There comes a point where if you want to grow your business then the amount of personal attention you give your clients can’t be your main differentiator.
Many coaches and private practitioners are afraid that if they begin to step away from done-for-you and/or high touch offerings that their clients aren’t going to get results, and not only will it hurt their reputation, they will feel like they aren’t being of service to the best of their ability.
If this is you, then it’s time to ask yourself is it more valuable to fish for your clients or to teach them to fish?
The old parable will tell you that the latter is much more valuable.
And I would add that the former will keep you in “service provider” mode with a limited capacity to grow your business, until you can trust your process (and your clients) enough to step back.
So how do you empower your clients to do more on their own and “teach them to fish?”
1. Get Clear On Your Signature System
You may already have a process that you follow with your clients that helps give your work structure, if you do then you’re already ahead of the game. Refining this process will make it easier for you to create a way for clients to navigate it without as much hand holding.
On the other hand, you may feel like every client is an individual and you meet them where they are at with no true “repeatable” system. I find this isn’t usually true, and if we dig a little deeper there are steps you take with each client that can be combined into a repeatable system.
2. Understand Both The Physical Steps and the Mental Leaps That Occur During Your Work
We tend to think of a system or process as a series of steps, which is partly true. The difference in working with you versus following a system in a group or home study program is usually the mental leaps that happen when you ask in-the-moment questions or point out things that your clients are too close to see.
These insights that you are so great at uncovering and offering are why it feels your clients won’t get the same value unless they are working directly with you.
However, if you pay attention you’ll notice that even these insights and questions are common between many of your clients and can actually become a part of your system.
I do this in the Branding Game™ where there are certain modules that I’ve identified obstacles or shifts that are common between clients but aren’t shared by everyone. So I created “bonus” lessons within these modules to be completed “IF” a client is having a certain experience. This creates a sort of “choose your own adventure” feel to the program and covers a wide range of needs, without taking people through material that they don’t necessarily need.
These nuances are something I’m very good at helping my clients identify which makes their programs even stronger.
3. Develop the Training and Exercises
This step is fairly straight forward, it’s time to actually develop the program. The trick here is to not overwhelm yourself because as you get going you’ll realize there is A LOT that you know but you don’t necessarily need to include everything. In fact you only want to include what is absolutely necessary to make your program easier for clients to consumer and not overwhelm them with information they don’t necessarily need.
4. Test and Gradually Refine Your Program
Making the leap from “one on one” to “completely hands off” is usually too much too soon.
When I was creating the Branding Game™ I ran it in a few different ways, gathered questions, and figured out where people got stuck so I could fix those problems before I ever offered it as a home study. This process took years because I was doing it on my own with the “trial and error” approach (and honestly I was too afraid to let go too soon) but with my clients we can usually skip many of these steps and go straight to “evergreen.”
Where you might start is by using your new training and exercises with your one to one clients, having them do the exercises as pre-work and shortening your calls by half because a lot of the work is already done for you beforehand. Your job at that point is to answer questions and deepen their understanding. This will also give you the insight I mentioned before about where people get stuck and what questions they ask so you can work them into the program itself.
From there you might run small groups where the group is going through the program at the same time and you’re meeting for group coaching calls to make sure everyone is getting what they need to move forward.
As you introduce the group aspect you might find that your clients will actually gain even more value because they will be sharing an experience with others and witnessing their pitfalls and growth which will take their learning even deeper. They will be able to witness your system being applied to scenarios that they can relate to and may run into later. In this way I actually find that groups can offer even MORE value than working one on one.
It’s honestly bittersweet when you realize that maybe they don’t need you as much as you thought.
The final step is to evergreen your offer and set it up in a way that clients can join at any time. This is a topic for another day, but when you do this you’ll have finally created true leverage.
The important thing to remember is that you can create leverage in your programs, you can teach your clients to fish, and you can deliver amazing results without having to hold your clients’ hands every step of the way.
I had a new client sign on recently that has a really incredible offer that is making a huge impact for people–but their sales have plateaued and it seemed like it was taking more and more effort just to maintain their numbers.
Upon looking at their website, it was pretty obvious what the problem was.
Even though the design looks professional, they have beautifully done photos, a clean layout, and a well produced video–the content itself was too focused on what the product “was” and not who it was for, or what it would do for them.
In short, they lack a clear message and so their website was doing a terrible job of communicating the value of their work.
This means that all of the work they are doing to market themselves and get more clients is pretty much going to waste.
