Have you stumbled or hesitated when quoting your fees to clients before?
I’ll admit I have. I’ve gone into calls with prices firmly attached to packages on a rate sheet only to discount them when the time came to present them. It took something that stung quite a bit to start breaking that habit. A colleague told me a potential client she had sent my way reported back to her that she hadn’t decided to work with me because my discounting felt “desperate” and made her wonder why.
She was impressed with my work but second guessed working with me because I was willing to discount my fees so much when she wasn’t asking for or looking for a discount.
Why do I share this? Just to say that if the topic of money makes your mouth dry and your hands sweat, or if you dread that point in a conversation when someone asks, “So what do you charge?” You’re not alone.
Most of us have difficulty talking about money—especially when it comes to quoting prices for our services. But if you’re going to be successful in business, you’ve got to suck it up, buttercup!
I’ve had this conversation with several of my private clients in the last week as they start planning for 2018 and are considering raising their rates. Want to know what advice I have for them?
The first rule for declaring your fees with confidence is simply to practice. Talk to yourself in the shower. Tell your cat what your rates are. Stand in front of your mirror and say, “I charge $XXX.00 per hour.” or “The investment for this package is $XXXX.00
The more you say your rates out loud (not in your head), the more natural it will be for you.
Even if you’re on the phone or writing an email, smile when you quote your fees. Your tone of voice changes when you smile (as does the “tone” of your typing) and that tone can convey confidence and authority, not to mention professionalism.
Avoid being wishy-washy.
Listen to yourself as you speak to potential clients. Do you say things like, “Well, normally I charge…” or “Actually, my rates are…” or “Do you think that $XXX.00 will work for you?”
These (and others like them) are all wishy-washy ways of talking that do not instill confidence in your client, and worse, they make you sound like you don’t believe in yourself.
Rather than squeaking out a timid, “Um, I charge, like $1,000 per month,” straighten your back, smile, and say, “My rate for this VIP package is $1,000 per month. Where should I send your invoice?” And then comes the hardest part…
When we’re nervous or feeling intimidated, we tend to talk. We want to fill the silence with something, anything, just to avoid having to sit there uncomfortably and wonder what the other person is thinking.
My very first sales mentor told me “ask for the sale, and then shut up. The next person to talk loses.”
While I don’t particularly like to think of the sales conversations I have with potential clients as one where anyone loses, there is wisdom in that advice.
Why is that? Your potential client is just as uncomfortable with the silence, and psychologically, the one who speaks first is at a disadvantage. So when you’re talking price, avoid the urge to fill the silence (mainly because you’re most likely to try to justify your pricing) and let your potential client take time to respond.
Will speaking with confidence always land you a new client? No. But being able to share your pricing in a clear voice will help potential clients know that you’re confident in your skills, and consequently, that you are the right choice to work with them.