As a business owner, there are many difficult conversations you’ll need to have. But when it comes to the most difficult, pricing has to be right up there. So many people find it difficult to be more confident with pricing, especially when putting yourself out there and talking about what you sell and how much it costs.
But it’s essential to grow your confidence around pricing conversations, especially if you’re looking to grow. I recently chatted about this with Louisa Clarke, a verbal communication specialist and restorative practitioner. She helps take clients from dreading those challenging conversations to feeling like they know what to say and feel okay saying it.
So if you’re looking to get more confident with pricing and sales conversations, here are some tips that will help.
When it comes to talking about money and pricing, the biggest mistake people make is waiting for those conversations not to feel difficult or uncomfortable. You need to learn to expand your capacity to tolerate that discomfort rather than waiting for it not to feel uncomfortable.
Setting a price is like setting a boundary. You’re stating something the other side might be surprised or feel a bit inconvenienced by - and of course, they also might not too! But often, it’s something that plays up in your head. You think you know how they may react and that they might not see the value you bring - when in reality, you don’t know.
So the key to overcoming this is getting better at having those conversations. The first stage of that is being mindful of what feelings are coming up for you. And then it’s also about having compassion for yourself and not bracing yourself or beating yourself up over those feelings. Notice and sit with it and get curious about it. Don’t run away from it or lessen what you were going to say to make it a bit more comfortable for yourself.
The second stage is to allow it to be there. It’s allowed to be there, and you’re allowed to find this difficult. There are real solid psychological reasons why you ought to do that, and it's about what the root of your self-confidence is. It's about working with the way you’re feeling rather than trying to ignore what you're feeling and pushing past it.
It can really help your confidence if you can create a positive picture in your mind about that conversation you’re going to have. Stop picturing it as a ‘you against them’ scenario, where you're almost coming head to head with your client. Instead, picture standing beside them, looking at this thing that exists between you - the work they're interested in engaging you for. This helps separate you as a person from the work you do; it’s not you, and neither is it about you.
See the contract that would exist between you and recognise the value that thing (your work) is adding to the other person and what that actually might be for them.
Because as soon as you feel like you're heading into a dynamic where it feels like you're going against or head-to-head with somebody, it's always going to feel far more challenging to have that conversation.
It’s also crucial to set your boundaries in place early. Setting and enforcing limits with clients can feel really difficult, but resentment will kick in if you don't. Stop waiting for the other side to recognise and not push against your boundaries, and start recognising and implementing them yourself. Because when you do, you're going to feel connected and good about your work, you’ll deliver better results, and your clients will appreciate it more.
Resentment is often that little alarm bell that you haven't set a boundary early enough. If you're in a situation where you're feeling resentful, notice it, validate it and recognise it's probably because you haven't got the boundaries right or your price is too cheap. Before you have the conversation know what your minimum price needs to be and honour that. Because your cheap clients will always be the biggest pain, they're always the ones that take up all your time and are demanding. And they’re always the ones that will push your boundaries. And ultimately, you’re not going to do your best work if you’re feeling resentful about it.
There is a way to be kind and hold non-negotiable boundaries. You don't have to separate them. It's not about choosing one path or the other, and it isn’t about lying down and letting clients walk all over you. Have these conversations in a way that doesn’t compromise what you need to say.
Before you have any difficult conversation, take care of yourself. Recognise what you're feeling, affirm it and allow it, as you’ll go into that conversation feeling much more centred. And once you start talking, speak through ‘I’ language as much as you can.
And if you need to, know that you can name the dynamic. So you can even say, ‘I find this really uncomfortable. For example, ‘I find this really difficult to say, but I feel this relationship is no longer serving me in the way my work needs to serve me. It means that it's taking up more of my time and energy than it feels the price point would be appropriate for. And so moving forwards, I’d like to either leave this contract there with you or look to review the basis on which we're working.’
Stating that you’re finding this difficult or feeling uncomfortable doesn't make you weaker. It just acknowledges what is currently there and what's happening between you.
It isn’t greedy to want to be paid more. It isn’t greedy to want to be able to work less and have the lifestyle you want, whether that’s taking Fridays off, spending more time with your family, having a laptop lifestyle, or sitting on a beach. It’s not greedy to want those things, and it’s important to have the things that matter to you.
Know what you want from your business and what you want your business to look like. It’s about seeing the value you can add and receive. It’s another moment where you might need to do some work in your head, as it might feel a bit uncomfortable to think about it. And that's okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it or berate yourself. It might feel new, and you need to recognise and acknowledge that.
If you’d like to learn more about working with Louisa Clarke, head to her website ConfidentlyThere.com. And if you sign up for her newsletter, you’ll receive 7 days of content, all about how to start setting clear boundaries and feeling better about doing so.