How to win work from prospective clients who just want a price

Photo by Sarah Pflug from Burst

When you freelance, many businesses will email, merely asking for a price. They won't be interested in what you have to offer, they'll just be motivated by money and will want to pick the cheapest supplier they can find.

Although this is a shortsighted approach, you shouldn't be put off by trying to win work from this type of potential customer. You should instead see them as an excellent opportunity to win them over.

But how do you win work from prospects who want a price? How do you turn them into a reliable client if your day rate is more than they're prepared to pay? The following ten tips will help you deal with these types of customers.

Don't immediately reveal your price

Before you email the prospect your day and hourly rates, pick up the phone and speak to them. Ask them what they need, so you can see how you can help. Use this initial contact to get to grips with what they want. If you give a price too soon, before they've even had a chance to hear how great you are, then you could put them off if your rates are too high.

Try to establish a budget

During that initial phone conversation, ask what the prospect's budget is. Try and get them to reveal how much they're expecting to spend. By encouraging the client to tell their budget, you can tailor your rates to suit their needs. But if their budget isn't up to scratch, explain that you wouldn't be able to help for that price as it would compromise the quality of your work.

If there's no budget, hold back

If you've done all of the above and you still can't establish a budget, and the prospective client is still asking for a price, try and avoid revealing your rates until you're off the phone. Explain that you'd like to chat some more about what they need so that you can go away, have a proper think and – if you've got a decent brief – pull together a thorough proposal, outlining your ideas along with costs.

Sell yourself

If the client is happy to chat some more, use this chance to win them over and sell yourself. Talk about your skills and experience. Throw in a few big-name brands that you've worked with. Impress them with any projects you've just completed. You should use this opportunity to demonstrate why there's more to life than day rates.

Educate

Help clients understand that choosing the right freelancer shouldn't be based on price alone. Inform and educate about the different levels of skills and expertise that should be considered as well. If appropriate, pose questions like 'What's more important to you? How much I cost? Or how much success I can bring to your business?'.

Remind them that quality is more important and that you do get what you pay for. Why not use an example of a client who did things on the cheap, wasted thousands of pounds before hiring you to do a proper job? It's a great way of demonstrating the risk they could take if they base their decision on price alone.

Show your USPs

What are your strong selling points? What makes you a freelancer people really should hire? Have you worked with some big brands that are relevant to that prospect? Do you offer flexible rates or contracts? What makes you stand out and better than your competitors? Tell the prospective client about your USPs and subtly explain why you'd be a good choice for them.

Don't go overboard

There's nothing more off-putting than the smell of desperation. Avoid showing any signs that you'd appreciate the work and stay calm, confident and professional. Don't kill the conversation by overselling yourself and going too far. Just be friendly and stick to the facts. You shouldn't ever come across like you're begging or need the work.

Say you're busy

At some point in the telephone conversation, be positive and mention how active you have been. How you've worked with lots of exciting clients lately, and how you're enjoying yourself. Being 'busy' is an attractive quality to have – it shows that you're in demand and clients love you. Just don't imply that you're too busy because you don't want to give the impression that you're overwhelmed and therefore unable to do a good job.

Dangle a carrot

If you still need to convince the prospect, why not offer a special introductory rate to get started? For example, '20% off your first bookable job'. It will give clients the chance to try you out before they decide to work with you on a more regular basis. It's also a great way to win them over and at least give you a try.

Set things in writing

Finally, when the phone conversation comes to a close, and you're confident that the prospect has a suitable budget, explain that you will now go away and have a think about how you can help and how much it will cost. At this point, I would still recommend not revealing any price. Go away, put together a proposal with costs, and email across a PDF document to the client.

Follow up with a friendly phone call if you've not heard back after four or five days. If the client likes you and is serious, then you've got a perfect chance of winning the work. But if they're still only interested in price and nothing else, perhaps they're not a good fit after all.