What To Do When The Client Thinks You're Too Expensive

We've really liked your work but we are afraid your quote is a little bit too expensive for us at the moment.

Prospective Client

What do you do next?

Usually, price is not the biggest contention if your quality really stands out. Recognizing that it is very rare for two different people to offer the exact same solution to a problem, your client could be using the high price excuse to try to negotiate you down.

Objections are inevitable. You must master to demonstrate the value you will provide and in so doing, convince the client to accept your bid. You can read more about the techniques you can use to convince the client to accept your bid. Some clients will draw the cost objection when they are no longer interested in your service. Others will use objection when they feel the problem they are trying to solve can wait.

It is a delaying tactic they use to see if they can find other options. They do not want to tell you that in your face and they feel it is more polite to base their pulling out due to cost. Additionally, it takes away the mental burden of guilt they would feel if they would end up with poor quality work by hiring a cheaper option.

In other instances, a client thinks you are too expensive when they cannot see the unique value your services will add to their business. Essentially, you are offering a common service as a premium service and the client does not see the reason he/she should hire you over cheaper options.

What do you do when the client thinks you are too expensive?

There are many things you can do when the client thinks that your price is too high. Where I come from, if the point of contention in a transaction is on the price, the parties to that transaction always negotiate until they reach an agreement.

I am going to share with you some of the techniques you can use to handle objecting clients.

1. Agree With Them, Then Demonstrate Value.

This may sound irrational but it is an effective way to disarm a client with an objection. When you have proposed your services to the client and they come back with “you are too expensive” dossier, you could simply say,

Yes, it is true we are a little expensive, but we are giving you a service you are never going to get with a bigger shot. You see, we may be small and may lack elaborate experience in this business but we compensate all that by making our service specifically tailored to meet your needs. Besides, you have the opportunity to grow with us because we are not generic.

Your response to the client.

After breaking the ice, it is time to itemize your services and point out the unique value proposition in your proposal. Demonstrate to the client that the experience you have and your way of solving the problem is superior.

The $10000 invoice for "knocking with a hammer"

There’s this story of an old man who repaired a ship engine by knocking it with a hammer that he picked from the shipping company’s garage and later sent the company an invoice of $10000. The company objected to being charged too high for “simply knocking the engine with a hammer. When they asked the old man to itemize his services to justify the high bill, he simply wrote back,

  1. Knocking with a hammer - $2,
  2. Knowing where to knock - $9998

You see, the old man had spent years perfecting his skill. By merely looking at the engine, he understood what problem was ailing it. In less than two minutes, he practiced the knowledge he had gathered over the years and comfortably charged 10 grand for it. The shipping company had to pay the bill because their problem was solved. 

Do not mistake me, though. I am not saying you should go out and start charging outrageous rates for your services. Look at the market rate and do your pricing accordingly. Justify your bill and you will most certainly bag the cash. The secret lies in offering exceptional quality service and standing behind that quality. Demonstrate to the client that you are looking out to their best interest.

If your service solves the client’s problem in the most efficient way, they should have no problem paying you what is commensurate with that level of expertise.

2. Ask Your Client, "Compared to What?"

When written, it sounds very aggressive to ask the client such a question. You can adopt a friendlier approach because people have different temperaments. You could ask them, “What makes you say that?” When you do that, you use their energy to wrestle them. When you disarm them in this manner, you stand a higher chance of winning them over.

If they are genuine, they will open up to you. For instance, they would tell you that even though your work stood out from the rest of the bidders, their current budget would not allow them to work with you on the current project.

By opening up, they will ask questions and you will have the opportunity of addressing all their objections comprehensively. You will get their full attention and a perfect opportunity to demonstrate value.

Even if you don’t end up working on the project, the client will have you in mind for future projects because you have had the opportunity to market your value.

If the client thinks that your services are expensive simply because other bidders are in a race to the bottom, demonstrate the quality of your services and let the client choose. You do not want to work with someone whose primary aim is to find the cheapest bid no matter what.

Maintain high level of quality and you will meet your ideal clients in due time. Those who are looking for the best quality are willing to pay for it.

3. In Some Cases, Silence is Golden. Use It.

Perhaps this is the most overlooked technique in handling objections. When you are confident about the quality of your work, you may just keep quiet when a client thinks your services are too expensive. You could even give them some alternative options to consider (this works best if you have built your reputation very well). Clients will believe that you are genuinely looking out for their best interest, only that you cannot work with their offer at the moment.

In some cases, clients who write off some bidders end up coming back to them. When this happens, you will not be negotiating about the price because they already know what to expect. I am not saying that all the clients who initially think your services are expensive will come back to you. In most cases, you never hear from them again.

The main issue here is about building your brand. Your brand should be known for certain principles. Inculcate them from the onset. If you consistently get clients who cannot afford your services, change your approach or the marketplace. You could be selling excellent services to the wrong target or you just need to change the lake from where you fish.

4. See if You Can Work With Their Budget

Sometimes, clients put up an estimated budget to guide the bidders. There is always room for adjusting the figure to accommodate the volume of work required to achieve the desired results.

If your client says they are willing to spend $100 on a project, it is not cast on stone that they will end up spending that money on the project. That budget is subject to change, every budget planner knows that.

You can audit the scope of work and see if you can accommodate them in your budget as well. If things can work out, you both win.

One way you can earn more from a client who thinks your services are expensive is to get long-term work with them. If they can guarantee volumes of work, then you can take the project based on some predetermined terms. We teach this in our freelance writing course which you can take at a fee (you decide what to pay for it!).

A client who thinks your services are expensive most certainly likes your work. They are in a buying mood and if they can get a deal they cannot resist, you are in business.

Finally, Don’t be Too Cheap

If you are going to compete with people who have no problem running down the price to the bottom, you are going to be out of business sooner than later. You will get many orders that will stress you out. Your quality will take a nose dive and soon, no client (not even the ones who used to kill you with huge volumes of orders) will touch you with a 10 foot pole.

I know that some enterprising individuals reading this will think like, “Why don’t you just outsource the work and bank all the money?” My answer? Money is a just component of doing this type of business but not the only one. Real writers would die of shame if their names were to be associated with crappy copy. Whether your client thinks you are too expensive or not is immaterial. What should matter to you most is the quality of service you are offering.

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