Question: I have been a consultant for small businesses for nearly 25 years. I'm very confident and comfortable when pitching my services to someone new, and love what I do so much that it really shows in my enthusiasm. However, when it comes to talk about cost of services, this is where I crash and burn. I know my fees are reasonable, but why do I lose my nerve when it comes to quoting a price? i always lows ball myself and end up doing the job for much less than my competition.
Answer: There is nothing wrong with charging less than the competition if that's your choice and that's how you have decided to go to market. However, from your question, it sounds as though you'd much prefer to get more for your services. You may be fearful that you will not get the business if you don't lower your price - I call that a survival act - an act generated from fear.
I will assume that you really do provide a very valuable service. Ask yourself what your value proposition is - what I mean is how much of a long-term return will the client really get for their investment in your services? What is the worth of that offering to them? What does it cost you to spend an hour with them and how much do you have to get for your services to actually "be in business"? When you have "chosen" a fee for service, stick to it. Trust that there are enough people who can afford your services and some "will" find you too expensive. The way to relate to that is "those people who can't afford my services will have to find someone who is less qualified". Remember that often people really do believe they get what they pay for. Take a stand for your value and design your fees accordingly. If you want to contribute to charity - write a check or do volunteer work - but we're talking about your business. Alan Weiss wrote a book Value-Based Fee. While he's talking about training consultants (coaches), it addresses this very issue. Check it out.