What to do when you think customers will never afford you.
Updated: 6 days ago
This is the #1 wobble that has service-based businesses playing small. We set our own prices and then the doubt creeps in. We think, 'Why would customers even pay that much? #'
I spoke to a client this week who shared that when she tells a customer her prices, it makes her feel a bit sick. As in properly, physically queasy. I asked her why and she thought about it for a moment. “Because I would never have paid that much in my early days of business,” she replied. “I always think: ‘who am I to charge that price for what I do?’”
This article is all about what to do when you feel like you're some how swindling clients, and have a deep fear that they won't be able to afford you.
Because here's the thing. When my client said she would 'never have paid that much', my usually confident, talented, capable client put her finger on exactly the problem, which is this:
If you’re not careful you can empathise yourself out of every sale.
Put it this way. Do you ever sympathise so deeply with clients that you treat them as though they are the same as you.
Therein lies trouble.
When my client says, “I would never have paid that much,” she’s triggered by the very idea of spending her own prices. She puts herself in the customer’s shoes. The result is awful guilt and embarrassment (“who am I to charge that?”), and withdrawal from the conversation or a discount worthy of Sports Direct.
Assumptions are dangerous
We’re human, and many of us are in the ‘helping’ professions, empathetic with most people we meet. That empathy means it’s natural for us to recognise ourselves in others. This is a good thing, and means we can sympathise and help clients in the way we’d like to be helped ourselves.
But it’s important to draw the line before we assume too much about those similarities to ourselves.
Because, when we start to recognise ourselves in a potential client, and put ourselves in their shoes, we make the mistake of taking an extra leap. Our brain tells us, she’s just like me in other ways.
We assume a bunch of things that feed into our inner critic’s readiness to take us down. Like how much this person is able or willing to spend on the solution. When doubt sets in, your inner critic has a field day:
Because the client said she was struggling with X, she sounds just like me. I would have never have spent thousands on a solution for this, even though I know it would have been an awesome service. It would have had me eating Pot Noodles for weeks and selling the dog. How can I possibly tell this person my price is for this? There’s no way she can afford it…
… and so on.
Your inner critic or ‘chimp’ brain, as Prof Steve Peters calls that part of us that works on instinct alone, will feed you assumptions until you lose your bottle altogether.
You mumble something about sending an email with prices, to buy yourself more time to come up with a discount you think they will find acceptable. The you drop your own value like it’s hot.
At some point logic will kick in. Like: hold the phone, didn’t you create the pricing structure you have for a reason? Isn’t the price what you decided would be appropriate for the transformation the customer gets from you? You’re changing lives for peats’ sake! But by that point you’re working with the customer on a discounted price, and you couldn’t ever raise the price now, even if they renew, could you?
Well, yes. But first, let’s try thinking another way about your prices to begin with.
Below is why you can’t make assumptions about other people’s ability or willingness to buy your service.
Plus, we will be tackling this and lots more in challenge week, September 20th if you're joining us in the Level Up challenge (info here).
It’s not me it’s you
Your customer or your potential customer probably hasn’t worked on their money blocks but they almost certainly have them because we all do. We can also safely assume they have money blocks that are different to yours because they didn’t grow up with you.
This person's history with money is different to yours. Plus the amount they can access from savings or elsewhere, and their willingness to spend it comes from their own money story.
So here’s what you do. Remember when you’re speaking to any individual about your own prices your own money blocks are going to come into play. They will be there until you work through them. So be aware of your own stuff and make sure you're not putting it on your client.
Here’s what you can think about next time your palms start sweating before you say your price:
1. This person isn’t you. They didn’t grow up with you in your house, and their feelings about money aren't yours. They may have a worse money mindset than you do. That means if they say they can’t afford your services it’s never about your price, it’s about their own capability or willingness to spend money. Often, it’s down to their own mindset. That means there's no need to take a 'no' personally, and it also means you can ask questions about their reluctance. Is it really about the money, or something else?
2. If she says she ‘can’t afford it’ it may or may not be true in any real sense. ‘I can’t afford it,’ or ‘that’s too expensive,’ is a phrase we use when we feel triggered by money and having to spend it, because we don’t like doing that. It’s a phrase we use when we want to get off a call and have some time to regroup. Sometimes it’s true, and sometimes it just means they feel fearful about the idea of spending that money. Again, this is about the customers’ own mindset around money and not your prices. She may have said the same thing if you cut the price in half.
3. It feels nice to be put yourself in someone else’s shoes, but it's not helpful. It feels like you’re being considerate, sympathetic. But by believing as though you can put yourself in your client’s position, you’re not really listening to what’s going on for them. Projecting what you feel about money onto them is not being nice – it’s not giving them a chance to tell you what’s actually going on.
4. People have choice. There is no ‘right’ price for what you do if your service-based business. That means you get to choose your price. Not the market, not the customer, but you. You will find people to pay it, and others can choose whether to pay it or not. You are providing and offering an exchange of energy – money for a service, and you are not in the business of ripping anyone off.
5. If in doubt, pretend you work for a company and that is the price you’ve been given. It’s my experience that it feels easier to present the price when it’s the ‘company’ price, than the cost for your own services that you created.
So get ready to embrace your prices, talk about your service as though you believe in the value, even if you would never have paid this amount yourself in the client’s position.
You are not the client, and they might be delighted to have the opportunity to work with you at your current prices. Self-belief is everything, but if you’re not there, don’t be afraid to fake it til you inevitably make it.
I believe in you!
PS - Download my free guide to get in the right mindset so you can happily raise your worth - 3 Steps to Confidently Raising your Prices
PPS - And, if you think your money beliefs are holding you back and you're ready to uncover and release them for yourself, book a free 30 Minute Breakthrough Chat with me.