Pushback on pricing is like gravity – it’s something you can count on.
While it is tempting to take it personally, getting triggered into feeling invalidated, like you’re an imposter, etc., it’s better to just know that pushback on pricing is a normal and expected part of the sales cycle for services.
I’ve been getting a lot more of it since I raised my prices in March. The common wisdom is that when your sales conversations get too easy, you probably aren’t charging enough. I was at that point, but I also knew that I had really dropped into the zone and was consistently helping my clients achieve incredible results quickly.
That’s valuable, and people should pay for it.
Recently, I had two prospects send me emails about pricing concerns. They were so radically different that I felt compelled to share them with you as case studies.
Prospect Email 1
After a 45-minute complimentary consultation, this prospect had agreed to move forward verbally, but then decided my pricing was too high. He sent the following email:
Thanks for the follow-up, Catherine. Wednesday I have a meeting with a software firm looking to onboard me as their CGO. From there I have a better idea if I want to move forward.
Regarding moving forward. I’ve given this a lot of thought and I like you. With that said, my primary interest in working with you would be on the coaching side, but your coaching hourly rate is not sustainable. I’ve never paid more than $150 per hour to a contractor that didn’t have Dr. or Esq in their title. For you to simply do the resume isn’t that appealing if I can’t tap into the coaching.
Let me see what results from Wednesday and then I’ll have a better idea. To be transparent. $130/hr for coaching seems like a generous rate. That’s what my top programmers make.
My knee-jerk reaction had some expletives in it. I have learned the hard way not to respond when I am pissed off.
So, I sat on it for a few days, decided I didn’t want to work with the guy, and gave myself permission to send this response.
Hi <Name>, I don’t think I can give you good value unless we have a strong resume to work with. I am not willing to do the coaching without the resume first.
The reason I get the fees I do is because I have spent 20 years developing an original body of work around this process. You can see (almost) all of it here for free. It might be all you need.
In general, I would advise you to let it go and not respond. However, in this case I felt like I was wielding a sword of truth and I am happy I did it.
Prospect Email 2
I learned in the complimentary consultation that this prospect was experiencing some financial distress, but she was an ideal client for me, the type of professional I absolutely love to work with.
I sent her my standard pricing and then told her to look at her finances and let me know what she thought she could pay. I never like to add more distress to people in financial distress, but coaching is how I make my living, so I need to be paid for my valuable services.
She sent me this response:
Thank you so much. I know your time is worth what you charge. I could commit to $xxx for one month and then figure it out from there. I understand this is considerably less so if you can’t work with that, I totally understand.
She honored my expertise, my pricing, and the value I could bring. I was happy to offer her a substantial discount and we are having a blast working together.
I hope this was helpful – if only to know that I receive the same emails you do.
Prospects will try to get a better deal. It’s what they do. Try to be firm but fair.
And, if there’s someone you really want to work with, maybe you give them a partial scholarship, or work with them pro bono. That is completely up to you.