WHEN I’M TALKING ABOUT putting yourself on sale, I’m not talking about offering discounts for volume buying or discounts for paying upfront before services are provided. I’m talking about this type of scenario:
Prospective Client: So how much is this going to cost me?
Service Provider (could be a lawyer, therapist, coach or other types of consultants): *Thinking to self* “It usually costs $10,000, but I don’t think he/she has that kind of money.” or “I think he/she will think that is too expensive and won’t hire me.”
Service Provider says to client: “$7,500.”
Prospective Client says: “Wow, that’s more than I thought…”
I’ve heard examples of this type of conversation over and over and over again in my work with solo professionals, entrepreneurs and service providers.
What’s Really Happening?
There are two things going on in this conversation:
- The Prospective Client has thoughts that may or may not have anything to do with you as the Service Provider. The Prospective Client has a need for which they either were not financially prepared or it’s something they have to have but really do not want. Perhaps they are being sued or need to get a divorce. Maybe they need therapy, but don’t really want to go through it. Maybe they want to buy a house, but they don’t want to pay all the fees and costs associated with it and, thus, think other people in the deal should offset those costs. It could be they think you make lots of money–lots more than they do–and, thus, you can afford to give them “a break.” It could be they think of you as an hourly worker and don’t take into account that your fee includes the cost of your education (your time to acquire the knowledge and experience that makes you so good), your overhead and a whole lot of intangibles. It could just be that they think professionals like you (and me) charge too much and should just give our services away for free or cheap. I’d dare-say we’ve all been there wanting something we either don’t have the cash to pay for immediately when we have the need/want or, more likely, a reluctance to spend the money on this particular priority at this particular time. Maybe we want it, but not bad enough to pay for it.
- The Service Provider has thoughts that may or may not have anything to do with the Prospective Client. The second thing that is going on in this conversation is the one that is going on in the service provider’s head. It’s a fear-based, internal conversation that taps into the very core of our self-esteem. It is a conversation spawned from our money story. Our money story is the story we tell ourselves about money, the exchange of money, the lack or abundance of money, and how money and relationships work. It could be an old story from our childhoods or something from a previous experience. Here’s the deal: We have absolutely NO idea what is going on in the Prospective Client’s head, even if we are fairly intuitive and “think” we know, we don’t in fact know. No, what we are doing in this type of scenario is PROJECTING our money stories on the other person. We are thinking about how we would think/feel if we were sitting on the other side of our desks.
Of course, I can hear you all now: “But I was right! See! I quoted even less than what I wanted to say and the prospective client STILL thought it was too much!”
The Ugly Truth
Makes sense, except here is the ugly truth: If the prospective client does not have an urgent need for your services in that moment–if he or she does not feel the requisite level of pain (or pleasure in the cases of, let’s say, buying a new Mercedes)–the prospective client is going to balk at your fees NO MATTER WHAT YOU SAY! Why? Because either he or she does not want your services badly enough, does not have an urgent problem that needs to be solved ASAP, or is there because someone else wants them to do something they don’t really want to do.
Are there cases where people genuinely don’t have the money? Sure. But if they drove up in a car, live in a furnished house, have children, have bank accounts, go on vacation, are carrying a nice purse or wearing a nice watch, if they have jobs and mortgages and credit cards or any combination of the above–they can afford to pay you.
You see, WE FIND MONEY FOR THE THINGS WE NEED AND MOST OF THE THINGS WE WANT.
The Best Gift: An Opportunity to Solve Their Own Problems
But, let’s just say that they don’t have the money to pay you, how is this your problem? If they cannot afford to pay you, they will find another way to solve their problems. It is pure arrogance to think you are the only one who can solve their problem and that if you don’t do it for them for free, they will…what?
Exactly. Find another way to solve their problem.
Sometimes, the best gift we can give another person is to give him or her the opportunity to solve his or her own problem.
Know Your Own Worth
So what about you? What if you let this prospective walk out the door? What then? How will you possibly stay in business?
Let me ask you this? How will you stay in business if you keep putting yourself on sale? How will you provide for your family? How will you take care of the people counting on you? How will you become successful? How will you be able to do all the things you do to contribute to the economy and your community?
My friends, my clients, it’s time to let those less than ideal clients go. For if you project your money story onto them, if you buy into the stories they told themselves and are trying to tell you, you are doing no one favors.
People Who Value You Will Happily Pay
And here’s the person you are forgetting about: The person who really needs you so badly he or she will get the money to pay you. THAT is the person who will get the most out of what you can do for him or her. Why? Because they have invested–they have skin in the game. They have a need so strong, they are willing to show you how much they value your help. If you do not let the people go who do not value you–if you beg them to stay and pay you–then you will not have the capacity to help the person you really were meant to serve.
As a former coach of mine once said “If you have to drag them into it, you are going to have to drag them through it.”
Doesn’t that sound fun? No, of course not. And it won’t be for your client either because a) they don’t value you in the first place, and b) you will come to resent them when you have to work seven days a week just to make ends meet because you don’t charge enough for your services.
If you struggle with “putting yourself on sale” and want some help to overcome this habit, please contact me to schedule a conversation about how I may be able to help you.
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