How Much Do You Charge? What’s Your Prospect Really Deciding On?

How Much Do You Charge? What's Your Prospect Really Deciding On?

“How much do you charge?” 

“Those were the first words out of his mouth.  He didn’t even introduce himself first!” my client Carole said, in an aggrieved tone.  “I just hate that!”

“How did you respond,” I asked.

“I told him my fee, even though I didn’t want to yet.” 

“How did that work out?” I asked in my gentlest voice.

“He said I was too expensive,” and there was so much distress in her voice it made me sad for her.

“Do you know why he said that?” I asked my next question.

“Because it was more than he wanted to spend?”  I could hear from her voice that she had already accepted the prospect was right.

“Guess again,” I said quietly.
“Because it was way outside his budget?” she offered.

“Something else,” I countered.

“I guess I’m stuck,” she said forlornly.

“How can he know it’s too much money, when he doesn’t even know what he’s buying?”

Her eyes got very wide and she made a quiet little gasp, “Oh . . . “ 

How Much Do You Charge?  What does the prospect really need? Or want?

This conversation on pricing is so common for coaches, consultants and independent professionals – and it’s crippling so many of their businesses. 

These are the questions (as a coach or consultant) that you really need to be asking yourself about each prospect conversation:

  • What problem of the prospect needs to be solved?  How desperately?
  • Is the prospect a fit for you emotionally or from personal style?
  • Are they process dependent or will your strong process make them feel trapped and overwhelmed?
  • Are they more comfortable talking out their needs or are they going to give more complete information filling out five to ten questions in advance and sending them to you?
  • Are they even clear about the result they want?
  • Will they change directions midway through the project?
  • Will they fulfill their part of the bargain, giving you the critical information, answering your questions candidly, responding to you in a timely manner?

As you review even this handful of questions, I trust it’s becoming clear there is a lot of ground to be covered in your discovery conversation.  And these are just the questions from your side!

Is Your Prospect Deciding Too Soon?  Are You Almost Guaranteeing They Do?

There’s still more going on during the discovery conversation.  Add to the mix your prospect’s questions, however half-formed they may be in their minds:

  • How long will this take from beginning to end?
  • Have you solved this problem for someone like me before?
  • How hard am I going to have to work?
  • How scary or intimidating is this going to be?
  • How stupid am I going to feel?
  • How good are you at this?  Who says so?
  • What makes you different?
  • What makes you worth any kind of investment?
  • What happens if I don’t take this step now?
  • How long do I have before I have to do something about this problem?
  • How important is it really?  Is it just a would-be-nice?
  • Is there someone less expensive who would still do a decent job?
  • What are the dangers of going with someone cheaper, less experienced, or less qualified?

By giving out your price before most of these questions are answered, you’re making it easy for your future client to sayno’ based on incomplete information – versus making an informed decision based on real value.  You’re making it easy for your service/product to look expensive compared to someone less capable who might spend less time or energy and, therefore, deliver a less robust solution.  You’re making it easy for you to look expensive compared to some vague, half-baked idea in the prospect’s mind.

Your responsibility as a professional is to help them understand when to make a decision – and to understand the consequences of making a wrong decision.

You can even gracefully help them understand the serious and real costs of not making a decision at all today.

Please be clear.  This is not an issue of being mean or sneaky or manipulative.  This is about being professional.  When you make sure your prospect has all the facts, you are being in ultimate service to them and to your profession. 

I can hear you thinking, “But, Pat, what if all this information makes it clear to them I’m not the right person or this isn’t the right time?”

I say, “Outstanding!”  You’ve shown the prospect you are a person of integrity and high values.  And, you’ve also:

  • Avoided a potential PITA client
  • Escaped the risk of a client with Buyer’s Remorse
  • Demonstrated your professionalism
  • Saved your time and energy for a client for whom you can make a huge difference

Do you know the other really cool thing that happens when you have a prospect who says ‘no’ or ‘it’s too expensive’ for the right reasons?  They can’t wait to tell their friends and associates about the interesting, informative and amazing professional who helped them make the right decision.

When you and your prospect are clear about the value you bring and about what’s expected of them – and the tangible results they will see – you will see stronger decisions for higher fees.

I’m not saying all your price objections will disappear.  I am saying that for properly qualified clients, price objections will become very rare indeed.

Take Action – Make This Your Own

Under the sub-head ‘How Much Do You Charge’, there are seven questions that (as a coach or consultant) you really need to be asking yourself about each prospect conversation.  Pick three of them from the list and add them to your discovery conversations.

  1. How do your prospect conversations improve?
  2. Are you seeing fewer price objections?
  3. Keep adding a new question every week or so.

Notice over time how comfortable you become in the discovery conversation. Notice what’s happening to your fees, your closing ratio.

You can also check out these related posts:

Are You Giving Your Profession a Black Eye? Top Mistakes Consultants Make.
Speak Their Language: How to Engage with Customers
Are Prospects Mistaking You for a Non-Profit? How to Stand Your Ground and Demonstrate Value

Share a comment: what questions are you asking of prospects now that you didn’t ask before?  What difference did it make for you?

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