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“How Much Do You Charge”

February 9, 2011

The brand new annual yellow pages phone book had just come out (back when the yellow pages phone book was the main source to find a business phone number), and my company was listed under the event planning section for the first time. It had been a couple months since I opened my “doors” and I was so excited thinking customers would just pick up the book, discover me and call for business.

 I remember eating dinner with my family when the phone rang in my home-based office, I answered it “Hello, Five Star Events, may I help you” just liked I had practiced. The person on the other line told me they needed assistance with an event and started asking me questions. My naivety as a young entrepreneur wasn’t apparent answering event questions until the person asked, “How much do you charge for your services?”  I stuttered for a moment realizing I didn’t exactly know how to answer that question on the spot and came up with a much higher rate than I eventually came to use in those early business years. Being caught off guard and not prepared to give the proper response, the phone call ended and I never heard from the person again.  The next day, a little bit wiser from the experience, I made an appointment with my business counselor to tackle the question and response. 

It’s been sixteen years since that experience but it is still fresh in mind. It is still an important part of my sales job as an entrepreneur. How I handle the pricing question will make or break whether I land an event.  I also hear the frustration by other women entrepreneurs running service businesses making sure they are priced correctly. Charging for a service is a balance between making enough money for our time, talent and experience versus the perception in the market for our type of service. 
Next week and in early March, we have created three Women TIES events to tackle this issues – next week in Syracuse at a special three hour seminar on bettering our sales techniques which includes the “how much does it cost” question and four other important sales topics; one on March 2nd in Rochester focused on how to be the best salesperson for our company; and one on March 3rd in Albany on new wave marketing aimed at driving those new sales questions our way. 

 Today’s post is to remind you that two of the most important things you should focus or refocus on this month is your pricing structure and sales techniques. Has it been awhile since you analyzed your fee structure? How long has it been since you did competitive analysis in the marketplace? Are your sales skills rusty? Are you marketing the right way to drive new sales to your business? Do some serious thinking about these questions and focus on the ones that need improvement.

 Gone are the days when eager entrepreneurs are waiting by their mailboxes to see their name in print hoping their phone rings. Gone are the days when guessing at our hourly rate makes any sense. We must be skillful women entrepreneurs who have done the research, marketed our businesses wisely and are able to tackle any sales question that comes our way. In the long run, it means more revenue and growth for our businesses.

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