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5. Let them know that you do not accept all assignments or clients, only those that fit your specific target market and capabilities. Let prospects know that you choose a relatively small, select roster of clients. That way, you are accessible to them, and can provide services that your busier competitors cannot. Promise them (and mean it) that you will return phone calls and emails instantly. Give examples of assignments you have turned down.
6. Be willing to say "no." If an engagement appears to be outside your capabilities, a high risk, with a client that will not want a long-term relationship, or that is undesirable to you, say no. Even if you need revenue, it is better to spend your time establishing trust and credibility with a more desirable set of prospects.
7. Stop selling and hawking your services. Instead, become skilled at educating prospects and letting them make decision to hire you on their own. If you use salesmanship, you will put prospects on defensive and they will be more likely to negotiate price with you.
8. Prepare a set of responses to objections about your fees. These include:
- You get what you pay for, or less. For instance, inexperienced professionals looking to get a foot in door often charge low fees. So do consultants who don't have many clients and need work; they don't have many clients for a reason. Why would a consultant with true expertise and credentials charge fees that low?
- Tell stories about clients who have hired low-priced consultants, and ended up paying much more in long run to correct their mistakes. If you can, talk about clients that called you in to fix this sort of situation after hiring another consultant first.
- Talk about rules of "scope." Scope include cost, time, and quality. If a consultant is reducing cost, something else in scope has to go, too.
- Remind them that, with your limited roster of clients, you can be much more accessible than consultants who need to fill their pipeline with many lower-paying clients.
- Remind client about stakes involved in his or her project, and what it might cost if it goes awry.
- Show that you are completely committed to prospect's personal success and satisfaction.
- Offer other terms besides price: payment terms, additional services, a guarantee, reduced scope, or free support or training.
- If client promises future work in exchange for low fees up front, explain that you appreciate offer, but have been burned by this approach before and promised not to accept it again. Agree only if client agrees to a contract for that work up front.
- Be willing to turn down assignments in which prospect will not budge on fees, or in which you see little chance of forming a profitable long-term relationship with prospect.
Charging higher fees, and attracting better clients, is all about trust and credibility. As your trust and credibility rises, so will your fees and quality of your clients.
Andrew Neitlich is the Senior Editor of The IT Accelerator, the newsletter that helps information technology professionals and consultants to attract more clients and projects. Subscribe at www.itprosuccess.com.