After a while, I realized I was working too hard for the money I was making and it was making me resentful and exhausted. That’s when I decided to read negotiation books, practice my money-talk communication on friends, and get better at making sure I was in control of what I was charging.
After years of perfecting the process, I’ve developed several email scripts for negotiating rates with clients here’s what I use.
1. To make my prices clear
While every business owner or freelancer approaches their pricing conversations differently, I like to be as transparent as possible. I often list my prices for services on my website or offer to send a pricing guide over when someone reaches out with interest.
I want people interested in working with me to know what my fees are so that they know right away if they can afford to work with me.
I’ll approach our initial communication with this script:
Thank you so much for reaching out about [name of service]. We spent some time looking over your website and truly believe what you’re doing is [insert specific compliment or response to their company’s values, mission, or vision].
At [name of your company], we align with many of your values and feel that when working with a client, it’s important to be transparent. Before we touch base for a consultation, take a look at our pricing guide attached to this email. That’s where you can see the different packages we offer, what’s included, and a cost breakdown.
We look forward to speaking about this more with you on [insert date]. However, we understand if after looking at our guide you feel our prices don’t fit with your budget or bottom line. If that’s the case, let us know and we can [insert your next step: speak later, cancel the call, or refer you to someone else who is in your budget].
2. To share appropriate options
When a client comes back and says that they can’t afford my prices, I try to work with them in a fair way. While I don’t offer discounts, I do offer payment plans. Here’s what I’ll reply back:
Thank you for taking a look at our pricing guide. We’re truly excited by the opportunity to work with you. Our prices are carefully constructed to reflect our work, value, and the resources we provide you as our client. To help make our fees feasible, we do offer payment plans. We’d be happy to set up a plan that works like this: [insert details on the payment plan].
3. To explain why prices are firm
If a client comes back to me and asks that I shave money off the price, I stay firm in my pricing but I do offer an explanation. This is usually the final back-and-forth conversation I will do before asking them to reach out if they are interested in the proposal and the rates.
We appreciate your response. The requested price you sent over is 25% less than our set rate. For us to make that rate work, we’d have to provide you with 25% less resources, which would absolutely sacrifice the quality of our work, and that’s something we don’t do. We’re proud of the value we provide and more importantly, the results. To give 110% (plus so much more), we need to receive 100% of our fee.
If you can find wiggle room in your budget, let us know and we’ll get started working together.
While negotiating rates with clients can feel awkward, it’s important to know your worth, your value, and what you’re willing to do when they send back a lower number than you usually accept. That way, you can continue to grow as a freelancer or business owner and get paid correctly for the work that you do.