Where they WERE getting clients was from non-leveraged means like referrals and local networking, both strategies where you can have a real conversation with people and talk about their needs.
These are great strategies but after a while when you’re playing in a small pond… the leads tend to dry up.
So, how do we fix the problem?
We get clear on the message and who it is for and make sure that’s clear in your marketing.
We put together a marketing plan that gets that message in front of more of the right people.
I’d like to share with you what this process actually looked like incase you’re experiencing similar challenges.
We started with 2 mini VIP days which are 3 hour sessions about a week apart (I’ll explain why they were spaced out in a moment)
In the first session we worked on messaging, where we:
Clarified their target audience and found two really great niches that their offer is perfect for, and that compliment each other which makes marketing easy.
Got clear on what their offer really does plus how and why it works, then put that into simple to understand language (no small feat!)
Mapped out the steps clients take and made their process feel really tangible and could be used in marketing material.
Spent time envisioning the business model they wanted to create and planned the levels and price points that would be appropriate for their market.
Brainstormed topic ideas that share their message, speak to their ideal clients, and can be used to feed their marketing outlets.
Then we took a week off for them to integrate their decisions, start to feel into their new vision, and become aware of the fears and obstacles that come up so we could discuss them in our second meeting.
(This is super important because too often a plan sounds great in the moment… but after the dust settles you get worried about whether you’re making the right decisions.)
On my end, I compiled all of the pieces of their messaging into a reference document that can be used going forward as they implement their new message.
In the second session we got into planning mode and outlined what their next 6 months would look like as they shifted into clearer marketing.
We talked about:
A phased plan for integrating their new messaging, and shifting into their new business model and marketing.
How to adapt their current site to fit with the new vision (without redoing it)
What to do with their current clients and workshops already on the calendar so they could continue to move forward.
Made a concrete short-term (before website updated) and long-term (after website updated) marketing plan.
An easy way for them to repurpose work they were already doing and create recurring revenue without finding new clients.
After we got off the call I compiled my notes into a detailed project plan plus instructions (with screenshots and notations) for how to rework their website, incorporate their new messaging into their current marketing materials, and what to put into their opt in follow up sequence.
Now, they have everything they need to take their small niche offering into a global market.
PLUS – Since they are also joining the Trailblazers Collaborative they will have ongoing support from me, along with the masterclass archive that walks them through most of the projects we outlined.
Based on the conservative goals we set, my estimate is that they will double their revenue by this time next year.
Would you like my help getting beyond your current plateau and bringing your business into it’s next evolution?
It’s assumed that once you hit 6 figures that your next goal will be to multiply your revenue until you reach 7 figures.
But, what if it’s not?
What if you’re satisfied with the money you’re making and what you value MORE than money is to have more time back in your day to focus on other things that are important to you?
This is the difference between leveraging and scaling your business.
Leveraging is when you take the business you have and shift your business model and systems so you can product similar results with less effort.
Scaling is an optional next step where you take what you have and multiply the number of clients you are serving.
In either case, leverage comes first because if you go straight to scale and try to multiply your revenue and the number of client’s you’re serving, you won’t have enough infrastructure to support your business growth. This in turn will lead to burn out and/or a whole bunch of unhappy clients who aren’t getting the level of service you’re known for. Womp Womp.
Both leveraging and scaling your business are accomplished by using the Perpetual Growth Model which looks a little like this:
Step 1: Define what you want your Business Model to look like
What are your offers? How will they be delivered? How are they priced and how many people do you need in each program to meet your goals? What support and systems do you have in place so that your business runs efficiently and effectively?
Step 2: Recalibrate your Brand to support your new model
Does your target audience need to shift? Do your “selling points” need to shift now that you’re moving into a more leveraged model? How will you communicate the changes to your audience? Do you need to update sales pages to align with your updated brand?
Step 3: Market your new focus
What topics can you share that will align with your new offerings? Are there stories you can share about what lead you into this shift? Are there new marketing methods you need to incorporate to reach your audience? What methods will you use to launch your new offers? Are there systems and processes that need to be incorporated to support your leveraged model?
Following these steps allows you to make holistic change in your business and sets you up for success from the start.
Where most business owners fail is when they try to make a change to their business model without thinking about how their brand and marketing need to change in order to support that change.
What about you, are you looking to leverage or are you looking to scale your business?
P.S. Are you at a point in your business where you know you need to create leverage or you’re going to burn out?
