How to Get Prospective Clients to Value Your Work When Money Is Tight

by | Apr 5, 2013

Collaborative Conversations about Value and Pricing


Why do some businesses survive in tough economic times while others fail?

One explanation is that people always necessities, like groceries, but not luxuries, like diamond rings or massage. But that isn’t necessarily the case.

Still, if you look around you, you’ll see tons of evidence that people continue to invest in discretionary goods and services even when money is tight.

While grocery stores undoubtably have a priority claim on our pocketbooks, it’s not just our stomachs that influence what we buy.

Simply put, we all pay for what we value. That’s the idea behind what’s called value pricing. But here’s the deal (and the good news): You don’t have to persuade prospective just-right clients of the value of your work. Establishing value is a collaboration.

What Is Value?

Value is the difference between what a thing costs and the benefit that others perceive that it confers.

The cost of groceries gets measured against the value of nourishment and pleasure, and the grocer makes a sale.

How Prospective Clients Establish Value

It’s easy enough to understand how people determine the value of putting food on the table. But what if you’re a massage therapist or an image consultant? How do your people decide if your work is valuable enough to pay your rates?

While it’s true that they can’t eat a massage or wardrobe consultation, both of these “non-essentials” have deep seated value for the just-right client.

My friend Tom has back pain that used to interfere with his work. Now regular therapeutic massage keeps him flexible, fit, and productive. For Tom, massage is not a luxury, it’s job security. (He’s can also crawl around the floor with his kids again, which may be the bigger benefit.)

When Linda could afford shopping as a past-time, she thought hiring an image consultant was unnecessary. Now that she needs to dress professionally on a budget, she’s realized how much money she’s wasted on poor choices. Working with a wardrobe consultant has become a necessity.

So prospective clients know the reasons why they would pay for products and services like yours.

But they don’t always know that they know it. It’s your job to help bring those reasons to light.

You can learn how to do that in Five Keys to Conversations About Value below.

How Do You Get Clients to Talk to in the First Place?

Before you can have collaborative conversations about value, you have to find and connect with prospective just-right clients. How do you do that?

The answers to that question are at the heart of The Goldilocks Strategy for Getting Clients that Fit Just-Right, a 7-part program with the sole purpose of showing you how to get clients that fit just right.

UPDATE: I’ve redesigned Goldilocks with a full year of monthly teleconferences to help you put the tools to work in your biz. Work at your own pace and start getting more clients. ♥


Five Keys to Conversations About Value

It’s one thing to understand the concept of value as a collaboration. It’s another thing to have the conversation that gets things going. Somehow, when we sit down to talk, a fog bank seems to move in. Or we get what golfers call the yips.

These five keys will help you navigate through the fog and prevent the yips.

1. Let go of the result.

2. Be willing to be surprised.

3. Ask questions.

4. Listen.

5. Check before drawing conclusions.

Let Go of the Result

The first and most important key a successful conversation about value is to let go of the result.

A conversation about value is not a sales pitch in disguise. The goal is not to make a sale, but to collaboratively reveal the value of your work so that the client can make an informed decision about buying.

No, not every prospective client will decide to buy or hire you. But I promise you that anyone that walks away from this conversation feeling heard and understood remains a prospective client and positive referral source.

Be Surprise-able

Even if you are crystal clear about the value you offer your just-right clients, be willing to be surprised.

You may be the expert in how your work solves problems and fulfills dreams, but your prospective clients are the hands-down experts in what that means to them.

So open your mind. Drop your preconceptions about value. Let the client surprise you. (And you can surprise them by really listening. But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

Ask Questions

Your job in the conversation about value is to ask questions, not answer them.

When you want to collaboratively establish the value of your work, imagine that you are helping a friend make an important decision. Instead of giving advice, ask questions that help your friend, in this case, a prospective client, articulate what’s most important to them.

  • What do they want to achieve?
  • What will that give them?
  • Why is that important?
  • And what matters most about that?
  • What’s their starting point?
  • What’s between where they are now and where they want to be?
  • If they could have any kind of help they wanted, what would that look like?

Not only will this conversation reveal value from your prospective client’s point of view, it will be a goldmine of language and ideas you can use in the future to decide what to offer, how to package it, and how to describe it.


Forgive me if I sound pushy, but if you aren’t asking a question, your mouth shouldn’t be talking. And if you don’t know what to ask, silence can be okay, too. Show your prospective client that you are willing and able to really see them and their problems and dreams without trying to tell them what they need.

Only when they feel really seen do people become interested in how you can give them what they want.

Check Before Drawing Conclusions

During collaborative conversations about value, pause and reflect to prospective clients what you’ve heard them say. This shows that you are listening and that you care enough to really understand their points of view. It gives them a chance to clarify or elaborate. It will keep you from inadvertently imposing your thinking on theirs. And it will suggest new questions to ask.

Another cool thing? If you sometimes feel less than fully confident about the value of your work, you may discover that your prospective client is more appreciative of it than you thought.

Value Is a Collaboration

When it comes right down to it, the value of your work emerges from a collaboration between you and your just-right clients. What’s more, collaboration begins long before you are hired.

Start asking questions and listening to the people you’d love to work with. Watch the value emerge. And watch your client list grow.

Are You Ready to Get Better at Getting Clients?

The Goldilocks Strategy for Getting Clients that Fit Just-Right begins May 8, 2013.

In other words, if this has resonated with you, and if you’re ready to dive into getting better–lots better–at getting clients, take a look now at Goldilocks now. Click this link to learn more.