How do you answer the question: "What's your daily rate?"

“So, what’s your hourly rate?” your new prospects asks.

You may be tempted to quote the highest rate they’d probably pay, and hope for the best, and then silently pray they won’t push back.

That’s the usual strategy. Unfortunately, it very rarely actually works.

You may also be thinking, in your mind, “I’m not going any lower than <insert minimum rate here>.”

If you do that, you’ve already lost.

Sound surprising and/or groundbreaking? Here’s why.

What your client is thinking

First of all, there are certain assumptions your client is making:

  • That you charge by the day (or the hour)

  • That you follow a charge-by-the-day (or charge-by-the-hour) business model

  • That you are able to (accurately) estimate how long a project will take

Here’s how most people work out their hourly rate

  • How much money do I need?

  • What is my annual salary divided by the number of hours or days?

  • What can this guy afford?

  • What’s this guy’s budget and how do I best use that?

The Boat Crossing Driver (an analogy)

Imagine you have a boat for hire. You take people across the river. Then someone comes up to you and says:

  • “I need to cross the river urgently. What’s your rate?”

  • If prices aren’t regulated by some external authority, you’re best not to quote a rate, because there’s something more fundamental you need to know first.

  • Your prospect is speaking to you because they want to get from where they are to somewhere else. You need to know why that matters to them.

Where are they going (and why is that important?)

Let’s try a different example, and assume that you are a website designer.

Objective: a more professional website i.e. “I want my website to look more professional.”

Your job is then to ask:

  • What makes you think it doesn’t look professional at the moment?

  • Why is that important?

  • How would you know that it looks more professional?

    • Is it fewer complaints?

    • Is it more compliments?

    • Is it more enrolments, subscriptions, enquiries, clients, customers, or something like that?

    • Or is it a feeling? Maybe a number on a scale?

Find out their why

Before you answer their daily rate question (if you answer it at all), find out what they are hoping to achieve and why that’s important to them.

In essence, paint the dream. After all, they’re already in a state of pain or dissatisfaction!

Understand where they are now

  • Be specific

  • Show empathy

And map out where they want to be

  • Paint it clearly

Bridge their pain to their dream

  • How many students do you have/want? What is the value of a student to you?

The aim of the conversation is to take ownership, and especially to let the buyer know that you care about what they want to achieve and why they want to achieve it.

Once you learn how to find out the real, deep reason they want to move ahead, the rate you charge becomes very secondary.

Anthony English