I’d like to select both ‘overpaid’ and ‘underpaid.’ Overpaid relative to what I think most C-suite coaches get paid. Underpaid relative to what else I do with my time at [my company]. (e.g., Finalist assessments on CEO searches).”
“I am very experienced and add a lot of value, so it is commensurate for my clients pay a premium for it.”
“My clients are happy and I get referrals.”
What else would you like to share?
“After an initial 3 month contract, I move to monthly upfront payments. These are less than 1/3 of the initial contract but do not include assessments. I feel the hourly rate is equivalent.”
“It is more difficult to gain access to clients who would pay higher rates in the international development world.”
“Coaching in organizations is more time consuming for the coach because there are so many additional meetings, such as chemistry meetings, negotiating the corporate contract, the 3-way meetings with the boss, etc. Coaches should anticipate this in their pricing.”
“Good work on this. Thanks for your efforts and information.”
“Focus on your niche. My niche is taming senior leaders who are perceived as abrasive. I also do facilitation of groups, conflict mediation, and training in cringe moment conversations. It is critical to have several assessment tool credentials such as the EQ Profile, 360 assessments, Myers Briggs etc. The more & varied the coaches arsenal of tools- the broader the opportunities. Multi industry work experience is a plus.”
“The survey is going to be misleading, the forced choice answer is problematic, often I felt I was misleading you.”
“Thank you for leading this discussion.”
“I have definitely tried out a few different package options over my years of coaching, and I also have had my clients for many many years.”
“Thanks for the article. It was great.”
“Even though I’m late, I would love to get the results of the survey!”
The thoughts shared with us were insightful and significant. We’re thankful for all the information gleaned that we now share with our larger readership.
Missed participating in the survey? It’s an ongoing topic. We’d still love to hear your thoughts! Share with us online.
Join the conversation.
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P.P.S. Sometimes we need to break the rules to forge ahead. Learn why it’s important for the success of your coaching business. Register for our July 31st podinar, “Unlearning Coaching: Challenging ‘the Rules’ to Do More of the Coaching We Love.” Did we mention it’s FREE?
I had just moved with my family to Washington, DC, for my husband’s job. Other than my family, I didn’t know a soul in the DC metro area. (OK, well, there was this one guy I’d met at a TEDActive Conference one time, but otherwise, no one.) I was starting from scratch….again.
I’d left a thriving network and strong coaching practice back in Seattle. I was still mourning the loss of my friends, clients and community, when a friend I hadn’t seen in years came to visit. We were on the metro, on our way to the Smithsonian, when she asked me what I was doing now. I don’t remember exactly what I said. It was extemporaneous. It was something like, “I help CEOs and entrepreneurs connect with what gives their lives meaning and purpose and support them in expressing that in their business.”
As I was expanding on that, a man sitting near us said, “Excuse me, I’m sorry for interrupting. But, I overheard what you said you do and… I need that.” He became my first client in DC. He could see himself in how I described what I do.
When I completed my first coaching certification program, I left believing that it wasn’t appropriate to clearly identify my ideal client. I had drank what I call the Coaching Kool-Aid, which goes something like:
“The client has all of their own best answers.” “The coach owns the process, the client owns the content and the outcomes.” “The coach’s subject matter expertise can get in the way of their coaching.” “If you are contributing your expertise, you are not coaching in line with the ICF core competencies.”
(To be clear, I’m not saying this is wrong or bad or inappropriate. I actually buy into a lot of it. It’s just that the way I internalized it, didn’t support the development of my business and didn’t meet what I felt the market was asking for.)
If I subscribed to the Coaching Kool-Aid, then I thought, by the “transitive property of coaching,” it would be inappropriate for me to clearly describe who I work with. I should be able to work with anyone, assuming they are coachable, right?
And that’s the problem. Oh, and I’m not the only one who drank the Coaching Kool-Aid.
For the last several years, I’ve been in the fortunate position to have more coaching opportunities than I can or want to take. So I refer a lot of business to other coaches. Or at least, I try to.
When I meet a coach for the first time, I typically ask, “Who is your ideal client?” Nine times out of 10, I hear something so vague, it could be most anyone. This is the kind of thing I hear:
Because I’m determined to advocate for, and support, other coaches, when a coach provides vague answers regarding their ideal client, I’ll keep digging to see if I can figure out something, anything, that will help me know who to refer to them (versus any of the other hundreds of coaches I know).
I’ll ask, “If I was talking with someone who was your ideal client, what would they say that would tell me I should introduce them to you?” And I get trite, coachy answers like, “They’ll say they are feeling stuck. Or that they are in a transition and want help navigating it. Or want to grow and develop personally and or professionally.” Seriously? How, in any way, does that differentiate you and the uniquely meaningful, transformative, life-changing impact you have in this world? Work with me people! 🙂
For the vast majority of us, coaching is a word of mouth (WOM) business. Meaning, most of our business comes from our contacts, our clients’ contacts, or our friends, family and referral partners’ contacts. And for a WOM business, who you work with and the problem you help them solve IS your calling card.
