Re: BIZ: Dealing with price resistance?
Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
"techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- techwr-l -dot- com>
Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:33:32 -0400
Thanks again for chiming in, everyone.
This isn't my first rodeo, so I fully get it. Over the past 25+ years I've
been fulltime at companies both large and small (but never more than five
years). And I've been on any number of contract gigs.
My last was with a faltering Xerox-run (you can stop right there, right?)
Medicaid project, as that company struggles to reinvent itself as another
Deloitte or Accenture. I didn't last long, in that the level of repression
and outright incompetency was something to beholdâno surprise. But I was
getting a better rate than others (I held my ground), Xerox had to fill a
seat (else be further penalized by NYS), so Bob's your uncle.
I started my career in ad sales and studied Zig Ziglar, Harvey Mackay, et
al. Later I was a PC reseller specializing in CAD and DTP, fighting it out
in the trenches against the former shoe salespersons at against the
self-aggrandized, local Computerland franchise.
Through all of this experience I learned how to read the tea leaves.
Today I have a successful operation as an independent B2B/B2C
messaging|communications consultant (read: freelancer). I have an existing
client roster that keeps me fairly busy, but one should always be
prospecting, as clients come and go. Thankfully, most of my clients found
me, and not one has balked at my standard rates. Each appreciates that I do
an exceptional job for them, that I'm always looking for their best
interests, and charge a fair rate commensurate with the open market.
Save for an increasingly dystopian world in which life as we know it
becomes even more upside down than it is at present (Michelle Obama
keynoting at digital marketing conference?), I don't intend to ever back
down on what I charge. On the contrary. And I was not proposing to do that
with respect to Jeannie at Blue Supply. Rather, I held firm, but was unable
to provide her with the estimate she thought she needed.
(BTW, when I inquired about the possibility of missing InDesign typefaces,
she assured me that would not be an issue, as Blue Supply uses, *ahem*,
"open sans." *HEL-lo....*)
Adding it all together, even I wonder why I've chased this opportunity so
hard. I'm really at the Badfinger stage of my lifeâ"If you want it, here it
is, come and get it..." And speaking of bad fingers, that is really my
mental attitude regarding Jeannie. So, drawing from the late Tom Petty (who
I will miss much more than David Bowie or even Glenn Frey):
*It's time to move on, time to get going*
*What lies ahead, I have no way of knowing*
*But under my feet, baby, grass is growing*
*It's time to move on, it's time to get going*
(click logo â for details)
â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
â B2B/B2C â Marketing Expertise â Mentoring
On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 6:16 PM, Ashley York <a -dot- york -at- manitou-group -dot- com>
> I know Chris has already responded to Jeannie, but I'd like to throw an
> alternative viewpoint into the mix in case it helps inform anyone's opinion
> or future actions.
> We can fall into a trap if we view an uninformed prospect as inherently
> negative/risky/problematic. Speaking from experience with startups and
> other focused companies, an uninformed prospect could actually be a
> Prior to April, I spent 2 years in the private equity industry. In an
> office of 6 people running 7 different companies, I was the only guy who
> didn't have a finance/accounting/sales background. I was responsible for
> almost all of our IT, process development, continuous improvement, software
> development, marketing/branding, troubleshooting, technical sales, project
> management, proposal writing, and any other technical competencies. I
> enjoyed wearing many hats, and I got a unique view into companies and
> organizations of all sizes and types.
> You can probably guess that the executives within my company were fairly
> naive when it came to matters like documentation. We worked with a number
> of small companies and startups, many with leaders who had a similar lack
> of understanding of technical topics. Like me, they were forced to wear
> many hats, but they were rarely properly equipped for most of said
> I imagine these people would respond much like Jeannie if put in her shoes,
> but it's not for a lack of intelligence or understanding. They have no
> frame of reference whatsoever, and they're doing their best to get by in
> whatever role has been foisted upon them. With a little bit of education,
> they can quickly become knowledgeable consumers and strong advocates for
> That doesn't mean you waste time where it won't pay off, commit to a
> project you simply don't have time for, or lower your rates and take a
> loss. It means you may have a unique opportunity. Here are some
> suggestions I would make:
> - Be clear about what you are proposing. Make it clear that you can't
> go lower because you need time for specific phases of work. Identify
> that could arise. In short, give her the details behind the bottom
> People in a role like this typically understand that you get what you
> for, so tell her what she's paying for.
> - Identify the benefits you can provide beyond the bottom line. Often,
> people in this situation are looking for long-term partnerships, unique
> billing arrangements, or other special considerations. There may be
> factors that will sway her to pay you more because you fit with their
> - Propose alternative solutions and additional resources. She may not
> be overly set on any one deliverable or process, and you could spark
> interest that wasn't already there.
> - Establish the ground rules moving forward, as has been said in this
> conversation. Tell her when the best timeframe to get a quote is, what
> information will help you give her the best quote, how long it will
> take to
> turn the quote around, and what range of services you provide in detail.
> Let her know how cost changes if she requests a quote sooner or later.
> she was completely oblivious to technical documentation before now, she
> would likely appreciate this clear approach.
> - Establish yourself as a subject matter expert for her. This follows
> with everything else here, but it's worth pointing out from a
> perspective. She would likely be relieved to have someone knowledgeable
> she could hand this stuff off to. If she comes to view you as her de
> technical writing "department" you may get the type of sticky,
> no-saleswork-required revenue that jacks up your efficiency.
