Don’t be afraid to tell your network what you charge

by Ewan Sturman on February 20, 2012 · 4 comments

Quite often the cost of your services can stop you getting referred but not in the way that you probably think. You do not need to alter your costs or become cheaper to get referred more often. You’ll rarely hear people say: “I can’t refer him or her as they are too expensive.”

It is not what you cost that stops people recommending you: it is not knowing what you cost that stops people referring you.

Most times when we buy something we know how much it will cost.  Have you ever gone to buy a car without asking how much it costs, or said to a trades person “just do the job and let me know how much it is afterwards”?  We will not buy most things without knowing how much but people expect to refer you with no idea of what you charge.

Here is an example:

I know a software developer who was not getting much business referred to him by his network of people. Clients referred him but people who knew him and trusted him didn’t.  I said that people don’t refer you because they think you are expensive. He said that I was taking rubbish. Too prove the point I asked him how much it would cost to create a simple reminder system for an opticians. He said about £500 which I knew was about right. So we asked the first person we saw at a networking event how much they would expect a software developer to charge for this. The first person said £10,000 the second said £12,000 none of the first 5 people we asked were under £10,000. So the guy was perceived to be very expensive. If people know what you charge they are more likely to refer you and refer you to the right people.

Imagine that ’m a web designer, who won’t get out of bed for less than £5000. I’ll make sure my network knows this, and as a result, they will refer me to £5000+ clients. They will not introduce me to someone who has a budget of £250. I may get fewer introductions but I will at least get the right ones.

If I don’t know what you charge then I might embarrass myself in front of one of my best clients by putting you in front of them. If I put a £5000 contact in front of a £250 client I will look stupid and if I put a £250 contact in front of a £5000 client I will equally look stupid so I end up doing nothing.

So you can see that it is not how much you charge but people knowing how much you charge that is important.

Ewan Sturman
Ewan Sturman says as networking is about sharing information please feel free to share this with as many people as you would like. He and Iain Whyte are the joint authors of the Audio CD How to get More Business through people you Already Know

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Rosie Slosek February 20, 2012 at 14:17

Pricing is probably one of the biggest areas for disagreement in the book. Most service providers don’t put pricing on the websites. Good arguments for doing so are the nature of the work meaning they need to know details first. However, it’s embarrassing to make an enquiry, especially if it involves a meeting and time on both sides, to get a quote – and the person is way out of your price range.

I won’t get further than the website if an indicator of price isn’t there.


David O'Dell February 20, 2012 at 19:11

Very well said Ewan – knowledge is everything.


James McBrearty February 26, 2012 at 18:28

Good point.

I remember hearing a while ago that if you don’t tell people your prices they sometimes assume that these are ten times higher than they actually are.

It’s one of the reasons I developed fixed fee accountancy packages myself, and openly display the prices on the website – making it clear that they are annual amounts.

I’d had someone originally say how reasonable they were, making the assumption it was a monthly cost! So proving the ten times theory.



Kevin Willett August 24, 2012 at 11:10

Nice article I see this happen all the time. It is very important to be clear about pricing


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