If you can’t clearly, succinctly, uniquely articulate that, how can you expect to grow your business?
Like a lot of coaches, I don’t like describing what I do as a coach. Especially in the context of an elevator rant. I’ve worked with clients to create their elevator pitch, I’ve read books, even led workshops on creating elevator speeches. And every one I’ve created for myself has felt like sawdust in my mouth. (Clearly something I could use coaching around. ☺). However, I can comfortably, passionately and fluidly talk about my clients. (Not by name, of course.)
I found that when I put my focus clearly on who I coach and why, I can speak about them in ways that feel natural to me and allow others to recognize themselves or others they know in it. When I discovered that, I got clearer and more specific about my ideal clients, why they come to me and what they get from me.
Now, any time I’m asked about what I do, I talk about my ideal clients.
Several years ago, a coaching colleague walked into a room filled with my coaching clients. (I regularly bring my coaching clients and others together for workshops.) Upon entering the room, she started laughing. After I asked her why, she said, “Alison, everyone looks like you!” I looked around the room and at first, I didn’t get it. Then it clicked!
I was attracting a very specific type of client. My clients shared a narrow set of demographics, firmographics and psychographics. (To be clear, I’m not suggesting that you coach clones of yourself.)
When I looked around the room, this is what I saw:
CEO/owners of companies $5-50 million in size, male, age 35-45. They work hard, play hard and are athletically inclined. They’ve reached a high level of success relatively early in life, and what happens from here, is all up to them. They’ve run out of what they know to do, and the road ahead is high stakes and uncertain.
This was a eureka moment for me! This is the clientele that I was attracting and was attracted to. I loved working with these guys. It was fun, meaningful and rewarding. These were my ideal clients!
Of course, not 100% of my clients fit this description, but 85% did and still do. Of course, I took on clients who didn’t fit this description. And if you are offended by my identifying my target market as male in this very #MeToo environment, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you. Over the course of 15 years, the vast majority of my clients have been men because I have always targeted CEO/owners and the majority of CEO/owners are male. It simply turned out that way. And I like it!
When I realized how I was attracting my ideal clients organically, I decided to see if I could engineer it to happen. So now, when people ask me what I do, I say something like:
“I work with CEO/owners of businesses $5-50 million in size. They tend to be males who work hard, play hard and are athletically inclined. They’ve reached a high level of success early in life and they’ve run out of what they know to do. What’s ahead for them is both high stakes and uncertain. By working with me, they become clearer on who they are, what they want and how that aligns with their business. They become more confident, more certain and more relaxed in their work and in their lives.”
When I started saying that, a few exciting things began to happen. People would always ask me about it: “Athletically inclined – where did that come from?” “Do you only work with men?” “I know someone just like that!” Bingo! By saying who my ideal client was and why they worked with me, I was getting exactly the reaction I wanted. When I shared my ideal client, people were curious about it and about me. People could recognize themselves or someone they knew in my description.
Within about three years, I’d built my business in the DC area up to what it took eight years to build in the Seattle area.
You might be saying “This doesn’t apply to me. My clients don’t have anything in common.” Or “I don’t want to attract clones of myself. Gross!” OK. Fine. Perhaps your clients don’t look alike and perhaps your clients don’t have similar occupations, but all of your clients have one thing in common. You!
Also, you might be thinking “I don’t want to narrowly define who I work with. That will narrow down my chances of getting a referral.” Au contraire! The opposite is true. When you define your ideal clients so generally so that most anyone can be included, no one can see themselves in it!
You might be ruminating, “I’m not sure what I’m doing with my clients. I’m just coaching. What my clients are getting is what all clients of coaching are getting.” And you are uniquely you and you are their coach.
How do you put all of this together? Especially if you have some of the common objections noted above, how do you identify your ideal client and what they get from you?
Consider the following:
Put it all together in a statement: “I work with (what they are like) who (what they come to you for) and (what they get from you).”
Next time someone asks you what you do, try it out and see what happens.
The majority of coaches don’t make a thriving living by coaching. And many coaches who do make a living coaching, do so by coaching other coaches. That’s all okay. And I’m determined to help more coaches and people in related professions thrive doing what they are passionate about doing. The world is full of people who need, want, and would live and perform better, with coaching.
Together we can coach people to become better leaders, to lead more fulfilling and meaningful lives and to create lives of their own design. We can do this. Being clearer about what we do, who we do it for and what they get from us, is a start!
What about you? How do you define your target market? What objections / challenges do you have about defining it? What, if anything, holds you back?
Join the conversation.
P.S. Our next EQ Profile Certification course begins May 11, 2018. Register now. Hope to see you there!