My clients and students hear me say it all the time: have the price conversation with your potential clients early on, even in the first discovery call.
As we talk about how to do it, there’s one question I hear every time:
“What if I quote a price, and the project turns out to cost more than that? I don’t want to be held to that first low number.”
I hear you.
There’s nothing worse than giving a price, and then realizing it’s actually going to be way more work. Having that conversation with clients is the worst - even more difficult than having the price conversation in the first place.
The good news is that when it comes to talking price, you’re in control, and there are two strategies that can make this conversation go more smoothly.
The first is to get fluent in your pricing and packages, so you can quickly call up what your stuff costs without having to go back and do a whole proposal.
What’s even easier are the two words I use to talk price: “Starts at...”
“Starts at” sets an anchor for your fee and activates what’s called “anchoring bias”. Anchoring bias says that whoever names the first price “anchors” what’s reasonable.
It also clearly communicates your fee, while leaving room for an increase once you figure out the final program or package.
Back in the corporate world when I was interviewing for a new job, inevitably we’d come to that dreaded question: “What are your salary requirements?”
Of course, I had a number in mind. But no one ever says that number. What are most of us coached to do? Say a range.
“Between $60,000 and $80,000.”... or “Between $90,000 and $110,000.”
When you say, “Between $90,000 and $110,000,” chances are, you’re hoping to get $110k or close to it.
But HR hears, “Great! We can get her for $90k.” (In a quiet or unguarded moment, ask any HR person and they’ll admit it.)
It’s the same thing with your potential clients. When you say “It’s between $10,000 and $15,000,” all they hear is $10,000. And from that point on, you’re going to be working pretty hard to get that number up.
Using “starts at” clearly communicates that this number is only the minimum, and to expect that it will go up from there.
Key takeaway: When you’re having the price conversation, use “starts at” when saying your price so that you set reasonable expectations around your fee, without committing to that specific number.
Next week: I’ll tell you how to return to that conversation once you’ve scoped the project, and communicate the actual -- and usually higher -- price.
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P.P.S. I’m working on a guide that has all my best strategies to help you increase your fees. It should be ready in a couple weeks. If you’re interested in getting a copy of it, just write back and let me know. Thanks!