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Part 06

Using the Sales Process to Strengthen Golden Mean Pricing

Tim Bouchard Partner

One thing that is often ignored is that pricing projects is part of a greater overall sales process. You won’t find success in simply putting together a quote and responding to an email without any communication between you and the potential client.

The sales process should be built on the foundation of understanding, trust, and displaying your value. You need to learn about the project and its end goals along with the background of what the client has experienced prior to coming to you. This sets the foundation for the questions you will ask as well as the solutions you will propose. Every solution should encourage a positive outcome for the client. You are able to create a road map for these solutions after clear communication and research.

I’m including this part in the Golden Mean Pricing series because I also believe the sales process helps to identify the Golden Mean Price by forcing you to walk through all of the different variables of the creative project with the customer. Remember, we aren’t simply choosing the Natural Mean Price (defined in “Part 5: How Golden Mean Pricing Works”), we have to use all the information we’ve gathered to dial in on the Golden Mean Price within the comfort zone.

Always Ask for the Project Budget

This seems so basic, but yet we all forget or feel scared to just ask “What type of budget are we looking to work within for your project?” This is basic information that a trustworthy business developer will use to craft a package of services to accomplish the client’s goals. Additionally, this will help classify the lead as a high or low possibility, given the client has the budget. If they are underestimating the cost for the work they are requesting, this is not an immediate sign that you need to turn them away. In most cases the client needs to be educated on what goes into the work they are requesting and the costs involved with the project. Knowing the budget will help strengthen your understanding when determining what area within the Golden Mean Range your price falls.

If a client does not have a budget defined or is unwilling to share what they believe it should be, try suggesting a “pie in the sky” budget with a smile. Suggesting a $100,000 website project for a common brochure site will most likely get a laugh, but will open the door to respond by noting if $100,000 is not the budget, then there must be a number that is. If you still find resistance the most honest way to explain why you are asking is to simply state that you can’t accommodate their needs without knowing how far you can go to fulfill them. Again, this is not a transaction involving a physical manufactured product, you are being asked to package services and project scope to find solutions to the client’s need within their financial means. If you don’t know the budget, you can’t successfully accomplish that goal.

Learn About What the Client Needs Beyond the Project

It’s common for clients to have tunnel vision. They identify a need and fixate on it but are unaware of the other needs that will popup to accomplish that task. A great example of this is a website. Websites are just a sum of all the brand’s parts designed into an interactive digital experience funneling users to a conversion point. What clients often overlook is that they don’t have the necessary brand assets (sometimes as simple as a logo) to contribute to a successful project. This is an opportunity to offer more of your services that can help accomplish their overall goal. As long as your know you are within the Golden Mean Range, you are able to explore all of the ways your team can help a client beyond what they commonly think they need by focusing on one deliverable. This is a great way to show that you are thinking about their success beyond just executing a project for them.

Develop a Comprehensive Plan

Taking the time to learn about a client and developing a comprehensive plan to meet their needs as a whole doesn't just make project completion easier. This will differentiate yourself from your competitors who very well may have joined the client in fixating on their one need. The client may not be ready for added services yet, but providing options for them (potentially that are within their budget) will show you are thinking about their needs and understand them. That could be the difference when a client is comparing quotes. Depending on their budget, the added services may actually fall within that price range. Golden Mean Pricing can help you identify how far they are willing to move beyond their initial request to accomplish a more universally beneficial result.

Be Open to Negotiating

Despite all of your efforts, you still may be faced with a negotiating client. They view your flat rate price as a perceived value that can be talked down like a car sale or antique. There is room for this, but I would suggest avoiding a simple reduction of cost.

Golden Mean Pricing allows you to suggest a budget in a way that you can negotiate by removing services instead of weakening your position and devaluing your work. If the client was asking for the moon, then you may want to focus on what aspects of the project are critical to its success. If you added cost for a rushed timeline, perhaps the timeline is negotiable, which could reduce cost. Always make sure that cost movement is associated with an expansion or reduction of services. Negotiating is just fine, but cost movement needs to be recognized and have effects on both sides of the equation. Negotiating will likely shift the Golden Mean Range, just make sure your negotiated price still falls within the comfort zone.

Each of these practices will help prepare you for the interactive part of Golden Mean Pricing. Once you’ve set the floor and ceiling of your Golden Mean Range, you need to consider using what you’ve learned during the sales process to move the Golden Mean Price up or down within the comfort range. After accomplishing that, you will be able to present and explain a comprehensive plan to accomplish the goals of the client with a flat-rate quote they know reflects an understanding of their needs.