If you are ready to take your business to the next level while freeing up more of your time, then I’d love to help.
What we can do together:
– Get clear on YOUR new vision and what your business could look like within YOUR definition of success
– Say “no” to blueprints and cookie cutter strategies and create a plan that only YOU could pull off
– Show up as your most authentic self and build real authority in your niche
– Create real leverage in your business through creative business models and automated systems
– Feel like a freaking rock-star because you’re confident in your decisions
– Serve clients that inspire you to play a bigger game and grow with you
– Remove anything from your business and/or life that isn’t serving you
– Get to know yourself and where your patterns and pitfalls lie so you can overcome them
– Know your numbers and where you stand in relation to your goals at all times
– Step into your role as a business OWNER and take command like never before
Recently, I watched a TED Talk from a critical care EMT that put a lot into perspective about how we live our lives (and consequently, run our businesses).
This EMT gave some incredibly honest first-person insight into regrets people expressed when they knew they were at the end of their lives (and he gave them the gift of knowing it).
Those regrets broke down into three basic areas:
I wish I had made different choices. People facing death would invariably regret certain choices such as“I wish I’d spent more time with my children.” Interestingly, these regrets were not about getting more stuff or prestige, but centered around the fact that they had allowed “life” to get into the way of what was truly important to them.
I wish I mattered more. “There was so much more that I wanted to do with my life.” Life is so fleeting and the end invariably had people assessing how they made a difference. Having and pursuing a purpose was clearly at the heart of what mattered to them.
I want to be remembered. Think about the first two. We don’t want to exist in a vacuum; we want to leave a positive impact and to live on through those that we’ve touched. It’s that simple.
Why do I share this? Because I believe it’s incredibly important that as you build your business, you do it in a way that you don’t end up with these same regrets.
When you go into business for yourself, you have a unique opportunity to make a living fulfilling your purpose, making an impact, and designing exactly how you want to spend your time.
But, you already knew that because this is the reason most entrepreneurs start their businesses.
You begin with all the right motives – getting control of your purpose, your time, and your life. Yet, in the day to day of growing your business it can be easy to lose sight of your vision and end up with the same regrets.
So what happens to all of that freedom you hope for when you start your business?
As it turns out, building a business takes a lot of time. I tell my clients that nothing is free, either you’re going to spend time, or you’re going to spend money in order to accomplish what you want in your business. When you’re starting out, all you have is time and that’s fine, but as you grow your business you need to be careful you don’t fall into the DIY habit and never learn to outsource.
It helps to periodically reassess your business, the time you’re spending and what you’re spending it on to make sure you’re consistently moving toward your vision and not away from it.
To keep yourself aligned with your business and avoid regrets, you must do these three things:
1. Know what your non-negotiable are.
This takes sitting down and making decisions about what you truly want in your life. This isn’t about simple “FOMO” but if you were to continue the way you are, and look back 20 years from now, would you be happy with the choices you made?
For me, this means that I only work 25 hours a week. Periodically I may extend those hours for a week or two if I’m working on a big project, but as a rule I go against the advice of everyone that tells me to put my kids in daycare longer so I can free up more time because the time I spend with them is precious and non-negotiable to me.
If you don’t protect your priorities, they will evaporate in the “tyranny of the urgent.” Don’t let that happen.
2. Connect with your purpose.
In business it’s easy to go for the “low hanging fruit” that you perceive (or your mentor perceives) to be an easier sell instead of what truly called you into starting your business in the first place. I know because for 7 years I offered a service that was all wrong for me because I was afraid I couldn’t sell the service I truly enjoyed delivering. Once I rebranded, not only did the clients come, I also cut my workload in half (which has made my restrictive 25 hour schedule MUCH easier).
When you are serving your purpose you will feel more fulfilled, you’ll make a bigger impact, and you won’t look back years from now and wonder why you wasted so much energy doing something else.
3. Define your destination.
Bringing your vision to life doesn’t happen overnight, you need to keep your eye on the prize, and to do that you need to know what the prize is! Once you know where you’re headed, you can create the habits and systems necessary to sustaining forward momentum.
This requires making time to work ON your business and not just IN it. So many business owners make the mistake of creating their vision based around how many clients they want, and what programs they want to offer and forget to leave time for actual execution. This is a sure-fire recipe for frustration, so set aside the time to put the pieces in place that will continuously move you toward your vision.
