“Charge what you are worth..” and “Never become cheap..” – these buzzwords are inspiring but in the real world it can be a lot different. When you are self-employed or working freelance, you need to make money, you don’t have the luxury or the security of a salary coming in every month so you need to step up your Sales pitch.
The reality is that you are always going to be up against lower priced competitors, welcome to capitalism! and any market is saturated these days with low price alternatives. You want a web designer? you can hire anyone anywhere in the world with an internet connection for an eight of what you charge so what’s the pointr?
How can you charge $50 per hour when the other guy charges $5?, this other guy might not be located thousands of miles away, he might be your next door neighbour working in his attic.. so how do you overcome this challenges and charge more than the other guy?
Because you LOVE what you do, you are strong and always up for a challenge. Yes there are individuals offering the same services as you for cheaper but not every Client is a bargain hunter, the majority want someone to do a good job, not a good job and exceptional job.
1. Get Personal.
If someone is looking for new website or a brochure designed, the difference between you charging $50 an hour and someone else charging $5 an hour will be down to your personality, why are you different and why should i spend 10 times more money with you? You work is more professional, yes but most clients don’t see that until they get to know you. When I worked as a web designer, I was getting clients with no mention of my previous work, they didn’t care, I had built up such a high level of trust I could do what I wanted.
How you approach the project from the start will be the key difference, you need to make the connection immediately.. you need to interact with the client like you were interacting with a friend – serious, jokey, get on a personal level with them, ask questions about their business, where they live, their favourite TV shows.. entrepreneurs love to talk about their back story, how they started and breath energy into your chats, emails and phone conversations and it will filter through. Getting personal with your client is the start of building trust.
2. Show you are a Human.
Client’s need help, they need someone they can count on to do the work. The fear a lot of clients have is they have no idea who the other person is at the end of the line.. You need to show you are a human.
Social Media should be used in this instance..clients don’t need to see your Snapchat but Messaging through Facebook or linkedin is a great start. Create a work only profile, add your client to your account with real pictures of yourself and your work and use it as a medium to start the conversations, they will already be using the platform and its more personal than sending off emails.
Adding a profile photo to the tail of your email signature is also a really good impression, this connection will help deepen the relationship with your client and really get them on your side form the start, you can bet the $5 guy won’t do that!
3. Meet for a Coffee.
In a galaxy far, far away…taking a client or potential client to lunch was a total given, nowadays it seems to be forgotten as everything is online!
It sounds so simple but not many people do it, Asking your client to meet for coffee and cake is very personable and client’s never say no! I would ask clients what time they would usually have lunch at and organize a meeting at a cafe around that time, when you have lunch together they would say to me that they would be meeting another designer afterwards but i knew that they would not be meeting anyone later on! the deal was done!
Bring a laptop or tablet to show your latest work, and afterwards go back to your office and sign the agreement!
4. Don’t be Desperate.
Ask any clothes shop how many people come into their store on a daily basis to look around and how many return to buy something, not everyone will choose you for their project, and there are a lot of time wasters out there but never despair or seem desperate to lower your price just to get the project in. Clients love to be seen to be tough but you need to stay strong when negotiating and not drop your price, your client will see this as weakness.
Instead offer some extras that won’t cost you too much time.. Training, clean up of Social Media accounts, some graphic design work like new business cards or just saying that you will be there for any follow up questions. This way you are not reducing your hourly rate but you are giving something extra to close to deal.
5. Work, Glorious Work.
Prospective Clients love to see previous work – It can be taken as a given that the guy who charges $5 an hour wont exactly have the best portfolio of all time otherwise he wont be charging $5 an hour!
With your work you really need to stand out.. take extra time to build a brilliant portfolio with before and after shots, screengrabs, case studies, testimonials.
The effort you put into your portfolio will shine through, a lot of designers think they don’t need to bother and a screengrab of an iMac will do.. no it won’t the average client will not have a clue and you need to separate yourself from the cheap ass ones, by doing this it will reflect on you.
6. Be Brave & Build Trust.
“Nothing’s going to come to you by sitting around and waiting for it.” Zoe Kazan
Don’t immediately agree with your client’s objectives and don’t be afraid to ask probing questions, their actual needs could be completely different. Ask deep questions as to why they are going with Option A and why they think they need XYZ.. usually they don’t but they might have heard about this thing and think they are cool but actually are a waste of time.
The $5 guy will make sure to include as much as he can to max out his hours as much as possible. Ask to see the competitors quote and take it apart, offer alternatives where they are spending too much in different areas.
By taking the project by the horns with your personality, your friendship, your coolness, your work and your questioning , you are now in control.