How a healthy pipeline helps you price properly

By MBO Partners | November 21, 2022

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As part of our educational programs on pricing, we bring you part two of a four-part series from Reuben Swartz, who spent over a decade helping companies from Fortune 500 giants to independent consultants improve profits through better pricing. Read part 1: Stop Commodifying Yourself, if you haven’t already. He also created Mimiran, the fun, “anti-CRM” for independent consultants who hate “selling”. He also hosts the Sales for Nerds podcast

How a healthy pipeline helps you price properly

In my last post, we discussed why you need to stop commodifying yourself. I hope by now, you’ve begun to implement this advice to serve your best clients, not just any client. However, it’s natural that you’re going to run into some traps that can pull you (back?) toward bad habits. These traps will not only erode your pricing power but sap your energy and hold back your business. 

But let’s take a moment to think about a different scenario. You’ve got some great clients, and more clients eager to get started. Then a prospect comes along who asks for help but doesn’t seem like a perfect fit. Perhaps you even suggest a different option. But this person has heard such wonderful things about you, and they’d really like to work with you. With some misgivings, you end up floating a budget of $X. The prospect says, “oh, I was expecting half of $X.” (Or perhaps, 1/10.) 

What do you say? 

You’re too busy for this. You’re not tempted. You make a referral. 

Now, let’s imagine the same conversation, except you wrapped up a big project and you haven’t been nurturing your pipeline or your partners. You had great intentions, but between the project work, family life, and everything else, you just haven’t had the time and/or energy. You did some follow-ups to a few formerly hot prospects, but they’ve made other moves in the meantime. You’re not sure if, when, or where your next project will start.  

Now, this less-than-ideal project looks more tempting. Surely half of $X or even a tenth of $X is better than zero. 

But if you do win the project, you have a client who is not a perfect fit, who will be less likely to be happy, who will raise more objections than the clients who pay you what you’re worth, all while you’re making less money. 

Just as before, you’re too busy to prospect effectively, plus the project drains your energy, so you do even less business development. And the vicious cycle repeats. 

Note that the cycle doesn’t have to start because of financial pressure. Maybe you just really want to help someone you “could” help, instead of those you are best suited to help. In this case, you need to get off the PCP (Possible Client Profile) and get back to the ICP (Ideal Client Profile). 

This vicious cycle even means that if you get an ideal prospect, you may start to feel bad about charging $X. After all, you just charged half of $X for more work. 

Business development work is essential. Block off time for it every week. This doesn’t mean hanging out on social media (although that’s fine, too, if you have time for it). It means having actual conversations with prospects and partners. (It’s also helpful if your website delivers high-quality leads while you sleep and/or do client work.) 

When you have a healthy pipeline, you have the confidence to effectively ask clients to apply to work with you, and part of that application means evaluating whether they are able and eager to pay for the value you provide. 

About the Author:

Reuben Schwartz Headshot

Reuben Swartz is the founder of Mimiran, the fun CRM for independent consultants who love serving clients but hate “selling”. He’s also the host and chief nerd on the Sales for Nerds podcast. He went from a background in computer science and software engineering to sales and marketing consulting for the Fortune 500, while struggling with sales and marketing for his own firm. His mission is to help other independent consultants make a bigger dent in the universe and get more clients by using their talents to teach instead of market, connect instead of network, and help instead of sell.

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