Derek Halpern, the guy behind Social Triggers, is a smart, entertaining guy. I enjoy his podcasts because we share an interest in behavior decision making theory. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? All that means is we are curious about why makes people buy and at what price.
Recently Derek introduced his own TV channel and launched by discussing one of my favorite topics:The dumb pricing mistake people make (and how to fix it)
Boy, did he hit a nerve! It’s nice to have my topic validated so soundly by someone else. Last time I checked there were over 200 tweets and 155 comments on his video.
I riffed on it, but people asked really great questions in the comments that weren’t getting answered, so I felt compelled to go back and answer (and probably broke some unspoken, online etiquette rule, too- sorry, Derek!)
Don’t Discount You
One reader shared his frustrations with pricing his web development services. Based on the look on his potential client’s face, he lowered his prices. He discounted himself to get the work. Oy! Happily he has Derek and I in his corner for some good advice.
When you discount your price, your client discounts you...as in perceives you as less valuable.
That’s how you end up making the sale. You are cheaper. Do that too often and you are toast. You end up with a book full of demanding clients who want champagne results on beer budgets (Hey, I’m a craft brew fanatic, so no offense to beer.) And, it’s hard to complain because you trained them.
No discounting unless there’s a good reason for it like you are going to gain much more value later than you are giving away now. Let’s talk about that in another post.
Back to what happened to Loran (sorry about misspelling your name dude)
Excerpt from Social Triggers
Man, just a few weeks ago I had to give prices for web development.
I did the exact same thing. I gave a high price for a custom website, and when I saw that little cringe in the dude’s face, I told him about the cheaper alternative (with a ready-template).
He took the cheaper one, immediately. I wish you had made this video earlier. But anyway, I will soon have to follow-up with another client. Negotiations aren’t going my side there at the moment, but we’ll see how it turns out!
Thanks for the advice. It goes into use tomorrow!
So, Loren, when you saw him cringe did you think to just ask him about his thoughts BEFORE discounting you? You assumed it was only the price that troubled him. You know the saying about that one.
If you’d asked, something like “I see you made a face…” he would’ve TOLD you directly. Once you knew his concerns you could’ve offered other things besides money to meet his needs.
Remember, in negotiations you both want the same thing: work well done at the right price. The fun part is finding the balance.
Loran, if you use it, be sure to email me what happens. Would love to hear about your results.
Dina Eisenberg |Speak Up Powerfully
I’d love to hear, too, Loren. Just remember to listen and clarify. And, if you say something wrong, just say so and go again. Do overs are allowed!
Dump Negative Predictions
What went wrong? Two things. A negative prediction and a failure to be curiuos.
Loran made a mistake that every small business owner, consultant or coach has made. He made a negative prediction about whether the potential client would accept his his real price for his services and punted.
Who hasn’t done this calculation? You look at the client, consider what bills need to be paid and how much is in the checking and pull out a number you hope that person will find irresistible. Last time I made this mistake it cost me $30k and took a year to straighten out.
Negative predictions come from negative beliefs that sabotage your efforts to achieve your goals. They are the little voice in your head going, Gosh if I charge what I’m supposed to I won’t get this work. He’ll never go for that. I need to make this work.
We all have something called an psychological immune system, according to social scientists and researchers Wilson & Gilbert. Just like your regular immune system keeps you from getting sick, this psychological one protects you from being hurt or experiencing really negative feelings.
Funny thing is, we tend to be drama queens. We vastly overestimate how intense the hurt is going to be and how long it will last. That makes it harder to grow into our goals and dreams. Stop for a minute and think about how that plays out in your life and business.
Have I let negative predictions stop me from achieving what I want or being more powerful in my business?
Best way to eliminate a negative prediction is to:
- be mindful of when your ‘psychological immune system’ kicks
- realize that it is a forecast with a 50% + chance of wrong
- recognize that each situation is new and you can shape a different outcome.
- develop your emotional intelligence and communication skills
Past performance is not an indicator of future performance- that’s what all the stock fund commercials say, right. lol We always have an opportunity to do better the next time.
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” Maya Angelou
Be Curious and Ask
Wow, this post has gotten long (I get excited because I know how much this will help) and I should end, but I don’t want to leave you hanging. How do you stop yourself from discounting and get your price?
Ask your client before you assume you need to discount.
Clients have their own psychological immune system that wants to protect them from looking foolish, being taken for a ride, overpaying just like entrepreneurs and self-employed folks do. I saw this first-hand dealing with HR managers who hired me. They had negative predictions they wanted to avoid-
- Skyrocketing cost with no control
- No measurable ROI
- Being seen as unreliable or incapable
- Being associated with untried, potentially bad ideas
Simply put, they got their own little voices whispering nasty negative predictions in their ear. They are too preoccupied to deal with you. That’s what that horrified look is about. That’s a good thing.
Calm yourself and you have an excellent opportunity to transform yourself from a dreaded salesperson to a trusted adviser and partner to your new client. Yeah, baby!
How do you ask your client what’s up? Be transparent and make an observation. Yup, it’s that simple. I cover other diagnostic questions in the Say it Summit. But for now, let’s do this easy question style I call transparent observation.
Kids do it all the time. They notice something different and honestly ask about it, as in Phew, who cut the cheese. Ok, I’m being funny but you get it right?
In Loran’s case, he could have made a transparent observation like this:
Oh, I see you made a little face (or, a little upset), and I’m not sure what to think about that. Can you help me out?
This is a hard working diagnostic question. In one sentence, you can:
- demonstrate your interest,
- show that you are paying attention
- show vulnerability
- ask for clarity
- invite more conversation
What it’s not doing is:
- judging the client
- implying the correct answer
- minimizing or disregarding her concerns
- presuming to know
- prematurely offering a solution (read: discount) because you’re uncomfortable
It’s Not That Hard
I’m not going to lie. It takes a bit of practice to do this. First step is to start recognizing what situations trigger your psychological immune system.
Then, practice identifying resistance in your clients (you’re probably good at this part already). You’ll begin to spot the different buyer types (unsure, aggressive, etc) and develop your own questions and opening statements.
If you want a hand figuring this out, you’re welcome to come by my web event on the 18th.
I’d love to hear your reaction, or how you see this working for you as an entrepreneur, coach or self-employed person, in the comments!
Be Heard & Prosper!
“The vast possibilities of our great future will become realities only if we make
ourselves responsible for that future.” – Gifford Pinchot