Here's the reality: We live in a capitalist society.
You are in business, and you can't do business without dealing with money. If you try, you're likely to get yourself in trouble.
Your prospects are considering hiring you as a professional. They don't expect you work for free. They have a budget (whether they reveal it or not) and they expect to negotiate with you about your fees. In fact, if you don't take the initiative and bring up the topic of money, the impression you leave is that of an amateur, and, as a result, they may not take you seriously.
It's Okay to Talk About Money
Talking about money doesn't have to be distasteful or confrontational. In fact, it is one of the clearest planes on which to speak because there are no blurry lines when it comes to numbers. They either add up or they don't. Your prospects either have the money or they don't. It's that simple, and there's no need to make a big drama out of it.
Smart (i. e. , desirable) clients know how much things cost. This is the type of client you should be looking for. Talking about money will not be difficult for them, and they will make the process easy for you because they are:
- Accustomed to spending money on design;
- Familiar with budgets; and
- Spending their company's money, not their own personal money.
Step 1: Weed out inappropriate prospects
First, take these steps to qualify your prospects to determine whether they're “smart" clients. You need to develop and know your own criteria for whom you'll work with and whom you won't. Here are some factors to consider and questions to ask yourself:
- The client. How closely does the client fit the profile of your ideal client? Is there potential for future work, or is this a one-time project? How does this fit with your long-term goals?
- The project. Is it a project you're interested in? Will it allow you to learn anything new? How does it compare with other projects you've done? Is anything about the project in line with the future direction of your work? Or is it more in line with where you've already been? If it's a small project, can it serve as an introduction and get you in the door with a client who is likely to have more work later on?
- The fee. Does this project meet your minimum fee? It's important to know the minimum fee for which you will pick up a pen or open a new document. Find this number using your hourly rate and what you know about how much administrative time is involved to begin a project, manage it and bill for it. You may come up with $500 or $2,500, and it may depend on the current state of your business. But it's essential to know your minimum.
- The people. Do you like the people involved? Do they have experience working with and hiring outsiders? Do they seem easy to work with? Do they display clear communication skills (verbal and written)? Do they spend hours talking? Will you have to accommodate for any of these characteristics by scheduling more meetings? Will you need to add an “aggravation factor" into your fee?
- Work style. What is the office environment? Are they punctual? Are they organized? Better to find out now rather than later that they are disorganized, which often creates a chaotic process no matter how much order you try to instill.
You can find the answers to all of these questions in an initial phone call and decide quickly whether to pursue each prospect.
Rules and policies are important to have, but you must also know when to make an exception. If your plate is empty, you might be tempted to take on a small project that is below your minimum. Consider devoting that time to marketing instead; it's usually a better investment in the long run.
Use the Web to Weed Out Tire-Kickers
There may be prospects who aren't even worth the initial phone call, so you need a way to filter them out without wasting your time.
Your web site can serve as that filter.
Post a form on your web site that prospects fill out if they want a proposal. The serious prospects will take the time to fill out your form. Tire-kickers and those shopping for prices will not.
The form, once filled out, also will give structure to the request, help to focus your potential client and put in one place all (or most) of the information you need to get started preparing a proposal.
Beyond that, this structure also gives your prospect a sense of how you work and some of the requirements of working with you. It's part of your positioning as a professional.
Here are some of the questions you should include on your web site's proposal request form:
The downside of this form is that it can be a deterrent to serious prospects who are in a hurry or who don't like filling out forms. For them, simply provide multiple ways to contact you. Invite serious prospects to call to discuss their projects. When they do call, you can still use the form to gather the information you need; it's just that you will be filling it out for them.
Excerpted from “The Designer's Guide to Marketing and Pricing: how to win clients and what to charge them" by Ilise Benun and Peleg Top, co-founders of Marketing-Mentor.com. Available wherever books are sold. Sign up for their free tips at http://www.marketing-mentor.com
Ilise Benun & Peleg Top
Founded by self promotion guru, Ilise Benun, Marketing Mentor is a growing team of experts with extensive experience in marketing and self-promotion. We have done it all - for ourselves and on behalf of our clients - and we practice what we preach.
The mission of Marketing Mentor is to help you get your marketing and self promotion on track so that your business can grow and you can succeed.