You’ve heard the advice about raising your prices:
“Just raise your rates.”
“Double your prices!”
“Don’t overthink it! Just do it!”
For most people, the problem with the advice above is that it doesn’t work. Even if you do dare to raise your prices by 10%, you apologise, you feel guilty. Your heart’s not in it.
So, maybe you negotiate against yourself. Before you meet the client or send a proposal, you whittle down the price in your mind first of all. Then you make some justification for it in your mind. You promise yourself you’re going to stand firm. And then you come to the negotiation (I’ll bet you hate that word), nervous but determined.
At the slightest raise of an eyebrow you cave. You’ll cut 20%, 50% (or even more) off, because you can’t stand to negotiate. If you raise your prices, you feel bad.
The “Don’t Blink” Advice
I could tell you to tough it out. First one to blink, loses.
I could also say: “but you’re really good at what you do. Everybody says it. You should be charging what you’re worth. You’re still below market rates.”
But that doesn’t work either. You don’t feel confident, and that lack of confidence is going to be the missing plank which will sink the whole ship.
Feeling better about charging more
The reason that “put your rates up” advice hasn’t worked for you is that you haven’t interiorised it. You might have your head in it (“I know I’m really good at what I do, and my clients love me.”) But you feel like when you’re bringing up the money question, you’re leaving your heart at the door.
Let me guess: you feel like you’re an expense. You think you’re an imposition on their funds. If they spend money on you, their children are going to starve, and it will be all your fault!
At present, maybe you’re selling your services primarily to solopreneurs who – like you – see what they pay you as coming out of their pocket. I totally get their thinking because they are so close to their business, they may tend to see every expense as a personal expense.
Would You Ever Do Your Clients a Disservice?
Of course you wouldn’t!
But if you’re promising to drive them across the dessert, and because you’ve undercharged, you run out of fuel, then you are doing them a disservice.
People are paying you because in their eyes the money they spend is less important to them than what you can do for them. They’re paying for the value that you bring, the outcome that you create; not for how long you spend. You’re not running a widgets factory.
How to Bring Your Heart To Your Pricing
When you’re providing a service, you’re serving. (“Brilliant observation, Anthony!”) You’re serving with your heart and your head.
And that’s why they pay you. The money they pay you is worth less to them that the service you give them. In fact, if you choose the right clients, the value they get is going to be so great that they will be less focused on the price than you are.
I recently coached someone through this exact problem. Let’s call her Maria and say she was a voice artist. I explained that the first sale was to herself. She herself had to be interiorly aware of the need to align her head and her heart before she worried about pricing.
She was very brave (there’s a lot of fear you have to face with pricing!) And within a week of our first conversation, she told me:
Today I gave an old client double the price and said instead, “Can you do half down and half on completion?” To my delight, he didn’t miss a beat and said, “No problem.”
I strongly suspect Maria was seriously undercharging, and possibly still is, but this was a big transformation for her.
I asked her how she felt with that transformation, when her previous efforts to charge higher prices just didn’t happen. Here’s what she said:
From People’s Pockets to Business Budgets
As you move up market, you’re not taking the money out of people’s pockets (which is how you might see it). Instead, it’s coming out of a business budget.
The business has already decided to do some branding change, or brochures or website redesign. They may have begun a new arm of the business, breaking into a new market.
And the question they’re asking themselves is not: “should we spend money on graphic design/new website/brand strategy?” They KNOW they need to do that.
Instead, the question is: “How should we spend this budget? Where is a smart investment?”
And for even larger businesses, if they have responsibility for a budget, then if they don’t spend that budget, they will lose some of it next year. So, you’re helping them to spend their budget (not pay out of their pocket!) in a wise and fruitful way.
“Would you like to hear what Maria learnt? Get ready for a free 20-minute conversation, and we’ll see where your difficulties are. (It’s going to be tough!)” https://anthonyenglish.com.au/tough20