It happened again today.
I was on a call with a practitioner when she said that a major reason she’s having trouble is that the economy is terrible and her work is a luxury for people who want to work with her.
This is one of the most frequent challenges I hear from practitioners: their work is a luxury, so when the economy is bad, people say they can’t afford it.
In this post, I’m going to outline 3 ways you get hurt when you think your work is a luxury and show you what needs to change, to get a different result.
What happens when you think your work is a luxury
1. You can’t pay your bills
One of the things I know about you whether or not we’ve ever met is that what you charge for your work does not reflect the actual value you know is inherent in your work. Hands-on practitioners know their work is life-altering, yet no one I’ve spoken to feels like they’re charging exorbitant rates for it.
In fact, most practitioners tell me they lower their fees or have a sliding scale… these are the most common ways of trying to “position” a luxury so that people will be more likely to buy it.
The problem is that “way back when,” when you set your current fees, they were probably based on a very simple equation:
A x B = C
- A is the number of sessions you give,
- B is the fee you charge and
- C is the amount of money you need to live.
It’s simple to see that changing A or B changes how much money you have to live on.
The problem is that most practitioners I speak with tell me they are uncomfortable about raising their rates… and nearly all tell me that if they lowered them any further, they would feel really bad about themselves.
If that describes you, you’re at a place where what you charge is the only number that makes any sense to you. You’re between a rock and a hard place… you can’t go up, you can’t go down, and that means you can’t create package that offers your client value without making you feel bad about yourself.
The first thing to consider is your relationship to money.
We’ve all got money issues, no matter how much we have, no matter how much our parents had, no matter what we believe about it and no matter what stories we tell ourselves. To grow your practice, you have to grow as a practitioner and as a person… and that means that you have to deal with your money issues or they’ll bite you in the butt every time you talk to a new person.
2. You lack confidence when you talk with potential clients
When you hear “I can’t afford it” from new clients several times, it’s easy to start doubting that you’ll ever find enough people who have the money to commit to work with you.
Creativity is meaningless in this dilemma—you would have to turn the meaning of “luxury” upside-down to make any substantive difference in your own practice.
Since you can’t change what it means to indulge in a luxury, you’re stuck with what you get. A few people who have “enough” money might find you and some of those folks might decide they want to work with you. And you tell yourself to be satisfied with that.
Over time, your confidence erodes. You know you can’t charge less without hurting yourself financially… and although you don’t want to appear desperate, you are very aware of your bank balance.
Many practitioners tell me that it starts to be hard even to have a conversation with a someone new to their practice because they have so little hope of getting a client.
Your gremlins—or whatever you call those internal voices whose job it is to keep you from getting too big, too smug, too successful, too… whatever—they sit inside your head or on your shoulder and whisper things like:
- See, I told you—it’s useless; just be glad you have a few clients who want you… and can pay you something.
- What did you expect? Only a few people ever say “yes.”
- Why do you even bother? People have no idea how important your work is. They just don’t get it.
- The best thing you did in this session was not get your hopes up.
- Who do you think you are, anyway?
When your internal voices are whispering things like this every time you meet with a potential client, it’s hard to come across as a confident expert that potential clients are looking for… they hear what’s going on in the background more clearly than anything you say.
Of course, the quickest way to bolster your confidence is to get more clients—and you can’t get them because you lack confidence.
3. You can’t fix it
When you believe that you can’t get people to commit because your work is a luxury, your attitude about what you are doing and how you present it are all tied up in the same neat package.
When you see the problem outside yourself… in the economy or in what others can afford… it exists in a place where you have no control over it.
You can’t solve it, fix it, change it… you can’t make an impact on it in any way.
It doesn’t matter what you do in your session.
It doesn’t matter how good your work is.
It doesn’t matter how low your price is.
It doesn’t matter how “anything” anything is… your mindset comes through louder than your words, bigger than the result they got and with greater energy, vigor and strength than anything else that happens in that first session.
Even if you never actually say to first-time clients, “I know this is a luxury, so instead of charging you $50, I’m only going to charge you $25,” people will hear that great as it would be to work with you, they don’t really need to.
Fortunately, the situation isn’t hopeless. What it requires is two shifts—one in the way you think about your work and the other in the way you present it.
Stop allowing people to view your work as a luxury
The same practitioners who tell me their work is a luxury say that they took their training because they had a deep need, and in the course of that training, they got a transformation. To them, that is not a luxury. In fact, they say they wouldn’t be who they are today, without it.
What you may be missing is that you are responsible for how your work is seen by potential clients: if you know it’s a necessity for helping people get what they want, you need to make that clear to them.
When you know how to present your work as essential, the people you see for the first time can easily understand why they need to commit to working with you.
Helping people decide to commit is an important key to enrolling clients who are fully engaged in getting the kind of transformation you offer—exactly the clients all practitioners tell me they hope will find them.
Prove that its necessary
If you believe that your work is essential for the people you help, then make it your job to help them understand that. Trust that they will be able to see that what you offer is vital to them… when you’re clear in yourself about this, it will be obvious to them, as well.
Become a practitioner whose work is necessary, not optional. The economy is a two-way street. If it’s bad, it’s not bad only for the people who come to see you—it’s bad for you, too. You can’t afford to offer a luxury in a bad economic climate.
If you want a more successful practice, learn how to talk to your clients in your first sessions so it’s impossible for them to miss the essential value of your work in their lives.
You don’t have to make it up or manipulate anyone…
Look at your first session with someone as an exploration of everything that’s relevant to making a decision. Communicate the value that makes people commit to getting the help they really need from you.
Give people an experience during your first session so that you make it completely clear that with your help, they can get what they want: you can see it, you show them how to see it and you help them see that without your help, it isn’t likely to happen.
Helping a client to get what he or she wants is not manipulation, it’s what they came for!
Putting it all into practice
If you are unsure about how to put these ideas to work for you in your own practice, let’s have a private call where we can zero in on what you want and how to get there. Click here to find out more!
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