The Therapists and the Money Pots

The Therapists and the Money Pots

Something that I notice a lot when speaking to my mentoring clients is the habit of making assumptions about a potential clients ability to afford to work with them.

Here are some of the things that I hear.

“My clients are all therapists – they can’t afford my prices”

“She’s retired so I know she can’t afford to work with me”

“I know what he does for a job so I know he hasn’t got any spare money”

But the truth is – how do you really know?

Money Pot

Have you ever had a client tell you they couldn’t afford to work with you, then you find out soon after that they have just booked an expensive holiday, or signed up for a high-end seminar or coaching programme?   I’ll bet you have.

You see, it’s rarely about the money, it’s more often about value.  Your potential client simply doesn’t value working with you more than they value keeping the money in their bank account.  And they spend their money where they do see the value.  I know you know this, because you’ve heard me say it plenty of times.

But what about all those clients who really can’t afford to work with you?  You know something of their financial situation and you know it to be true.

Well, I want to share with you something that I often share with my mentoring clients and that you might also find useful.

It’s the story of the Therapists and the Money Pots

You see, I got lucky because I had an excellent apprenticeship in pricing and affordability.

Before my business took off in earnest I spent a year working for a training business doing freelance sales of workshops and accredited training courses.

The first introduction to the company was a one day workshop for £47.    And the target customers were all holistic practitioners – hypnotherapists, nutritionists, energy healers, NLP practitioners and coaches.

This group are notorious for “not having any money”.   I know this because my clients tell me so all the time!   And true to type they didn’t.  Most people I spoke to simply couldn’t afford that £47 workshop.  There was no money.   They had bills to pay.   They were already in debt. They had no clients.  The business wasn’t bringing in any income.  It would push them outside their budget for the month.

At this time I had a long career in corporate sales behind me but I was new to selling to individuals and small business owners.   And so I bought their money stories.   Hook line and sinker.   I even felt a bit guilty for selling them the workshop.

But I believed deeply in the value of that workshop.   And I’m very good at selling.   So these therapists did book to attend.  But I’ve never worked so hard to sell anything as I did to sell those £47 workshop tickets to practitioners who had no money.

So I had the shock of my life the first time I attended one of these workshops.

The very same people who were practically having to live on baked beans and sell their childrens toys in order to pay for the £47 workshop couldn’t sign up fast enough for a £1500 training course when it was offered at the end of the day.    The sales conversations I had for this programme were smooth and effortless compared to the £47 workshop.

But that wasn’t all.   When these practitioners then attended the 3 day training they were offered a mentoring programme for £7,000 – £11,000 – and again they signed up in their droves.

These were very same people who couldn’t afford £47.

This was utterly mind blowing for me

I couldn’t get my head around it at first.   Yes, of course they could see the value more clearly after spending a day in the room with us.  But hang on a minute, it’s not just about value is it?  These people actually didn’t have any money so what was happening?

The more I thought about it the more I looked at my own money habits and suddenly it all became clear.

These therapists were operating from different “money pots”

In their mind they genuinely didn’t have a spare £47 for a workshop because the “business income” pot was on empty.    Or the “household budget” pot was empty.      And that is where the £47 would be coming from.

But the majority of these practitioners had access to other funds  – “investment” pots or “savings” pots.

Many had retrained as practitioners after a corporate career and had substantial savings & investments.   Others had savings for emergencies, rainy days or school fees.   They had the money that great aunt Lucy left them to do something special with or the funds from the sale of the investment property that they got lucky with.

Or they had access to credit and could borrow the money.   Or they had a partner who was willing to help them out.

And so when they came across something that they wanted badly enough – that they could see would help them make a greater difference, be more fulfilled in their work and grow their practice – they had a choice to be able to access these funds.

For many of them the decision to take £7,000 from an investment fund or put £1,500 on a credit card was a much easier decision than the decision to take £47 from their current account.   It might sound crazy but take a look at your own saving and investing habits and you might find you do something similar – I know that I do.

And of course some people do have no funds.   They are genuinely worried about making the mortgage that month and have no access to credit.   And they really can’t afford to work with you right now.

So how do you know?

Well you don’t.   And it’s not your job to know.

It is not your job to second guess a potential clients financial situation, to discount your fees on a whim or make up “money stories” on their behalf.

