Freelancers, seasoned or new, have heard this phrase so often: “I can’t afford your service right now.” In fact, no one in business likes hearing this line from a prospect. When the going goes tougher, you can just accept the fact and move on, convince them otherwise, or lower your price. None of which are good options. If you can communicate more effectively the value and benefit of what you have to offer, wouldn’t things go so much better? We’re all afraid to stand by our price structure, at some point, because we fear losing customers. One thing is crystal clear: If you’re not ready to defend your worth, you will lose their respect.
How to Negotiate When Clients Can’t Afford Your Skills
Like it or not, life runs around negotiation.. and it is a skill that you need to learn. Some people are gifted naturally with bargaining skills, but not everyone can step out of their comfort zones in marketing yourself as an expert. We even run a series to help you negotiate better:
The recession may be far from over and you may be tempted to lower your fees to close a deal. Don’t hit that button yet! Keep in mind these things when clients think your services are worth the peanuts you want to charge next time:
Embrace the Power of Choice
Perhaps, you can recall many times when clients love what you have to offer and you fell in love with them as well. You’re super excited to work with them that you spent long hours drafting that perfect proposal. Email sent.. and then, the dreaded sound of silence. You hear nothing. You wonder what went wrong. Then, the phone rings. You’re ecstatic until you hear the proverbial “I can’t afford you’ line. Your heart drops a beat and your instinct tells you to do as you’re told because you will lose this big, fat juicy freelancing gig. STOP! Instead of devaluing your services, why not offer options instead? You can list down what your clients will get for price x compared to price z.. and you can even outline the benefits of both. This way, your clients can check out the best option that fits their budget, without making you work for less.
Lower Your Service Level, Not Your Fees
In line with the first item, this means that you can tweak your proposal instead to fit into your client’s budget – without you having to sacrifice your price. You can come up with a list of what the client will get for the budget s/he has for the project. If you originally plan to allocate 20 hours a week, you can cut that time in half. Your clients can still hire your services, just less of the time that you initially offered.
Focus on the Value of Your Service
It’s not really polite to tell your clients to ‘take it or leave it’ and there are other ways where you can justify your price.. like focusing on the benefits. What’s in it for your clients if they decide to hire you? They may flinch when you mention how much your rate will be. They may tell you that they can get it for less. They may even play on your emotions to get you to agree with the price they want. When the talk gets rough, always take the focus away from the price and get your clients to agree that what you sell is unique and valuable.
Be True to Yourself
At some point, there will be clients who will gripe about your price. Be a good listener and be patient. You have to be true to yourself if accepting that project at such price will be advantageous to you or not. Sincerity has a way of connecting with your clients and instead of trying all clever marketing ploys, just be honest and tell them why you cannot lower your price. And don’t forget, there’s no need to apologize for sticking to what you believe in. Are you ready to tell your client what you can or can’t do for a certain price?
And when things don’t go the way you expected it to be, just walk away.. and do it with confidence, dignity and grace.
They’ll respect you more for it.