There is a lot to like about the Freelance life, but recurring paycheck anxiety isn’t one of them. If we’re not waiting to get paid by a client who should have mailed the check 10 days ago, then we’re fretting that the check is rather too small anyway for the amount and quality of work that was done. But how can one be choosy when the possibility of being replaced is so real? No matter how you earn your living, by 1099 or W2, the employer is in the driver’s seat.
Nevertheless, we Freelance consultants do have some leverage. While there are thousands of Freelancers willing to accept small hourly rates and project fees, hiring managers in the know realize that the quality of their work is often less than ideal. As always, you get what you pay for and pay for what you get. Below is a list of selling points that in your next pricing negotiation can help you to justify and defend the premium price I know you are worth:
Shopping for B2B services is not like shopping at the old (and sorely missed) Filene’s Basement, where frugal fashionistas could find premier designer label clothing for a fraction of the retail cost. The caveat was, one had to expect certain shortcomings, like maybe a missing button or two because one of the infamous button thieves got to the item first (there were apparently several such individuals over the decades).
Inexperienced or less skilled Freelancers may request lower prices for any number of reasons, including perhaps the inability or unwillingness to perform complex assignments. Some people like to compete on price and there will always be those who respond for whatever reason and that sometimes includes an antipathy toward paying people. Those who like the low-ball figure should be advised that they are vulnerable to receiving only the bare minimum of work because they’re only paying the bare minimum price.
Make it clear to your prospect that you produce the highest quality work. The prospect can totally hand the project over and trust that you and your team will successfully complete the job as specified, on time and within budget. There will be no need for the client to perform after-the-fact do-overs of your work. Your base price may be higher, but in the end you save clients time, money and aggravation. You make them look smart for hiring you.
In sum, you will produce what has been asked of you and if there appears to be an obstacle to doing so, you will alert the client as soon as that is recognized and suggest collaborate on making adjustments or creating a Plan B, especially for time-sensitive projects. You meet deadlines and respect budgets.
One of the biggest mistakes a Freelancer can make when negotiating project or hourly rate pricing is to limit the scope of what you offer solely to the project work as described in the specs. Make it known to prospects that you are selling an entire service package that includes not only the project spec work, but also includes responsiveness and prompt follow-up; good communication and feedback; efficiency with logistics; and the willingness to ensure that deadlines will be met, even if that means working outside of the 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM, Monday to Friday paradigm.
Showcase your value-added services by ensuring that your project proposal answers all of the standard or required questions and is sent to the client on time. Respond to client follow-up inquiries quickly, efficiently and cheerfully.
While any confidentiality requests must be respected, revealing selected names on your client list, newsletter or blog statistics, links to published articles and webinars hosted and publicity listings for your noteworthy speaking engagements will provide tangible proof of your reputation and expertise and in that way, justify your pricing. Depending on your specialty, an online or hard copy portfolio of your work to show to prospective clients is yet another effective way to demonstrate the quality and sophistication of your work and help to explain why you do not price your services at the bargain basement level.
Don’t be shy! Prospective clients want to see what you can do, so that an informed decision can be made. Build your case, present it well and show them what you are worth.
Thanks for reading,
Shoppers at Filene’s Basement (1974) Photograph courtesy of Nick DeWolf