Discussing Fees with Clients

By Catherine Pope

June 13, 2019

There’s nothing more awkward than having the money conversation with clients. Generating ideas is exciting, building relationships exhilarating, but talking terms often feels grubby. Yet if we don’t agree numbers early on, we can waste time discussing projects that aren’t financially feasible. In this post, I’ll share three tips on discussing money with clients.

1 Make your prices visible

You can’t assume your potential client has done any homework on likely costs. Years ago, when I was a web developer, I spent ages putting together a proposal for an e-commerce website, only to discover that the business owner had a budget of £20. Yes, just one zero. Even if your quotes vary enormously, a range will give a sense of the cost. You could outline a typical scenario with the likely fee. This at least provides an anchor point. Otherwise, unhelpful assumptions can arise.

Not advertising your prices could also make potential customers imagine you’re too expensive for them – especially if you have swish branding and a slick web presence. They won’t necessarily call or email to find out.

2. Have the money conversation early

Get the numbers out of the way. This is especially important if you’re in a ‘caring’ role, such as a coach or therapist. Potential clients know you want to help them, so can sometimes think you’re prepared to do so on a voluntary basis. Explain at the beginning, “this is how I work, this is what I charge …” Then you can talk more about the client’s project or challenges and conclude by emphasising your value, rather than your hourly rate.

3. Don’t haggle

As I said in the previous tip, you need to be clear on your value, i.e the difference you’ll make to this person or company. It’s not up to you to be affordable – your potential client needs to decide whether the problem you’re solving is a priority for them. Perhaps they are keen to get their logo redesigned, but a new laptop is more urgent this month. They’ll be back once they’ve got the money. Accepting a lower fee means you feel resentful, and it sets an unhelpful precedent. If you start low, it’s hard to charge more in future.

You’re working hard, so you deserve to:

  • Earn a decent income
  • Invest in personal and professional development
  • Get recognition for your skills & experience

In my next post, I’ll help you work out how much to charge.

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Image © Talaj – stock.adobe.com

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