You've established a great rapport with your client. They love what you have to offer and you feel like they're a great fit for you. Now it's time to discuss how much they're going to pay for it.
Feeling a bit queasy about this part? Most people do. Beyond the understanding that you can ask for what you're worth, this is also the time to make it a natural and expected part of your business relationship. Because it is.
Here's how to talk to your clients about money.
Start Talking About Money Early
Obviously you're not working for free so mentioning payment early is a very normal part of any business transaction. Also, remember that the person who starts the conversation has more control over the outcome. You can control the power in the conversation about money by discussing your fee structure from the onset and including it as part of the overall discussion of scope and deliverables.
Be Prepared to Negotiate
If your client isn't able to meet your price, that doesn't necessarily mean that you lower your rates or fee structure. Perhaps this is the time to negotiate what you can do for what they're willing to pay. Maybe they want to start small and will grow into a larger client later. (Remember that you can upsell your current clients!) If they're still asking for too much for little pay, you can walk away or suggest someone else who can help. Keep your cool in this conversation. They may decide to work with someone else or attempt to do the work themselves. If that doesn't work out, they could come back to you and be willing to pay anything you've asked.
Educate and Inform
Your clients may be unaware of what it takes to do what you do. They may not know what others in your field charge for what you do. It may be up to you to clear up any misconceptions and inform them what you're offering compared to others. Consider asking what they would pay themselves for the same job. Obviously they're interested in outsourcing to you because they're unable or unwilling to do the job themselves. What's it worth to them?
Get It In Writing
When you do finally agree on deliverables, scope, fees and pricing structure, get it in writing. You could even start with a document that lists these items and bring that with you to the negotiating table. Mark through and add items as discussed and then present a final agreement for signing. This document is crucial for clearing up any questions around expectations and is helpful if you need to follow-up with the client for non-payment. If the need arises to hire a third-party collections agency or pursue legal action, a signed contract will reveal what you agreed to and holds the client responsible for payment.
Stay in touch with your client on a regular basis. Set up monthly meetings to go over reports or metrics. Invite them to a quarterly coffee or happy hour, if possible. Send them articles that may be of interest to them personally or professionally. Build a relationship where it's expected that you'll talk about what other services you could offer. Communicate often enough that it's no longer uncomfortable to discuss what you do for them and how much it costs. Be proud of your rates and the work that you do. You're worth it!