How do you react when a prospective client says that your services are too expensive?
What if they ask you to lower your prices because, in their eyes, what you’re offering isn’t worth the money? They might even say that they can get the same service elsewhere for a lower price.
Do you give in? Do you take it personally? Do you slam down the phone in disgust or fire off an angry email?
None of those responses are constructive, but we all know how upsetting it can be to be told that you’re charging too much.
So, what would be a better way to respond? What factors should you consider before you reply or move on.
Is this the right kind of client for you?
Or to put it differently, is this the kind of client that suits your business?
For instance, you may be a graphic designer who works with businesses to develop the design aspect of their branding. This is an in-depth dive into the message and values the business wants to convey, often working alongside a copywriter and a web designer. Your expertise goes far beyond design to understand how a business works, its clients, products or services, and where the company fits in its industry. This type of client values your skills and knowledge and is willing to pay the price you charge.
By comparison, the type of prospective client who says you’re too expensive may be a student who just wants you to turn the logo that they drew on a serviette into an image file that they can upload to their Etsy shop. Or a bride who says she wants a logo for her wedding invitations, when she actually means a monogram of her and her other half’s initials.
Both of these are valid requests, but they are not right for you, your business, or the prices you charge.
Are you fully communicating the value of your services?
Does your website:
- make it clear what you do and what products or services you offer?
- state who you work with, for instance, SMEs or the IT sector?
- explain how you can solve client problems and the value you can provide?
It may be that you present yourself in a way that doesn’t reflect the quality of your services and the value that you can bring to a client.
For instance, if you’re approached by a student who just wants a hand-written thesis typing up for a cheap price, when you actually offer a full administrative support VA service to C-suite executives, then maybe your website doesn’t sufficiently express what you do.
If your website and social media profiles are clear, visitors will be in no doubt whether you are the solution they need.
Can you find an alternative?
What if you are approached by a client who says that you’re too expensive, but you really want to work with them? This might be because:
- they are a charity for an issue close to your heart
- they want you to work on what would be your dream project
- the job would help you to develop a particular skillset or work experience
- this client would be a great contact to make because of the people they know, the industry they’re involved in, or just that their brand would look great on your ‘clients I’ve worked with’ list
In any of the above scenarios, you might like to find an alternative to your usual rate. You could offer a reduced service to fit the lower price. You might offer a purely advisory service, again to fit the lower price. If this is likely to be an ongoing client, you could offer an introductory discount for a short period of time.
In this situation, it is always a balancing act of the advantage to you of working with this client to what alternative pricing arrangement you can afford to offer.
Are you thinking about lowering your rates because of a lack of confidence?
Sometimes a “you’re too expensive” comment can knock your confidence and make you doubt yourself. If you are considering lowering your rate, check your confidence levels before you may any such decision.
Are you only thinking about lowering your prices because your confidence has been knocked, or are you over-priced? The answer will generally be that yes, you’re doubting yourself a little and no, your rates are just right.
To back this up, look at the details of the client job, how much it would cost you to do, and what you need to earn.
Consider why you set your rates at that level to begin with. You might even like to check your rates against the national average.
Unless there is a good reason to work for the client at a reduced rate (see the previous section on alternatives), then generally you will find that the idea of lowering your rates is simply a gut reaction caused by doubt. Shrug it off. Remember your value. Stay strong.
Is this person just a time-waster?
It’s an unfortunate fact that in all paths of life, you will come across users and time-wasters. Some people will do their best to take advantage of your professionalism and good nature. It is up to you to guard yourself, your self-esteem, and your business against these individuals.
You didn’t start up in business to give your time and effort away to ‘clients’ who can’t understand the true value you offer and do not treat you with respect.
So, the next time, you hear “you’re too expensive” from a prospective client, remember to consider:
- Is this the right kind of client for me and my business?
- Am I fully communicating the value of my services?
- If it’s to my advantage, can I find an alternative to lowering my rates?
- Is my reaction based on a lack of confidence?
- Is this person a time-waster?