Last month I stopped charging set fees and announced Pay What You Choose pricing. Here are some of the things I’ve learned so far.
1. You don’t have to know step three before you take step one.
I have wanted to try PWYC pricing for at least two years. One reason I hesitated was that I didn’t know how it would work. Then I realized that I didn’t need to know how it would work in order to run an experiment.
As I set it up, I wondered what kinds of systems I might want or need. Should I screen clients before agreeing to a session? How would I handle payment?
I decided not to try to screen prospective clients before accepting appointments. Instead I ask folks to make one initial appointment. This lets me meet the client and have a conversation with them about subsequent work. It seems simpler and more effective than trying to screen people.
I use acuityscheduling.com, which enabled me to create a simple intake form that pops up when someone makes a PWYC appointment. I ask what calls them to work with me, what their previous experience of coaching is, and what else they would like me to know. At the same time I ask what they want to pay. As soon as I receive an email notifying me of the appointment, I send a PayPal money request.
That has worked beautifully. Many clients find that a single session is sufficiently transformative, and they go away happy. If and when they want another, they are free to schedule again. Other people have turned into weekly or bi-monthly clients.
And, in case you are wondering, there’s no correlation between the amount people are paying and whether or not we agree to ongoing work. Read on for more about how little money appears to have to do with the quality of the experience.
2. There is no correlation between the amount a client pays and their readiness for coaching.
One of my thoughts going into this was that I could end up with a slew of people who saw themselves as needy, broke and/or broken, and victimized, which some might expect to indicate that they are not ready for coaching. I certainly see and hear a lot in coaching circles to support that.
But that’s not how it has turned out.
Yes, I have had a few people show up who seemed to be in a needy or broken state of mind. But here’s the deal: I know that they are not broken. After years of holding that as an article of faith, I finally see deeply that it is true. And it appears that when I see a client as truly and inarguably whole, it doesn’t matter a great deal whether or not they show up as needy in their own minds.
Because a funny thing happens when any of us is held with true, loving regard. We begin to wake up to our true nature, which is whole and resourceful. That holds true no matter how much a client pays.
It distresses me that this is not more clearly and widely understood in the coaching world.
3. There is no correlation between the amount a client pays and the degree of engagement we experience or the pleasure I get from the session.
I also wondered if knowing what someone had paid might influence my coaching. Would I feel pressure to perform with a client who paid in multiples of a hundred dollars? And would I be less enthused or energized or have any number of thoughts about coaching someone who paid in multiples of ten?
As it happened, the first week I was far too busy to even think of looking up what a client paid before I showed up for the session. In week two, after a particularly satisfying session, it occurred to me to check. I discovered that the client I had enjoyed the most had actually paid the least.
After that I decided there was no benefit to paying attention to what people choose to pay, so I don’t.
4. Lowering the barriers to entry won’t help you get hired by folks who don’t know you exist.
21 individuals have signed up for PWYC coaching since I announced it in early September. As I write this on Friday, October 2, apart from a few sessions with folks who have become repeat clients, I don’t have any PWYC appointments for October. My conclusion? Even if you have been coaching for 20 years, as I have, your work is not front of mind for your prospective clients. No matter what your pricing model, you need to find a way to make your work visible and accessible to your just right clients on a regular basis.
5. Lowering the barriers to entry doesn’t change anything for folks who don’t know why they would hire you.
Being visible and accessible is not enough. Your just right clients need to see a reason to hire you–a reason expressed in terms that match their own values, needs, and priorities.
I’ll be working on this in the weeks ahead. I’m starting by asking recent clients to let me know what they got out of our sessions. I’m not talking about getting testimonials. I’m talking about listening carefully to how my clients talk about the value they received, the difference it made in their lives, and how it helped. That way, when I write a new description of my services for this ezine or the Web, it will be from the perspective of the client, not the coach.
This perspective shift is crucial. It is one thing to say to prospective clients: “I have seen something that could be really useful to you.” It’s another thing entirely to be able to report exactly how other clients have found it to be useful.
What folks have reported so far includes:
Actually being excited about marketing their work.
Feeling really, deeply good about themselves for the first time in ages.
Looking forward to “loving up” their significant other after having months (or years) of relationship tension.
6. It can be difficult for people to hire you if you don’t name your price.
Most of us have a lot of thinking about money, and that can make it very difficult for someone to hire you if you don’t give them a number. They get lost in their thinking about what you really want or expect. They can get lost in their thinking about taking advantage of you or being taken advantage of.
Sometimes clients are reluctant to book again because they don’t feel they can afford to. In their minds they are locked into a price because they chose it once and hesitate to scheduled additional sessions for less money. When this emerges, I explain that I want is to coach people who want to be coached at whatever price they can afford to pay.
When people make an appointment, the intake form offers them a range of prices and “other.” I give the range to give some context and a starting point, and I’m really okay with “other.”
7. I have no idea how this will work over time, and that’s okay.
I need to earn a certain amount of money in order to keep the business going and contribute to the household. The costs of ongoing professional training, renewing my International Coach Federation membership, insurance, utilities, equipment, and a few hours each month from the office angel do add up.
