How to win projects when your prices are higher than everyone else’s

tweet share share pin email

There’s a common thread amongst all of the products and services I create or am a part of: they’re expensive.

Not ridiculously expensive.

But when you compare them to the other products and services out there, they’re either priced above-average or very above-average.

This goes for our agency when creating websites or branding. And it goes for our agency’s new design-to-code service, Reliable, that serves other agencies and freelancers. In fact, at Reliable, over the past week we’ve had at least 3 new customers come on board after expressing concerns about price.

Sidenote: When you're done here, learn from 150+ freelancers who've been in your shoes with our all-new 30-day bootcamp: Zero to Freelancing. You'll love it.

They told us we were more expensive than every other proposal they received. But they chose us anyway. Why? I’d like to explore that in this article to help you accomplish the same.

#1: It has to be justified.

Every product or service I’m a part of is built right from the ground up. Thought, care, debate, and hair-pulling go into every single feature.

For websites and branding, our agency developed an amazing way of conducting research that paints a full picture for us of our clients and their customers. This research lets us create very targeted messages that perfectly convey who the client is, and why the customer should care.

How we choose / craft design elements, copy, marketing strategies, and everything else is determined solely by this research. We surrender control to it, and let it dictate what we should do and why.

At Reliable, we re-invented the whole “PSD to HTML” process by examining it from top to bottom. We’d had a lot of problems outsourcing development / coding work in the past, so we examined every single problem we — and other designers we’d spoken with — faced, and created a solution.

You'll also enjoy this episode of our new podcast...

The first thing you have to realize is that if people understand the tremendous amount of value you’ll give them, price becomes far less of an objection.

 

It’s rare in business for care to be a factor. Most businesses are completely devoid of it. So when you really make a fuss over every little detail, because you want to create the best possible product you can, people pick up on that.

It comes through in every message you put out there. It seeps through your pores.

So your first step is to make sure that the product you deliver lives up to the price, and then some. Your first step is to examine your processes and methods from top to bottom, see what’s weak, and fix it.

Then, you never stop doing this. Ever.

#2: Don’t be so willing to negotiate.

There are times when negotiation comes into play (in fact, I’ve written about exactly when I’d do it here on Millo). But before you negotiate, try to address your prospects’ concerns head on, and try to convey your value.

If you have the “goods” I talked about in #1, and you’re still getting a lot of price objections, you might not be doing a great job at communicating your value.

Most of the time, when someone says “It’s more than I wanted to pay,” they’re really telling you:

“I don’t see why it’s worth the extra amount.

They’re asking you to convince them that you bring enough value to the table to justify the cost. Help them focus more on why your prices are as high as they are instead of the price gap between you and your competitors.

For example, one thing we tell clients is that our “sticker” price is usually a bit higher, but we hear all the time how much money people actually save from the amount of time and hassle they avoid by working with us.

(If you’ve ever had a bad experience outsourcing development work, you know exactly what I’m talking about.)

We also tell our story about how we used to outsource development work, and the horror stories we faced (horror stories they’ve more often than not faced themselves) and explain that we created a product to put an end to that. The quality and care we put into it means it has to cost a bit more.

Basically, we explain our process and our features and how they translate to our customers lives getting better. Remember all of those nit-picky features I talked about in #1? The ones we painstakingly crafted?

We explain those, and we explain that our competitors don’t do those.

If you’re in a very competitive niche, like we are with Reliable, be prepared to really compare yourself to the competition. Know where they fall short, and have solutions in place that make you stronger in those areas, and then communicate it very concretely.

When I say “concretely,” what I mean is don’t simply say “our quality is better.” Give real-life details and examples that show why and how this is true. Instead of “our quality is better,” say “our quality is better because…”.

Get started with this template:

Hi NAME,

I understand your concerns about price. Our prices are a bit more expensive than other options out there, however… [insert why it doesn’t matter and why you’re the right choice anyway].

In our creative agency though, we take a very different approach.

In our agency, our philosophy is that the right clients will always come to us, so we do far less “justifying” of our prices. However, because we charge on the high-end spectrum of things, this affords us more time and personal care for every potential client.

For every prospect we’re considering working with, we conduct a very thorough interview / conversation to learn about:

  • who they are,
  • why they do what they do, and
  • what they’re looking to achieve.

This alone sets the bar very high.

Few other companies have such an in depth, personal, and intimate conversation right from the start. It often lasts 60-90 minutes if we really get into it. One of our strengths is asking questions (this is the research phase I mentioned earlier). From the questions we ask by themselves, people get a glimpse of who we are and what we’re capable of.

Because we spend so much time with them, and we make such an effort to understand them, they realize we put a lot of care into what we do.

We also discuss price in this initial conversation, but it’s in a very matter of fact manner. We’re very casual about expressing it. If you freak out about it, other people tend to freak out about it, and we’d prefer our new clients to have a level head. So we control ourselves and stay cool.

However, whether your approach is to really dive in there and compete, or stay cool and collected and convey value through your actions…

You first have to put your full value out on the table and communicate it from top to bottom before you can even consider negotiating.

Don’t spare a single word either. Get the full message out there about your value and how it will make your clients’ lives better.

Otherwise, you’ll feel regret. You’ll regret that you didn’t say “this” or that you were too scared to explain “that.” On the other hand, if you really say it all, even if the project doesn’t pan out, you’ll know you gave it your all.

And if it does pan out, you’ll feel like the total champ that you are.

#3: Rinse and repeat.

Keep making your services and products better and keep practicing communicating why they’re better.

Both skills need to grow together.

As you make improvements to your services, communicate them. Your product and your marketing / sales are two sides of the same coin.

One can’t exist without the other.

You can also re-visit projects you lost that way. Maybe there was something you were missing from your arsenal that a client needed. Maybe you later added that to your arsenal.

We’ve had situations where a feature we lacked meant we had to let a project go, even though the people really wanted to work with us and were 100% ready to get started. The moment it happened, we worked to add that feature to our line-up so it would never happen again.

And as soon as we do, you bet we’ll reach out and let them know.

Then we’ll keep on improving, and keep on letting people know.

How about you?

How do you sell high-ticket items? Or do you have questions about how you can do it better? Leave a comment! I’d love to hear your thoughts.

tweet share share pin email
About David Tendrich

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.

 

More about David’s business: David is co-founder of Reliable PSD – what happened when a group of designers got fed up with PSD to Code companies… and created their own. Check them out, and see why freelancers & agencies are head over heels for this amazing new service.

Leave a Comment

*

Comments

  1. Thank you very much for this morning article… glad I have you guys

  2. Great article! I needed to read this!

  3. Thanks for the post. We follow a very similar research phase in the first initial meeting. This shows we’re not focused on just getting a check but that we truly care about the success of their project. The only “negotiating” I do now would be if a client wanted to be below the proposal price and we worked together to cut down features. I am much more comfortable letting prospects go now. We don’t try to win on price but on value instead.

  4. great article, & great reminder of sticking to my guns for pricing. A big key, I MUST SEE MY OWN VALUE, before I can express that to others. I am a graphic design focusing mostly in the apparel industry, so I always have competition, especially online & through freelance sites, but I let my work speak for itself, I convery my value, and ask questions, or make comments to client so they are aware of what their request means in terms of actual printing & production (the end result). That insight will land jobs!