What Should I Charge?

People ask me, "What should I charge?"

I say, "Ask your clients."

If they are respectable professionals you want as clients, they will be honest with you and give you a fair price based on their experience, their need, and their ability to pay. They will not try to undercut you.

And if you are a true professional, you will charge them a fair price and not try to overcharge them. You will not undercut yourself, either. You will base your price on two things: your value to their business, and the client's value to your own company. Your fee should always be based on the criterion of a good relationship. If it threatens the relationship, is it worth it?

You cannot base your price on your company policy or an annual raise, or what you're worth to your most lucrative corporate clients. You must base your price on the relationship with this one specific client and all your clients.

Shortly after I opened my business, I received a call from a chartered bank. They were experiencing difficulties with a team who managed world trading, and they needed someone to teach them a thing or two about communications. I was very excited about this opportunity. I shook their hands vigorously and we retired into a little room, where we discussed their needs and they told me the kind of written proposal they were looking for.

I listened carefully as these two women talked. I couldn't wait to sink my teeth into it. I proceeded to tell them how I would approach the project and then-poor naïve little me-I lowered my voice and almost whispered:

"I should tell you, though, that I'm not cheap. I charge $325 a day."

The two of them looked at each other and giggled.

"Did I say something funny?"

"When you submit your proposal, you had better charge us twice that, or the Manager won't look at it."

I stared at them, cleared my throat, and replied, "Certainly."

I "certainly" learned a lesson from that encounter. You don't charge a chartered bank the same fee you charge a non-profit organization. I also, unwittingly, had been given an opportunity to grow my business. When you meet a new client you have nothing to lose. Use it to take risks with your fees. Let them teach you what the going rate is, what they expect to pay. You might be pleasantly surprised.

Let clients raise your rates for you

If you provide superior service and maintain rich relationships with your clients, and help them succeed, a magical thing will happen. Your clients will raise your fees for you. You won't have to do a thing.

It takes time, but consistency and reliability are rare and valuable. If you continue to rise to the occasion when your clients need you, they will "tip" you the way diners tip servers after they have become sufficiently sloshed to feel very generous. "Here! Take another three thousand dollars, just for being so nice!" Well, not exactly that way. Here's what I mean. They will find ways to extend your contract. They will start asking why you charge less than the others, or why the others charge so much. They will refer you to other clients. They will give you different types of projects where you can be more creative about your fees.

This has happened to me a half-dozen times at least. People who enjoy working with you, and who cherish your service and your commitment, will do you important favours. I was discussing this phenomenon recently with a friend who provides production services for TV and film across North America, often for large movie-makers and other production companies. Richard has been charging such low prices compared to the competition that a client warned him, "If you don't raise your rates, my VP won't even look at you." When the invoices come in and the VP sees one company charging $185 per hour and Richard's company charging $45 per hour, the VP will get nervous about the gap and see Richard's company as far below standard. The client continued, "Richard, you've got to make it look like you're in the same game."

When a client tells you something like this, I have one word for you.

OBEY.

A consultant for almost 13 years, Laurie Soper has helped dozens of companies clarify their sales messages to enhance customer service, increase productivity, cut costs, and win big deals.

In The News:

Lexington yard sales are a hit  Longview Daily News

The Struggle to Decide: The Paths Customers Take to Solve Problems

Usually my essays discuss the issues that the 'sales' method... Read More

The Secrets Behind Hypnotic Selling

Hypnosis has been a taboo word for far too long.... Read More

Recommending Products Vs. Selling Them

Some of the best sales people I have ever met,... Read More

Casual Networking

What comes to mind when you think of networking --... Read More

Whats So Special About You? Defining Your USP

Your prospect is in the market for a widget, just... Read More

Use Pain To Get Commitments

Whenever I speak with new salesreps and entrepreneurs, I hear... Read More

Gatekeepers

When I ask salespeople to define what a gatekeeper is,... Read More

Winning Sales Proposals

Your proposal is selling for you when you're not there,... Read More

How To Get Face To Face Over The Phone

One disadvantage of selling by telephone is the lack of... Read More

12 Handy Tips for Generating Leads through Cold-Calling

Cold calling can be a great way to generate quality... Read More

Ask for the Business

Many times in the process of making a sales presentation... Read More

How to Buy Wholesale Store Fixtures for Your Business

It may sound funny, but honestly, if you're opening up... Read More

Leave a Better Voice Mail Message

Yesterday I received a call from a financial planner named... Read More

Everything Follows the Pitch

If you asked me to point to the heart and... Read More

Five Deadly Sales Letter Mistakes

To be effective your sales letter must be opened, read,... Read More

Dont Call Me

The March, 2004, issue of Psychology Today reports on an... Read More

3 Ways To Sell and Have Fun Doing It

There are many ways to sell and have fun doing... Read More

10 Important Things To Tell Your Prospects

Hello everyone, hope your day is going well! I know... Read More

Lazy Man?s Way To Get Customers

No matter how big or small your business is and... Read More

Seminars for Prospecting

The purpose of a 1- or 2-hour seminar is to... Read More

Top Seven Ways to Write An Order-Pulling Sales Letter

Ready to put your Web pages up? Ready to sell... Read More

In Sales Service Means Business

Some businesses flourish while others slowly fade away. There's usually... Read More

SPIN, Relevant To Both Salesmanship & Advertising!

Neil Rackham turned the world of high-ticket salesmanship on its... Read More

Tips for Increasing Your Profits with Gift Certificates

Offering gift certificates is an excellent way of increasing sales... Read More

Selling To Women - Selling To Men - It Isnt the Same

Selling To Women - Selling To Men - It Isn't... Read More