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A powerful answer to: “How much do you charge?” [especially in corporate]

Imagine you’ve been invited to speak to the HR department at a Fortune 500 company… 

They’re interested to have you coach two members of the senior leadership team. 

You’re excited. But you’re also a little nervous…   

You know they have approval processes and budgets for leadership and development. You also know they’ve hired other coaches in the past. 

They’ve asked to meet with you and you’re certain that one of their first questions will be, “How much do you charge?”

What do you do? 

What do you say?

“How much do you charge?”

Being scared of the question, “How much do you charge?” is like being scared of falling off the top of a mountain when you’re looking at a picture of it in a library book.

Your real problem isn’t the money question. 

It’s who is asking that question in the first place. 

The ‘problem’ with HR… 

The problem with Human Resources people is that they love great coaches! 

You see, HR are ‘people people.’ Just like coaches. (I should know – my first ever job was as a Human Resources Officer in a children’s hospital in London.)

If you’ve got a track record of success behind you – HR will love you. If you understand the challenges and desires of big organizations – HR will love you. And if you know how to help high level leaders really grow – HR will love you.  

The challenge is that, in many large organizations, HR doesn’t control the budget. 

And you don’t ever want to be in a room discussing the impact of your coaching without at least one person present who could write you a check for your services.

“OMG. Have you seen this month’s numbers?!”

Here’s what happens when you don’t meet with someone who could write you a check to pay for your coaching:

Head of HR [to you]: You are exactly who we need to coach our leadership team. We just need a sign-off from the boss but it’s a done deal. We’ll be in touch in a couple of days. 

You: Fantastic. I can’t wait to hear from you. 


Head of HR [to their boss, a day later]: We’ve found an amazing coach for the leadership team. They only charge $XX,000, which is very reasonable for what they’re delivering… 

CEO: How much?! You’ve got to be kidding. Have you seen this month’s numbers? There are far cheaper coaches than that. Why don’t we just hire a motivational speaker for our leadership retreat, instead?

Head of HR [wanting to keep their job]: I think you’re right.  Maybe they weren’t as good as I thought. Let me see if Tony Robbins is available for a keynote… 


You [wondering, days later]: I don’t understand why I never heard back from them… 

To be a successful coach you need to sell the experience, not the concept, of coaching. 

If you don’t meet with a budget holder or a check writer, you can’t give them a powerful experience of your coaching. 

The person you meet might love you. But if they don’t write the checks, they’ll need to explain what you do to someone else (either in person or – even worse – in writing). And you’ll automatically lose at least 50% of your impact because coaching is experiential. 

Your only mission… 

It might feel challenging but your singular mission is to make sure you always have one person in the room who could write a check for your services.

“Let me ask, before we confirm the date of our meeting. Will there be someone in the room who has total responsibility for your coaching/training budget?” 

[Pause. Respond in the following way, if they ask “Why?”] 

“Why? Well, in my experience it’s best for all of us if we can get this handled in a single meeting. It will save you time and money.”

If they are reticent (or unable) to invite a budget holder, or a check writer, to a meeting, they are not going to convince that person to hire you… 

How much do you charge?

You don’t need to be intimidated by this question. But you do need to have a great answer.

Here’s one possible answer:

“Companies usually pay between $XX,000 and $YY,000 for my coaching. The range is because the coaching is tailor-made for each executive. 

Different leaders have very different needs. They require different types of assessments. And they need different levels of intervention or support. 

So, before I work with any leader, we always do an Executive Preview.” 

[Pause. Wait for them to ask more…] 

“An Executive Preview has two elements:

  1. A Vision Analysis with the Executive’s manager: I’ll draw out your goals and milestones for the executive. And, most importantly, how they will support your company’s objectives. 
  2. A Needs Assessment with the Executive: I’ll assess the executive’s needs, and goals by giving them an experience of coaching. 

After that, I’ll report back to you. I’ll give you 2 or 3 ways we can work together. Then, if it feels like a good fit to all of us, we’ll move forward…”

In Summary

  1. Never have a meeting unless there’s a check writer in the room. 
  2. Stop being afraid of the money question. Practice your answer so that it rolls off your tongue like your phone number. 

Love. Rich 


PS. In the spirit of you can never tell them enough! Here are my favorite resources for you…

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