In September I brought in a little less than half of what I need to earn in an average month. Right now I’m undergoing radiation therapy and working about half time. I am hopeful that as I get back to full time in the months ahead–and as people come to know about and trust this offer–the numbers will work out.
If they don’t? I’ll punt. I’ve been at this for 20 years, and I certainly know how to create and enroll programs. I’m mulling over a couple of groups now, in fact, that might have set fees and might not.
Meanwhile, I’ll keep my eyes open, pay attention to what is unfolding, and make new choices as the needs and opportunities arise.
Over the past few years there have been big changes in my life and biz. A friend recently asked, for example, if two years ago, when I decided to stop writing a weekly ezine, I knew I was going to be changing the name from Authentic Promotion to Simple Wisdom. He wanted to know how much planning went into my big changes. Here’s my answer: not much. 😉
I am SO excited about this month’s Wholeness Hangout!
My guests are Steve Adair and Tony Fiedler, two Three Principles practitioners from the United Kingdom, who simply radiate love, goodwill, and wisdom.
I had the pleasure of meeting and having lunch with Steve and Tony last year. We laughed heaps, always a good thing, and I found myself profoundly moved by their embodied wisdom. They spoke eloquently and simply about how wisdom guides them in life and business. Never once did I want to run screaming from the room as one does when in the presence of holier-than-thou, too-good-to-be-true, happy talk.
They are genuinely nice gents with genuine insight to share. Their formal bios and photos appear below the information about the Hangout.
Guided by the Feeling of Wisdom
Our topic, which may well morph in the moment, is Guided by the Feeling of Wisdom. As I said above, I was moved by the way Tony and Steve speak about what it means to be guided by a good feeling. I think they make this sometimes slippery concept palpable and accessible.
Watch the Replay Here
About Steve Adair
Steve Adair is an international speaker, trainer and Three Principles based practitioner. As co-director at 3P Life & Soul he is committed to supporting you to realise your true identity and to uncover innate mental health to bring unlimited balance and depth to life.
From an early age, Steve has been fascinated by how people think and behave. This, blended with his passion for helping others, has guided Steve to work within the human potential development field since 1991. Steve has studied and practised as a coach, trainer, mentor, and peer educator. He is also a qualified psycho-therapeutic counsellor.
He has always followed his compassionate and helpful nature and has the rare ability to touch people with a feeling of love, which in turn wakes a person up to their true identity.
Steve co-runs a Three Principles practise in Bedfordshire and London, UK, in which the focus is on working with individuals and also practitioner development. Steve has spoken at both the Tikun Innate Health conference in London & the 3PGC conference in the US about this work.
Steve is dedicated to helping you to uncover your innate health and wisdom, from within.
About Tony Fiedler
I have a diverse career in both the corporate & third sector, through which I have gained invaluable experience in management, training & coaching.
I uncovered an understanding of the Three Principles in early 2011, following attending a seminar with Jamie Smart and Aaron Turner. Since then, I have completed intensives with Aaron Turner and George and Linda Pransky. My most significant experience of deepening my understanding was gained through Fellowship with Chip Chipman and Elsie Spittle, a six week programme in 2012.
I can now safely state that I am much more comfortable in my own skin having uncovered insight into the nature of thought and my true identity.
Presently, I co-run a Three Principles practise in Bedfordshire and London, UK, in which we focus on working with individuals and practitioner development. I have a passion for community based projects and have spoken at both the Tikun Innate Health conference in London and the 3PGC conference in the US about this work.
For more information about the Three Principles
There is a wealth of information online about the Three Principles. Here are some great places to start.
The Three Principles Global Community is a non-profit organization that is committed to bringing an understanding of The Three Principles to people throughout the world. Click on the Media Tab in the navigation menu to access videos and podcasts about the Principles.
Brainchild (love child!) of Rudi and Jenny Kennard, threeprinciplesmovies.com is a comprehensive resource for interviews, documentaries, and full length trainings in the Three Principles.
For insights into the Three Principles and Mental Health
There are numerous practitioners working with The Three Principles and mental health. A good place to start if you want more on that topic is to search the above sites for Judy Sedgeman, Bill Pettit, and/or Linda Pettit. You can also click on Judy’s name to go to her web site.
Have you ever run yourself mentally haggard trying to convince yourself to see a spiritual truth more deeply or clearly than you actually do?
It’s easy to do. After all, the fundamental principles behind the human experience are quite simple to articulate. According to Sydney Banks, Mind is the infinite formless intelligent energy behind all things. Consciousness is our ability to know reality and our ability to understand how our reality is created by thoughts. Thought is a source of all mental activities and source of all feeling, actions and reactions.
Our experience in any given moment is created by the interplay of these principles.
When I first came across Syd’s teachings, I was frankly underwhelmed. I didn’t disagree; I just didn’t see anything earthshaking. I had studied intensively with Byron Katie, and the notion that thought generated our experience seemed obvious.
