The Therapists and the Money Pots

The Therapists and the Money Pots

Something that I notice a lot when speaking to my the people going through my Get More Clients Saying Yes! course 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”

And these days we can add to this:

“We’re in a pandemic and all my clients are struggling financially”

“Everyone is worried about losing their job so people can’t afford to work with me”

And all sorts of similar statements – but how can you actually know that these statements are true?

Money Pot

Because the truth is – you can never guess someone else’s financial situation.

For example, 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 already –  you’ve probably already 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 clients and that you might also find useful.

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

You see, I got lucky very early in my business 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 well known for “not having any money”.   How do 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.

There was a genuine sense of anxiety behind their decision to attend this workshop.

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 these “money stories”.   Hook line and sinker.   To tell the truth I actually 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 swear I’ve never worked so hard to sell anything in my whole career 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 children’s 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 the 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.

Or they had access to credit and could borrow the money when they found something they valued enough to do so.
Or they had a partner, or a sister, 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 know.   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.

How easily they can afford to do that and 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.

And iff 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!

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Please leave a comment as I would love to hear your thoughts


  1. Ritu on October 23, 2020 at 10:41 pm

    I never looked at it this way… and truth be told I have done this as well. Taken from a different money pot to pay for something I really longed for. What I value most about this post is how you drove home what our job actually is “to believe in the transformation that we offer”. Thank you!

    • Catherine on October 24, 2020 at 10:37 am

      Hello Ritu, how lovely to hear from you! I’m so pleased that this landed and you’ve taken the important message – to not believe in the transformation you offer – and THEN of course to know how to communicate that so the client understands it just as you learned to do in the Get More Clients Saying Yes! course 🙂

  2. Eimear on October 13, 2020 at 5:57 pm

    Uh-oh!! You have just taking the thoughts right out of my head Catherine and spread them on a table for me to see. I might have a new client (due to see them later in the week) and when she asked me what my prices are I gave her ones that I know were way too low and not suitable for the time and effort I put in for giving her an excellent service. She never commented on how affordable my prices were therefore I assumed they were’just about okay’ for her to afford. I told myself because I know her I should give my services at this price. I told myself that she would not be able to afford any more than what I offered. I told myself ‘she’ll think I’m greedy’ if the prices were any higher. I told myself ‘it doesn’t matter, I can live off those prices and then everyone will like me’. Definitely a hard pill to swallow and in truth I knew I was doing myself a disservice but thought I was giving her the best. Huge lesson here Catherine. Thank you for sharing it with us all x

    • Catherine on October 24, 2020 at 10:39 am

      Hi Eimear, I so love the lessons you have taken from this blog – and I just LOVE your awareness that all of those things where what you “told yourself” rather than anything grounded in reality or necessarily related to what is true for her – because of course only she can tell you that. Love your insights!

  3. Kanan Tekchandani on October 13, 2020 at 11:52 am

    Thanks Catherine , that’s so helpful right now. I definitely have been wondering into money stories! Sometimes it’s the stories the potential client is saying which is what throws me as deep inside I’m thinking I know they can afford me. SO now my job is to make sure I convey the value (better) as you said.

    • Catherine on October 24, 2020 at 10:40 am

      Yes absolutely Kanan, and the truth is that often it IS the client who tells us the “stories” and part of our job is not to automatically buy into their stories, which are often just their fears or their own limited thinking – so that we can explore a bit deeper and fully serve them.

  4. Sian on October 13, 2020 at 11:01 am

    I LOVE this blog – I am absolutely guilty of this – have even told clients not to bother buying the higher priced offering as the lower priced one will be just fine for their needs – I need to stop this RIGHT NOW! Thank you. x

  5. June Stone on February 20, 2019 at 8:11 am

    Your insightful blog has definitely sorted this costing aspect out for me now, thank you. I love the money pot concept, and that when you are clear about the value you offer, you are in fact validating your own value by costing it correctly…wow!

