If the Client Thinks Your Price is too High, He’s Right

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In his book, The E-Myth Revisited, author Michael Gerber contrasts the two very different types of people who decide to go into business for themselves: The Entrepreneur and The Technician.

The Entrepreneur starts out by thinking, not about the business he’s going to create, but about the customer for whom he’s creating the business.

The Technician, on the other hand, first looks within at his skills and abilities—and only then does he look outward to ask, “How can I sell this?” To the Technician, the product is what he delivers to the customer. And since the creation of that product required his time, the customer is always a problem because he never seems willing to pay the Technician’s price (i.e., time).

But trying to justify your price based of the amount of time it takes is not a winning value proposition. That’s because the client isn’t interested in paying for your time—he wants a result produced or a problem solved.

I pay $30 each time my lawn is treated, and it takes Russ, my lawn care technician, about 15 minutes to apply the fertilizer and weed control. Based on the time he spends, I could make the case that each treatment ought to cost me around three dollars—not $30.

But my lawn care company could argue that I’m not taking into account the cost of chemical, gas to drive the truck, and other overhead. Yet, oddly enough, that’s a conversation the company and I have never had. The bottom line is, which do I value more: my hard-earned cash or the time I’d spend doing it myself and the peace of mind I get knowing I’m not going to inadvertently damage my lawn?

The answer, of course, is I value my time and peace of mind more, which is why I pay the money and don’t concern myself with how long it takes Russ to do the work.

Whenever we buy something, it’s because we expect more back in return. But that “return on investment” isn’t always simple math. Intangible, emotional benefits like “peace of mind” play a greater factor than we often realize. And if those benefits don’t outweigh the cost (in your client’s mind, that is), then your price is too high. Value, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

So how to you become more valuable in the eyes of your prospects? Simple. Help them get what they want. That means setting your Technician hat aside and donning the Entrepreneur hat. Forget about your skills and abilities and ask a few simple questions:

  1. What pain or problem are you trying to alleviate for your intended customer base?
  2. How do they feel about this problem?
  3. How do you want them to feel instead?

So instead of asking “How can I sell this?” you ought to be asking “How do I want my customers to feel after they’ve bought this?”

I’ve written a lot recently about the commoditization of web design. That happens when clients are confronted with too many choices because supply is plentiful and everything seems the same to them. Like it or not, the low barrier to entry has made that an unpleasant reality in the web design industry.

As The Technician, the product you deliver—a finished website—is the commodity. But as The Entrepreneur, the final question you must ask is, How do I want them to feel about me and my company, not the commodity I’ve sold to them?

Answer that, and you’re well on your way to getting past, “Your price is too high.”

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John TabitaJohn Tabita
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Former owner and partner of web firm Jenesis Technologies, John is currently Director of Digital Strategy at Haines Local Search, a company providing local search marketing solutions to SMBs, including print and Internet Yellow Pages, web design, and local SEO. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks. When not working or spending time with his family, John offers great sales and marketing advice on his blog, Small Business Marketing Sucks.

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