Four reasons why clients think you’re too expensive

Are you a freelancer or business offering products or services to clients? Learn four reasons why they think you’re too expensive – and what you can do about it.

It’s that dreaded moment – you’ve given a new client a quote for your work or told them your rates, and they’ve either gone quiet or have directly challenged you on them.

In these scenarios, especially if you don’t have a huge amount of experience or confidence (or don’t value yourself enough) it’s easy to cave in and offer to work for less. But usually this is the worst thing you can do. Instead, you need to understand why your potential client has responded in that way, and decide the best way to deal with the situation.

Four reasons why clients think you’re too expensive

To help you, here are four of the most common reasons why clients might think you’re too expensive – and advice on what to do about it.

1) They love and value your work but don’t have the budget

Sometimes you come across clients who love and value what you do, but they just don’t have the budget to afford you.

How you hand these clients, is up to you. Generally, we’d recommend you point them in the direction of a cheaper freelancer or business. After all, your prices aren’t arbitrary. They’re set because that’s what you and your work is worth. They’re the market value, and a fair payment for your time and experience. And if you do take the work, you could feel resentful and under-valued.

There are however exceptions to this advice. If every client tells you that your rates are too high for their budget, it may be worthwhile reassessing your target audience or pricing.

Are you targeting the wrong type of clients for your experience? It may be that you are focusing your marketing efforts on a group of people or businesses that just can’t afford what you do, or the quality of your work. Or, if every client tells you that you are outside their budget, and you do think you are targeting the right clients, you might want to look at your pricing. Are you too expensive? What do other comparable people charge for your services?

You may also decided to lower your rates for clients you really love but who genuinely can’t afford you – such as a charity or cause you believe in, or promising start up business. Or if a project will help you by gaining you valuable experience or a brilliant case study or testimonial.

2) They’re just looking for someone cheap

These clients are the ones to avoid at all costs. They don’t really value what you do – they’re just looking for value!

In our experience, the clients who haggle with you to get a discount, or get services or products thrown in for free, usually turns out to be the most demanding and difficult. Rather than being grateful that they’ve got such a bargain, they feel the need to eke every last penny of value from your services.

They also genuinely don’t ‘get’ what you do (if they did, they’d respect you enough not to bargain with you) which means that they’re usually more picky with the results, and less patient and understanding – generally not the type of client who is a pleasure to work for.

Don’t be afraid to stand your ground in these situations. Sometimes you find that simply standing firm on your (fair) rates, and explaining how much work is involved and your level of experience can be enough to earn their respect and convince these clients that you are worth your full price. They can even turn out to be happy, long term clients!

However, if they’re the ones who stand firm and don’t want to pay your full rates, recommend they find someone else. If you find that a hard conversation to have just consider: would they offer their services or products at less than their value if asked? Probably not. So why should they expect you to?

3) They like what you do but think you’re overpriced

If most clients who approach you love what you do but baulk at your prices, then it could be a sign that maybe you haven’t got your prices quite right.

Are your prices on a par with other people of your experience and quality? If they’re higher, you may want to reconsider your pricing strategy – either by lowering them in one with the market rates, or by offering more for the same money.

Another consideration, as covered in reason one, is that you could be approaching the wrong clients in the first place. With some market research and customer analysis, you may discover that by switching your focus to a new target market you can charge the same to clients who love what you do just as much, and have the budget to pay for it.

If you are sure that your prices and your targeting is right, then it could be that this particular client has a warped view of the market rate or value of this project (Fiverr and other cheap freelancing sites can skew clients’ perception of value sometimes). In which case you can either explain just how much work is involved in it, or recommend they find someone cheaper.

4) They don’t get how much work is involved in the project

It’s not uncommon for clients to assume that you just pluck your work out of thin air, with no actual idea as to how much effort and thought is involved in creating something great.

This is one reason why we recommend always giving written quotes that itemise every stage of your work process and list all deliverables. This shows the client how much work is going into their project, and in turn that your prices are appropriate value.

If you haven’t done this, and a client questions your pricing (or even queries an invoice) it’s a good idea to politely but confidently list out exactly what you have done or will do for that money – and reiterate your experience.

If you do this and they still have reservations about your prices, it could either be that they’re just looking for someone cheap or don’t really value your work. In which case, it’s probably better if you part ways here.

If you don’t respect yourself, no one else will

For all this advice, it doesn’t really matter what type of client you meet. If you value and respect yourself and what you do, you’ll have the confidence to set and stand by an appropriate value for your work.

And if you don’t value and respect yourself and what you do, you’ll set your prices too low and will be easily convinced to lower them.

So above and beyond and pricing and client management strategies, please DO work on yourself. Understand how much you have to offer – your talent, experience and willingness to put in the effort to deliver great work. And charge the right amount for it.

If self-worth and pricing are issues you struggle with, you’ll find lots more great advice in these articles: