Top 10 things I learned by giving 100 free coaching sessions

What I learned is pretty straightforward: No one really knows the value of it UNLESS they’ve experienced it.  Value is a perception.  Perceptions are based on your point of view, background, experience, bias, etc…  But, you might be saying, what about the value in reference to money.  I’m going to tell you a similar answer by saying: No one has an exact idea how to price point coaching either.   How can this be?

I exhausted a lot of hours reading coaching journals and publications as well as asking other coaches how they priced their services. I’ve received this advice:

I’d ask, “How do you set your hourly rate for coaching?”

They’d respond, “What number do you feel comfortable with?  Go with that!”

My response,  “Is it that simple?  What if you have a client who challenges it?”

They’d say, “Then ask: What value do you put on the coaching you received today?”

Now we are back to the beginning.  Here’s the thing, and this is really important, there is no structure because it’s all about what the client values and wants.  I have used that question, “how much do you think it should be?”, to a client and I was met with awkward silence.  To cut the silence, I talked my way out of it and that resulted in not gaining a client.  So the lesson here became, what value do I give my coaching.  This is equally challenging for a new coach especially when considering your niche and experience level.  So when asked, what is your rate?  I always felt a little out of balance since I can’t give a standard measurement of that from some reputable institution.

But let’s talk about the value more in the sense of what coaching can bring and save the money part for the bankers and accountants. 😉 Coaching as a profession is only about 20 years old. What is most important about coaching is what happens for each individual client.  If you are reaching for the stars, you know, for something you longed for, for years and years, wouldn’t you say that is nearly priceless to you?  Think about that for a moment…

Yeah! That’s pretty valuable!!  The reason you hire a coach is because you recognize that you can’t do it on your own.  Something keeps getting in front of that vision. Coaching isn’t about telling you NO to your dreams.  It’s about saying YES to them.  From here, the relationship is created and the work begins.  You see, we live in a society that we always have someone or something measuring the quality and value of things and saying what is what, how to do this and no you can’t that.  In the coaching space, well, it’s up to YOU.  So how do you value coaching?  If you have never had the experience I would say it’s hard to measure.  If you have had a session with me, or someone else, then you know there might be some structure but often it’s up to you in the conversation.  You know what works for you.  No one else does.  The power is in your hands. As is defining if it’s of value to you or not.  This dynamic runs through all aspects in coaching*.  This is why I put VALUE as number one on my top 10 list.  I saw many times how this is a hard concept to convey and accept. I’m not the expert.  YOU ARE. Giving the power and permission to the client is different and mind-blowing all at once. That means YOU say when, what, how and how much (in some cases).  We live in a structured, rule-oriented, “this is how you do it” kind of world. And I’m saying “What do you want from coaching?  How much do you want to pay?”

The other side of my lessons learned on this point was the word FREE.  It brought people in from near and far, but they didn’t stay.  I have ONE shot.  ONE chance to make a powerful impact in someone’s life.  It’s a huge thing for a coach.  We coaches know the responsibility placed on us.

[inlinetweet prefix=”The Value of coaching” tweeter=”” suffix=””] It’s not just a conversation, it’s an opportunity to change someone’s life! [/inlinetweet]

But, FREE…that word can take the value away. That perception is harder to squash.  We aren’t working on that in a coaching session we are working on other things.  When it came to the discussion of how to continue forward, well, it went stale, or often a soft promise was made to get back to me on continuing with me for coaching.  I take responsibility here.  I wasn’t great at that discussion for a number of reasons some of which are here in this article. I suspect also that the word FREE might have proceeded the working together conversation before we even met.  That I can never really know unless someone says it to me directly.  Later I read this article on my way to Amsterdam to meet a client.  It jolted me a bit.  The article was over NOT giving it away for free specifically directed to us new coaches. The reason, it devalues the profession of coaching and your time and money spent learning the skills.  I respect this profession and I certainly did not, do not, want to add to its demise.  I believe in its power to really help people who are ready for it.  But also I know it’s important to find out if a coach is right for you.  Taking these two ideas into consideration, free vs. test driving the service, I chose to give an “intake”, a get to know me session.  It’s important to get a taste of what is possible since I’m offering a service.  I see how other coaches are doing it with personal invitations and referrals only.  I may adopt some of those ideas later on in my practice. I’m still learning a lot about coaching even after these 100 sessions.  What was the most valuable lesson I learned? That it starts with me valuing what I offer to people.  The rest will fall into place as I grow.


The article I spoke about can be found here: New Coaches…you do not need to give away your coaching!

*The specific coaching I practice is called Co-Active coaching taught at CTI (Coaches Training Institute).  I will discuss this more in a later post.