In this interview, we talk with Kyle Elliott about his article, Mindful Pricing: Four Questions to Ask When Pricing Your Coaching Services.
Few topics bring coaches more stress, anxiety and confusion than deciding how to charge their clients for a coaching engagement. There are also few topics less frequently discussed than how to price one’s coaching services
strategically and intentionally.
How do you mindfully price a coaching engagement? What do you charge for coaching services and programs in 2022? What should you keep in mind as you determine what to charge for your services as a coach? How might your coaching rates change throughout your business career?
Dr. Kyle Elliott is the founder and career coach behind CaffeinatedKyle.com. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and high-tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliott, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine.
A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliott’s words have been featured on Business Insider, CNBC, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, and The New York Times, among dozens of other leading publications. He is an official member of the invitation-only Forbes Coaches Council, a member of the Gay Coaches Alliance, and a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).
Join us as we learn more from Kyle about what the four questions are that you need to consider when pricing your coaching services and programs.
Watch the full interview by clicking here.
Find the full article here: https://bit.ly/btp-Elliott
Learn more about Kyle here.
Grab your free issue of choice Magazine here - https://choice-online.com/
In this episode, I talk with Kyle about his article published in our September 2022 issue.
Hi everyone. I'm Garry Schleifer and this is Beyond the Page, brought to you by choice the magazine of Professional Coaching. choice is more than a magazine. It's a community of people who use and share coaching tools, tips and techniques to add value to their businesses and increase impact with their clients. It's an institution of learning built over the course of 20 years. Yes, we've been publishing for 20 years, dedicated to improving the lives of coaches and their clients. In today's episode, I'm speaking with career coach Dr. Kyle Elliott, who's the author of an article in our latest issue, New Horizons in Leadership~ Pushing Boundaries in Coaching. I don't know about you, but everything I say and everything I'm seeing is kind of like a Twilight Zone. It's like, ok, whatever, Beyond the Page. The article is entitled"Mindful Pricing: Four Questions to Ask When Pricing Your Coaching Services". Dr. Kyle Elliot is the founder and career coach behind Caffeinated Kyle. So I brought mine.Speaker 2:
I did too.Speaker 1:
Yes, I saw. His expertise is in Silicon Valley and High Tech. As a result of working with Dr. Elliot, senior managers and executives have landed jobs at Meta, formerly Facebook, Amazon, Google, and nearly every other tech giant you can imagine. A trusted career expert, Dr. Elliot's words have been featured on Business Insider, CNB, CNN, Entrepreneur, Fast Company, Fortune, the New York Times, and choice, the Magazine of Professional Coaching. So you have to add that to your resume.Speaker 2:
Yes, I do need to add that now.Speaker 1:
Among dozens of other leading publications, he's an official member of the invitation only Forbes Coaches Council, a member of the Gay Coaches Alliance, as am I, I'm actually the president this yea, and a certified health education specialist. Welcome Kyle. Thank you so much for joining me today.Speaker 2:
Yes, good morning. Thank you for having me. I'm so excited to be here speaking with you.Speaker 1:
And congratulations on your recent doctorate in education.Speaker 2:
Thank you. I know you and I chatted together when we met at the conference earlier this year, the Gay Coach's Alliance Conference, and then since then I finished my doctorate. So it's exciting to be here. Hearing people call me Dr. Elliot, it's still a little interesting and fun.Speaker 1:
I know and I didn't even know. All of a sudden I get all this stuff and it's Dr. Kyle Elliot and Dr. Elliot. I'm like, what? When did that happen? Because I just know you as Kyle, right? Or we'll call you Dr. Kyle.Speaker 2:
Anything's fine. But I love it. It's exciting. My dad actually, as soon as I got into my doctorate program. He sends my mail every month. I get my mail to my parents and he started addressing as Dr. Kyle Elliot. He's like, you need to get used to this and embrace it. So he's been one of my biggest cheerleaders.Speaker 1:
Living into the future.Speaker 2:
Exactly. He's a good coach.Speaker 1:
Like coaching.Speaker 2:
Yes, exactly.Speaker 1:
That's good. I love it. You know, oddly, I do sort of the same thing. When I started coaching 22 years ago, I labeled everything my MCC journey because, and I know it's not over when you get MCC, but that's kind of, at the time and still, it's kind of that final marker point. I have always said"That's what I'm doing it for is the journey to mastery." I say that a lot in podcasts and conversations. Enjoy the journey to mastery. Because you never get there.Speaker 2:
And speaking of not getting there, one of the things that we never seem to get, it's not that we don't get it right, but we just, oh my gosh, squirm and avoid is pricing. So why did you decide to address this?Speaker 2:
For that exact reason. A lot of people tend to struggle with pricing, setting their pricing, packaging their coaching services and offerings. I've been coaching for 10 years now, five of that part-time. It started as a college side hustle, another half of that full-time for five years. I just celebrated my five year anniversary of full-time time. And a lot of people reach out to me and say, Kyle, how have you packaged your services so beautifully and elegantly and in this way where you're able to charge top dollar? It's been a journey and I like sharing that journey with people and saying, Hey, I didn't get here overnight. It's been 10 years of constant evolution and tweaking and I'm still tweaking it. It's the end of 2022, right now and in 2023 I plan to update again. And I love sharing that journey with people. As you said, it's the mastery. You're never there. It's this constant evolution and optimization.Speaker 1:
Yeah. And you speak a lot about that in the article as well about taking a look at and tweaking. I mean, one of the sections you said is what value are you delivering through your coaching? And you know, you start to think like, we are always learning, right? Why shouldn't we? I mean it increases our confidence, increases the impact of our delivery, solves more problems. So why shouldn't we get paid more? Right? Now, one thing I want address before we move into that. I know, hold on. You use the word pricing philosophy. What do you mean by that? And what's your personal pricing philosophy?Speaker 2:
Yeah, so I think of philosophy, I think of an idea or a methodology or belief. I don't think there's a best practice or the right way to do it. It's just here's my belief. I'm actually working with a spiritual director now. I met him at the Gay Coaches Alliance Conference. And when I think of philosophy, there's not like a right or wrong philosophy, but there's a lot of different ways you can do something. And I find for coaches it's helpful if you find your philosophy, what's your North Star? What's guiding you through this? And today I'm just sharing some ideas that you might be able to try and say, Ooh, I like a little bit of this. I don't like that. That's what I'm doing now with my spiritual director. I'm saying, Here's some spirits I like. Here's some religions I like. Oh, maybe I don't like this aspect of this religion or spirit. So hopefully today it can be that. Or if that kind of language doesn't work with you, maybe a buffet, you say, Ooh, I like that entree Kyle's offering. Oh, I'm gonna leave that. You go the buffet and see what parts you like and then what parts you're like, oh, I don't like that Kyle and then leave it..Speaker 1:
Give some examples of what's at the buffet. What's in your buffet?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So for my buffet, something I really believe in is figuring out what's the problem I'm solving for clients. So I see a lot of coaches make the mistake of saying, I offer LinkedIn coaching or I offer life coaching. And I think that's great to offer as a service, but going deeper and saying, okay, what's the problem I'm solving? So for me, I'm a career coach, so I solve the problem of helping people find jobs. And then I work backwards and say, what services can I offer? So those are coaching sessions, those are email support, those are resume reviews, that's LinkedIn profile writing to solve that problem. But if I just say I'm selling career coaching, clients are gonna say, okay, why am I spending thousands of dollars on this? But if the buffet is here's a job, I'm gonna help you find a job, people say, Ooh, I wanna buy that job that you're offering or selling to me, or I want buy more work life balance, or I want buy a higher salary. People can then say, Ooh, that's something I can pick up and I want, and I can feel and imagine.Speaker 1:
Right. Wow. You know, and I want to go back. I want to thank you for, in the article and in this conversation, how you're bringing the solving the problem. Because in inside of the article you not only say pricing, but thank goodness you said the part that I believe, which is that you connect it with the marketing. I am surprised that you're still seeing people selling who they are, not what they do, and how they solve problems. Cause people buy solutions to problems they don't buy necessarily. I mean, they want to know, like and trust you, I get that but wow. You know, I always feel like every conversation's a coaching conversation. Sales, engagement, it's all a coaching conversation. What's your situation? It's like, you know, more of this, less of this, right? Except when you do a podcast, in which case you get to like go on forever. So thank you for, f or saying that. And again, I have to say, I'm surprised that we still see that. And it's not just coaching. I mean, I see that in other industries as well. So yeah. Thank you very much about that. You were alluding to some of the mistakes. What other mistakes do you see coaches making? Number one is t hat they are not solving the problem.Speaker 2:
Yeah. I also see that they're just not remembering the value they offer. So they have all these extras I see a lot of times. They say, you can text me, you can email me. They have all these extras. All they're doing is charging hourly rate. And then a prospective client says, 0h$200 an hour for 50 minutes. That's a lot. And then our calculating per minute. And they're like, oh, I'm paying$4 a minute. That's a lot of money. Instead of saying, Okay, let's go back and say we're paying$200 to increase your confidence. We're paying$200 to solve that annoying person at work and teaching you how to deal with executives. We're paying$200 for you to be a confident speaker and not go up and have your hands tremble when you're giving a presentation. We're paying$200 for you to get a raise. You can enter your amount there, but think what are people really paying for? It's not that hour with you, but it's the changes that they're achieving. It's the confidence perhaps. It could be clarity. Help them get to that future vision. And what I like doing during consultations and saying, Let's fast forward a year, three years, five years, and everyone you meet, you're like, Kyle's the best person in the world. What did you and I do together for you to be telling everyone that?Speaker 1:
Wow. That's good. Yeah.Speaker 2:
And then ask yourself as a coach, what dollar amount is that worth? And then that's probably tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars for someone to be going around screaming your name from the rooftops. So any amount less than that is a steal for your clients. And I think coaches forget about that. And they just look at, I can't be charging$4 a minute or$10 a minute and forget about the real value they're delivering.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Well, you know, truly, and I know it's best to keep value, but in my mind I'm also thinking I invested tens of thousands of dollars in my coaching education and I'm an entrepreneur. I'd like to see some return on investment and I have, don't worry, it's done. But it's also like, and you allude to this in the article as well is, as you get more educated, more confident, you charge more. I remember in my certification program in my coaching school one of the instructors said just say what number you can say without throwing up and then go higher. Right. And I thought that was absolutely kind of good advice. Yeah. I mean, Kyle, one of my biggest mistakes, I'm sure you and the listeners have made them to is when I was starting, and I was just talking with somebody about this yesterday, I offered four full one hour sessions for a hundred dollars. Oh my goodness. It was painful to have to do those sessions because I knew I was undervaluing myself and I knew this wasn't building my business. This was merely delivering coaching and even then the people h ad signed up for it were, I c all t hem tire kickers, but they wanted to have the experience, but they weren't committed to the coaching and the experience. Similar experiences?Speaker 2:
Exactly. And I've had similar experiences. I remember when I charged$5 for resume reviews. I got started in coaching doing resume reviews, writing LinkedIn profile summaries for$5 each. And each time I had a wait list, I would double my prices but I did a lot of those$5 ones and people weren't there for the service or me being nice. It was how quickly can Kyle get me back my resume review or my LinkedIn profile summary? And sometimes people give me referrals, but not a lot. But as I raised my prices and people showed up at a different level, I started offering coaching. I got a lot more people who were really committed to the process and they got better results too because I showed up differently as I charge more. I'm like, I'm charging hundreds of dollars an hour. I'm goning to show up more and really give them a lot in the session outside of it. And clients showed up differently when they were paying more for the service as well. Like, I spent thousands of dollars, Kyle, I'm going to do my homework and everything you say, I'm going follow it.Speaker 1:
