How to respond to “What’s your hourly rate?”

Sent by Jonathan Stark on August 5th, 2016

When a prospective client asks:

“What’s your hourly rate?”

You politely reply:

“I don’t have one.”

That’s it. Full stop.

Exactly these four words. No variation. 

Simple, clear, concise. 

Try saying it out loud.

Seriously, say it out loud right now:

“I don’t have one.”

Easy, right? The thing is, this answer is simple (conceptually) but hard (in practice). You have to prepare it.

If you don’t, you’ll waffle, or stammer, or try to explain, or otherwise make excuses. These types of responses destroy trust. 

Here are some examples of what NOT to say:

Here’s the thing...

When a prospect asks you “what’s your hourly rate?” it is very early in the relationship. Things are fragile and tentative. They are just trying to get to know you a little bit. They are highly tuned to even the smallest signals. 

They don’t want to hear you stumble on such a simple question, or soapbox about pricing theory, or dive into your entire business backstory. 

Simply replying “I don’t have one,” immediately sets you apart from the the crowd. Upon hearing your answer, your prospect will pause to absorb what you said. There will be a short silence.

DO NOT RUSH TO FILL THIS SILENCE!

Let. it. hang.

Even if It feels like a yawning chasm opening up before you, keep your trap shut.  

The client will then ask:

“How do you price your work?”

Success! They didn’t hang up on you, or scream at you, or burn you with fire. Do you know what did happen? You demonstrated confidence, you built a little trust, you pushed back on their request, and now you are having a conversation on your terms, not theirs. 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s installment of Learn Your Lines :)

Yours, 

—J

Don’t have my book yet? Check it out here: HourlyBillingIsNuts.com

 


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