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?
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!