Still, I kept returning to Syd’s work because of the profound changes I saw in people who had been influenced by him. And one day my own understanding shifted, deepened, expanded, and what had seemed obvious and verging on trivial started to blow my mind.
I’ve shared many of the insights that have emerged from that in previous blog posts and videos, but I want to take a little different look at things today.
You see, there’s a way in which we can become addicted to knowing. We can chase insights as if our wellbeing lies in having more of them.
When actually, our wellbeing is nonnegotiable. Invariable. Innate.
Our essential wholeness does not depend on our moment to moment experience of life. As I’ve written before, we don’t have to feel okay to be okay.
But damn! I don’t know about you, but sometimes all I really want is to feel okay. Which last week had me wrestling with this notion of essential wholeness. I was frustrated by feeling fragmented and, frankly, stupid. Where was my innate wellbeing? Where was wisdom?
How could I get there from where I was?
What good does it do me to have a theoretical understanding that I am okay when I feel cornered by the limits of my current thinking?
And then something funny happened.
It occurred to me to simply doubt.
To drop the gospel.
To quit trying to feel or believe or find wholeness and wisdom.
To drop my story that I should trust it.
And to drop into my honest in that moment experience of WTF? Where is it?
To ask in an open hearted and abandoned way, are we really whole? Does God or Mind or whatever you call it have our backs?
Where is wisdom? Is it really always on, only sometimes obscured?
I dropped into the questions, which had a whole different feel from struggling to believe in the answers.
And I can’t account for just how or why, but as the days passed, I started to get a glimmer.
A felt sense of something beneath the surface.
Not an intellectual understanding, but the barest shimmer or breath of a feeling that something is there.
Dim. As yet unknown. But palpable.
I don’t know what, if anything, that does for you, but it did a lot for me. Somehow out of my honest doubt I had touched bedrock.
I don’t know what the bedrock is. What it means. How to talk about it.
But I know down to my toenails that it is there.
Thank you, doubt.
Your turn: What’s your experience with what Byron Katie has called trying to live beyond your current level of evolution? What might doubt have to offer you?
Sometimes we lives as if the rules of the game of life are set outside of us and our fates are determined by those rules. But the reality is that we get to make it up. What rules are ready to be changed in your life today?
At the grocery store this morning I complimented the young woman who was packing my bags on her cheerful glittery headband and lanyard. That created a nice feeling between us, and I reflected, not for the first time, on how simple it can be to create good feelings with others and how much difference it can make in my experience of the day.
That got me to thinking about how easily the description of doing something cheerful can turn into a prescription and how the vibe of a prescription changes everything.
The vibe of a prescription says, Do this, and life will be better. You will be happier, more whole, more okay. Implicit in a prescription is the recognition of something to be improved, healed, or completed.
The vibe of a description is simply celebratory. How cool is this!
A prescription turns the experience of having a nice moment into something to be accomplished or achieved. Something we produce when we are doing life “right”.
A prescription implies that we are doing something wrong when the prescription doesn’t seem to work or when–heaven forfend!–we resist employing it.
It is so easy to infer from the celebration of one nice moment that one should do certain things to produce other nice moments.
Thus it is that we have some 450 forms of therapy, each with a prescription for managing the human experience to produce health. And then there are countless religious rites and practices, prescriptions developed over the years based on descriptions of what was going on when a given prophet or teacher experienced insight.
If you’ve employed some of these prescriptions, you know that sometimes they seem to work, and sometimes they don’t. Sometimes plopping your butt down on a meditation cushion produces peace, and sometimes all you get is a keen appreciation of the noisiness of your mind.
Sometimes complimenting the bagger feels great; sometimes the very idea makes you gritchy.
But what if life doesn’t want or need to be managed from dawn to dusk? What if we don’t need prescriptions for manipulating our moods and managing our experiences in order to be okay?
What if there is no aspect of the human experience that is disallowed?
To paraphrase Walt Whitman, We are large. We contain multitudes. Or in the words of the Roman slave turned playwright: I am a man, I consider nothing that is human alien to me.
The prescription to say kind things seems benign, but there’s a way in which it can actually insert distance between us. As anyone who has been approached in a bar can tell you, there’s a vast difference between the energy and impact of a spontaneous compliment and that of a canned come-on.
And I know for myself that when I’m feeling edgy, the idea that I should be nicer, friendlier, more easy going makes things worse, not better.
Oddly, our chances of making authentic connection with others are impaired when we make policies and prescriptions out of kindness and enhanced when we relax our vigilance and let our true colors shine through. A bit of unguarded crankiness can be the basis for connection, provided we aren’t preoccupied with covering it up.
I’m grateful for the good feeling I experienced in the grocery store over a compliment, but I’m even more grateful for the insight that I’m okay–as are you–whether I’m kind or cranky. That there’s no part of the human experience that we have to escape or avoid for any reason.
The bottom line is that it is all okay. Really all. All the time. And it doesn’t always feel that way, and that’s okay too.