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A Profitable and Supportive Alternative to Coaching Packages

Last updated on July 16, 2024

When I ask my community of coaches or a new client about their current goals for their coaching practice, I hear one of two things:

  1. I am actively working to grow my coaching practice with marketing tools and strategies.
  1. I am actively working to build a full coaching practice of primarily 1-on-1 clients.

I do these things, too. After all, maintaining a practice that is full of clients means continuously being visible enough to potential clients. But the common misconception I hear is that marketing alone leads to this outcome. 

As odd as this is going to sound, if we’re marketing coaching or marketing ourselves as coaches, we will not necessarily create a full practice. Most coaches learn to market and sell coaching by cobbling together packages of time—we see this advice handed out time and time again to coaches, both new and seasoned. But if this approach is failing you, as it failed me, know that you’re not alone.

Here’s a hypothetical example of common package structures:

  • 1 Month Package – Four coaching sessions over 30 days for $450
  • 3 Month Package – Twelve coaching sessions over 3 months for $1350
  • 6 Month Package – Twenty-four coaching sessions over 6 months for $2700

Look familiar? The exact times and numbers may vary for you, but if I had to guess, I’d guess that there is something similar hanging out on your website today. A package is a series of coaching sessions completed over a set amount of time. The client pays per session or per month until they run out of sessions, and then chooses whether to renew. 

So why don’t coaching packages sell? Let’s dig into five reasons.

1. Coaching isn’t therapy, so stop selling it like it is

Coaching is discernibly different than therapy. Yes, coaching can be very therapeutic and cathartic, but its intended purpose is rooted in an entirely different ecosystem.

The benefits of coaching generally aren’t felt over years but months, and sometimes even over a single session. I’ve seen clients change stories they’ve carried around for decades in one session because of a single life-pattern-interrupting question, for example. Therapy, while critical for mental health and wellness, operates within a different system.

A therapy client or patient may be in process with a therapist for years. Long-term, this type of service must be financially accessible for the client, but it rarely is. 

But if your coaching can resolve a critical problem with a client in under six months, not only is this far more impactful, it’s also more economical over time. Stop charging for your services as though the work could meander for years. Charge for your services under the assumption that it won’t take years.

2. Coaching is a tool whose purpose lacks consensus

Coaching is a young industry. While it started to pop up in the early 1970s, it wasn’t until the mid-1990s and later that it began gaining any real traction. To this day, when I tell people that I am a coach, their most common response is, “Which sport?” 😉

There isn’t an established narrative in our culture about exactly what coaching does, who it’s for, and why it matters—yet. When we charge by the session or for a batched number of sessions, we’re making two overt assumptions: that the innate value of the coaching is already defined and that the client knows upfront how much of it they’ll need.

In truth, we should assume that 1) the client likely doesn’t know the actual value of coaching and 2) the client can’t know how much coaching they’ll in fact need. But how often have we been mistakenly basing the value of a service only on the tools it uses? Much too often, I think. This is the equivalent of trying to sell someone a newly constructed house by showing them only a hammer used to construct it.

3. Coaching packages can undermine the structure many clients need 

A coaching package can quickly turn into something clients use only on an “as-needed” basis. While I know that a single session is powerful, I also know that for most new clients, the work only compounds over a certain number of sessions. Not years, but certainly months.

If a client purchases a package, but there’s no container for that work and the client can schedule whenever they desire, the long-term effect of the coaching can become diluted. And fast. In my experience, most new clients need a minimum six-month commitment before the work can truly take root. And within that time, I prefer to see the client at least twice per month.

In my experience, coaching without a structure like this is ineffective and, in many cases, the client leaves the process saying, “That was nice, but not life-changing.” This is because the tool of coaching itself does not change lives, but the bookended container we place coaching within can—and very often does! 

4. Different coaching packages have little to no discernible difference 

Packages force the client to choose based on time and cost alone. If the primary difference between your packages is the number of sessions, and therefore the hour-to-hour cost for those sessions, don’t be surprised when your client chooses the cheaper option.

This leaves you constantly needing to renew your clients. And when they begin excessively spacing their sessions out, you might find a 3-month package turning into 6 months or longer.

5. Coaching packages base the value of coaching on time with the coach

A package’s primary selling point is time with you, the coach. Time with you is valuable, but not as valuable or important as your client’s transformation. And without a clear understanding of how your coaching process will ultimately change their life, your potential clients will have to decide how much you are worth based on how much they think time with you is worth. 

The approach above makes one major assumption: Our clients already know the trajectory their coaching should take and are prepared in advance to ask for it.

I personally uphold the International Coach Federation’s definition of coaching: “…partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership.”

Time with you is valuable, but not as valuable or important as your client’s transformation.

I also uphold the ICF’s belief that in order to “unlock previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity and leadership,” we as coaches first have to imagine what is possible and offer this in a systematic way that guides our clients into new levels of discovery and self-awareness they might not otherwise explore. I call this transformational program design. 

A transformational program is a facilitated process that considers the right conditions for transformation and, while including coaching, it doesn’t exclusively base the outcome of transformation on the hours spent with us as a coach. A program, as opposed to a package, aims to combine our imagination for what’s possible with the supportive tool of coaching through a systematic and intentionally created pathway while also keeping our clients at choice.

There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to creating a coaching program. For this reason, when designing a coaching program, I recommend we begin by investigating these questions:

  1. What hope do you have for the world that drew you to coaching in the first place?
  2. What problem(s) do you feel most compelled to solve with your coaching?
  3. What would your client(s) have to believe, understand, or do to have a lived experience of this hope in their life?
  4. In addition to coaching, what tools and processes are in your wheelhouse?
  5. Name the timing, frequency, and length of the coaching session that would feel most aligned to offer.

Designing an impactful transformational coaching program gives our clients a predictable growth process to look forward to, creates sustainable and predictable income for our business, and actively demonstrates the best we have to offer as coaches. 

A transformational program is a facilitated process that considers the right conditions for transformation and, while including coaching, it doesn’t exclusively base the outcome of transformation on the hours spent with us as a coach.

As coaches, we already know that coaching is a valuable tool because of the change we know it can create in our clients’ lives. But in order to both demonstrate and actualize this potential in our practices, we must design the structure that best supports it and our clients. And that, I believe, is why transformational coaching programs might just be the answer many of us have been looking for.

Editor’s Note: Want to know more about Andrea and her work? Read our interview with her, as well as her other articles here at Life Coach Magazine.

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Andrea Leda - Brave Coach - Guest Author
Andrea Leda

Andrea Leda is a sought-after master coach, teacher, and mentor with over 10,000 hours of coaching experience since she began her practice in 2010. She is dedicated to helping each of us learn to trust our own innate value and worthiness so that we can show up for the work we’re truly here to do.

By harnessing her deep and practical knowledge of powerful coaching techniques—including NLP, journal therapy, mental emotional release work, and BodyMAP coaching—Andrea supports heart-centered coaches and visionary change-makers in reaching their fullest potential in both life and business. In her coaching work, she has been called "a force to be reckoned with and a brave woman who truly makes this world go round.”

In 2022, Andrea founded Braver Coach—a mission, a community, and an educational platform for coaches who are reimagining coaching by bringing forth all of who they are. As a certified training organization through the Association of Coaching, Andrea equips coaches so that they feel empowered to do the work they are called to do—and help their clients and communities do the same.

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