#189: A New Prospect Is Asking for My Rates Right Away. How Should I Respond?

You’ll find the episode a little bit shorter than usual. We’re all calling it an “in-between” episode and we’ll be issuing them regularly over the coming months. If you have any feedback on this new format, let me know!

I wanted to use this in-between episode to answer a question one of my coaching clients recently asked.

It’s a question that comes up regularly. And it leads to a discussion of what to do with “hot potatoes.”

The notes that follow are a very basic, unedited summary of the show. There’s a lot more detail in the audio version. You can listen to the show using the audio player below. Or you can subscribe in iTunes to get this show delivered straight to the Podcasts app on your smart phone, tablet or iPod.

My coaching client’s question was this:

I reached out to someone on LinkedIn, and they accepted by connection request. But then they immediately messaged me and asked what my rates are.
I feel like this isn’t the right place to start. Should I respond and say, “My rates depend on the project. Would you like to schedule a short video or phone call to discuss your current content needs?”
What do you think?

I’m sure lots of you have also experienced this!

First, keep in mind that your job is NOT to convert every prospect into a client. Your job is to convert good prospects into clients.

It’s easy to lose sight of this goal. When you do, you end up jumping through hoops. Which creates stress, is counterproductive and wastes your time!

Second, this situation is a classic example of what I like to call a “hot potato.”

A hot potato is a problem that a prospect or client tosses to you. You automatically assume that you need to hold onto that hot potato and deal with it.

But holding on to hot potatoes is uncomfortable and painful!

So why do we have this ingrained urge to hold onto them? Some of it comes from having a service mentality.

Yes, we’re in the service business. And that’s not a bad thing…until we start saying “yes” to everything.

We’re in the service business. And that’s not a bad thing…until we start saying “yes” to everything.

So get in the habit of tossing hot potatoes back to the prospect or client. If they toss it back to you again, that’s OK. Playing hot potato is perfectly fine. But you never want to hold onto a hot potato because you feel you have no other choice.

So, in this situation, you can reply with something like…”Thanks for connecting. I don’t have an hourly rate. I quote a fixed fee for each individual project based on the specifics of that assignment. What do you have in mind?”

The “what do you have in mind” tosses the hot potato back to them.

A similar approach is to have an email conversation before asking for a phone call. Use your email exchange to prequalify the prospect before getting on the phone.

This protects your precious time and also builds trust and rapport should you get to the phone call stage.

Bottom line: Start paying attention to hot potatoes. The more you look for them, the better you’ll get a recognizing them. And the better equipped you’ll be to deal with them — and toss them back when appropriate.

By the way … whenever you’re ready, here are 4 ways I can help you grow your freelance business:

1.  Grab a free copy of my book for ESTABLISHED writers/copywriters.

You’ll discover how to quickly and predictably reawaken dead leads, generate new client opportunities and convert not-yet-ready prospects into freelance writing clients. — Click Here

2.  Download a free copy of my new book for writers who are NEW to freelancing.

I’ll show you the 3 things you need to do to get your business off the ground safely and land your first paying client faster.  — Click Here

3.  Join my implementation program and be a case study.

I’m putting together a new implementation group this month. If you’d like to work with me to grow your income quickly with better clients (and become one of my new success stories). Just email me at [email protected] and put “Case Study” in the subject line.

4.  Get a 1:1 strategy call with me.

Are you a 6-figure writer who’s trying to earn more in less time with less stress? Let’s jump on a quick call and brainstorm some ideas for getting you there. Just email me at [email protected] and put “Brainstorm” in the subject line.