"Would you rather have high-paying clients who are also high maintenance, or easy to work with clients who aren't very profitable?"
This was a question I had the chance to answer a few weeks back, and it reveals a common misconception about how successful businesses operate.
What would you say to this question? How would you respond? Would you be willing to take on the higher paying client but deal with all the stress of managing them? Or is it better for your own sanity to take on smaller, easier-to-work-with customers?
Before we answer the question, let's look at my friend Sarah's situation.
"I started my wedding design and decor business in 2018 and it's been an absolute train-wreck to get started. Since I was new to this, I took the approach of trying to charge very little just so I could get some customers and build my experience... Soon after I began realizing that I was attracting customers who were what I would call very low quality, and they wanted to lowball me on everything. How can I get better customers?"
Helping Sarah with her predicament is actually directly related to the original question of this article.
So, is it better to take on higher paying but higher maintenance customers, or lower paying, easier customers?
Here's the answer: It's "neither".
Why is it Neither? Because it's a flawed question, and anyone who's lived long in sales already knows it.
When I look at my own coaching business, I've sometimes run across clients who were desperate for help but didn't have the funding. Really wanting to make a difference, I've sometimes made an exception to either do someone a favor or just to try to lend a hand.
These clients have ended up being some of my toughest customers. Hard to work with, stuck in limiting beliefs, and sometimes particular about the way we went about things.
In fact, when I think of all the clients I "did a favor for", I really can't think of one that had a result I was enormously proud of.
The work I'm most happy with? It's the people who've paid thousands of dollars more than my lowest paying clients.
Obviously, I'm not talking about just running up the bill. I'm not talking about overcharging. And I'm certainly not saying that higher paying customers won't ever have their moments of insanity.
What I am talking about is the direct correlation between your price and your perceived value. Let's talk more in depth on this.
1) Your price communicates your value. It's that simple. When you undervalue yourself, you effectively communicate your worthiness towards the results your client wants.
2) You don't want to work with everyone. I think this is why pricing can be such a challenge for people because we often feel an obligation to take on every potential client. I had someone tell me once, "Well, I would never pay your prices." Yeah, well you aren't my target customer. Similarly, I had a friend start a sentence with, "I know it's a big investment for people..." to which I interrupted with, "It's a big investment for SOME people. For others, you're exactly what they've been looking for."
3) It's okay to say "No". Remember, you're the expert. Own it. For the sake of your brand and its perceived value, sometimes, "No" is the most powerful thing you can say.