Yeah, right.Speaker 2:
A lot differently.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Well and you know what, what tweaked for me too is we show up differently. And I think you said a little bit about that too. When you're charging that much, I'm darn well going show up on time ready, you know, whatever ready is and part of the agreement, that sort of thing. So yeah, because like they're paying me, they're paying me good money.Speaker 2:
Yeah. And I find I show up mentally different when I charge more, I prepare differently, I'm following up differently. I find my pricing philosophy a s I share in the article comes from my dad. Every time I have a w ait list, I double my prices. At the beginning it was easy jumps, small jumps,$5 to 10, 10 to 20, 20 t o 40 but this last one was 249 to 475. That's a huge jump doubling that. I showed up way differently at 475 compared to 249. That's almost 500 b ucks an hour. I'm like, who am I to be charging$10 per minute of value? B ut I showed up a lot differently in those conversations and my clients did as well because they're paying a lot of money to be there. And it was really powerful to see the difference that happened overnight really just from increasing those prices.Speaker 1:
Yeah. Oh my goodness. And I find it interesting. I've never thought of seeing how much it was per minute.Speaker 2:
And again, people are getting other stuff beyond that. So I think it's important not to fixate, but at the beginning it's fun kind of to look at that and be like yeah, let me think. How am I delivering value throughout this process? Now a lot of it is coaches, it's just holding space, asking good questions and then seeing where the conversation goes. But it's still just a fun mind experiment to do that.Speaker 1:
Yeah. I'm thinking, you know, if I had clients for 249 now I was charging 475, not only would I show up differently for the new ones, I think I would start to feel differently about the ones I was being paid less by and not necessarily in a good way. So there'd have to be some coaching on that for me in order to stay engaged. Cause that's what I committed to in the old one until I get to the new price or did you transition your old in existing clients to the new price?Speaker 2:
Yeah, some people have asked me about that. I don't transition the old people. Whatever price they're at, they're at. I sell packages. I do have some people on a retainer, but I primarily do packages because I do career coaching so usually people have a short term goal when they reach out to me.Speaker 1:
I want a job or I want work through this problem at work or I need to update my resume. So I usually am just selling'them packages. Thankfully I haven't dealt too much with the resentment. I have a really full practice. So I'm just thankful that I'm even charging what I'm charging and feel grateful. And I always have a wait list so I don't really worry about it. But I can imagine some people might feel that. And I would encourage them for those 249 clients, try and show up like a 475 one or whatever your price is and see what happens and how those clients show up if you start showing up like a$500 an hour coach.Speaker 1:
Yeah. You know what I think I would. It's just, I can't be different. I coach how I coach. I'm with the person. I meet them at their energy level. So being present doesn't allow me to be resentful. So I take that back. I don't think I have to do any work on that other than just to continue to be myself and continue more learning. Things like that. Because to me more learning means I can charge more too and confidence increases and I mean even something like having a mentor or a supervisor, we have an issue on that coming up and enhance your coaching through other methodologies and if they're getting paid and you start to see what others are getting paid, what you have to pay in order to get coaching from these people who are well priced I guess is the best way to say it.Speaker 2:
Yeah. And those higher prices allow you to then, as you said, invest in yourself. I've done multiple certifications in the last two years, doing more assessments, going to retreats and conferences and continue learning. I bring that back to my clients and say, Oh, let's try this, let's try that. And if you're charging a lower rate, it's a little more difficult to sustain yourself and show up outside of the session too. So for me, I do a lot of prep work before and after sessions with clients. I offer email support or one client recently was like, Oh, I want this type of job. So I spent an hour reaching out to people in those roles and connecting them and all of that is part of that base price that they're paying. I don't charge extra. So I'm able to do that as you offer a higher price point, you can offer more value to your client as well. Yeah. I've always