Multiple Budget Proposals: Getting Clients to Go for the Most Expensive Option

By Chelsea Baldwin, Contributor, on October 16, 2017

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Multiple budget options are a rampant staple in the freelance world. Even as a well-positioned service provider, I’m still amazed at the number of potential clients who contact me to price-shop my services. Sure, they want quality work … but they’re going to hire the person who can give it to them the cheapest. And unless you really know how to sell like a madman, their decision on whether or not to hire you is out of your hands.

Sure, there’s the advice that you can create a proposal and pitch low, medium and high options and hope they go for the medium one — since you’re using the low and high options as anchors. But it can be next to impossible to get clients to see past the lowest number you present. Fortunately, there are ways to help clients see the light and recognize the value of investing more in your services, even to the point that they go for the most expensive option you offer. Yes, it really does happen.

1. Calculate the Cash They Stand to Gain

This, by far, has been the most effective strategy I’ve used in closing expensive deals with clients. The gist of it is this: When you’re on the discovery call with them, make sure you ask them for their current sales numbers, prices and conversion rates, and figure out which pieces of data they’re not happy with. Then, when you’re putting the proposal together, do some math to show them how each individual service item they pay for can increase their numbers and profits.

Spending $1,000 more “just because” isn’t going to cut it for most clients. But spending $1,000 more to make an additional $9,000 that quarter and $36,000 over the course of a year? Yes, they’ll be on board.

2. Offer Payment Plans

Always, always, always collect a non-refundable deposit. Always — for at least 50 percent of the work you’ve planned for your first month of working with a client. After that deposit, inserting a payment schedule in your proposed timeline can ease your clients’ burden of a huge lump-sum payment for your services. Instead of giving them sticker shock, present the lump sum and then break it down into payments. With this setup, clients can see your higher-priced offerings as actually being affordable — and may be more likely to choose them.

3. Bring in Bonuses and Savings at Increasing Price Levels

Word of warning: Offering savings can re-introduce the budget-seeking mentality, which you want to avoid, but I’m a huge fan of offering bonuses. For example, if you’re a writer and your most basic offer is to re-write three web pages for someone, offer that as your first option, keep it at your list price and don’t offer any bonuses.

But for your “medium” level, you could offer three web pages and 10 different ad copies, and list that at the combined list price of those items. As a bonus, you can add on a review of their current advertising data and a suggestion sheet of what to improve on. It doesn’t take you that long, but it adds huge value and incentivizes a more expensive option.

For your third and highest-priced level, you could offer all of what’s included in bundle two, but add on the price for writing a landing page and an automated email funnel. This would boost the price quite a bit, but your bonus could offer a data review of the email funnel two months after implementation, greatly increasing the value of your services to the client. Quality extras make it hard for them to say no.

Even if you’re not a writer, you can still offer amazing (and easy) bonuses to incentivize purchasing a higher-priced option. Here’s a list of ideas, but don’t let that limit you. Feel free to use your creativity here!

  • Web and app programmers: Add animation or integrate a new functionality that you had developed for use in another project.

  • Video editors: Incorporate a “blooper reel” as a medium-level bonus, or a trailer for a high-level bonus.

  • Graphic designers: Consider offering brand color palette suggestions, social media profile headers or reusable Instagram post templates.

  • Event photographers: Offer a small booklet of “photographer’s choice” photos as a keepsake, or a video of photos set to music.

  • Artists for hire: Provide advice on hanging and positioning art in the buyer’s home or custom gift wrapping.

Need a little inspiration for developing your own tiered pricing chart? Check out this model from FreshBooks. Presenting your options side-by-side like this can be really powerful, especially when you have actual bonuses listed out.

Laying Multiple Budget Groundwork

The action I want you to take is this: Based on the services you offer your clients, identify two easy-to-deliver bonuses you can include in your client proposals and work them into the next multiple budget proposal you write. When you do this, don’t forget to calculate the potential financial gain. I think you’ll be surprised how well it works.

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