One of the most common concerns I hear from my coaching clients is “my clients are too cost-conscious – they can’t afford my usual hourly rate.” My response, as uncomfortable as it may be to hear, is that it’s your job to find a client base that doesn’t think twice about how much you cost. Yes, I know it’s hard to find new clients… but is it really easier to try to get your existing clients to pay you what you want to get paid?
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is getting the client to say “I do.” Many of us don’t like being turned down, so we wind up not asking a question that runs the risk of eliciting a negative answer. However, you could be the world’s best marketer, a world-class leader at what you do, and skilled at eliciting your clients’ underlying needs, but if you can’t get the client to sign on the dotted line and approve your proposal, you aren’t going to get paid for all those wonderful skills.
If you have been in business for more than a couple of weeks, you have probably been asked by someone to donate your time and services for their organization. And especially if your business is still in its early stages, it can be tempting to say yes. “It’s a great way to market myself”, you tell yourself. “They’ll see how great my work is, and then they will pay me.”
I was chatting with a colleague the other day, who was concerned that she had not heard from a client in a while and she was starting to imagine all the worst possible outcomes. “The client hates me. He’s found someone else with lower rates. I made a horrible mistake and he hasn’t told me.” Blah blah blah… I know; we have all been down that road.
Lifehacker has a good blog post today, An Experienced Freelancer’s Guide to Finding Clients. I particularly like his discussion of the need for primary research BEFORE you launch your business. If you don’t understand why your clients will hire you, you won’t have much success finding clients.
I am a big proponent of pricing by the project rather than by the hour; to me, it’s a no-brainer that both my client and I are better off if we focus on outcome rather than the amount of activity required. But what do you do if a prospective client insists on talking about your hourly rate at the beginning of a conversation?
- How easy is it to find your contact information (not just a form to fill out)?
- How easy is it to get you on the phone?
- Are you nice to work with or do you have a reputation for being prickly?
- How clear are you about your prices and services?
- How confident do you sound?
- How demonstrably committed are you to each client’s project?
When is the last time you sat back and looked at how frictionless you are for your clients? In a time when freelancers will work for $5 (fiverr.com), we need to distinguish ourselves by demonstrating our responsiveness and high value. Are you acting like the high-end professional that you are? Do your clients see that?