“You’re too expensive…”

There’s a saying I’ve heard and lived by, “If 30% of people aren’t telling you you’re too expensive, you’re not charging enough.” 

Looking back, I realized that I often ended conversations there, when there was so much more to be said. After all, “You’re too expensive,” is a claim;  what people actually meant when they told me that I was too expensive; moreover, how to continue the conversation when that happened. 

Here are a dozen ways I’d interpret their statement. These are based on my experience; and they’re starting points, so that I can have a conversation and get them to expand on, and hopefully keep the line of communication open and to develop a working relationship. 

Here’s what prospective customers and clients actually mean when they tell you that you are pricing your work too high:

1. “I haven’t allocated enough budget to work with you.” 

2. “I don’t understand the value you’re adding to my business, so I don’t see the reason I need to pay so much. (I’m open to learning if, you’re open to communicating it. It might take me weeks to accept this.)”

3. “I’m anchored to a much lower market rate and I’m resistant to moving it.”

4. “I don’t believe or realize that you possess such a deep level of expertise, and would be open to seeing more evidence from your past work or on a smaller test project together.”

5. “I found someone willing to do what I need done for less. (I’m uncertain if what I need done is actually going to solve my problem.)”

6. “Your solution sounds too risky for me to be paying so much. (Would you be open to pay for performance?)”

7. “I’m willing to try a riskier solution that someone is charging me less for. (I will probably reach out to you again in six months.)”

8. “Can we start with a smaller project? Would you be willing to contribute as an advisor, just for one hour, for example?”

9. “I’m tight on cash but I’m open to offering equity or revenue sharing, if you know how to ask for it.”

10. “I’m open to a peer-to-peer knowledge exchange, if you see how I can add value to your business.”

11. “I saw someone prominent doing what you do successfully, and I wanted to copy them. I’m just realizing that I don’t actually understand the problem I need to hire you to solve.” 

12. “I’m willing to pay a lot more, after we’ve actually started working together. We’ve been burned badly with a risky service provider in the past and we’ve learned, but I need to commit slowly because I can’t afford to make that mistake again.”

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