Whether your time comes tomorrow, or 20, 30, 40 years from now, I want you to say “I did it ALL.” The only way for you to do that is to know what is important to you, and not allow your business to swallow you whole.
The thought of raising their prices sends most of coaches and service professionals running to the hills. “What if I lose clients?” “Will people really pay that?” “What if I end up making even less money?”
Chances are, despite the mind-numbing fear, you are still looking at your pricing and wishing you could charge what you really feel your services are worth.
Well, you are in luck because I have not one, not two, but three ways you can do just that. Plus, just in case you’d be concerned about flying without a safety net, I’ve got that covered, too.
The fact is pricing has got to be the biggest hullabaloo in business.
When it comes to coaching, you can take any number and make it work. It really is a mind game – whether you charge $5,000 or $500 for your month-long program, the difference won’t be so much in how other people see you but in how you see yourself.
Ever see those big-names offer “discounted” coaching programs ($997, marked down from $1997)? Put those prices out of your head right now. That pricing is completely made up, based on what everyone else is charging and industry “norms”.
You’re a trailblazer, “norms” are not going to serve you. Your pricing needs to be based on the true value your clients get, and not what everyone else is doing.
Your blocks around pricing are all in your head – but that doesn’t make them any less real.
There really is no wrong or right answer to how much you should charge, but that doesn’t keep you from agonizing over it.
If you hear yourself saying:
“How can I charge that much?”
“I give way more value than I’m charging,”
“Well so and so charges this and I’m so far (above/below) them, so____.”
And then there’s my favorite, “I really want to serve the people who really need me, and those are the ones who can’t afford me, so how could I raise my prices even though I can’t make a living this way?” (There’s one that will keep you running in circles.)
Here’s aReality check – none of these statements are actually true!
These thoughts are just the crap that comes up when you start thinking about pricing, and all of them are extremely common and very limiting beliefs.
I’m telling you this because unless you get that, I could give you ten ways to raise your prices, and you won’t be able to get past all the objections that will pop in your head.
Our self-talk comes from our experiences and how we’ve processed them, and unless we’re onto it, it becomes our reality. So be aware, know you’re not alone, and understand you may have some of these derailing beliefs to work through as you grow your business.
Now with that all said, on to the main event.
Here are three ways to raise your prices I’ve seen that really work.
Rebranding and repositioning
The Stairstep Approach
Let’s take them one at a time.
Packaging is not a new concept.
You may already have packages or have been told you need them. The last thing you want is an hourly mindset for you or your clients. It sets up a weird dynamic and ties you and your client to the clock rather than the outcome.
Really, are you selling hours or are you selling a desired result?
By outlining the start and end points and the steps you’ll take together to get there, you can price your services as a package and get away from the idea that your work together could somehow be condensed to “save” hours or be put in a position to commit to a certain number of hours to get the client to the fixed price they want.
Following a value-based pricing model that’s not based on the number of sessions or hours will free both you and the client to concentrate on the work and not the pricing. If you haven’t already, try it and be amazed.
If you’re finding it difficult to justify value with your current descriptions and how your program is presented, you may have a branding issue which leads me to …
2. Rebranding and Repositioning
Rebranding and repositioning can help reframe the value you’re offering so asking a higher price is not just an option, it’s expected.
Exactly who is your target client? How tailored is your program to that ideal client? If your program is more of a tent than a perfectly fitting garment, your client will shop elsewhere. Look at the wording you’re using to describe the problem and the results – do your ideal clients immediately “get” it? Also look at your graphics and the message they send about the overall quality and tone of your services.
When your program is properly positioned and presented and all is in alignment, your confidence and ability to ask for more increase.
3. The Stairstep Approach
Take raising your prices one step at a time. If your branding and packaging is humming along, maybe it’s your mindset that is getting in the way. If so, don’t beat yourself up, we have a method for that.
It starts with your intention. Looking ahead, where do you want your pricing to be? Then, it’s just a matter of taking it one step at a time. For example, if you’re charging $2000 for a particular package and you want to be charging $3000, raise your pricing by $250 every 5 (or any number you choose) clients until you reach that goal. It’s all up to you — intend, commit, and be confident.
What you may find as you begin asking for more and see how doable it is and how, as long as the value is being communicated to your prospects, there really isn’t a difference in reaction to the pricing, you’ll be even more confident going forward.
Now that I’ve equipped you with these awesome strategies you may be saying to yourself “Okay, let’s do this! But, how much should I charge?”