been careful to price it so you can't come up with a pretty number when you divide by the number of hours. So, you know, it's like you can't figure out it's$150 an hour I charge, it's usually like, 137.24 when you divide it out. And then people, if they do do that, they start to get the idea that oh, he's not just charging an hourly rate, there's something else. And then I hope they figure that out. And the other thing that came to mind when you were speaking was perception is reality. So when I was offering the hundred dollars a month for four one hour sessions, they didn't perceive value. So they didn't really show up as coachable and coaching clients. And I was new too, so I take some responsibility that maybe I didn't set them up for success and I ended up presenting it.Speaker 1:
And so, you know, we think the same thing. You know, when somebody says their price is really low, you're like, Oh, why is their price so low? We just really have to think about that. It's like really? Like what? Really? Oh, sorry. My beloved ICF, love International Coaching Federation. However, they allow the people to come and put in a proposal for coaching at less 150 bucks. I'm like really? Like who's on? Because I think you have to be certified in order to get requests for proposal from prospective clients, who hasn't spent tens of thousands of dollars getting their education. Who are we to even think$150 is acceptable. Right? Sorry, go ahead.Speaker 2:
Oh no, I was just going to say, I think that perception piece too. My partner and I, we celebrated our anniversary this past weekend and went to the Ritz Carlton Bacara in Santa Barbara, California. We expected a certain level of service, of food because the menu's incredibly expensive so we showed up a certain way. We took our time getting to the restaurant, we dressed up nice, we set aside two or three hours, we enjoyed our time and eat slowly. We took in the views, we took photos together. So people show up differently when they're paying more money. We showed up entirely differently. We eat out every week, but that Saturday we ate out a little differently because it was our anniversary and because we spent a lot of money on that restaurant. And it wasn't just the service itself, but just how we went to the restaurant, how we returned, how we walked through. It was just slightly different and clients show up differently too, Going back t o o ur o riginal point when they pay more.Speaker 1:
Oh I do for sure. Excellent example. Couple more questions. One, I don't mean anything like other than get your perspective on this. I'm talking a lot with coaches and coaching leaders about the democratization of coaching. How do we balance a North American pricing structure with one that might serve people in other countries where the value or the comparison dollar to the US dollar, you're in the US and I'm in Canada, like with someone in another country,Speaker 2:
I find it helpful to go back to the value. What's the value someone's getting? So like for my clients, I like looking at, okay, when they work with me, they're getting a new job that might be anywhere from$10,000 to a$100,000 more per year, sometimes more, but that's the average$10 to$ 100,000 dollars more a year. And I charge a fraction of that for my typical package and that's what I compare it for. So for you and your local country, think about what's the value clients are getting from you and then maybe compare that locally. So what's that amount compared to maybe their salary? Are people willing to spend 5% of their annual salary to get more confidence? Or 10% of their salary to get more clarity, perhaps look at your client's typical salary. Then also what's important to think is if that individual paying or is their organization paying? And that's important as well because if it's individuals paying the value is gonna be different than the organization. If one of their executives is not performing, they may be willing to pay a lot more for that executive to then be performing wellSpeaker 1:
Or get out,Speaker 2:
Turn the business around or to get them out. And I think going back to the value can be really important in figuring out your prices.Speaker 1:
Oh wow. Well thank you. That's a great perspective. One of the things that I'm quite involved in on many fronts is diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. And we talk a lot about the democratization of coaching and how we can make coaching available to everyone on the planet. It's the same thing that the healthcare system struggles with is how can everyone have access to healthcare when they need it. Is it a right or privilege? Right. All that sort of thing and ICF believes that their vision is coaching is a part of a thriving, vibrant culture. I'm paraphrasing there. So how do we help that happen? And your example is excellent thank you. Cause of course there's lots of pro bono opportunities but people value things more when they put some money towards it and if it matches what their value system. Would that be the best way to say that?Speaker 2:
Yeah and I think part of it too is thinking perhaps you can be coaching without working with people one to one and perhaps is not exactly coaching is the right word. But for me I write tons of articles. I write anywhere from five to 20, 30 articles a month. I love writing. Especially since I finished my doctorate, my new hobby has been writing. So for me, not everyone can work with me one on one. So I have a free course people can take. I write a lot of articles so people can access that. So I have a lot of people who reach out to me and say, Kyle, I can't work with you but I'm really struggling with salary negotiation on his job offer. Can you help me? And I'll say, yes, here's a bunch of articles I've read and here's some tips I have. Or someone else may say, Oh I'm really stuck and I don't know what to do for a living. I say, Oh you should try this free assessment and here's a article I've written and feel free to reach back out. So I can't help every single person who reaches out. It's just not possible. But when people do, I try and really support them because not everyone can access it but I want to be able to support as many people as possible and not just those who are able to access the price point that I'm at either.Speaker 1:
Well I've just added another thing to my perspective of you. My vision of you is generosity. So thank you for that. We're getting close to the end of our conversation. What would you like our audience to do as a result of this article and this conversation? Maybe from the article or something else that's come to mind since you wrote it?Speaker 2:
Yeah. Something that we didn't talk about but I think is important is not comparing yourself to other coaches. I think it's easy to go out and compare yourself to other coaches and say here's what this coach is charging or their package or model and I think two things can be dangerous with that. The first is sometimes coaches may have these amazing prices or packaging but they're not really selling any. I've had a lot of consultations with coaches and on their website they list all this and then they're like, Oh I actually, I really don't coach that much. So you may be comparing yourself to a competitor who's really not a competitor. And then the second point, at least what the clients I speak to often, I'm the only coach they all have a consultation with. So if I went out and did a bunch of competitor research, these aren't my competitors really I'm comparing to, they come to me and I'm the only person they're having a consult with. So it's either Kyle or no one that they're working with. Cause a lot of my business is referrals. So you might be doing yourself a disservice if you go out there and do competitor research. And for some people it may make sense if you find a lot of traffic through Google or a coaching directory where people are comparing you to other people, you might want look a little bit to get an idea. But I would be mindful before you just compare yourself to other coaches, because you might be trying to do a apples to apples comparison when it's really not an apples to apples comparison.Speaker 1:
Wow. That's brilliant. Thank you for that. Yeah. You know, know it's true. I get a lot of my clients from a coaching platform and despite the fact I don't have to market myself, I still have to be different. And every time I meet with a new client I say, So why did you choose me? Because they start off with a row of three and they read through it and it's like, they love my entrepreneurial, they love my directness, so I make sure that that's, you know, front and center. And from time to time they want you to add a little bit more about your sales background. So, you are still doing some marketing, but I have had great fun doing it and I really enjoy it. So, I want thank you so much. I mean, obviously pricing is something we talk about for a long time. Thank you very much for your insights, for writing the article, for being here today and for your advice. Awesome. And helping us get beyond the page.Speaker 2:
Of course. Thank you for having me. This was fun.Speaker 1:
What's the best way to reach you? I think I know it as Caffeinated Kyle.Speaker 2:
Yes. My website caffeinatedkyle.com or I spend a lot of time on LinkedIn, Kyle Elliott with two L's and two T's.Speaker 1:
Oh, thank you for spelling that out. Awesome. Well that's it for this episode of On the Page. For more episodes, subscribe via your favorite podcast app. And don't forget to sign up for your free digital issue of choice Magazine by going to choice-online.com and clicking the signup now button. I'm Garry Schleifer, enjoy your journey to mastery.