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:

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Zee Entertain Consolidated December 2018 Net Sales at Rs 2,166.77 crore, Up 17.88% Y-o-Y.  Moneycontrol.comReported Consolidated quarterly numbers for Zee Entertainment Enterprises are: Net Sales at Rs 2,166.77 crore in December 2018 Up 17.88% from Rs.
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Comfort Fincap Standalone December 2018 Net Sales at Rs 1.70 crore, down 9.85% Y-o-Y  Moneycontrol.comNet Sales at Rs 1.70 crore in December 2018 down 9.85% from Rs. 1.88 crore in December 2017. Quarterly Net Profit at Rs. 0.78 crore in December 2018 up ...
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Forest away ticket sales conclude  BCFCSupporters are reminded that there will be no pay on the day option at Nottingham Forest (January 19th, 3pm KO).
Royal Enfield FY 2019 sales target could be reduced by 75,000  RushLaneRoyal Enfield sales target for fiscal year 2018/19 has been reduced by a minimum of 75000 units. This is due to cut in production, and low demand.
US lawmakers seek ban on chip sales to China’s Huawei and ZTE  South China Morning PostThe bipartisan bills target firms supposedly in breach of US sanctions, and specifically cite Huawei and ZTE.
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D-Mart Q3 results today: Strong sales likely, margin may play spoilsport  Economic TimesNEW DELHI: Avenue Supermarts (D-Mart) is scheduled to report its December quarter results on Saturday. Brokerages are largely expecting the Radhakishan ...
NMDC’s Sales Fall The Most In Five Months Due To Mine Closure  BloombergQuintLack of contribution from Donimalai mine in Karnataka dragged down state-run NMDC Ltd.'s production and despatches in December. The company recorded ...
LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard dominate NBA jersey sales in Canada  Sportsnet.caLeBron James and Kawhi Leonard dominate their opponents on the court as well as NBA jersey sales in the Canadian market.
After an underwhelming festive season, Maruti sales at all-time high in December  Moneycontrol.comMaruti extended huge discounts on all its products as it wanted to start the year with lower inventory.
MCX India Consolidated December 2018 Net Sales at Rs 76.93 crore, Up 26.18% Y-o-Y.  Moneycontrol.comReported Consolidated quarterly numbers for Multi Commodity Exchange of India are: Net Sales at Rs 76.93 crore in December 2018 Up 26.18% from Rs. 60.97 ...
Palantir Posted Nearly $1 Billion in 2018 Sales, Executive Says  BloombergPalantir Technologies Inc., the data analytics startup co-founded by Peter Thiel, generated almost $1 billion in revenue last year, an executive said in a French ...
NCLAT suggests appointing a former Supreme Court judge for IL&FS asset sales  Economic TimesThe new management of the IL&FS is considering assets sales to bail out the company from its financial mess and pay back to its lenders over Rs 90000 crore.
WNC livestock market hits $100 million in sales | Canton  The MountaineerCANTON — The WNC Regional Livestock Center has hit a major milestone, passing the $100 million mark for total livestock sales late last year. The market ...
Sale: Nike, Coach, Rachel Comey, Kiehl's, & More 2019  New York Magazine40 things on sale, including LeSportsac Rebecca weekend duffle bag, John Robshaw Naji shower curtain, John Robshaw Manzar bath rug, Frame striped ...
After months of decline, PV sales showing uptick  Economic TimesAfter a lacklustre festive season, retail demand for passenger vehicle picked up the past two weeks, buoying expectations that the industry will revert to a positive ...

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