12 Tips to Overcome Freelance Clients’ Cost Objections

Carol Tice

Stop hand gestureBy David Leonhardt

So you caught your potential freelance writing client’s interest. Congrats!

You like the project (it’s an interesting one, for a change!) and it might even keep your mortgage from defaulting next month.

You’ve agonized over the price and finally presented your fee.

The client doesn’t like the price. Now what?

Go back to the client and figure out the reason behind the objection. Then negotiate.

Why clients fight back on price

My freelance writing agency runs into such objections all the time. You don’t have to cave in. There are many tactics you can use to overcome cost objections, but you first need to understand their motivation.
Most fall into three categories.

An “over budget” objection is about money. You need to understand whether the budget can be altered.

A “seems pricey” objection is about both money and value. You need convince the client  you will give them value for their money.

Others just like to haggle.

Anticipate hagglers by being alert for clients who ask for the best price from the start or micro-managers who are often as concerned about pennies as they are about commas. Quote high; they will be happy with the “deal” they negotiate — the price you would have offered in the first place.

Once you know the type of objection you’re facing, you can decide whether to hold fast on the price you quoted or work with the client to get your wage where they want it.

Tricks to get your quoted rate

The key here is to help the client see why you are worth the price. Here are some tactics:
1. Sell the client on a quick turnaround. You can complete the job before they even find another writer.

2. Itemize costs they save with you, such as your knowledge that saves paying for research time or auto-formatting the document.

3. Paying bottom dollar has embarrassed many companies. Remind the client of this.

4. Stress how good you are and how effective your results will be. If you don’t demonstrate value, the client might look for a writer more willing to haggle.

5. Compare your fees to the competition’s pricing, unless you command top dollar. Position yourself as “reasonable” to overcome cost objections.

6. Offer something extra – formatting, a related press release – as a free bonus for signing quickly.

Ways to lower your price — pain free

If it is clear that you DO need to lower the price, but you don’t like slave wages, here are some tactics to try:
7. Identify steps the client can take to reduce your workload so you can lower your price to their desired level. Sometimes this makes the client realize that it is worth paying you full price, after all.

8. Offer a cash-back incentive for speedy feedback or proper input from the client. Client cooperation can reduce your workload, so it might be worth lowering your price.

9. Look to outsource parts of the project to students. Research? Editing? Can you lower your price this way without working for less?

10. Offer a payment plan — three portions works well. This is of no import for large clients, but smaller clients love it.

11. Suggest downscaling the project. If they really have funds for just part of it, offer to do just part of it. This also can make the client decide to just pay full price.

12. Divide a project into phases. Determine what you can do within their budget, and call it Phase I. Chances are  they will pay full price for Phase II later on.

If you remain at a stalemate on price, it’s time to decide how badly you want this job. Just remember that when you accept a lower price, you are raising expectations for the next time and lowering your value forever.

What tricks have you used to push past client objections? Tell us in the comments below.

David Leonhardt has been running THGM Writing Services for over a decade, providing writing and editing services. Most THGM projects are books, blogs, web content and various business materials.

23 Comments

  1. MissBlossom

    Thanks for this. I often use some of these tactics, but will book mark it for reference. I always get offended when people haggle with me. I feel (perhaps wrongly) that they are telling me I am not worth the price. I feel it is an insult to my creativity. I am hopeless at haggling myself. I see it as cheap and tacky. I know this is a cultural thing (my parents are middle class Australian and here the price is set and that’s how is stays. Only “poor people” haggle.its a cultural thing).

    I currently work globally and in many cultures it is normal to haggle, in fact the price is inflated to allow for it. I need to get used to the haggling and not take it personally. Your article helps put haggling and showing the client value in perspective. Thank you.

    • Karen J

      Miss Blossom ~ It may help if you use a word with less emotional and cultural baggage than “haggle” ~ think of your business conversations around price as “negotiations” instead.

      Your awareness of the cultural differences is a great start! 🙂

    • Carol Tice

      Right on — think Middle Eastern bazaar! I think Americans are not accustomed to haggling culture. But it is a normal part of business.

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