It IS your job to price your services and programmes at a level that reflects all of your years of experience and training and your depth of expert knowledge and that allows you to cover your business overheads and pay yourself a decent income.

It IS your job to fully understand and believe in the value of the transformation you bring in relation to the fees you charge, and to learn how to communicate that value clearly to your potential client.

And it IS your job to trust that the right clients for you will see the value in the transformation you offer and decide to work with you.  Where and how they get the money to do that is their responsibility not yours.

That’s all.  No money stories, no martyrdom, no discounting on a whim.  Just clear communication and a belief in the value of your work.

PS.   If this resonates, or you know you are guilty of sometimes making up these “money stories” do share your comments below – I always love hearing from you!

With Love & Gratitude,

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  1. Marianne Cantwell on May 20, 2015 at 10:22 am

    This is one of the most outstanding pieces I’ve read on this topic. Your story brings an often hard to grasp point to life perfectly – and what I like best is the line “it is not your business to know.”

    (Am going to be linking to this post from the MiniMBA pricing module as it’s by far the best explanation of this phenomenon that I’ve seen!)

    Mwah. Mx

  2. Catherine on May 20, 2015 at 10:54 am

    Hi Marianne, thanks so much for the feedback and I’m delighted that you’ll be linking to it – am really happy that you feel your tribe will get value from it. An morning blog before I head out to the top of Table Mountain was worth it!
    Mwah right back x
    Catherine

  3. Sue Vizard on May 20, 2015 at 11:48 am

    Hit the nail on the head again Catherine, just when I was feeling sorry for myself. You know how to say it so that we can really hear.
    Thank you.

    Sue
    xx

    Wow South Africa eh? Good for you xxx

  4. Catherine on May 20, 2015 at 11:59 am

    Thanks Sue – am happy that my words have helped! I think it is easy for us to get caught up in our own “money stuff” too and forget that for many people money is not THE most important thing in life. Most people actually value many other things way more than money – happiness, health, relationships, happiness, fulfillment, making a difference – all have a much higher value for most people. If we can demonstrate how we can help people achieve the things they really want most will happily exchange their hard won pounds, dollar (or rand!) for that
    Catherine
    xxx

  5. Holly Worton on May 20, 2015 at 3:35 pm

    I was just talking about this the other day with my PSYCH-K instructor. We were talking about people saying they couldn’t afford the course…and the basic workshop is just £350. I told her that I had never had the money to do any of my PSYCH-K training, but it was important to me, so I either found the money or scrounged up extra money, or put it on a card. And it was so worth it. I made it happen because I wanted it badly enough.

  6. Kristjan on May 20, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Dear Catherine,

    you know what they say – when we are ready, teacher will come. Enjoyed 100%

    Take care, Kristjan

  7. Linda Anderson on May 20, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    Excellent post, Catherine, and a really useful insight into how we handle our ‘pots’ of money.

    I love that it fends off any waves of self-doubt when someone has said no to us and subsequently spends a whole lot more with someone else!

  8. Ray Brock on October 6, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    I really enjoyed that post, Catherine, thank you.

    If we believe in what we are selling then we should offer everyone the chance to purchase and not pre-judge! Also you never know, who they know?

    Ray

  9. Claudia Crawley on June 16, 2016 at 11:27 am

    Great post which captured what I believed but couldn’t prove, because I was basing it on my own spending patterns. But that doesn’t really matter. What really matters is how I now learn to sell from the heart so that I demonstrate the value I offer in how I choose to serve women and do so well enough for people to sign up with me. Thanks Catherine. Much appreciated.

  10. Kate Bacon on June 16, 2016 at 12:50 pm

    Excellent – this is so clearly put. I’m highlighting it for my own moments of doubt and sharing.

    Thank you Catherine.

    Kate x

  11. angela durrant on June 16, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    great insight

  12. Cheryl Salmon on September 24, 2016 at 6:23 pm

    Excellent stuff, Catherine…think I’ll increase my daily consultant rate,

    • Catherine on September 24, 2016 at 7:43 pm

      Nice one Cheryl! I’m glad it’s prompted you to charge what your work is worth.

  13. judith on September 26, 2016 at 9:05 am

    thanks Catherine, I needed to hear this. What you said made so much sense.

    Thankyou

  14. Helen on September 26, 2016 at 10:45 am

    Thanks, that makes things so much more clear.

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