How Much Should I Pay for Business Coaching Sessions?

Andrew Woodward

The question of how much you should pay for coaching sessions is an interesting one, especially as the industry grows and morphs.

So, before I talk about actual cash numbers, it might be helpful to understand a bit more about this fascinating newcomer to the business services industry.

The origins of business coaching have roots back to the 1950s and 60s at the beginnings of humanistic psychology, but it wasn’t until the 1980s, and 90’s that it took the form it has today. Even now, there is change happening as different approaches develop and become ascendant. As with anything new, doctrines are fashionable for a while and then superseded by the next bright young thing, so the industry is dynamic.

According to the International Coaching federation’s (ICF) 2020 Global Coaching Survey, the sector has grown 33% over the last four years. That doesn’t necessarily mean that the world is now full of coaches, but management practice is moving away from command and control, Taylorism, as a foundation. The view of an organisation as a machine made up of moving parts is diminishing, replaced by a more humanistic, relational view of an organisation. Hence the rise of coaching to facilitate relationship-based management.

The number of managers and leaders who use coaching techniques is even more rapid. They do not necessarily label themselves as coaches. Those managers who have joined the ICT, AC or ECCM represent a 50% jump in numbers; however, most managers might not see the necessity of joining a professional body of coaching to practice leadership and management, so let’s assume the number is much higher. These individuals are developing their practice from sources such as formal education, journals, podcasts, books, and coaching services to help them reflect on their practice as leaders and managers.

OK, so what influences are there on the price of your coaching programme?

Firstly, you have the skill, seniority, and years of experience of the coach. If they have status in the profession, such as a professor or well-known writer, this might also increase the price.

Secondly, will be the type of sector the coach is targeting. If they work in a cash-rich environment, such as pharmaceuticals, the price is likely greater than for those focusing on the small charity or arts sector. Also, public sector frameworks often put price ceilings on contracts and manage the quality, which also keeps a lid on things.

Thirdly, there is a volume of coaching sessions you’re buying. If you’re buying organisational coaching at scale, this should be less expensive than single sessions.

Fourthly, where, and how you source your coaching plays an integral part in pricing. So, lets look at four sources of coaching:

1) Digital coaching is growing in popularity because it affords busy managers flexibility as to when they take their coaching sessions. Digital coaches often offer their services later in the evenings, early mornings, and weekends because it is easy to jump online and meet up. The downside to digital coaching is that it can restrict some of the personal interaction and visual cues. The jury’s out regarding whether it is as effective as face to face, but I’m a fan as I’ve seen my clients getting a lot out of our virtual sessions. Going digital should reduce the price of your programme because the coach has less cost associated with travel and can use their time more effectively.

2) Big Firm Coaching will almost certainly increase the price of your coaching sessions or funnel you to longer scaled programmes. Big firms come with significant overheads. With small providers and online coaching, these overheads are much smaller. However, larger providers should give you peace of mind because they will have vetted the coaches before your programme, ensuring high quality.

3) Small Firm Coaching and sole traders can almost certainly offer competitive prices and often inhabit specialist market niches larger firms may not, for example, if you want to coach with sustainability, women’s leadership, or with the addition of sector knowledge.

You may want to spend additional time vetting and quality checking your coach before you kick off in this sector. There are some basics to look for, such as accreditation to one of the professional bodies, years of coaching and taking up references.  There is a link here to a previous blog that you might find interesting relating to selecting services.

4) In House Coaching and is a cost-effective way of improving the performance of junior and middle managers but is unlikely to be acceptable to senior and executive-level staff. The best way to get around this sticking point is to mix internal and external together, getting the best of both worlds.

So, let’s talk cash, shall we? There are three price points for coaching that you should be aware.

Group 1: £200 – £500 / hour

This group includes digital coaching and most of the sole trader and small firm coaches. They will be accredited by one of the professional coaching bodies and coach at business skills, leadership, and personal awareness up to director level. You can find some excellent coaches in this price bracket, full of insight and emotional intelligence and significant industry experience and qualifications.

Group 2: £500 – £800 / hour

You should expect an excellent coach in this price range—someone who has everything from Group 1 and has extended coaching experience at the master practitioner level. In addition, you should expect lots of boardroom coaching experience. They might also teach at a well-known business school. This group should focus on the executive level for a maximum return on investment.

Group 3: £850 – £1200 / hour

Having read quite widely around the subject of coaching pricing for this blog, the consensus from the industry is that if you’re paying a Group 3 level, you’re not getting anything more than you would from Group 1 or Group 2. You will not get that extra pound, dollar, or euro of value by paying in this price bracket.

In conclusion, when you’re thinking about a coaching programme, make sure you have considered all the delivery model options, and evaluate digital coaching on your list.

Don’t just buy from a usual vendor or purchase from a well-known supplier for safety’s sake because it might just cost you an arm and a leg. Look at several suppliers and get references!!! We used to say that “nobody got sacked for buying IBM” until someone made a VfM comparison and realised they were paying over the odds. So, look around the market for the best fit for you.

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