Negotiating Rates: Overcoming the Price Objection

Finding a potential client and getting them interested in what you can offer is great, but you still need to work out the compensation details before you can start working together. If the client has checked out your resume and/or samples and is interested in hiring you, they have already made a decision to hire you, albeit a conditional one. At this point, the client feels that you can provide them with the services they want but they want to know whether you can do so at a price they are willing to pay.

If you quote a fee for your writing but the client balks at it, you may be tempted to just walk away or even tell the person that those are your rates and if they don’t like them, they are free to go elsewhere. I wouldn’t recommend the second approach. Not only is it complete turn-off, but it is just plain disrespectful.

What you want to do instead is keep the client engaged in the conversation. If the client cites budgetary restrictions as a reason why they can’t go forward, ask what their budget is for the project. Tell them how many pages or hours you can provide for the amount they are prepared to spend.

The client may complain that you have higher pricing than other freelancers. If that’s the case, tell them why you charge the rates that you do. Other freelancers may not have the same level of education or experience as you do, and you set your fees based on your credentials.

You can also explain to the potential client what else you bring to the table. In hiring you, the client gets someone who listens to their needs and does whatever they can to exceed their expectations. You are passionate with an eye for detail, and you will give the client the personal attention they deserve. Tell the client about the value they are getting, and you have a better chance of being hired.

How do you deal with price objections from potential clients?





4 responses
  1. Jack Busch Avatar

    I seem to always have a situation where a client will ask for my pricing, and then if I give them a too high quote, they don’t reply at all. It’s a frustrating situation because it means they probably gave the job to someone else without giving me a chance to make a counteroffer. In that case, I sometimes wait a few weeks and then send a followup email with a discounted rate. Even if they have moved on at that point, it helps to re-open the channels of communication. I’ve landed a couple projects this way – sometimes it’s a different project.

    It’s a tricky situation – you don’t want to price yourself out and you don’t want to undersell yourself. In most negotiations, it makes sense to ask for a little bit more and than compromise on something lower. But when there are lots of competing bids, you’re sometimes trapped into a situation where you have to peg the secret number they are thinking of on the first shot.

  2. Jodee Avatar

    @ Jack: I like your strategy of following up. It’s possible that the person the client hired didn’t work out or they have other projects they need done.

    You’re right that sometimes everything is going well and you start discussing compensation and the client backs right off. Perhaps some clients don’t like to negotiate rates, but maybe freelancers should take a cue from lawyers, accountants or plumbers and have a set fee they charge for their services.

  3. Brian Avatar

    A lot of times it depends on whether or not the client has worked with freelance writers before. Those with experience working with freelancers know that there can be negotiations, or more specifically that the parameters of the project can be tweaked in order to achieve a rate more in line with what the client is willing to pay.

    However, for clients with little to no experience working with freelancers the whole idea of getting a quote is to get “THE PRICE” and not some starting point. To them it seems like the freelancer was trying to over-charge and is only willing to charge “the real rate” because they were caught. If this was your line of thinking, you wouldn’t bother contacting the writer again if the price was too high either.

    Brian (ArcticLlama)
    Professional Freelance Writers at Arctic Llama, LLC.

  4. Carol Tice Avatar

    I’ve taken to writing to clients who respond to me that if it’s a bidding war, count me out. I let them know my niche is working with companies seeking to establish themselves as the thought leader in their sector with authoritative content. The ones who respond positively and hire me understand that they need to invest a decent amount in creating their content to win their sector — and that hiring me at $95 an hour to create an article they can use to promote their business FOREVER is still a fantastic deal.

    I’m targeting companies that aren’t focused on price — they’re focused on the high level of result they need to stand out on the Internet in their sector. These are the clients who pay well.

    I agree with Jodee that you want to keep them talking. I invite them to counter-offer if my proposal doesn’t fit their budget, and if they do, I see if I think it will work with the rates I want to make — maybe I can be more efficient with the material than I originally thought. You want to keep the door open if you can. Some I ask to check back with me once their site is earning more, and kind of keep that idea out there for the future.

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