  6. Linda Hamilton-Ross on June 3, 2018 at 6:51 pm

    That’s a really excellent insight and I know it’s true, I have myself refused £97 because it would come out of the everyday business pot. But then paid over £2000 from a rainy day pot for a course I really valued. But I hadn’t thought of it applying to others.,… ha ha ha.
    The other thing I’ve noticed is how important it is, then, to price our starter products so they DO NOT come out of the everyday pot. Make them valuable enough that they can be priced out of the other pots.



  7. Alison on February 13, 2018 at 4:58 pm

    Thanks Catherine, this makes total sense to me and everything feels so much clearer now. What a relief not to have the burden of trying to work out if my client can afford me or not. It also highlights how important it is to understand and communicate the value and transformation you offer, so that your client CAN make that decision and bump you into the “development” pot rather than the “day to day” pot. Brilliant.

    • Catherine on February 14, 2018 at 6:07 pm

      Love that you love this Alison – it’s one of my favourites from all my blogs! And such an important lesson to remember.

  8. Elizabeth Calderara on February 11, 2018 at 9:38 am

    Spot on Catherine. Still keep remindin myself -, ‘to assume makes an ass of u and me’. . Upgrading my 1 to 1 price today. Will keep this in mind when creating my new core programme. Thank you.

    • Catherine on February 14, 2018 at 6:08 pm

      Nice one Elizabeth. One of the office mantras back in my corporate sales days was “Never Assume” because it’s always in the assuming (aka making up stories) that we let ourselves down.

  9. Bayari Beegan on February 10, 2018 at 8:07 am

    Excellent article, thank you so much for this… so good to not get into a relationship where I am creating money stories and finding a way to reduce my costs for others. Love the clarity in this and the last sentence blew me away! Big love xx

    • Catherine on February 14, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      Hi Bayari, so glad you found this valuable. Long may you remember it – as it is SO easy to slip back into our stories, especially when other people are so very convincing with theirs!

  10. Anne on February 9, 2018 at 5:03 pm

    This is so good and exactly what I’ve been doing – second guessing whether clients can afford me! A really good read! Thank you!

    • Catherine on February 14, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      So glad you found it valuable Anne.

  11. Debbie Warrener on February 8, 2018 at 1:50 pm

    Brilliant and clear and insightful! Thank you Catherine!! Brilliant food for thought.

  12. Althea on February 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm

    It’s great to keep this in focus- I find I easily get into panic mode because they say they can’t afford me and I’m desperate for clients!
    I think this insight will bypass the panic and keep me focused on what is my job

  13. Charles Stevenson on February 8, 2018 at 10:51 am

    A well-measured post.

    I like the observation that people may need to dip into different ‘pots’ depending upon what they see the expenditure as,, ie a single ‘event’ or a longer-term course.


  14. Yasmin Vorajee on February 8, 2018 at 10:17 am

    Loved this blog the first time I read it and love it even more!!

    Thanks Catherine!

  15. Judith Quin on September 14, 2017 at 8:15 am

    So true …. and shared!

    • Catherine on February 14, 2018 at 6:09 pm

      Thank you Judith, and for sharing – that’s very much appreciated 🙂

  16. Karen on July 20, 2017 at 5:23 am

    Your article points out a tendency that I’ve had to fight: “It is not your job to second guess a potential client’s financial situation ,…or make up “money stories” on their behalf.” But I’m learning! Just this last week I assisted with a wedding for a bride who had been homeless. I did make up “money stories” for her and expected her to default, partly because at every pay point she said she didn’t remember the payment, left the money in the car, etc. I didn’t back down on the contracted fee and actually told her I couldn’t unlock the dressing room until she paid. Amazingly, she arrived with a roll of $100 dollar bills and counted out the required amount!

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

    Thanks, that makes things so much more clear.

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

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


  19. 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.

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

    great insight

  21. 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

  22. 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.

  23. 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?


  24. 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!

  25. 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

  26. 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.

  27. 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

  28. 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.


    Wow South Africa eh? Good for you xxx

  29. 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 early morning blog before I head out to the top of Table Mountain was worth it!
    Mwah right back x

  30. 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

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