Pricing Perils and Selling Yourself

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Your client knows your product (In my case it’s my act) likes it, enough to come back, and knows your price. Or, perhaps your price the last time they booked you! There is no shame in explaining your prices have changed and it’s a nice feeling to be able to remember a client who showed appreciation for your craft and smiled as they handed over their money. So, you may want to be generous and offer a discount for the repeat booking or at the least, provide your services at last year’s price, a nod to the camaraderie of people getting by in life.

So, your taking the booking and talking through how good it was last time and you feel the need to talk more about the new elements of the act. This is an unusual urge as you don’t really have to. This is a repeat booking. The client has come looking for you, sought you out, kept your number, made the call. They have a lot on their mind, your product, important as it is to you, is probably just one detail on their long list of ‘things to get sorted’ and yet there you are bending their ear, enjoying this trip down adulation alley, and why not, you work hard, its nice to make a few friends along the way. And then it has happened, you have lost yourself in the moment and started telling them about all the ‘extras’ you do now that weren’t on offer before.

You started off wanting them to know how you have grown, that you are constantly improving, that you are offering even more. You want them to feel rewarded for coming back to you, you want them to know they have made the right choice, but, what you have actually told them is that what they had, what they sought you out for, the reason they made the call, that product isn’t the best you can do. There is more, and suddenly you are in the void of not yet thought out pricing and that my friends is not where you want to be, instead of delivering on their expectation, a known product from a professional provider, a tick off their growing and stressful list, made possible by a tried and tested service, you have moved into a space of more thought needed, further questions about cost and worst still, perhaps some time to think it over. You had a sale, they were at the till and you just asked them put away their wallet andcome back into the shop to take a look at another range hidden down the back.

This strategy might pay off or it may have created an opportunity for doubts to creep in and for the customer to “Think it over”. You do not want this client to put down the phone or walk away when you have effectively not met their expectations. They had one thing on their list to tick off today and one call to you could have left them with a feeling of accomplishment. Job done, big tick. But, instead, you now face the prospect of them mulling over all evening about not getting the job done, you can hear them now, “I phoned Nick, he said…..” and it doesn’t matter what comes next because you have created a space for someone else to slip into. It just takes one small comment, a simple, “I know someone, he/she’s great” and you can literally see that booking floating out of the window never to come back again.

You are at a cross roads, and what you do next can create two possible outcomes, you lose the booking, or you get the booking but within those two simple outcomes is a mirage of possible other knock on effects.

So you lose. “I’ll think about it and get back to you” you can hear the failure in your own voice as you literally call after them, “Okay then, great to hear from you, tell little Ellie / Phoebe/Max/Joe I said Hi”,….But they are gone, already smarting form the new complexity added to what they thought was going to be a simple transaction. You made it difficult and now someone else will close the deal. If your quick and slick you could try to salvage the contact, tell them you can add them to your email list, send them out details of all the upcoming deals/freebies/new shows/products. But let’s face it they are gone. You oversold. And now you are alone……forever……..or maybe not!

You are in mid flight wowing them with details of all your new skills when they ask, “could I get that” and you know they mean ‘included’ as part of the package already agreed, at no extra cost. You could agree and save the day, and lets face it on the day you can play up the real package and add in just a little of the new at no real cost to you but, and here it comes the Jimmny Cricket of the self employed performer, you want a little more if your going to do a little more, and the good news is, that’s okay… with a new client, but with a repeat booking? A repeat booking came back for what they had before, same product, same price. You have moved the goal posts and you know now you are in the worst place a performer can be, if you persuade them to pay more than they want to pay, a price by the way that they got something wonderful for (you), last year, then you know, no matter how good you are you have planted a seed of something unpleasant, the seed of ‘hidden extras’, the road to being swizzed and suddenly your new skill / product / talent isn’t going to make them feel good at all. They went over budget and their whole focus now will be on, “Did I really need to pay more”?

And worse still, you need to ask yourself, did they? Did they really need to pay more? They knew what they wanted when they looked up your number, they had the price in their head when they made the call and, most importantly they were already happy with the product. You are all about experience, so use your own experience and think your selling through. There is nothing wrong with listing other services or extras that you provide, after you have made the sale. After the sale is a whole new world. It’s a new deal, another transaction. It is separate from your first deal, an addition, not an ‘extra’.

If you’re a comedian then you well know and shouldn’t have to be told, it is all about the timing. But most importantly, don’t pick up the phone and respond to a work enquiry unless you are at work! Every performance begins with an initial interaction, don’t make yours a flop!

Happy selling