Pricing with confidence

Confidence is key. (Especially with pricing.)

I called a local painting company to get a quote for painting a striped ceiling in my bedroom.  (Solid colors are one thing, and stripes are another matter entirely, I think.  I’m leaving it to a pro.)

The nice businesswoman showed up and I led her to the space.  She pulled out her quote book and explained everything she was considering whilst coming up with a price — amount of paint used, amount of prep work needed, baseboard coats, time allowance for ceiling paint to dry, and some fairly intense detail work to create stripes.

I nodded, showed her my paint chips, and let her do the math.  About halfway through the math, she started offering discounts.  Apparently I’m close enough to her house to get a discount, and since it’s a small room I get a discount, and…

I didn’t ask for a discount.

I didn’t do anything other than ask her to give me a quote.  No budget estimate was involved.  I knew it wouldn’t be cheap, since um, it’s a pain in the ass to paint stripes.

She just kept bringing her price down.  And the final number was delivered apologetically.

She did both of us a disservice.

First, it’s incredibly awkward to stand around and watch a business owner hem and haw about her own pricing.

Second, it’s messing with her ability to earn a living.

She’s not being true to her own value.  I don’t want to hire someone who’s working for peanuts — it feels too much like taking advantage of ’em.  I just want to pay a fair price for services rendered.

It’s easy to agree with me when I’m talking about a painter lady.  But what about you?

How often do you make discounts on the spot because you’re afraid to say the bill amount out loud?  How often do you sell yourself short by throwing in extras a client didn’t request? How many times have you let a client wheedle you into giving her a discount?

Yah, I know. Let’s work on that, okay?  Here are three quick strategies to help you stand firm on pricing.

Have a go-to response.

This offer can be small but significant, providing a low cost of goods, high value item to the client.  Whether it’s a small product that’s free with $xxx purchase or a $50 discount for spending $xxx, a go-to response will help the person seeking a discount feel as if they’ve gotten a bargain without flustering the hell out of you.

Don’t reward a tantrum.

If you wouldn’t give your daughter a new Suzie-Pees-and-Poops-A-Lot doll for throwing a hissy fit in the middle of the toy department, don’t reward a client for doing the same thing.

Your prices have taken months to tweak to perfection.  They shouldn’t be subject to change because someone gets cranky.

Listen to the request behind the request.

When a Mom says she wants your most expensive option but can’t decide right now, she could be saying that she needs a payment plan and needs time to work out her credit card strategery.  (Yes, strategery.)

When a Mom complains about the cost of retouching her back fat, she’s really dealing with her own body image issues and just wants someone to say she looks great.  Cropping her back fat out of the image is a free alternative to retouching the back fat, no?

Be as helpful as possible when you listen to the (secret, unspoken) request instead of being blinded by what seems to be an outrageous request.

A little understanding can lead to both client and business owner walking away happy.

P.S.  What to do when selling gets awkward.