How One Freelancer Changed His Career from a Charge-by-the-Hour Web Guy to a Multiple-Thousands-Per-Project Agency – By Reframing Pricing
If you want to get paid more for your freelance services, first you need to undergo a massive shift in how you approach your process for pricing your services, according to Brennan Dunn of Planscope.
I attended his webinar on the subject, which was targeted at freelance WordPress website experts. However, as a freelance writer, I learned a valuable new way to look at pricing my services.
If I had known about this approach earlier in my career, I might have earned a lot higher income over the years.
But, as they say, it’s never too late!
Here are the four main points involved in changing your perspective on and approach to the project pricing process, according to Brennan.
Point 1 — Use Socratic Questioning to Get to the Root of Your Prospect’s Problem.
I wasn’t familiar with the term Socratic reasoning until yesterday when I Brennan mentioned it as the first step in creating a better project estimate. I had to look it up.
I found many definitions. I chose the most succinct from Wikipedia:
“Socratic method, named after the classical Greek philosopher Socrates, is a form of inquiry and discussion between individuals, based on asking and answering questions to stimulate critical thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving a discussion in which the defense of one point of view is questioned; one participant may lead another to contradict himself in some way, thus strengthening the inquirer’s own point.”
Naturally, you don’t want to enter into any arguments in your financial discussions with potential clients. And that’s not what Brennan meant here.
What he meant is to ask a series of questions as a way of stimulating a new way for your potential clients to view your services. Specially, Brennan said, you want to “turn the tables on your potential client’s propensity to label your freelance services as an expense. You want them to view you instead as an investment.”
When executed well, Socratic questioning allows you to move the prospect in this direction. Brennan shared these example questions to ask your prospect at this stage:
- What trigger or series of events brought this project to life?
- What problem is behind the trigger for this project?
- How painful is the problem to your company?
- What is the cost to your company if this problem is not solved?
- What does your company want from this project?
- What does your company want to look like after this project is completed?
Brennan ended Point 1 by saying: “No client has ever wanted a website (note: or web content). What they want is a solution to their problem, such as needing more customers.”
Point 2 — Find Out: What’s the Client’s Upside for Hiring You?
After identifying your potential clients’ problem, next you need to identify the results they will gain from working with you.
Now your questions should move toward quantifying the company’s ability to solve its problem with your services. Here you would ask questions such as these:
- How much is it worth to you to solve this problem, for example, get one new customer?
- How many weeks does it take for you to achieve your goal now, such as, land a new customer?
You can position the cost of your services against their ability to boost their business’s bottom line thanks to your services.
Point 3 — Use a Price Anchor in Your Project Estimate.
How do you make an $800 watch look affordable? Put it next to a $2,000 watch.
This example illustrates what Brennan means by price anchor. If you price your services in a vacuum (without a price anchor), you put yourself at enormous risk. In particular, your potential client will go into the marketplace to assess how your prices stack up against your competitors.
In fact, the laws of economics demand that people have a price anchor to psychologically make a buying decision. So create the anchor yourself by giving the company options.
For example, tell them they could purchase your services to write, research, and brand the company’s website content for one fee (likely a high fee). OR you could just write the content based on the company’s in-house research and branding for a lower fee. The two fee options become the psychological price anchor your potential clients need to feel comfortable making a decision.
Brennan noted that project scope should always be negotiated, not your rate or the quality of the work.
Point 4 — Present Your Solution, Not Just a Fee for Work.
When we present our offer to potential clients, we typically just give them an estimated price for a set number of services. Brennan suggests a different approach. When you present your offer, present it in the context of the solution.
“Your potential clients need assurance that they will be getting a return of value for the money they will pay you. Rather than just tell them a price for an end result, tell them the fee you are charging to provide the bridge from their problem to their solution.”
He added, “As freelancers, we don’t lose work because we charge too much. We lose work because the potential clients view us as too much of a risk. To overcome this, we need to help them understand what they’ll gain if they bring us in to solve their problem.”
There is an upside to this scenario beyond getting the project, he noted. “My clients became more profitable and view me as a partner, as someone who is a multiplier for their business. Not just another vendor.”
When you reach that stage, your value to your clients is crystal clear.
Note: Brennan teaches these pricing points and more in his online course (fyi, this is not an endorsement and I am not being paid for referrals).
So, what do you think? Are you brave enough to make thus shift to pricing your services? Share your thoughts and freelance project pricing experiences in the comments below.
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