How Much Do You Charge?

How Much Do You Charge?

How much do you charge?  Does it make you crazy when that’s the first question out of someone’s mouth?

  • Not “How good are you?” 
  • Not “Will your service/product really solve the problem?”
  • Not even “How long will it take?”

It drives most of us nuts! Does it make you feel any better to know you’re in good company? 

What’s Happening When They Ask "How Much Do You Charge?"

When a prospective client asks you how much do you charge one of two things is happening:

One - your prospect is trying to turn you into a commodity, or
Two – they already think you are a commodity. 

When this happens you have to slow down the train and prove you are not.  Why?  Because commodities are interchangeable and, as a result, dirt cheap.

It’s hard to earn a living selling a commodity.

How Much Do You Charge:  2 Critical Things You Need to Know

When you get the question, it’s critical for you to remember two things that – as salespeople and consultants – it’s easy to forget.

First, realize that you are not required to spout off an answer just because they ask, “how much do you charge?” 

You are allowed to ask questions and explain why you are asking them.  You have a range of prices for services and you can’t tell what they need until you know more about their needs, about the problem they want to solve. 

Second, many of the people who come to you will have no basis of comparison.

Hiring an expert like you is not what they do for a living.  They may never have considered hiring someone like you before. They may not have done a lot of homework before contacting you.  They may not know which questions to ask in order to figure out whether you are a good investment.  “How much do you charge” is an easy question for them to ask, but isn’t a relevant one until much later in the selling conversation.

Here’s a critical sales axiom for you to remember:  If you tell, you fail.  

The Answer is Asking Questions

The question “how much do you charge” is a cue for you to start asking questions.

Remember this principle:  When you talk at your prospect, the info goes in one ear and out the other without stopping in the brain in between.  I call this the Teflon Effect ( ® E.I. DuPont de Nemours :-)  ) But when you ask questions, the prospect is more engaged and less defensive.

Here are some generic questions that you can ask when you’re prompted by the “how much do you charge” question:

  • How were you hoping I could help?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • How have those things worked for you?
  • What happens if you don’t work with someone like me?
  • How important is it to you to fix this problem?

Obviously, these are very general, but you get the idea.  Your prospect has to tell you what’s important to them.  Your role is to ask questions, listen, and see if their problem is one you can solve.  This is you being in service, and it’s the direct opposite of pushing and manipulating just to get the money.  This is how your colleagues get four or five figures (or even more)  for some of their projects.

To be effective in your business (translate: make good money), you will need to get comfortable asking questions, figuring out if you can solve the problem, and asking for a commitment.

Yes, it can be uncomfortable at first, just like any new skill.  Like the first time you rode a bicycle, or skated, or did anything else that was brand new for you.  With time and practice, it becomes natural, comfortable, and straightforward for you.

Take Action – Make These Your Own

The next time a prospective customer asks, “how much do you charge” try taking these steps: 

  1. Try using the generic questions outlined above with your next prospect.  See how it goes.
  2. If necessary, customize the questions so they work for you.
  3. Don’t worry about being perfect.

And remember the sales axiom:  if you tell, you fail.  

You can also check out these related posts:

Are You Being Too Nice? How’s That Working for Your Business?
The Need for Approval – How Much is it Costing You?
Squeamish About Selling: Which of These 3 Beliefs?

Share a comment: if you are accustomed to using questions like these, let us know how it’s working for you.

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Comments

  1. Linda says

    As a brand new VA business owner, this blog is so helpful, it’s totally invaluable. I was wondering how I was going to approach this very question. Thank you so much.

    • Pat Schuler says

      Linda, you realize you’ve made my day! This issue plagues independent professionals and coaches across industries. On the blog section of the web site there are several blogs on this topic. Please take a look at them, if you haven’t done so. each covers a different aspect of this issue.

      Also, if we’re not already connected on LI, please feel comfortable doing so. Mention that you’re the lady who made the nice blog comment today. :-)

  2. says

    It never hurts to be reminded of this from time to time, as happens now and then on our twice-monthly phone calls! I’m working on keeping this at or near the top of my mind more consistently–anything that can make my (business) life smoother and more productive is valuable!

  3. Pat Schuler says

    Myriam-Rose, thank you for letting me know that you liked the post and that you are still using your Kick Butt Sales Training. :-)

    I do have one thought for you about the people who don’t even want to answer a few questions before you quote them a price. In my view you can’t lose them. They were never yours and you can’t lose what was never yours to begin with. :-) I am vey glad you business life is smoother and more enjoyable.

    Best Success,
    Pat

  4. says

    Thank you, Pat, for this reminder. Obviously, after taking your 10-week class, I had ample time to apply this, but it was good to be reminded I’m not alone and that I am “in service.” I’ve had many people call who just wanted the bottom line and did not even want to answer the questions (they saw it as irrelevant). These are not my clients, of course. So while I seem to lose many clients, with those who say “yes,” I have a much better “work” life. The interactions flow easier and goals are being attained.

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