How to win work from people who just want your rates

Posted on Jul 6th, 2015 | Running a business

You want to make the most of every business enquiry you receive and win more clients, so you respond quickly, giving people the information they ask for. But there’s a particular breed of enquiry that troubles most freelancers: the short, blunt email asking for your rates.

If you simply respond with your rates, you’re unlikely to get the job, or ever hear from the client again.

What are you doing wrong? Why do some people back off when they learn your rates?

How to win more clients

Your potential client, let’s call him Stuart, is looking for a freelancer to do some design work, so Stuart asks a few freelance designers for their rates. He compares rates and chooses the freelancer who is cheap, but not the cheapest.

If you’re a solid, reliable freelancer with an awesome portfolio, your rates are probably not the cheapest. So you are unlikely to win jobs on price alone.

To win jobs, you need to remind clients that you are better than average, and that your additional cost brings additional benefits too.

Here’s how.

Get talking

When you get an email from someone who just wants your rates, pick up the phone and ask them what they need, how you can help and what their budget is.

Get the client talking so you can find out what they’re trying to achieve. It’s easier to discuss rates on the phone, because you can respond to their reactions. So if they think your rates are high, you can ask what they expect to pay, and then you can decide if their budget is feasible for you.

You may have flexible rates that depend on the client (a discount for charities, for example), or you might offer to reduce your day rate for an interesting project, or to fill a gap in your schedule. Until you know more about the client and the work, you can’t decide to offer concessions.

Educate and inform

Help your clients understand that choosing a freelancer is about more than money.

Your client might not hire freelancers often, so you can help them learn the ropes and make a better choice – you’ll be doing every freelancer they hire from here on out a favour. Help them understand that your rates are proportionate to your skills, experience and ability.

By paying a little more, your clients can get a better service.

Join Crunch Chorus:
The free community for the self-employed

You'll get access to a range of benefits, such as invoice software, jargon-free business guides, great networking opportunities, discounts, plus much more

Written by Lief Kendall

Useful tools and resources

Business guides

From understanding expenses to starting a limited company, we've a range of jargon-free business guides for you to download and keep.

Invoicing software and templates

Create, send and store sole trader invoices in a snap with our free invoice software. You can also download a selection of invoice templates for all business types.

Take-home pay calculator

Use our Take-Home Pay Calculator to work out your true earnings and see if you could save money with a different company set up.