I recently wrote about cleaning out my paper files. I tossed folders for voice-over clients who can’t pass my red velvet rope policy and, in doing so, created a vacuum for the clients whom I want to attract.
I looked at and made a decision about every piece of paper in my filing cabinets. I found an e-mail message that I sent to a client in 2002. I extracted the main portion below because I wondered if you have found yourself in a similar situation:
Hi, Clientname. When I agreed to do this project, you will remember that I cut my normal rate severely in order to work with you and establish an ongoing business relationship. I thought the script was in final form, so we did not discuss whether any changes to the narration would be included in the original fee.<
I have already spent about 3.5 hours on the narration, editing and transmission of the files, including resaving and resending the files in .mp3 format earlier this week [because the client originally specified .wav format on CD]. At my normal rate … this project would have cost $675 instead of the $150 to which we agreed. Because I am committed to providing you with high quality service and ensuring your total satisfaction, I will not request additional compensation for these edits. However, please be aware that I will be unable to perform future projects at the same low introductory price.
In reading my words today, I realize that I was dealing with a textbook definition of price-buyer. In addition to demanding more work than was originally agreed, the client never followed through on the promise of additional work. I don’t remember, but I believe I had difficulty in obtaining payment for the narration. Price-buyers are the same clients who can take months to pay you.
When confronted with client who does not pay promptly, I follow the advice that I read in advertising executive Donny Deutsch’s book Often Wrong, Never in Doubt: Unleash the Business Rebel Within:
From that moment on, I knew I would never lose the respect of a client by asking to be paid promptly. If I allow a client to pay late, what am I really saying? One, that I am not as good as my word, andtwo, maybe what I am providing to the client is not as good as I say it is. If you don’t value it, how will they? The same holds true for offering to cut one’s price.How valuable is your product if you’re willing to discount its value?
To underscore Deutsch’s last statement, Larry Steinmetz, author of How to Sell at Margins Higher Than Your Competitors: Winning Every Sale at Full Price, Rate, or Fee, declares that when you cut your price, you are the one who BLEEDS!
As evidenced by the first line in the e-mail that I quoted, I have had my share of painful, undervalued projects! In my maturation process as a voice artist and business person, I have learned that my experience, education, studio and services all have a value. I now include my payment policies with my written quote. I am blessed with clients who appreciate my service and pay promptly for it. I gratefully welcome them through the red velvet rope!