I heard the most ridiculous thing this morning.
Yet another internet marketer was telling people that it’s a matter of respect to publish pricing on your website, that you are being “manipulative” if you don’t publish prices so that a “logical, rational, open-hearted, responsible ADULT” can decide whether it’s in their price range.
This is the kind of thing cheapskates say.
And I’ve got news for them: respect goes both ways.
In fact, what’s manipulative and dishonest is them implying that you are manipulative, dishonest, and not an open-hearted adult if you don’t publish your prices.
Playing to the lowest common denominator is a race to the bottom of the client barrel, folks.
Nothing good comes from listening to those who merely want you to make it easier for them to pit providers against each other on price so they can get something of value for as little as possible.
Let me set you straight. Not posting pricing has nothing to do with being manipulative or coercive.
It’s the fact, plain and simple, that more conversation is needed with a provider before cost can be determined.
Because here’s what “logical, rational, open-hearted” adults also know: their needs are not going to be exactly the same as the next person’s needs and, therefore, cost can vary depending on differing particulars and variables.
- If you need your fence painted, would you want a one-size-fits all price?
- If your fence area is much shorter than the mansion down the street whose fence is taller and covers vastly more square footage, would you expect to be charged the same amount of money?
- And what needs are important to you when it comes to your fence?
- Are you looking for more of a quick, slap-dash, cosmetic kind of job and aren’t much more invested in it than that?
- Or are you looking for something that shows more obvious high quality work that involves more prep and skill, but will stand up better to the elements as well as increase curb appeal and property value?
- Do you need a special kind of paint or color?
- Is long-lasting, mold-resistent paint important to you (which comes at a higher cost, but requires less maintenance and repainting)?
Do you see how more in-depth one-on-one conversation with a live, actual person here is vital?
There is more probing and questioning a provider must engage in with you in order to identify the needs, values, and results that are important to you individually before they can give you an appropriate price.
I don’t think anyone can call that anything but reasonable, rational and client-centric.
And consider this… how many times when you’ve needed services have you called around and ended up choosing the person/service that you felt the most “good” about, simply based on your actual conversation and interaction with that person/business, regardless of the price and despite how much conversation was needed?
You simply came away feeling like they cared a little more about you as a person than the next provider, about what your goals were, about the quality of their work, about doing a great job for you and making sure you got the right price for your situation.
We’re talking about human to human services here, not boxes of cereal along the grocery aisle.
Professional services (which includes the professional service of administrative support) aren’t commodities on a shelf, one exactly the same as the next.
And value-based pricing, if you follow the methodology I teach, isn’t based on an hourly rate.
The ingredients required to support one client are not necessarily going to be the same ingredients the next client needs. So there isn’t a nice, neat, one-size-fits-all price you can publish.
Providing administrative support, and professional services in general, involves more details than simply buying a box of macaroni sitting on a store shelf.
Out of respect for all parties, you owe it to both the client and yourself to require some further conversation apart from the website so that you can both get certain vital information from each other, determine where and whether you can help, and see if there’s a good mutual fit so that you can then determine what their particular plan of support would cost.
That’s something that has to be done on an individual basis, not on your website.
And rational, reasonable adults — who have a vested interest in finding real solutions and getting the right help and are not merely shopping for the cheapest provider — understand this.
Instead of publishing prices, have a conversation on your website about your approach to pricing and why you don’t publish prices. Rational, reasonable adults are perfectly capable of understanding this.
In fact, it will make perfect sense to them once you bring it to their attention. They’ll actually appreciate it and feel better knowing that you have their best interests at heart, which is exactly why one wouldn’t publish pricing.
It does clients a disservice to treat them all the same (hmm, sort of like they were nothing more to you than interchangeable boxes on a shelf).
But you can’t get more meaningful insight or learn more about them without further conversation.
The happy byproduct of that conversation, incidentally, is that they also get more insight into why they would want to choose you.
And I’ll let you in on a little secret: In a sea of websites all trying to be generically the same (and whose skills and polish tend to be just as low-grade), not publishing prices (and stating the reasons why) will be a competitive advantage that makes you stand out and will attract better, more ideal clients.
It is precisely because my ideal clients are rational, reasonable, and intelligent adults that I do not post pricing on my website. They are smart enough to understand why an actual conversation is in order first.
So, I don’t publish pricing on my website because:
- I am not interested in working with every ham-fisted knucklehead who stumbles upon my website.
- My ideal clients are rational, reasonable, intelligent adults able to grasp the necessity of further conversation before pricing can be determined and discussed.
