“You’re charging WHAT?!?”

Shocked and surprised childYou’ve probably had this happen to you at least once… You have what seems like a perfectly normal conversation with a prospective client, you send what you think is a perfectly reasonable proposal, and your client responds with shock at how expensive you are.

It’s easy to react badly in this kind of situation; you know how much value you bring to any project and you know you’re worth what you are charging. (If you’re not sure that you’re worth that, go read the Harvard Business Review article, “Why You Should Charge Clients More Than You Think You’re Worth,” and Mary Ellen’s Amazing Hourly Rate Calculator.)

At the beginning of my career as an solopreneur, I took this kind of response badly; I assumed that either I had vastly overrated myself and my value or I had utterly failed because no one saw what I had to offer.

Fortunately, I’ve adjusted my attitude and now have a more positive approach. When I’m told that I am too expensive, I run the Internal Entrepreneurial Translator™ in my brain and hear them saying that they simply don’t currently have the budget or need for my expertise and level of service. I also remind myself that, while they aren’t hiring me now, situations change. People change jobs, and talk with their peers. Organizations suddenly find available funds. Priorities shift. All of these are reasons to treat any rejected proposal as simply not a good match at this time, for this client, in this situation. The bottom line may just be that their organization has different priorities for their resources at this time. That’s OK; the interaction can be respectful and positive. They’re just not at a place where they need your level of service.

And I use these experiences as opportunities to look at how I’m presenting myself and my skills. I ask myself if I’m focused entirely on outcome or if I’m talking about activity. Am I focused on what my client values the most and how I can help them achieve that goal, or am I talking about what I’ll do and what my hourly rate is.

I make sure I’m not talking about how I “need” to be paid $X because I have a mortgage/rent and other expenses to pay. Because, frankly, clients don’t care about what our expenses are. All they are about is receiving high-quality services that address their needs. I focus on making sure that my price reflects the outcome my clients will see.

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