So here’s one final piece of advice I’d like to leave you with. There’s a fine line between being unconfident and downright cocky in what you’re charging for your services.
Unconfident puts off all this tentative energy and your prospect will feel that and hesitate to work with you. On the other hand, when you’re cocky, you’re like a wall of aggression that pushes people away.
I like to use what I’m going to dub ThePuke Principle to gauge when I’ve reached an appropriate price point. Your pricing should make you queasy, but fall short of being downright puke-inducing. Only you will know where that is. Remember, it’s all subjective – choose your spot and position yourself to claim it.
This question is a slippery one because depending on who you ask or what side of the equation you’re on, the answer can look a little different.
Of course, the client will likely assume you are responsible. They’re hiring you to get them to a result that was promised.
However, if you’re a coach or other professional where you’re not offering a completely “done for you” service then you can’t guarantee an certain outcome.
Chances are there are actions outside of your control that your client needs to do in order to get their desired results. You provide the service or deliverable, but your clients need to do their part as well. You can’t be held completely responsible for what comes after you’ve done your part.
But as we know, things in the entrepreneurial world aren’t always so cut and dry.
I like to simplify things and consider myself responsible TO my clients but not necessarily responsible FOR them.
Let me explain.
I do my best to create the deliverables and set up processes, but if the client isn’t doing their homework and essentially not holding up their end of the deal, then I can’t be held responsible for the lack of results.
But of course, clients want to know what they’re “going to get” when they hire you. They want to be promised something.
So how do you balance this equation to make sure that both you and your client are satisfied with the results that is being created?
Here are the 3 steps to follow that will help you create the balance you need.
Step 1: Only work with the clients you know you can help
This one sounds obvious, but can get tough, especially if you’re fighting the urge to help everyone out there. But the reality is, you can’t help everyone and not everyone is a good fit.
Here’s a good example. When you’re in negotiations with a potential client and you’ve put together a package that you know would be great and they baulk at the price or some of the deliverables that are included and they start to ask about something a little less.
It can be tempting to say yes and negotiate your package down, especially if you are short on your revenue goals that month.
But what if you know that cutting things out or changing your package won’t get them the results that they want? By negotiating and settling for something lesser, you’d be fighting an uphill battle trying to get the same results with much less ammo.
In this situation, it’s perfectly okay to let the client know that your package is firm.
It’s your responsibility to only work with clients that you know you can help in a way that allows you to do your best work, even if that means saying no to certain prospects.
Step 2: Set expectations and boundaries from the get go
In any business relationship, it’s important to have specific expectations and boundaries, and they start even before the engagement begins.
The way you schedule consultations, the way you structure your calls, and how you propose projects, these are all examples of expectations and boundaries that will shape your future work.
Setting expectations early on is important because you’re only working with the information you have right now from a potential client.
As you go deeper and start working together, they might need or ask for more things. So you want to have those set boundaries in place before any scope creep can happen.
From the very beginning, set boundaries for how things are delivered and what happens if they need to add things to your package so there isn’t any confusion later.
Pro tip: Make sure you’re using terms your client understands when setting expectations. Listen to what the client is asking for and always use their words. You may think you’re agreeing to the same thing, but if the definitions and vocabulary aren’t clear, you could have a different understanding than your client, leading to issues later down the line.
Step 3: Ask for feedback and take it into account
Feedback is a double edged sword. Good feedback can make you feel on top of the world, but it can also feel like a knife in the gut when someone points out a flaw or something you could have done better.
But asking for feedback is one of the best ways to help you understand your clients’ expectations. This will help you determine disconnects in your marketing where clients come to you expecting something other than what you really deliver.
You can ask for feedback at different points during your interaction or at the very end, in either case be sure to give clients an opportunity to give very honest feedback during your journey together.
To do this, ask questions that allow clients to highlight the positive such as: “What were you really excited about and why would you recommend this program?”
Then allow them opportunities to explore what was missing for them like: “What could have been done a little differently? What would have made your experience even a little better?”
These questions will show you where you can make improvements, and future clients will benefit from that feedback (and surely sing your praises!)
As a coach or service provider, you are responsible to your clients TO help get them the results they are paying you for. But it’s so important to do the prep work before starting to work with someone to ensure that you can get them the results they envision. So only choose clients you know you can help, and make sure your boundaries and expectations are firm.
With these things in place, you will increase the chances that both you and your client will walk away from the experience completely satisfied.