As a consultant (or salesperson), are you ready to answer that uncomfortable first-date question from a prospective client: “What’s your rate”? How you respond could determine whether your blossoming relationship ever gets past a coffee.
Whatever you do, don’t duck the question! You’re not a politician! The more you bob and weave the less your prospective client trusts you. Instead, a confident answer demonstrates an understanding of your cost, effort and, most importantly, your value. It shows that you’ve done this type of work before, are sure of the results, and are familiar enough with similar projects that you can provide at least a ballpark estimate.
Not only should you be prepared for the “what’s your rate?” dance, you should actually encourage an honest discussion about budget (ie. ability and willingness to spend) during your early client meetings. It may feel uncomfortable to boldly ask, “How much were you thinking of spending for this work?” but this is knowledge you need to frame an affordable solution and gauge the client’s actual level of motivation. Be aware that asking this question is likely to prompt the Turkish bazaar response “First, tell me your rate”, so either way you should be ready with a confident answer.
The same advice applies to everyone going on a sales call (and, let’s face it, we’re all in Sales). Be prepared so when the customer asks for a price you can give them a straight answer. And remember, don’t be afraid to ask about their budget!
Here’s a final encouraging thought. The question “What’s your rate?” is actually a buying signal! When you’re asked it means that the client is trying to figure out if he/she can afford your solution. If so then there’s more detailed discussion ahead to scope the work. If not, then you’ve both avoided wasting time on a relationship that was probably never meant to last beyond that first dance.