- Each client is a unique individual who deserves more than a generic, one-size-fits-all solution.
- Each client is a human being, not a dollar figure, who deserves my time and sincere interest in learning more about their particular circumstances, goals and obstacles.
- I care about providing each client with a custom, personalized — not generic — plan of support that will get them the results they’re looking for and is priced accordingly. That’s not something you can generically publish pricing for.
- I don’t sell hours or bill hourly. Because selling hours actually works against achieving the results clients want to see in the most expedient way possible.
- The price of one client’s administrative support plan is not necessarily going to be the same as the next client’s, if I’m truly taking their individual needs and interests into consideration and not just trying to make as much money off every one of them as I can.
- If someone is only looking for the cheapest provider and my not posting prices helps them move on, that is exactly my intention. It’s part of my organic process for sorting the ideal from the unideal before they contact me.
- I don’t offer half-baked quick fix schemes. If my not posting prices helps move them along to someone else, that helps me reserve my time for more ideal, better qualified client candidates and consultations. This is again by design, not accident. (Looking for quick fixes is a telltale sign you’re dealing with a cheapskate who will not only devalue the work, but you and everything else along with it.)
- It’s just not that simple.
There is much more to say about this topic in order to fully grasp all the nuances of posting or not posting prices. I encourage you to read more here about the pros and cons of posting/not posting pricing on your website.
And if you want — if you need — to charge more than $5/hour and you don’t want to be stuck with a poorly earning practice the rest of your life, you need to learn how to price and package your support in a way that speaks to clients and what they care about (none of which requires you to publish pricing or compromise your high standards around client care and discovery), and you need to learn how to have the whole pricing conversation that goes along with that.
I have three products that will teach and show you exactly how to implement those things, step-by-step:
- Breaking the Ice: Complete, Step-by-Step Guide for Confidently Leading the Consultation Conversation and Converting Prospects into Well-Paying Monthly Clients Who Can’t Wait to Work with You (GDE-03)
- Value-Based Pricing & Packaging Guide: How to Price and Package Your Support Value & Expertise — NOT Selling Hours (GDE-39)
- Build a Website that WORKS (GDE-40)
If you want better clients, if you need to improve your skills when it comes to talking with clients about price, if you want to have an easier time getting clients and consultations, there simply no way around it: you must increase your knowledge, understanding, and skill in these three key areas.
I totally agree Danielle and have taken your advice over the years of not publishing my rates. (Plus, my services tend to be customized to each client.) The problem I encountered was people needed a ball park figure prior to starting the consultation process. Eventually, I posted “Monthly services start as low as $xxx a month” to weed out the cheapskates. Do you have thoughts/suggestions?
Hi Julie! How are ya? Good to hear from you. 🙂
Giving a starting figure is something I have suggested as an alternative. I will say, though, even that isn’t necessary. There are other, more accurate ways to weed out cheapskates and quick-fix seekers.
Simply having a consultation process will deter those who aren’t serious. The kinds of questions your form asks also help. Wherever you put a “barrier to entry” in place, that is going to help weed out the serious from the tire kickers.
Personally, I am cautious about using what I call bribing language like “as low as…” Because that is language that cheapskates pick up on and are attracted by. So it could actually be calling to all the people you are hoping to deter.
It also conveys a sense that you may not be comfortable with your own value and charging well, and people are going to pick up on that as well. It’s gimmicky and misleading and it’s sort of apologetic in a way that says “My fees are too high, but you can get support for as low as…” Do you see how it’s already apologizing? But worse, it’s already putting them in “get whatever you can for as little as possible” mindset.
You don’t need to qualify or justify your fees and doing so can actually backfire on you. If you’re going to use a starter amount, I would leave it as simply, “Monthly support plans start at $X.”
But I will say, even that can backfire because people still need context in order to understand fees. That’s not something they are going to be able to get from your website alone. So by putting any kind of amount, you could still be losing perfectly good prospects merely because they don’t have the proper context or understanding about what the fees represent.
I absolutely appreciate your thoughtful answer! Your response has really challenged my thinking! It makes sense that I may be losing perfectly good prospects! Uggg
I truly appreciate all you have done for our community. Prior to finding you I had built a virtual assisting business. I am grateful for the tools you have provided as pillars for a solid administrative consulting business. I am in the process of rebranding my business (and yes, the company name will be changed! Smile) I am anticipating to launch at the end of second quarter.
I’m so glad, Julie. You are a very thoughtful person to follow up and let me know. Thank you 🙂
And that’s great to hear about the launch. Can’t wait to see it!