> These things take a little extra time, but they can pay dividends if her
> company/work/industry are strategically important to you. Not only do they
> increase the likelihood of securing a fresh project, they will cement your
> place in her mind as the one to turn to if/when the writer she chose for
> this project falls on their face.
> People who don't know often make bad decisions. On the other hand,
> successful entrepreneurs tend to know what they they don't know. Those
> types of folks actually provide significant positive opportunity.
> Ashley York
> On Thu, Oct 12, 2017 at 8:34 AM, Chris Morton <salt -dot- morton -at- gmail -dot- com>
> > *** LONG QUERY AHEAD ***
> > *SCENARIO*: Jeannie is the marketing director of Blue Supply, a smallish,
> > high-tech industrial supplier in the hinterland. Through a LinkedIn
> > ProFinder feeler placed almost a year ago by her digital marketing guy,
> > I've been courting Blue on and off ever since.
> > To date, Blue has OEMed widgets from others, stuffed them in their own
> > boxes, and sold the latter to global industrial concerns. Blue only ever
> > shipped the destructions, er, user manuals furnished by its OEMs.
> > Now Blue has developed its own widget. Jeannieânever having entered this
> > realm before (and not knowing much about project management and realistic
> > timelines)âbegan looking for a freelancer to magically whip up a ~50 page
> > technical user manual over a two-week period.
> > Yours truly has done this many times over and has the chopsâalong with a
> > rock-solid portfolio and written recommendations singing my praises. Its
> > apparent that Jeannie only looked at the sample manuals I provided, never
> > bothering with the recommendations nor taking a few moments to look at my
> > extended LinkedIn profile that tells the whole story.
> > Jeannie kept me hanging for several weeksâtime I could have used to
> > her manual, which will ultimately form the basis, it appears, of others
> > come. Anyone who knows InDesign knows that it's critical to set up the
> > first go-round (that will become a template) correctly. This is all Greek
> > to Jeannie.
> > She wanted me to give her an estimate as to the number of hours I thought
> > it would take me to complete her project. I told her a reasonable number
> > hours, perhaps less, but that it's near impossible to estimate never
> > seen the widget (nor having any notion of Blue's culture, expectations,
> > etc.). Much also depended on the ready availability of subject matter
> > experts to assist my when I got stuck documenting the widget's
> > hypergymballic mode when exposed to sulfur-induced cryptonium at 2000
> > degrees.
> > Although I offered to meet in person or speak by phone, Jeannie has
> > kept me at arms length, only communicating via email. I've only had the
> > opportunity to speak by phone with AJ, the project manager; it sounded
> > he was firmly in favor of me.
> > Although I kept trying to get the engagement commitment, Jeannie put me
> > for yet another week. Attempting to meet her absurd deadline now meant
> > working exclusively on her assignment around 24 x 7, putting off all of
> > regular clients, not sleeping, nor having any downtime to do anything
> > All the while, Jeannie doesn't know what Jeannie doesn't know, and her
> > initial whack at a newly-designed user manual incorporating Blue's
> > is already set to miss the mark.
> > Finally Jeannie sent me the inevitable email late yesterday:
> > *Thank you so much for your interest in working with us and for your
> > patience as we reviewed candidates. We have decided to go with another
> > writer for this particular project due to timeline and budget. It was
> > connecting with you and I am happy to keep you in mind for future
> > if that is of interest to you.*
> > *Thank you,*
> > Because of her hemming and hawing, coupled with my multi-year sales
> > experience, I'd seen it coming. I wasn't surprisedâjust really POed to
> > spent so much time courting her and the company only to be treated like
> > this. I know full well that Blue Supply isn't going to be well
> > by the "other writer" (likely a chainsaw repairman) who agreed to both
> > ridiculous deadline and gave her some absurd cost estimate.
> > To add to my head-spinning, after sending me this kiss-off note, she
> > finally accepted my invitation to connect on LinkedIn and also viewed my
> > profile!
> > *QUERY*: If I even elect to pursue Blue Supply, how would you go about
> > standing firm with your hourly rate and, more importantly, politely and
> > professionally convey the notion that, "When you finally realize you've
> > the project up for failure and also determine that the person you hired
> > doesn't know Jack (if she ever wakes up to that), you'll know where to
> > me."
> > Are there any good books you can think of that address this issue in a
> > similar context? That is, Jeannie can have any two of the following:
> > Fast, Good. And to quote a friend:
> > "She can have it fast and good, but it won't be cheap, and that's what
> > you're willing to promise. If she insists on cheap and fast, you're not
> > right fit because you won't do anything that doesn't include good. Or she
> > can have it cheap (relatively) and good, but there's no way in hell she's
> > getting it before Thanksgiving, from you or anyone else."
> > Apparently Mr. All-Too-Eager Woodrow the Woodsman has promised Jeannie
> > three.
> > Chris Morton
> > (click logo â for details)
> > <http://t.sidekickopen68.com/e1t/c/5/f18dQhb0S7lC8dDMPbW2n0x6l2B9nM
> > JN7t5XYgdnqQxW7fsH3H4XrddKW1pNgV-56dMhqf2Q-c6C02?t=http%3A%
> > 2F%2Fwww.the-efa.org%2Fmemberinfo%2Fchris-morton-
> > 10670%2F&si=6020636811198464&pi=954606cb-5d5b-417c-e784-84b410461031>
> > â Substantive Editing â Technical Writing â Proofreading
> > â B2B/B2C â Marketing Expertise â Mentoring
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