In any business, you’ll spend a certain amount of time on clients who will never pay you.
Website designers quote jobs that never come to fruition.
Car dealers spend hours chatting up customers who will never buy.
Book agents read countless manuscripts they will never be able to sell.
And coaches spend time giving out free advice to clients who cannot or will not hire them.
Truthfully, it can be frustrating, and it’s definitely a drain on your time and energy. But there are some things you can do to eliminate those who will never become clients without having to spend time with them first.
Post Your Prices
One of the most hotly debated topics among service providers is whether or not you should post your prices on your website. There are pros and cons on both sides of the fence, but the biggest advantage to posting your prices is that it immediately eliminates those who cannot afford you.
Of course, you don’t have to list prices for everything to achieve the same effect. If you offer private consulting packages or self-directed training packages, having a price tag of $1000 on your “entry level” course makes it pretty clear that your private consulting is going to be at the high end.
If you prefer to quote packages individually, a line that states, “Packages start at $XXX” is a simple way to state your prices while still giving you some flexibility.
Before you get on the phone with anyone, require that they do a little groundwork first. A client intake form should tell you everything you need to know about a potential client long before you pick up the phone. But what it tells you the most is how much work they’re willing to do. Freebie seekers aren’t likely to do the work required to answer even a simple questionnaire, so those who do fill out your form are better prospects.
Not only that, but you can include in your form a question about pricing, such as “What’s your budget for (whatever service you offer)?” Use a pre-defined list of answers that start with “$1,000 and up” rather than letting your potential client fill in her own amount, and those with smaller budgets won’t bother to complete it.
Change Your Language
Words have power, and if the words you use on your website and other marketing material are speaking to newbies or those just getting started in business, you’ll never attract the audience you’re seeking. Instead of using words like “step by step plan,” say, “advanced techniques.” Rather than talking about “easy systems,” mention high-end, complex software by name. Simple changes can help you to automatically attract the right audience.
You’ll still spend some time and energy on those who ultimately won’t hire you, but by making these simple edits to your website, marketing materials, and other business systems, you’ll begin to see more high-end clients and fewer of those you no longer wish to work with.
Post prices or don't post prices on your consulting service, what do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments below
Does the topic of money make your mouth dry and your hands sweat? Do you dread that point in a conversation when someone says, “So what do you charge?”
You are not alone. Most of us have difficulty talking about money—especially when it comes to quoting prices for our own work. But if you are going to be successful in business, you must get over it.
The first rule for declaring your prices with confidence is simply to practice. Talk to yourself in the shower. Tell your dog what your rates are. Stand in front of your mirror and say, “I charge $XXX.00 per hour.”
The more you say your rates out loud (not in your head) the more natural it will be for you.
Even if you are on the phone or writing an email, smile when you say your rates. 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 $XX.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 do not 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 consulting is $1,000 per month. Where should I send your invoice?” And then…
When we are 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.
But guess what? He or she is just as uncomfortable with the silence, and psychologically, the one who speaks first is at a disadvantage. So, when you are talking price, avoid the urge to fill the silence (especially because you are 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 are confident in your skills, and consequently, that you are the right service provider for them.
Do you have a technique for building your confidence when talking about money with your clients? Let us know in the comments below
In every service provides life, there comes a time when you simply have to raise your rates. Maybe you’ve been in business for years without a pay increase. Maybe your skills have recently improved through a new training course or certification. Or maybe you just want to attract a higher caliber of client.
Whatever the reason, it pays to have a plan in place before you make your big announcement. Here’s where to start.
First, look at your current clients. Will you raise their rates as well? If the answer is no, then you must consider if keeping them will be worth your time, or if you’ll feel resentful at the amount of (lower paid) time you are spending with them. Resentment can build up, so be wary of this. It’s better to raise their rates than provide substandard services due to hidden anger.
If the answer is yes, then prepare yourself for potential fallout. Simply put, there are some clients (you likely know who they are) who will balk at a price hike. They’ll threaten to leave, and they may leave. Are you prepared for the hit your wallet will take should that happen?
Next, consider when your rate increase will go into effect. This might be different for each client, depending on when/how they’re paying you. A client who is on an annual service plan might not see an increase for 8 months or more, while a monthly client might be shocked to find his or her rate is going up in a week.
If you can, give you clients at least 30 days notice of the increase, so they can not only budget a higher expense, but shop around for a new provider if they choose to.
Finally, if you’re a little flexible and want to gain a few new clients, you might think about creating a last-minute offer. Announce that your rates are going up on [whatever date], then offer to let X number of new clients lock in your current rate, if they sign a contract right now.
Sure, you’ll still be working at your old rate, but with a few new clients on the roster, your cash flow will improve.
The most important thing to remember about rate increases is this: You should feel good about the prices you charge. If you think your rates are too low, chances are good that they are. Raising them will not only make you feel better, but it might just let your current and prospective clients know the value of your services as well.
What do you think? Increase your rates for all clients or just new clients?
It might just be the most stressful decision you ever have to make: what to charge?
You’ve got the competition to consider, your own skill set, what you perceive to be your skills (yes, this is different from the former for most of us), what your market will pay, your location, and a host of other variables. Working it out can feel like a hurdle you can’t quite get past.
Of course, there are some strategies you can employ. One popular method is to find a “What’s Your Time Worth Calculator” on Google. There are many free ones out there. These will quite quickly tell you what you need to be charging to reach your income goals, and they’re a wonderful place to start.
But what about all those other questions? Creating a solid pricing structure requires you to do a little more digging. So, with your starting number in line, look at:
This might take a little detective work, since a lot of service providers don’t publish rates. But if you pay attention to their websites and social media, ask a few discreet questions, and get on their mailing list, you can figure it out.
Be realistic about who, exactly, your competition is, though. Don’t undervalue or over-sell yourself. In other words, make sure you’re comparing yourself to another provider who shares the same skills, market, and track record, rather than simply looking at who you strive to become.
In some fields, this is easy. There are certifications and educational programs that allow you—by virtue of having achieved them—to charge a certain rate. If you’ve followed this path, then pricing will be easy for you. If not, take a solid look at what you can legitimately claim as a skill.
Look, too, at your track record. Have you proven yourself by helping former clients (and do you have the testimonials and case studies to show for it)? Have your former clients moved on to bigger and better service providers after working with you? (That’s a good thing!) These are all reasons to maybe consider a higher price range than you might have first thought.
In the game of setting rates, it’s your market that has the final say. As any first year economy student can tell you, the price of anything lies where what the buyer is willing to pay meets what the seller is willing to accept.
If your goal is to give newbies a helping hand and lead them down the path to success, that unfortunately means you can look forward to low paying gigs. That’s not a bad thing—everyone has to begin somewhere—but it does need to be acknowledged. If, on the other hand, you’re target market is more established and economically stable, then a higher fee isn’t just warranted—it’s a must. They will expect a higher price and will not find value in the lowest-cost provider of anything, whether it’s coffee beans or business services.
Finally, don’t forget that pricing is never set in stone. It’s flexible. If you find you’re attracting the wrong market (or no market at all) you can always change your rates. Working too hard for not enough return? Raise your rates.
It’s your business. You get to call the shots.
How do you set your rates? Do you use some of these guidelines suggested above? Tell us in the comments below.
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