Before you start questioning why you are getting (or not) the “too expensive” line from potential clients, you need to see if your pricing is on point. It’s true, it can take a fair amount of time to set and figure out the appropriate price/value scale. Make sure to deliver better-than-average work, if you are charging a premium fee for your services. But if you agree that your work can be easily replaced with a Google search and 10 other photographers - do yourself a favor and start working on being distinct, while charging the fair fee for now.
"Price bespeaks Quality and Value. Hence, charge what is appropriate for the quality and value of your work."
So you’re in the business, you deliver outstanding quality, value , services and work. Your customers are always delighted with the final result and you’re fully booked for the next season. But let’s make it clear:
"If you have never been told that you’re too expensive, most likely you’re not charging enough."
If you’ve been in the industry for a good period of time, the chances are that you’ve heard the “too expensive” protest from potential clients more than once. As a professional photographer, your first and natural reaction would be to get upset or even angry and defensive. But before you get all offended and somewhat frustrated, let us uncover what you can take away from it and how to respond to the “too expensive” tag.
Answer #1: Gratefulness
You need to remember and use these two words: "Thank you!". Firstly you need to react as following: "Thank you very much for checking out my work". Gratitude in this case is expressed for the fact that the client, among many “competitors”, has singled out you. Be sure to note this fact - it will allow the client to refocus onto himself and will make it clear that his choice is respected, that you are a professional and are willing to hear him out.
Answer #2: Expensive compared to what?
Thanks to this question, it will be easier for you to identify the essence of the client’s resistance and whether he has been price - comparing you with the other professionals in the field. It’s out of your control if a photographer charges $200 less for a 1 day coverage of a wedding. In your control is to explain why you don’t charge the same “lower” fee - you have a distinct style, you deliver more qualitative photographs, you have much more experience (these are some of the possible reasons). And if the client still doesn’t agree, please, move on and work with clients that are happy to invest in your quality and value.
Answer #3: Stay Reserved and Quiet
At the end of the day, you don’t have to defend yourself and your prices - if you don’t want to. It’s your right to ignore the objection as much as it’s the client’s right to object to prices. Especially, when you are in a stance of a more-than-enough workload, it might be better to not waste time justifying your fees.
Answer #4: Ask What is Their Budget
Keep in mind that there are many clients that are not just trying to be bitter and take advantage of you. Some might really want specifically you on their event but do not have the means to “get” you. By asking and knowing their budget you can describe to them what you can offer for that amount of money. Or simply get them to understand that you, unfortunately, cannot be a part of their day if there is no stretch in the budget. This way, expectations are laid out at the beginning - for the both involved sides.
Answer #5: Ask Yourself: Is that my ideal client?
In the case it is not - just let them know you might not be the best fit for them and suggest someone else that would be a better match for their requirements.
In the case it is your ideal client - explain and show them the quality and value of your work.
You have to understand and put it upfront that you and your style of work is not for everyone and everything. So don’t be shy or ashamed to focus solely on working with your ideal client in your ideal environment.
Not once we’ve met “price shoppers” who would just wander around for the cheapest deal they can get, while demanding high quality and value. Thus remember, never downgrade your fee right away after getting a “you’re too expensive” line. While negotiating can turnout sometimes beneficial, you can do it only after you hear what they have to say about why they think your fee is too high + you truly agree with them.
"A price objection is a call to prove value."
The main question that each client subconsciously asks himself is: "Will it pay off what I'm paying for now?" Aloud, this question is not usually asked, but in the end all comes to it. If you name the price and call a specific figure, the customer's attention will be mainly focused on the budget. All the other information about your work’s quality, value and benefits will just pass by them. So if you really believe in your work and that your quality and value matches your price point, just remember - a price objection is a call to prove value. And you can definitely improve your communication skills and answer the question about your “high” fee in a diplomatic way, right at the beginning of the conversation, so that the client chooses to remain with you. Thus, for the next time when a potential client drops the “you’re too expensive” line - it doesn’t have to mean that it’s the end of the discussion. Be eager to get an answer, grasp more and stay receptive, and you may find they turn out to be your ideal client after all.