How to never waste time on another client proposal, ever again
Has this happened to you? You’ve had a great conversation with a potential client, you send a proposal, and hear some version of this response: “We can’t work with you, you’re too expensive.”
You just spent all that time on the proposal! You perfectly described how you can solve their problems! And it even looked beautiful! (I’m assuming).
But now you’re pissed. Why did you spend all that time if they couldn’t afford you anyway? Your time is valuable, and you just wasted it.
This used to happen to me all the time, and each time would be the same. I’d kick myself, but I’d also be super annoyed at the client. But then I realized it’s because i was afraid to do the one thing that would have saved me from writing another useless proposal again:
Have the price conversation.
This is the one thing I hear most often from entrepreneurs when they talk about the sales process — they hate having the price conversation.
And who could blame them? In our society, talking about money is taboo. And we’re afraid to bring up price for fear of losing the client.
(And let’s not forget that most of us came from corporate, where we’re coached not to have the salary conversation until the very last minute)
But back to solving this problem.
The price conversation can save you from wasting time on a useless proposal.
Why? Because it allows you to determine if your price and the client’s expectations are even in the same ballpark. In sales terms, this is called Qualifying — you’re evaluating whether a potential client meets the qualifiications to work with you. (Check out my complete ABCs of Selling here).
If your fees and your client’s expectations aren’t in the same ballpark? Then this client isn’t qualified, and isn’t a good fit.
And guess what. You just saved yourself from wasting time on a useless proposal.
How to have the price conversation
Having the price conversation takes a few key steps:
- Be FLUENT in your prices. It’s common (and comfortable) to say, “I’ll have to get back to you, let me put together a proposal that will have pricing information.” When you do this, you’re hiding. You should be FLUENT in your work and pricing, and able to say “For someone in your situation, I recommend X, which starts at $Y”
- Position your work around VALUE, specifically the value your services will provide to their business. A successful price conversation starts well before the numbers. If you’ve positioned yourself around VALUE, instead of tactics, you’ll be better positioned to talk price, because your client already knows the incredible value to their business they’ll receive when they work with you.
- Ignore the budget. Sure, your clients will have a budget in mind. But 9 times out of 10, if they understand the value you provide, and want that same value for their business, they’ll find a way to hire you. And if not, or if they can’t? Then they’re not a good client fit. The end. But don’t start the conversation with “What’s your budget?”
- Keep it light. My favorite way to talk price is to make people smile. I might say, “For X type of work, it starts at $Y. Is that what you were expecting, or am I in ‘You’re on crack’ territory?” Other ways might be, “Is that something you think the team could work with?” or simply, “Is that what you were expecting?”.
Want to learn how to confidently have the price conversation, position your work around VALUE, and master the entire sales process from first contact to close?