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What they mean when they say ‘I can’t afford it’

August 12, 2018


One of the barriers that you will come up against as a sleep educator is many potential clients will tell you that they can’t afford to book you. This can be disappointing if you let it be, but it also doesn’t have to be. Let me unpack this for you so that you can plan for this and you can confidently charge your worth.


1. They don’t trust you:


Now it would be super easy to take this one personally, but it is definitely not personal. Sleep is a new field of practice to start with, and due to lack of structure in the profession (being unregulated, no standardised training etc.) they simply don’t know what they will get. When the top selling book in this field contradicts sleep science and psychology over and over again, who could blame them? The quality of practice in this field is so varied, and even those who say they are ‘evidence based’ are contraindicating research in their practice. I regularly have clients who come to me and have used cry based methods with another sleep consultant, even though their child is mouth breathing, which is potentially dangerous! This kind of thing adds to the fear of booking someone to help, and unfortunately, even if your practice is at a standard that is well above the flock, you will be lumped in with everyone else. The challenge here for you, is to showcase your understanding of sleep on a higher level in your marketing. It can be done, but it will take some effort!


2. Its not a priority:


Although they are truely struggling with the sleep, and they are very sleep deprived (and maybe even anxious or depressed), many families have just lost a whole income with mum on maternity leave. This generally adds to financial strain, without even adding anything extra. You will also encounter single parent families or those who are unemployed too. Potential clients are so fearful of adding to that strain, that they can’t simply prioritise their health above their financial pressure. This is a reflection of the general financial pressure in society that we have. You might have to get creative with your solutions to allow these people to use your services. Payment plans or budget style versions of your full service could help here. 


3. They don’t realise what they are getting for their money:


The first direction that most parents go in when looking to improve sleep, is to buy sleep products. They buy swaddles and sleeping bags, white noise machines, comforters, dummies, night lights… the list goes on. They can physically hold these products, so they trust them. When you pay money for advice, there is nothing that you can touch or feel, so it is riskier as a purchase. For you, that will become super frustrating. You know that these products are tools that could help, but there is not a single product that can transform sleep. They don’t teach a child to settle and resettle and they don’t change the function of the circadian rhythm pattern. You also know you are good, and your strike rate for success is fantastic, but when you are selling them something they can’t touch or feel, you are going to have to do better than that. You are going to have to get really good at helping them understand what that transformation is going to FEEL like and how much IMPACT it will have on their life. 


4. It takes so much emotional energy:


When they say they can’t afford it, it might have nothing to do with money. Changing sleep habits can be HARD. Although the bank account might be agreeable, the emotional energy required to do this is just not there. So many of my clients tell me that they wish they had worked with me earlier. I can tell you, that it never would have worked. The process takes so much dedication to work, that 100% commitment to it is the only way to get success. If the potential client is not 100% ready to undertake the process, it will simply fail. When they tell you they can’t afford it, it might just be that the sleep is just not that negative yet to warrant such a significant amount of emotional effort. These clients usually come to you eventually, when it really does become THAT bad.


5. Its not their decision:


This one is the saddest reason you will hear ‘I can’t afford it’. Their husband has told them no. This potential client REALLY wants change. They really want to work with YOU. They are 100% confident in you and your ability to transform their lives, but their other half is not on board. Often they are too wrapped up in the financial pressure, or because they are not there, they simply don’t witness the struggle mum is going through every day. The value of it to THEM is just not there, so they say they are not willing to pay for the service. This will break your heart for that mum and baby, but there is not a lot you can do. Sometime offering a payment plan can help in this situation. And, occasionally you get a fearless mama who will call you back and do it anyway, with our without their partner’s consent. Although this seems positive, it is so much harder for this mum to undertake this process on her own with no support at home. She will really need you to give it your all, even though you always do, but 110% is required in this situation.


Helping your potential clients understand that your service is an investment, rather than an expense, can be a little tricky sometimes, but understanding WHY they are saying this to you will really help you to improve your marketing and sales to truely support your market to the best of your ability.


Jade is a Director and Lecturer at the Institute of Parenting Support Services and Director and Senior Educator at Early Childhood Parenting. She practices in Adelaide, South Australia. She is the mother of two beautiful children. You can reach her at 0415507004 or


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